What Is Candida?
Candida is a type of yeast (single-celled fungus) that normally lives inside the body and on the skin. There are hundreds of these yeasts, and many species can cause fungal infections if their numbers grow out of control or if they enter the bloodstream or other organs. This type of fungal infection is known as candidiasis. It is the most common type of fungal infection that people suffer from, and is usually caused by a certain type of candida yeast called Candida albicans, but other types of candida can cause an infection too.
What Causes a Candida Infection?
Candida populations are kept under control by beneficial bacteria in our gut microbiome. If these beneficial bacteria are killed or reduced from certain dietary or lifestyle factors it can allow for Candida populations to grow out of control. Some of the most common factors that can lead to Candida overgrowth include:
- Taking antibiotics
- Consuming alcohol, especially high amounts of alcohol
- A diet high in sugar and refined carbs
- A weakened immune system
- Taking oral contraceptives
- High stress levels
Symptoms of a Candida Infection
When Candida populations grow out of control, it can lead to various health problems. Some of the common signs and symptoms of Candida overgrowth include:
- A white coating on your tongue or cheeks, as well as redness and soreness in your mouth—known as “oral thrush”
- Food cravings, especially sugar cravings
- Digestive issues, including gas, bloating, constipation, diarrhea and nausea
- Skin rashes
- Skin and nail fungal infections
- Joint pain
- Frequent headaches
- Teeth grinding
- Recurring genital or urinary tract infections (UTI)
- Sinus infections
How to Get Rid of a Candida Infection
Getting rid of Candida can be challenging, especially if the infection has persisted for a long period of time. The process of getting rid of Candida, however, is simple and direct. A Candida infection occurs when the population of Candida yeast that normally exists in the body grows out of control. The goal of a Candida cleanse is to reduce the population back to a healthy level. This is done by:
- Starving the Candida
- Killing the Candida
- Recolonizing the Gut with Beneficial Bacteria to keep Candida under control
These three steps are accomplished by:
- Following an anti-Candida diet
- Using anti-fungal herbs and supplements
- Supplementing with the right kind of multi strain probiotics
Step 1: Starving Candida with an Anti-Candida Diet
Candida are a type of yeast, which is a single-celled fungus. Fungi feed on sugar as their primary fuel source, and so, to weaken Candida populations, one needs to stop giving Candida the fuel that allows them to grow. This means that one needs to follow a strict sugar-free diet.
The anti-Candida diet, sometimes called the Candida diet, is a low-sugar, anti-inflammatory diet that eliminates added sugars, gluten, alcohol, and foods that can damage gut health. Generally speaking, the anti-Candida diet removes all sources of flour, sugar, and yeast from the diet and encourages lean proteins, healthy fats, low starch vegetables, non-glutinous grains, some low sugar fruits, fermented foods, as well as some herbs and supplements to encourage the process.
To follow the anti-Candida diet, it is important to adhere to 12 principles intended to help reduce the overgrowth of Candida.
- Avoid Added Sugars
Added sugars are in a lot of foods, and many times we consume them without realizing it. Because of this, it is very important that you read the labels on foods and check the ingredients for added sugar. Some common foods that often have added sugar include: soda, energy drinks, sports drinks, fruit juices, teas, cereals, yeast breads, sauces, dressings, candy, grain-based deserts, dairy desserts, syrups and toppings. Many processed and packaged foods tend to have added sugars as well. If you are on an anti-Candida diet, it is best to focus on whole foods in their natural form and to avoid added sugars at all costs.
- Eat Low-Starch Vegetables
The best vegetables to eat on an anti-Candida diet are generally those that are high in micronutrients but relatively low in carbs. These include all leafy greens like lettuce, spinach or kale, as well as anything from the cruciferous family, like broccoli, cauliflower, or cucumber.
- Eat Low-Sugar Fruits or No Fruit
When following an anti-Candida diet, you should aim to avoid most fruits and stick mostly to fruits with low net carbohydrates. Some examples of low net carb fruits include lemons, limes, avocado and berries. You can also include some fruits that have higher net carbs, but also have a larger proportion of fructose, such as apples and pears.
Fruits contain three different types of natural sugars – sucrose, glucose, and fructose. Sucrose and glucose have both been shown to promote Candida albicans biofilm creation, growth, and activity. Fructose, on the other hand, is metabolized more slowly by Candida albicans, and in some cases, has actually been shown to inhibit its growth.
- Include Probiotics and Fermented Foods in Your Diet
Probiotic bacteria are one of the most important elements of any anti-Candida diet. They help to inhibit the growth of the Candida yeast, and also have many benefits to our overall health, including improving digestion, repairing gut health, and boosting immunity.
