The proponents of the so-called Candida diet claim that 90% of the people must be treated for yeast overgrowth, which supposedly causes most of your health problems. But while yeast itself is definitely real, candidiasis is not.
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It’s normal to have yeast
We have written more than once about the strong and complex links between our microbiome (the intestinal bacteria) and our health. Rigorous studies show that bacteria imbalances can cause or exacerbate many disorders, from migraines to Crohn’s disease. However, these discoveries do not attract nearly as much attention as the so-called candidiasis – the idea that a fungus called Candida albicans can overgrow in our gut, causing just about anything, from nausea to “brain fog”.
It’s true that 90% of the people have Candida albicans as a normal part of their microbiome. If the immune system is under stress, Candida can express itself as a vaginal yeast infection (known to most women) or as an oral thrush (white patches on the tongue). In cases of severe immune system failures, a Candida overgrowth can occur, and in 50% of cases it is lethal, but this is extremely rare.
As we have seen, 9 out of 10 people have a Candida colony in their gut – and it’s normal. However, a veritable army of naturopaths make a very different claim – that 9 out 10 have a yeas overgrowth. According to them, it can even break through the intestinal wall and enter the blood stream! The supposed symptoms are legion: fatigue, allergy, bloating, diarrhea, brain fog, itch and rashes, dandruff, depression, migraines… Apparently, almost all our health troubles are due to a yeast overgrowth.
There is no such thing
Scientific research has consistently failed to discover any evidence of widespread candidiasis. Over 200 studies have been conducted in the U.S. alone (see this one, for example), and they all show the same – there is no such thing as yeast overgrowth or of a link between Candida and symptoms like fatigue or allergy. Naturopaths may truly believe in candidiasis or just use it as a way to sell expensive cures (based on antifungal drugs and costing up to 400 dollars), but scientific data shows that the disease is made-up.
A very reasonable diet
Alternative medicine practitioners will advise you to treat the “disease” with the so-called Candida diet. Here are the main rules (you can read more on the official website):
- No sugar;
- No white bread, pizza, pasta, cakes, etc.
- No processed foods;
- A lot of whole grains, vegetables, and non-sugary fruit;
- Lean proteins, olive oils and other “good” fats;
The diet is supposed to kill the yeast by starving it (known as a die-off), and indeed, most patients treated for “candidiasis” report significant improvements – their feelings of bloating, cramps, and constipation go away, they feel stronger and more energetic, etc. And who wouldn’t? Dropping junk and processed foods, a lower sugar and salt intake, more protein and vitamins – all these things will surely make you feel better. But it has nothing to do with yeast.
The Internet is full of scientific-looking articles persuading you that you have yeast overgrowth, but do not be fooled: you don’t have candidiasis and you don’t need an expensive treatment program. You should definitely try the diet, though: simply giving up some processed and sugary foods can make a lot of your symptoms disappear.