Some complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) practitioners blame common symptoms such as fatigue, headache and poor memory on overgrowth of the fungus-like organism Candida albicans in the intestines, sometimes called "yeast syndrome."
To cure the syndrome, they recommend a candida cleanse diet. The diet eliminates sugar, white flour, yeast and cheese, based on the theory that these foods promote candida overgrowth.
It's considered normal to find candida in the human gut (gastrointestinal tract), but an overgrowth of candida can exacerbate existing gastrointestinal diseases such as ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease.
However, there is little evidence that dietary changes can improve the effects of a yeast overgrowth if you have these conditions. Doctors usually prescribe antifungal medications to treat yeast overgrowth, which is diagnosed by putting a small scope into your stomach (endoscopy) and taking a tiny sample of your stomach lining (biopsy).
Unfortunately, there isn't much evidence to support the diagnosis of yeast syndrome. And there are no clinical trials that document the efficacy of a candida cleanse diet for treating any recognized medical condition.
Not surprisingly, 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 calories and lower in nutritive value.
Within a few weeks of replacing processed foods with fresh ones and white flour with whole grains, you may start to feel better in general. That, rather than stopping the growth of yeast in the gastrointestinal tract, is probably the main benefit of a candida cleanse diet.
Sept. 11, 2020
From Mayo Clinic to your inbox
Sign up for free, and stay up to date on research advancements, health tips and current health topics, like COVID-19, plus expertise on managing health.
ErrorEmail field is required
ErrorInclude a valid email address
To provide you with the most relevant and helpful information, and understand which
information is beneficial, we may combine your email and website usage information with
other information we have about you. If you are a Mayo Clinic patient, this could
include protected health information. If we combine this information with your protected
health information, we will treat all of that information as protected health
information and will only use or disclose that information as set forth in our notice of
privacy practices. You may opt-out of email communications at any time by clicking on
the unsubscribe link in the e-mail.
Thank you for subscribing!
You'll soon start receiving the latest Mayo Clinic health information you requested in your inbox.
Sorry something went wrong with your subscription
Please, try again in a couple of minutes
See more Expert Answers
- Sellin J. Dietary dilemmas, delusions, and decisions. Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology. 2014;12:1601.
- Kumamoto CA. Inflammation and gastrointestinal Candida colonization. Current Opinions in Microbiology. 2011;14:386.
- Da Silva Dantas A, et al. Oxidative stress responses in the human fungal pathogen, candida albicans. Biomolecules. 2015;5:142.
- Bauer BA (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. Aug. 18, 2017.
- Hou JK, et al. Diet and inflammatory bowel disease: Review of patient-targeted recommendations. Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology. 2014;12:1592.
- 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and U.S. Department of Agriculture. https://health.gov/dietaryguidelines/2015/guidelines. Accessed Aug. 21, 2017.
- Kauffman CA. Clinical manifestations of oropharyngeal and esophageal candidiasis. https://www.uptodate.com/contents/search. Accessed Aug. 21, 2017.