Do I need a yeast free or a candida diet?

[[UPDATE MARCH 2017]]
BEFORE YOU READ THIS:
1. Read Microbiome Myths and How To Really Help Your Digestion from Laura Thomas PhD, particularly the section called “Candida overgrowth leads to ‘leaky gut’”
2. Read Captain Science vs The Army of Fungus from Angry Chef (includes swearing) 
3. Read my blog post on Why Yeast Free Isn't The Answer

I have changed my views a lot about candida and yeast free over the last few months and want you to learn with me! This historical post is here for reference so you can see my journey. But please read the three articles above for more up-to-date opinions.  

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When I got the results of my food intolerance test back (I did mine with York Laboratories) it showed I had a yeast intolerance. I texted my step-mum to tell her and she texted back excitedly "CANDIDA!! I've heard all about it!" Huh? What on earth was candida? That's not what the test said! 

So before I had my call with a nutritionist to follow up the results (part of the package offered with the York Laboratories test) I went online and started searching both yeast free and candida diets. What's the difference? And did I need one over the other? 

My results from York Laboratories

My results from York Laboratories

There's a lot of information out there for Candida Diets. For those who think an anti-candida diet is for them, they're a fantastic resource. In fact when you search ‘yeast free diet’ on Google the top 6 entries are all candida websites.

There are also lots of lovely people on social media tracking their eating and experiences on the candida diet such as Cara and Candida and Candidadieter. With plenty of testimonials about life changing experiences using the anti-candida diet lists, it seemed pretty convincing. 

However I was also a bit wary - the candida diet cuts out a lot of things that I was sure didn't affect me or cause my symptoms to flare up. The Anti-Candida diet is a long and pretty strict list and the idea of losing things like eggs and seafood from my intake I thought might ruin my life forever. I was already going lose Marmite and soy sauce, what more did this intolerance want from me?! Anti-candida also rules out things like corn, all fruit, cashews, beans and tofu, all of which I love and couldn’t bear the idea of cutting completely from my diet. 

These guys never stood a chance though... 

These guys never stood a chance though... 

So the following week I had my call with the nutritionist. The process would be three months ‘cold turkey’ cutting out a list of ingredients we agreed on. We talked about candida and also FODMAP, another elimination technique that the GP had mentioned to me when I had talked to him about my symptoms. 

Knowing the full results of my intolerance test (I was tested for intolerance to 113 different food types), we agreed that for my 3 month elimination period I would focus on cutting out the heavy hitters for yeast. The full list I developed is over on the ‘About Yeast Free’ page of this blog and is what I drew together to live by. 

The results, as I say in my About Me page, were really profound. Within only a few weeks my symptoms had reduced drastically and I felt more energised to boot. Using this list as a guide I found I really started to understand my body and what it was telling me and reacting to. 

How's your pantry looking? 

How's your pantry looking? 

Since those three months I have done a lot of reading and research about yeast free diets. The more I read, the more I realise yeast free diets and candida diets are one in the same. Both are based on cutting out ingredients that promote the growth of candida or yeast in your gut. And both diets are said to reduce the symptoms associated with yeast/candida overgrowth which can include:

• Acid reflux, bloating, flatulence, nausea, diarrhea, constipation, stomach cramps and indigestion

• Inability to focus, poor memory, brain fog, irritability, anger, dizziness, depression, crying spells, panic attacks, low libido

• Acne, cysts, hives, night sweats, psoriasis and eczema

• Headaches

• Stubborn weight gain or water retention

I found this list on thecandidadiet.com

However, before going totally crazy and cutting enormous amounts of foods from your diet I also wanted to add some balancing words in here. There’s some really sage advice on a page I found called Candida Specialists which I’m going to quote from:

The same food that may benefit some people, can harm others. This applies even to healthy foods that are on the candida diet food list that are considered to be the best foods for candida and yeast issues. You have to make sure your body agrees with these foods and that you do not have sensitivities or allergies to them.

Writing this blog post and doing all this research reminds me that there is no right or wrong list if you are trying out a candida, yeast free or yeast low diet. You have to go with what works for you and this quote really captures that.

Personally I haven’t needed to go on the full anti-candida diet. I have used a reduced version of the anti-candida list and found that it’s had massive impact on my life. I can finally identify what it is that sets off my symptoms, which for me was the whole point of starting this journey: to take back some control (without wanting to sound like Donald Trump!). 

Here are three other important things I learned from the process of eating a yeast free diet which I will write some blog entries on in the coming months:

1. You should always take a probiotic, regardless of whether you are doing a yeast free diet

The nutritionist I spoke with said “you get what you pay for” and I have definitely found this to be true. After reading this great article by nutritionist Eve Kalinik on where to start with supplements I now take Symprove every morning and would thoroughly recommend it. It has made my gut so much better, as if I can actively feel it all moving and working in there!  

2. A yeast free diet is naturally healthy

Think about it – if someone asked you to list the top 5 things you should cut out to be ‘healthier’ I would guess most people would include beer and wine, processed meats and sugar in there. It’s sort of a no-brainer really. I would say a yeast free diet is well worth a try, even if at first you aren’t sure it’s yeast you’re trying to eliminate. It makes you feel better anyway!  

3. A yeast free diet helped me lose stubborn weight I had had for years, and always struggled to get rid of

This blog is not a weight-loss blog, but I definitely will write a few words at some point about how it helped me lose weight [UPDATE January 2017: I've written said blog article, read it here]. In my case in 3 months I was able to lose almost a stone without the need for a serious exercise regime or starvation. Just changing what I ate made all the difference. 
 

I would love to hear what you think. Have you been cruising around online looking for information on yeast free and candida diets? This is an important blog entry for me about the very principles of what I’m blogging for. Look forward to talking and sharing! 

http://candidaspecialists.com/candida-diet/  
https://www.thecandidadiet.com/  
https://www.thecandidadiet.com/foodstoavoid.htm  
http://www.yorktest.ie/ 
http://www.ibsdiets.org/fodmap-diet/fodmap-food-list/