Like most things, in the world of nutrition there are many varying opinions on the proper protocol for Candida overgrowth. Since realizing I had a systemic Candida infection in 2013, I have been on a healing journey that has changed who I am on every level. I’ve read every book, seen or interviewed every specialist on the topic and most importantly have hands on experience with different techniques, supplements and so on. A large part of my work these days is coaching young people through the process of changing not only their diet but the underlying emotional issues that allowed them to get so sick in the first place.
In previous posts, I have shared my story and even my symptoms throughout this process and the many healing modalities that I have used. At first, I was naive enough to think I could get things under control with a 10 day Candida Cleanse… boy, was I wrong. What started off as 10 days has turned into two years and even now I still have to be careful not to tip the scale in favour of Candida. This is something I will have to be mindful of probably the rest of my life.
This has been quite the journey… when I first started out, it was particularly tricky because I was eating a strict vegan diet of which is largely a starch based diet. After trying to make this work every way I could, I realized that even though I was avoiding ALL sugars, yeasts and fermented foods, the starches in beans and grains was eventually converted to sugars in the gut.
Not only that, but I was dealing with quite a bad case of Leaky Gut Syndrome and my high fibre veggie diet was likely contributing to my tummy troubles. I wasn’t able to absorb much of anything that I was eating even though it was the most high vibe food possible…
I was eating the ‘cleanest’ I’d ever eaten in my life and I still wasn’t healthy…something I was doing just wasn’t working for me.
In the summer of 2014, I received many signs, making it very clear that I needed to make some changes… I needed to give my body what it needed in order to heal. It may not be what you want to hear, but the vegan candida diet was far too restrictive and left me eating a lot of starches which is not ideal as the body needs a wide variety of nutrients during times of stress and healing.
Over the past few years, I have interviewed many experts on the subject. The conclusion is always the same, it is nearly impossible to heal a long-standing, systemic candida infection on a vegan diet given the damaged state of the gut and the pervasiveness of the infection.
This has been my experience and because I get contacted about this SO MUCH, I thought I would share it with you. I do understand that everyone has their reasons to going or staying vegan and I respect that but its important to weigh out all the pros and cons when it comes to your health. For a long time, I had my blinders on and I wasn’t able to see outside of the diet at all and my health suffered big time. I encourage you to take a hard look at your beliefs and whether or not they are serving you (and your body) because if left unchecked the mind can convince you otherwise.
Whether you choose a vegan diet or not, here are some basic guidelines for healing, restoring balance in your body and getting you healthy!
ALL fruit: There is no way around this, fruit sugar is Candida’s favourite.
Vinegar: This may not seem like a big deal to you, until you read labels and see how many different things vinegar shows up in:
Mayonnaise, commercial salad dressing, ketchup, Worcestershire sauce, steak sauce, BBQ sauce, shrimp sauce, soy sauce, tamari, salsa, mustard, pickles, pickled vegetables, green olives (unless they are not packaged in vinegar), relishes, horseradish, mincemeat, and chili sauce.
However, some sources say that raw, unfiltered, organic apple cider vinegar is okay! Candida does not like it, so this is what I used for salad dressings.
Fermented foods: I had to take a little break from fermented soy like tempeh and miso. They are not recommended until your yeast issue is under control.
Yeast: This eliminates all baked goods including gluten-free bread!
Mold: Some nuts (peanuts, cashews and pistachios) contain mold. It is important to avoid mold during this time.
Added Sugar: There is sugar hidden in just about everything packaged so read your labels. This includes fruit sugar, maple syrup and honey.
Gluten: Those with Candida overgrowth should not eat gluten, it can lead to a more serious intolerance later on. Lucky for me I was already used to eating gluten free, so it wasn’t really that bad. But for those of you who don’t know, gluten can be found in wheat, barley, rye, spelt, kamut and a whole slew of packaged products. Instead, look for gluten-free grains like quinoa, amaranth, millet and brown rice. Be mindful with your grain consumption, its VERY easy to get carried away, keep it to a half cup a day. For some people eating any grains at all can cause their symptoms to flare up, so just listen to your body to know if its right for you.
Mushrooms: A natural fungi, since we are aiming to kill fungi in the body, its best to avoid these for now.
Legumes and Beans: Most professionals recommend avoiding legumes as well because they are starchy. When I was trying to heal as a vegan, I had to eat things like lentils and chickpeas because without them I would have withered away. But during that time, I realized that they too were making me itchy and feeding the yeast.
Caffeine: I haven’t had coffee for almost 3 years but I was starting to get a weird reaction to green tea. If it was strong, I would get an instant headache and a weird feeling. Listening to by body, I cut out caffeine (not saying I will never eat raw, dark chocolate again) and put the emphasis on herbal teas. I made this super yummy candida killing elixir: turmeric, lemon, ginger, cinnamon in hot water, blended with a little stevia, sea salt and coconut oil.
Candida is very smart and makes healing quite a challenge, so I don’t reccomend trying to do this all on your own. If you’re interested in learning more about healthy eating, sign up below for a free copy of my healthy snack cookbook: