Treating Candida with The Paleo Diet

Candida Overgrowth | The Paleo Diet

You’ve read about it, you’ve heard about it, and chances are you even know someone who’s dealing with Candida:  yeast overgrowth in the gut.

Candidemia, the most common form of invasive candidiasis, is one of the widespread bloodstream infections in the United States.  It’s estimated that approximately 46,000 cases of healthcare-associated invasive candidiasis occur each year in the US and overall, where candidemia rates have increased over the past 20 years.1

65+ populations exhibit Candida most where scientists suspect the prevalence of risk factors including diabetes, ICU admissions, or use of immunosuppressive therapies play a role.2

Candida albicans is a naturally occurring, usually benign yeast that grows in the gastrointestinal tract, but when it over-proliferates in the body, the symptoms can be debilitating:3

  • Recurrent yeast infections in women
  • Constipation, or diarrhea
  • Migraines
  • Weight gain
  • Skin issues like eczema and acne
  • Food sensitivities

If you’re avidly perusing the Paleosphere, you know inflammation and illness often start in the gut and are directly attribute to what we’re eating. Some go so far as to suggest that nearly everyone is suffering from candidiasis in some way, shape or form. If you have intestinal candidiasis, overgrowth of Candida in the small intestine, not only are there no risks to following a Paleo diet, its optimal for all us. Why?

Let’s look at some basic recommendations for what someone with a diagnosis of candiasis should and should not eat, courtesy of Dr. Brent A Bauer, MD of the Mayo Clinic.4

“Some complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) practitioners blame common symptoms such as fatigue, headache and poor memory on intestinal overgrowth of the fungus, like organism Candida albicans, or “yeast syndrome” and to cure the syndrome, they recommend a candida cleanse diet, which includes no sugar, white flour, yeast and cheese, based on the theory that these foods promote Candida overgrowth.”

He goes on to note that, “While there are no clinical trials that document the efficacy of a Candida cleanse diet for treating any recognized medical condition, many people note improvement in various symptoms when following this diet. If you stop eating sugar and white flour, you’ll generally wind up cutting out most processed foods, which tend to be higher in calorie content and lower in nutritive value.”

Anyone who has taken the time to properly implement a Paleo diet can vouch that after a brief transitional period, where you move to replace processed foods with fresh ones, you start to just feel better.

Because yeast thrives on sugars, it’s important to restrict sugar intake when combating a Candida infection, and remove allergenic foods and stimulants from the diet.5

Sounding familiar? Up the fresh food. Cut the sugar and refined foods. Remove allergenic foods. If that’s not a perfectly succinct description about what Paleo is all about, I don’t know what is!

If we focus upon nourishing our bodies with the rich nutrients we get from a proper Paleo approach, we boost our immune systems, balance our blood sugar levels, and ultimately, deny the yeast with food it needs to thrive, namely…refined carbs.

Ok, so is there anything else you needs to do in order to proactively fight off the excess yeast? Maura Henninger, N.D., tips published to Huffington Post6 are spot on.

  1. Starve the yeast: no sugar, which will feed the Candida. No fruit in the first two weeks of treatment, then fruit is limited to two low-glycemic choices. No milk, which has the sugar lactose that tends to promote yeast overgrowth and in some cases, because milk can contain antibiotics, can promote overgrowth. No yeast-containing foods such as alcohol, peanuts, melons are recommended. Finally, remove food sensitivities.
  1. Repopulate the gut with probiotics. Fermented foods are great for repopulating the gut with good bacteria including Kim chi, sauerkraut and coconut water.

Finally, increase the consumption of certain foods which may help to kill off the overgrowth:7

  • Monounsaturated fats to aid in fighting inflammation
  • Onions to help flush excess fluid from the body
  • Cruciferous veggies including broccoli, cauliflower and cabbage have compounds containing sulfur and nitrogen which kill Candida
  • Herbs and spices including ginger, cinnamon, cayenne pepper, garlic and cloves for their anti fungal and anti inflammatory effects

It’s clear that eating Paleo not only supports good health generally, but also helps in fighting off uncomfortable, persistent symptoms of chronic yeast overgrowth.


[1] “Invasive Candidiasis Statistics.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 12 June 2015. Web. 21 Sept. 2015

[2] Cleveland AA, Harrison LH, Farley MM, Hollick R, Stein B, Chiller TM, et al. Declining Incidence of Candidemia and the Shifting Epidemiology of Candida Resistance in Two US Metropolitan Areas, 2008-2013: Results from Population-Based Surveillance. PLOS ONE. 2015

[3] Henninger, N.D. Maura. “Five Steps to Treating Candida Overgrowth, Naturally.” The Huffington Post., n.d. Web. 21 Sept. 2015

[4] “Consumer Health.” Candida Cleanse Diet: What Does It Treat? The Mayo Clinic, n.d. Web. 21 Sept. 2015

[5] “Foods Not to Eat With Candida.” LIVESTRONG.COM. LIVESTRONG.COM, 11 Mar. 2014. Web. 21 Sept. 2015

[6] Henninger, N.D. Maura. “Five Steps to Treating Candida Overgrowth, Naturally.” The Huffington Post., n.d. Web. 21 Sept. 2015.

[7] “Foods That Help Kill Candida.” LIVESTRONG.COM. LIVESTRONG.COM, 04 May 2015. Web. 21 Sept. 2015

About Nell Stephenson, B.S.

Nell Stephenson, B.S.Nell Stephenson is a competitive Ironman athlete, personal trainer, and a health and nutrition consultant. She has an exercise science degree from the University of Southern California, a health/fitness instructor certification from the American College of Sports Medicine, and over a decade in the health, fitness and nutrition industry. To support her training for the Ironman Triathlon, Nell has tried many different nutritional plans and has found that the Paleo Diet is superior to all other ways of eating. She’s found that she’s leaner, faster, and fitter than ever before and uses her own experience to teach clients how to achieve optimal nutrition and health. Visit her website at Download meal plans tailored to you here.

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“4” Comments

  1. The Paleo diet would be ideal to assist in managing candida localized to the intestines but once it has become systemic any diet, including this one would be pretty ineffective. The article sites some of the common myths about candida like eliminating sugar because sugar “feeds” the candida. Totally false. We restrict sugary foods not because of this reason but because a higher sugar diet suppresses the immune system. Once the candida has become systemic into the soft tissues of the body, the only really effective method of addressing it is via increasing the oxygen levels of those soft tissues. We can do this effectively and safely with a liquid oxygen supplement. I talk to people every day that have been on these so-called “candida” diets, some for years, and at the end of the day are no better off for the restrictive effort. That having been said, the Paleo diet is a great eating program and would help millions to normalize their weight. Eat like your ancestors!!

  2. Try quitting fruit for a year or forever, I haven’t eaten fruit for years,, I don’t tolerate the Fructose,, it causes joint and muscle pain for me that is.

  3. People with severe cases of candida often need to omit fruits for 4 to 8 weeks. Two weeks is often not long enough.

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