There is a self-spit test (find it with simple Google search)—which doesn’t have a lot of scientific data around it—that I know many of my patients have done on their own before coming into the office. Most of the time, I find the above tests confirm that the patient has an overgrowth, but again, the spit test is not as exacting as these medical tests.
What’s the best treatment plan?
The best way to treat Candida is with a three-step approach:
1. STARVE THE YEAST
The first key is to eliminate foods that have yeast in them and foods that yeast likes to eat.
This means cutting out vinegar, beer, wine, mushrooms (as part of the fungi family, they can cross-react with Candida) and sugar, refined carbs, processed foods.
But you also want to limit healthy carbs like legumes, grains, starchy veggies to 1 cup a day, and a single piece of fruit a day—because even good carbs unfortunately feed yeast.
Along the same lines, I tell people to hold off on good fermented foods (not something all doctors agree on)—i.e. sauerkraut, pickles, kimchi—until they’ve killed off the yeast. While these foods are beneficial for the good bacteria in your microbiome, they also are good for yeast (which isn’t helpful if you have an overgrowth).
2. OVERPOWER THE YEAST
Some patients need a prescription anti-fungal (like Diflucan or Nystatin).
Anti-fungal supplements can be effective, too: My two-go supplements are caprylic acid (naturally found in coconut oil) and Candifense (TM) (contains enzymes that break down parasitic and fungal cell walls). Some people take oil of oregano, which is broad spectrum, meaning that it will kill good and bad organisms in the microbiome, but I try to stick with more targeted supplements that really only kill yeast.
3. REPLENISH GOOD BACTERIA
During treatment, take high-quality probiotic supplements, which help protect your body against future infections. You don’t want to take prebiotics while you’re trying to get rid of Candida—which feed good bacteria and yeast—but you can add them in, along with fermented foods down the line, once your Candida is under control.
Are there ways to get rid of Candida without going on an as restrictive diet? Are there beneficial foods you can add to your diet to combat Candida?
It’s really hard to get rid of Candida without adjusting your diet—even if you’re on an anti-fungal prescription, you need to take away the foods that are contributing to the overgrowth.
Foods you want to add to your diet to fight Candida are:
COCONUT OIL: Contains caprylic acid (mentioned above), which kills yeast cells.
OLIVE OIL: The antioxidants in olive oil help your body get rid of Candida.
GARLIC: Contains allicin, a sulphur-containing compound with specific-to-Candida anti-fungal properties.
CINNAMON: Has anti-fungal and anti-inflammatory benefits.
APPLE CIDER VINEGAR: This is the only vinegar I recommend consuming while you’re treating a Candida overgrowth—its enzymes may help break down Candida.
LEMONS: Has some anti-fungal properties; and helps your liver detox.
GINGER: Has anti-inflammatory and anti-fungal properties, plus it supports your liver.
CLOVES: Very effective (internal) anti-fungal. Clove oil can also be used as a topical aid for infections.
CRUCIFEROUS VEGGIES: Broccoli, radishes, brussels sprout, cabbage, etc. have sulphur- and nitrogen-containing compounds that attack Candida.
WILD SALMON: Omega-3 fatty acids fight fungal infections.
How long does it typically take to get rid of a Candida overgrowth?
It largely depends on what caused the Candida overgrowth. Let’s say it was a one-off scenario: You had bronchitis, went through two rounds of antibiotics and then got Candida. After a few weeks of a Candida cleanse (i.e. following the above diet guidelines), you can likely get rid of the overgrowth, and restore your gut microbiome and move on.
If it wasn’t a one-off situation, it likely won’t be a quick fix. While this doesn’t mean that you can’t ever have a glass of wine or a slice of cake again, you might find that you feel your best with longer-term lifestyle adjustments to your diet.
Amy Myers, M.D. is the founder and medical director of Austin UltraHealth, a functional medicine clinic based in Austin, Texas. Dr. Myers specializes in women’s health issues, particularly gut health, thyroid dysfunction, and autoimmunity. She is also the New York Times bestselling author of The Autoimmune Solution and The Thyroid Connection.
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