Examples of probiotic-rich fermented foods include:
- Raw Apple Cider Vinegar
When consuming these foods, be sure that they contain live cultures, as these beneficial bacteria can be killed by the pasteurization process. When purchasing one of these products, look for terms like “live cultures,” “probiotic,” “raw,” and “unpasteurized” on the label, as these are good signs that they contain live bacteria.
- Avoid Gluten
Gluten is a general name for the proteins found in wheat, rye, barley and triticale – a cross between wheat and rye. New research shows that gluten triggers the production of zonulin, a pro-inflammatory protein that damages the intestinal wall and causes intestinal permeability. Someone suffering from Candidiasis is likely to have impaired gut health. If this is the case, eating gluten is likely to worsen symptoms.
- Cut Back on Alcohol
There is a clear and well-established link between alcohol and intestinal permeability. Candida albicans, in its pathogenic hyphal form, can also cause intestinal permeability. If a long-term Candida overgrowth has damaged your gut, then alcohol can make it even worse. While on the Candida diet, it is recommended that you cut back your alcohol consumption or, even better, eliminate it completely until your gut health is restored.
- Eat Healthy Proteins and Fats
The anti-Candida diet recommends lowering intake of carbohydrates, as the sugars in most carbs feed the Candida yeast. In order to replace these carbohydrate calories, it is recommended to eat more healthy proteins and fats. When eating proteins and fats of any kind avoid any added ingredients like sugars, nitrates or sulfites. You can get healthy proteins and fats from a variety of sources, and what you choose to eat depends on your diet.
- Eat Foods That Improve Gut Health
Much of the anti-Candida diet focuses on reducing inflammation and improving gut health. Therefore, it is important to eat less of the foods that lead to inflammation and more of the foods that reduce inflammation and promote healing. Eating a diet rich in vegetables, low-sugar fruits, healthy proteins and fats, and fermented foods is important for reducing inflammation and restoring gut health, but there are also certain foods that are particularly used for gut healing. Also consider including prebiotic foods in your diet during your cleanse. Some foods that are used to heal the gut include:
- High fiber fruits and vegetables
- Celery juice
- Cabbage juice
- Bone broth
- Coconut oil
- Focus on Nutrition
As you follow the anti-Candida diet, reflect on your dietary choices and make a commitment to making food choices that improve your quality of health. Some ways you can do this include:
- Eat whole foods and foods in their natural form whenever possible
- Eat more produce (fruits and vegetables)
- Buy organic whenever possible
- Strive to buy local and in season foods when possible, as they are generally fresher and more nutritious
- Learn about the foods you eat and focus on foods that are rich in nutrients
- Drink A Lot of Water
Drinking sufficient quantities of water and staying hydrated is important to your health, whether you are on an anti-Candida diet or not. Your body needs water to function, and when you don’t get enough water, it can impair your health.
- Minimize Intake of Caffeine
Caffeine is not necessarily harmful during a Candida diet, but in some circumstances, caffeine can irritate your gut and impair your digestion, which can make your Candida infection worse. It can also contribute to burnout that might weaken your immunity at a time when you need it most.
- Incorporate Anti-Candida Foods & Herbs in Your Diet
Just as some foods can contribute to a growth of “bad” bacteria that allow the overgrowth of candida, certain foods have also been shown to specifically encourage “good” bacteria to grow that inhibit the growth of Candida. Therefore, it is recommended to include more foods and herbs in your diet that help to fight Candida infections. Some examples include:
- Probiotics—Probiotics are a great support to anyone looking to restore the balance of beneficial gut bacteria in their gut microbiome. Beneficial bacteria like Lactobacillus may reduce Candida growth and protect against infections.
- Garlic—Garlic contains a substance called allicin that has anti-fugal properties, and has been shown in animal and test-tube studies to act against Candida.
- Kombucha—Kombucha tea is rich in tea polyphenols and acetic acid, both of which have been shown to kill Candida in test-tube studies. It also contains probiotics, which make it an even greater aid to gut health and the balance of gut bacteria.
- Coconut oil—Coconut oil is high in lauric acid, which has been shown to fight Candida infections in multiple test-tube studies.
Aloe vera—Some studies have shown that Aloe vera gel may inhibit the
growth of Candida in the mouth and prevent infections.
- Turmeric—Turmeric is a common culinary spice with many health benefits. Much of these health benefits are attributed to curcumin, the active compound in turmeric. Test-tube studies show that curcumin also has the potential to kill Candida yeasts, or at least reduce their growth. Shop our Liposomal Curcumin Supplement here.
- Pomegranate—One test-tube study indicated that the plant compounds in pomegranate are beneficial against Candida yeasts.
Step 2: Killing Candida with Anti-Fungal Herbs & Supplements
The anti-Candida diet weakens the Candida yeast and prevents them from growing. Anti-Fungal herbs and supplements target and kill the Candida to reduce their population. Our Candida Cleanse tonic includes 7 of the most potent anti-Candida herbs in the world.
