Those of you who are part of my Facebook and Instagram communities have likely heard that I just finished a 6-week anti-candida protocol. As a nutritionist, I like to do experiments on myself. As someone who has always been addicted to sugar and has had chronic acne for years, I decided it was time to try something different. This is my experience following an anti-candida diet.
What is Candida?
If you’re unfamiliar with what candida is, it’s a yeast called candida albicans that all humans have in their body. In fact, it lives harmoniously within many of us, and we wouldn’t even know that it could cause problems. That is – until we give it the opportunity to flourish and trigger imbalances within our bodies. The first step to a candida imbalance is often digestive distress – so constipation, diarrhea, bloating, cramping, gas, leaky gut, sugar cravings. If it moves outside of the gut and becomes systemic, then candida can cause skin issues like rashes and acne, hormonal imbalance, fatigue, brain fog, fungal infections, yeast infections, and more.
How does Candida Overgrowth happen?
Candida can flourish and overgrow when our gut bacteria is out of balance. This can be a result of a poor diet filled with sugars, inflammatory foods and poor quality fats. It might be due to high antibiotic use that kills off the beneficial bacteria in our gut. Stress can also affect our gut bacteria and contribute to candida overgrowth.
In addition to gut dysbiosis, candida overgrowth may happen when someone’s immune system is suppressed and has a hard time keeping things in check. Heavy metal toxicity and parasites can provide opportunity for candida to grow and are often linked.
Rebalancing the gut and removing the candida
Remember, having some candida in our body is natural. The goal is not to completely eradicate candida, but to get rid of that overgrowth that’s causing issues. So how do we do that?
This is where we need to consider the five “R”s of digestive health:
- Remove the stressors: Follow an anti-candida diet and remove foods that feed the candida (starchy vegetables, all grains, sugars, fruits). Remove foods that you are sensitive or allergic to. Remove emotional and physical stressors that might contribute to imbalanced gut.
- Replace the missing elements: consider digestive enzymes, probiotics, hydrochloric acid – whatever supplements can help to restore your gut health. This is customized when you work with a practitioner.
- Reinoculate: Add back in that healthy gut bacteria in the form of a probiotic to rebalance the bacteria in the gut. There are lots of great probiotic capsules on the market, but finding one that’s good for candida support is important.
- Repair your gut: Now that we’ve removed the things that are causing distress, let’s work on repairing the gut lining. Supplements like l-glutamine and collagen, herbs like aloe, and supplementing with key vitamins and antioxidants.
- Rebalance your life: Consider how you can keep your health balanced, going forward. Do you need to sleep more? Stress management techniques? What dietary adjustments should you make? How can you support yourself so this doesn’t happen again?
This is an incredibly simplified model, but gives you an idea of the basic steps necessary to restore your health from candida overgrowth.
My Anti-Candida Protocol
The anti-candida protocol that I followed was right for my body, and no two bodies are the same. As a result, I am going to spare you all the nitty gritty details, but give you an overview of what I did:
- Followed the anti-candida diet. Over the process of about a week, I was able to wean off of key foods that can feed the candida – sugars, starches, fruits, and grains. I officially began an anti-candida diet one week later and followed it for a total of 6 weeks.
- Worked on gut health. I took supplements to support healing my gut lining, and a good probiotic for candida support.
- Supplemented with anti-fungals. I supplemented with a variety of anti-fungals while I followed my anti-candida diet. It’s important to vary the anti-fungals you take because the candida can get used to certain herbs.
- Supported my liver. Since you’re detoxing all this candida die-off, it’s important for your liver to be working at top shape. Prior to the anti-candida protocol, I did a mild detox to help support my elimination organs. During the protocol I made sure to enjoy lemon water every morning, dry-skin brush every day, and use herbs to support liver detoxification.
