What is a candida cleanse diet and what does it do?

Answer From Brent A. Bauer, M.D.

Some people blame many common symptoms on the overgrowth of the funguslike organism Candida albicans in the intestines. They may say this fungus causes symptoms such as fatigue, headache and poor memory. This condition is sometimes called yeast syndrome.

To cure these symptoms, some people try a candida cleanse diet. The diet removes foods such as sugar, white flour, yeast and cheese from the typical diet. The candida cleanse diet is based on the theory that these foods cause candida overgrowth.

It's thought that candida are common in the human gut, also called the digestive system. An overgrowth of candida can worsen existing digestive diseases such as ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease.

But there is little proof that diet changes can improve the effects of a significant yeast overgrowth. Health care providers usually prescribe antifungal medicines to treat yeast overgrowth. This overgrowth is diagnosed by putting a small scope into your stomach — a procedure called an endoscopy — and taking a tiny sample of your stomach lining, called a biopsy.

There isn't much proof to support the diagnosis of yeast syndrome. And there are no clinical trials that show that a candida cleanse diet works for treating any known medical condition.

On the other hand, and not surprisingly, many people may notice that their health seems to improve when following this diet. If you stop eating sugar and white flour, you'll generally cut out most processed foods. These foods tend to be higher in calories and lower in nutritional value. There is growing evidence to suggest that reducing processed foods and focusing on whole foods may have a number of health benefits unrelated to questions about the effects of yeast overgrowth.

Within a few weeks of replacing processed foods with fresh ones and replacing white flour with whole grains, you may start to feel better in general. Feeling better is probably the main benefit of a candida cleanse diet, rather than stopping the growth of yeast in the digestive system.

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Oct. 01, 2022 See more Expert Answers