Dealing with yeast infections is unpleasant enough. But having to cut out your favorite ‘treat’ foods can sometimes seem even worse!
Unfortunately, an overgrowth of yeast, no matter where it occurs in or on your body, is often related to your diet. A diet that is high in sugars, even natural sugars, can make yeast infections more likely. It can even contribute to a yeast overgrowth in your gut which then re-infects other parts of your body, even after they have been treated.
Yeasts like Candida albicans can usually exist on your skin, in your digestive tract, and elsewhere without causing any problems. But a diet that is high in sugar and refined carbohydrates can create the environment that it needs to thrive. Under the right conditions, it can colonize your skin, gut and other areas, overpowering the ‘friendly’ bacteria that usually keep it in check.
This not only contributes to yeast infections and causes problems with your digestion, but can also damage the lining of your gut and lead to all sorts of health issues such as fatigue, fungal infections, skin conditions, seasonal allergies, and mood swings.
Although certain medications and medical conditions can also increase your risk of developing Candida yeast infections, so too can the foods that you eat. Many of the foods in our Western diet are extremely high in sugar and inflammatory compounds such as artificial additives. These foods can disrupt your microbiome, allowing bacterial and fungal pathogens like Candida albicans to flourish.
These are the top 4 foods that may be causing your yeast infections – and that you need to ditch!
1. Added Sugars
Sugar is the biggest enemy of a healthy microbiome! If you’re going to get rid of that Candida, you need to get rid of sugar first. Sugar, particularly glucose and sucrose, are the ultimate ‘fuel’ for yeast. Studies have shown that high amounts of dietary glucose can result in increased gut colonization of Candida yeast cells.
Avoid obvious sources of sugar such as sodas, cookies, and chocolate, but don’t forget to check for hidden sugars. Check the nutritional labels of foods such as salad dressings, low-fat processed foods, cereals, protein bars, and so on.
You may be surprised how much sugar you’re already eating! The amount of sugars in our food has been slowly increasing for decades, causing a wave of diabetes, obesity, and other health problems that is only just starting to become apparent.
As a general rule, cut out any packaged snacks (nearly all of these contain added sugar!) and also baked goods, soft drinks, condiments, cereals, desserts, and other treat foods. Try to replace them with healthy alternatives such as yogurt and berries. There is evidence that probiotic foods and supplements can help to fight yeast overgrowth.
Also, be aware that the word ‘sugar’ may not always appear on your food label. Added sugars can come in the form of high-fructose corn syrup, molasses, dextrose, evaporated cane juice, concentrated grape juice, or a whole list of alternatives.
2. White Flour
Like sugar, white flour is a simple carbohydrate that is easily broken down by your digestive system. This means that glucose enters your bloodstream very quickly, causing a spike in your blood sugar levels. This is fine if you’re doing a lot of intense physical activity, but otherwise, it’s just extra food for that yeast!
Elevated blood sugar has been shown to lead to yeast infections. That’s why it’s so important to avoid these and other foods that boost your blood sugar rapidly.
Because all forms of carbohydrate get broken down into glucose by the human body it’s important to choose the ones that don’t break down so quickly, such as high-fiber foods and complex carbs.
Avoid pasta, cereals, cakes, cookies, doughnuts and other starchy products. If you love to eat bread, choose a healthier type of bread like whole grain or sprouted. Stay away from plain white bread, brioche, and ciabatta.
3. Alcoholic Beverages
Reducing your alcohol intake is very important for getting a yeast infection under control. Excess alcohol is especially harmful to a healthy microbial balance, thanks to the way that it sends your blood sugar spiking up and down.
Alcoholic drinks tend to cause short-term jumps in your blood sugar, before leading to low blood sugar later in the evening. Neither is a good thing.
High blood glucose can help to change the balance of bacteria in your intestines and encourage pathogens like Candida to proliferate. Low blood sugar can lead to food cravings and unfortunate dietary choices like late-night snacking.
On top of this, the inflammatory effects of alcohol tend to suppress your immune system, which is necessary for keeping yeast cell populations under control.
Avoid wine and beer as much as possible, and also reduce your intake of spirits. If you do drink alcohol, drink it in moderation to minimize the effects on your blood sugar.
4. Dried Fruit and Fruit Juices
While eating fruit is part of a healthy diet, dried fruit and fruit juices are quite a different matter.
When fruit is dried, it becomes a condensed and dehydrated version of its natural form – which means it has a much higher percentage of sugars. These sugars may be natural, but they are still likely to cause a dramatic rise in your blood sugar. That goes for fruit juices too. And processed fruit juices tend to contain a lot of added sugars too.
Any behavior that sends your blood sugar through the roof is likely to contribute to a yeast infection. A good, healthy goal is to keep your blood sugar as stable as possible throughout the day.
Switch out dried fruit for small amounts of fresh, low-sugar fruits such as berries and apples. These contain lots of fantastic antioxidants and will also satiate that sweet craving. Avoid sultanas, raisins, dried apricots, prunes and any kind of fruit juice.