Oregon grape root is one herb that is commonly used for Candida infections because it contains powerful antifungal agents like berberine. In numerous studies, berberine extract has been shown to have significant antimicrobial activity against bacteria, viruses, protozoa, fungi, and yeasts. Studies have also shown that berberine has a significant antifungal effect against the Candida albicans strain in particular, which is the most common type of Candida leading to infection in humans. This makes Oregon grape root one of the best herbal remedies for treating Candidiasis.
Goldenseal root is also high in the chemical compound berberine, an alkaloid with antibiotic and antifungal activity that has also been shown to help relieve some of the symptoms seen in people with chronic candidiasis. Studies show that the antifungal action of berberine enables it to inhibit the growth of various Candida species.
- Grape Seed Extract
Grape seed extract is rich in antioxidants and is powerfully antifungal. In one case-control study on 0.2 ml of Candida albicans yeasts in 20 samples of rats in 2007, it was shown that the grape seed extract compound had a strong effect against fungal samples. The antifungal properties of this extract make it a great alternative for treating Candida and other fungal infections, especially when used in combination with diet and other antifungal herbs.
Echinacea targets and attacks the structure of the fungal cell wall. Fluorescence microscopy showed that yeast treated with Echinacea were significantly more prone to cell wall damage than non-treated cells. The study concluded that there was compelling evidence that the fungal cell wall is a target of Echinacea extracts and Echinacea may therefore be an effective herbal medicine in treating mycoses (fungal infections).
One study published in the National Library of Medicine observed the antifungal activities of clove and its volatile vapour against dermatophytic fungi. It was observed that cloves had significant antifungal activity against Candida albicans, Epidermophyton floccosum. Microsporum audouinii, Trichophyton mentagrophytes, and Trichophyton rubrum.
It was shown that cloves strongly inhibit spore germination and mycelial growth of the dermatophytic fungi that were tested. The volatile vapour of clove essential oil showed fungistatic (inhibits the growth of fungi) activity whereas direct application of clove oil showed fungicidal (kills fungi) activity.
Ginger contains antifungal compounds called gingerol and shagelol as well as potent anti-inflammatory agents. Studies show that ginger can inhibit the growth of the common Candida albicans strain. In one study, an antifungal cream containing ginger was more effective at relieving yeast infections than the antifungal cream without ginger. Another study showed that Ginger extract successfully inhibited biofilm formation by A. baumannii, B. cereus, Candida krusei, and Candida albicans.
Ginseng is commonly praised for its antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and immune boosting effects. A lesser known benefit of ginseng, however, is its powerful antifungal effects. In one study, the saponins were isolated from Korean red ginseng, and the antifungal effects of ginsenosides were investigated. Ginsenosides showed fungicidal (fungi-killing) effects toward the pathogenic fungi tested—the primary of which was Candida albicans. The results suggest that ginsenosides may exert antifungal activity by disrupting the structure of the fungal cell membrane.
Together, these herbs make up our one of a kind anti-fungal Candida Cleanse Tonic. This formula contains therapeutic extracts of these wild-crafted herbs in a liquid extract form.
How to Take:
Simply dilute 1-2 servings in water and take up to twice a day during the duration of your cleanse. For optimal absorption, take on an empty stomach.
Step 3: Supplementing with the Right Probiotics
The final step in a Candida cleanse protocol is to repopulate the gut with beneficial bacteria through supplementing with a high-quality probiotic. Candida are kept under control by beneficial bacteria in the gut. The ideal balance of gut bacteria is 90% good and 10% bad bacteria, but most people are out of balance due to poor dietary and lifestyle factors, and have the inverse ratio of 10% good bacteria and 90% bad bacteria. This creates an environment in the gut that allows Candida to thrive.
To keep Candida populations under control after a cleanse, it is recommended to supplement with a probiotic for a few months. Our Zuma Nutrition Multi-Strain Probiotic features 30 billion culture forming units (CFUs) and eight unique strains that promote the right ratio of gut bacteria, helping to keep Candida populations under control.
Candida infections are common and they can lead to a wide range of health issues. To get rid of a Candida infection can be challenging, but the most effective way to do so is to follow a three-step protocol.
The first step is to strictly adhere to an anti-Candida diet. Candida feed on sugar, so the primary component of this diet is to reduce all added sugars and high-sugar foods, as well as focusing on nutrient rich foods that support the body’s health.
The second step includes supplementing with anti-fungal herbs that target and kill the Candida yeast. The herbs in our Candida Cleanse tonic are among the most powerful anti-fungal herbs found in nature, and have been specifically studied for their ability to kill Candida.
The third and final step of a Candida cleanse is to supplement with probiotics. This can be done during the duration of the cleanse, but it is especially important to include at the end of the cleanse and to continue afterwards for a minimum of several months, as probiotics colonize the gut with beneficial bacteria that prevent the Candida yeast from growing out of control.