- Eliminated regularly. I made sure to eat enough fibre and drink tons of water, in order to eliminate regularly and get rid of any toxins that my body was holding onto. Another great way to detox is to work out and sweat. Regular activity is a great idea as long as you’re not experiencing detox symptoms that prevent you from working out.
My Experience following an Anti-Candida Diet
I didn’t just follow the diet – but a whole protocol. During those 6 weeks, this is what I learned on an anti-candida diet:
The food industry adds way too much sugar
Once I went 6 weeks without sugar, adding it back in was kind of gross. I didn’t need nearly as much sugar to satisfy my taste buds as I’d needed before the anti-candida diet. It was pretty incredible how quickly my body adapted and I didn’t miss it. Food for thought: a simple sugar detox can be incredibly powerful to reset our tastebuds.
My acne cleared up
It took about 2 weeks for the inflammation to go down, but my acne almost 100% cleared up. My acne is related to my hormones because certain times of the cycle it’s worse than others, but following the anti-candida diet and protocol made a big difference in my skin. Much less redness, and no new cystic pimples.
My menstrual cycle changed
I’ve been seeing weird changes in my cycle for the past 6-7 months, where it’s become shorter. This is unusual for me. While following the protocol, my cycle renormalized. It’s just been one full cycle since, so we will see how the next one is, but it was an interesting result.
I became much more in tune with my body
If I was hungry, I ate. If I wasn’t hungry, I didn’t eat. Snacking on raw nuts wasn’t particularly exciting, so I didn’t have the same sugar cravings and snack cravings that I did when I was eating normally. Most of my cravings completely went away (although sometimes I just wanted a sweet potato or some chocolate).
Bloating went away
I was struggling with bloating on occasion and wasn’t really able to pin-point it to a certain food. The anti-candida diet, which is very close to an anti-inflammatory diet, really helped. I was only bloated when I ate too much, and I knew when that was because I felt myself cross that line before the bloating occurred.
Brain fog mostly cleared up
Since I burnt out about 5 years ago, I’ve had THE WORST memory. I mean, I never had a great memory to begin with, but now I find recall particularly difficult. I struggle with remembering names, and I sometimes struggle with finding the right word when I speak. I chalked this up to destroying some brain cells when I was so burnt out – high stress can heavily impact the hippocampus and memory cells in our brain. But I didn’t realize that my diet or candida also might also be a factor.
An anti-candida diet is very low in fibre unless you supplement appropriately
My regular diet is filled with whole grains and beans/lentils, which means lots and lots of fibre. When I had to eliminate all those things, I found myself being far more constipated than usual. I was very conscious about eating avocado (high in fibre!) and flax seeds, but found I needed to supplement with a fibre supplement occasionally because I wasn’t getting enough from just vegetables. If you eliminate these foods from your diet, always consider a fibre supplement to be sure you’re pooping regularly!
My next step…
Wow – what a neat experience! Having learned so much about myself during those 6 weeks was super cool, but now I’m left trying to figure a few things out: did these things improve because I was eradicating the candida, or did they improve because my diet changed? There has been lots of talk in the nutrition world about grains and legumes, and their lectins/phytonutrients causing inflammation and imbalances in the body. Was it possible that removing these foods from my diet made the difference?
The only way to know is to add foods back in one at a time and assess your body’s response. With Christmas coming up, I was unfortunately unable to do that as effectively as I’d hoped.
Once the holidays are over, I plan to revert back to a modified anti-candida diet for a while and see how I feel. Following the anti-candida diet long-term is far too restrictive, but I love how I felt when I was eating fewer grains, and had eliminated refined sugars from my life. It’s all about finding balance and what makes you feel good. I’m glad that I was able to find what made me thrive!
If you suspect you have a candida overgrowth or you experience any of the symptoms I listed above, I encourage you to reach out to a health practitioner like a naturopath, functional medicine doctor, or nutritionist. With our experience and knowledge, we can support you in your health goals and help you find the balance that you’re looking for. If you’d like to schedule a call, I’d love to hear from you!