The candida diet is among the worst diets ever conceived.
But when you’re dealing with candida overgrowth, what else can you do?
Can you use the keto diet for candida?
I know, I’m a keto evangelical. But I also know that this way of eating is not for everyone nor for every condition. My bias towards the keto diet comes about through my work with chronic fatigue patients. For fatigue, I have not found a better diet than keto – for most people.
Fatigue aside, you won’t find me converting people to follow a keto diet. There are plenty of situations where a keto diet isn’t a good fit. Candida overgrowth may be one of those situations…
You’ll find out why in today’s post. But before you start this post, make sure you check out my article on whether candida is a legitimate cause of fatigue. You’ll uncover everything you need to know about candida. Once you’re done with that article, jump back into this one!
Great! Let’s dig into keto and candida.
Candida? Reduce your sugar intake – regardless of which diet you follow
Both the keto and candida diets promote a dramatic reduction in sugar intake. This, of course, includes refined sugars but it also includes high-carb fruits and veggies. Foods like mangos, yams, watermelon, beets, and carrots are generally excluded in both diets.
Why is everyone obsessed about limiting sugar intake?
Yeast species like candida love sugar. They thrive on the stuff. Sugar is their food of choice. And they never seem to be able to get enough of it.
By limiting your carbohydrate intake you limit the amount of sugar to feed the candida. Remember, carbohydrates are digested into glucose/sugar! With less sugar available, you stomp out the resources needed by candida species to overgrow and cause unwanted symptoms.
When it comes to sugar intake and candida overgrowth, I think you’ll find agreement between all the diet camps. I don’t know of any nutrition plans that advocate for increasing your carb/sugar intake when dealing with candida. Instead, they all recommend limiting the stuff.
If you take one thing away from this article, it’s reduce your sugar intake. This will be beneficial for you in so many different contexts – even when a candida overgrowth is not at play.
What makes the keto diet different than the diet for candida?
The keto diet is unique to most other diets out there as it fundamentally shifts the fuel source your body uses for energy. Non-keto diets make use of glucose for powering your body. Keto diets make use of ketones for powering your body.
The use of ketones for energy is the fundamental difference between the keto diet and the candida diet.
Intuitively, you would think that the more carbs/glucose you reduce from your diet, the better the diet should be for candida overgrowth. Bring on the zero-carb carnivore diet!
I wish it were that simple. Because like us, candida species can use ketones for energy. This means the keto diet might actually make your candida overgrowth worse!
Will a keto diet make your candida overgrowth worse?
This is a topic of great debate. And I suspect it will remain that way until we get some solid evidence via clinical trials. For now, all we have are patient and practitioner experiences. And these vary dramatically from person to person.
On one side you have those saying that being in ketosis makes candida worse. Much worse. On the other side, they say the low-carb way of eating is your best bet to overcome candida.
Well, candida is what’s known as a eukaryote. Meaning there are mitochondria within its cell nucleus – just regular cells in our bodies. Bacteria, on the other hand, are prokaryotes. You won’t find mitochondria in bacteria.
This is an incredibly important distinction between yeast and bacteria. Your mitochondria can run on either glucose or ketones. And because they have similar cells, the same goes for yeast species.
Your mitochondria are more efficient at producing ATP (energy) when using ketones than when using glucose. I suspect (but cannot confirm) the same goes for yeast species like candida. (1)
Should this be the case, it may be that ketosis makes candida worse. But theories are different than practical applications. Let’s see what happens when you apply this theory to the real world!
Candida theory vs practical application
If I practiced swimming by reading books, I’d be an awful swimmer. It wouldn’t matter how many hours I spend immersed in swimming theory. I would not be able to compete with someone who actually swims.
Knowing that candida species can use ketones for energy does not prove a keto diet will worsen your yeast infection.
I’ve seen keto diets improve candida overgrowth symptoms on multiple occasions. A keto diet may work for you. It also might make things worse.
I’ll explain why in the next section!
Candida infections don’t happen in a vacuum
What are the chances that your candida overgrowth is the only issue in your body?
I’d say pretty slim.
This is because candida is an opportunistic infection. Meaning overgrowth occurs when your defenses are down. This could be due to an overuse of antibiotics. It could also be due to conditions that suppress your immune function like diabetes.
Therefore, recommending a keto diet as part of your treatment needs to take the big picture into account. By the big picture, I mean all of your health concerns. As holistic practitioners, we can’t just focus on candida. We need to identify how candida was able to gain a foothold in your body.
If it’s diabetes that’s contributing to your candida overgrowth, a keto diet is one of the best treatments you could do! But if your candida overgrowth came about by way of long-term antibiotic use, you’ll want to consider eating lots of prebiotic fiber and fermented foods to help repopulate your gut with beneficial bacteria. Bacteria that will help outcompete the candida species. In this context, it may be true that ketosis makes candida worse.
Here’s the main takeaway of this entire post:
A keto diet may improve your candida overgrowth. But it may also make it worse.
A keto diet should be prescribed only in the right context.
Just because your friend overcame candida using a keto diet does not mean you will. Use the next two sections to determine if a keto diet is right for you!
Keto for candida – when to use it
Use a keto diet for treating candida overgrowth in the following instances:
- You have a blood sugar imbalance like diabetes or hypoglycemia.
- You’re dealing with an autoimmune condition.
- You’re suffering from adrenal fatigue or chronic fatigue syndrome.
In these cases, the benefits of the keto diet far outweigh the potential downsides. Try a keto diet for 30-days. See if it improves your symptoms. If not, don’t get stuck. Move towards a paleo or Mediterranean style way of eating.
Keto diet for candida – when to avoid it
Avoid using a keto diet for candida overgrowth in the following instances:
- After long-term use of antibiotics
- If you recently had abdominal surgery
- You have a laboratory-confirmed case of intestinal permeability (leaky gut)
In these situations, you’re going to want to focus on rebuilding the beneficial bacteria in your gut. Eating prebiotic or soluble fiber is one of the best ways to do so. Foods like Jerusalem artichoke, chicory root, green bananas/plantains, and inulin, are stellar sources of soluble fiber.
Insoluble fiber is also going to be your friend. Vegetables like sweet potatoes, carrots, and beans will help add bulk to your stool. Note that none of these foods are keto-friendly. That’s because their carb content is just too high.
If you fall into one of these three categories, forget the keto diet. Focus on rebuilding a healthy gut.
More ways of treating candida overgrowth
Before you do anything for candida, make sure you use accurate laboratory testing to determine if you actually have a candida infection. Once you’ve confirmed a candida infection (and only after that), follow my recommendations:
- Take a saccharomyces boulardii supplement
- This is a beneficial yeast species.
- It can help outcompete candida in your gut.
- Consume a regular source of probiotics
- Sauerkraut, kimchi, and kefir are all amazing sources of probiotics. Opt for at least one serving every day.
- Probiotic supplements can also be beneficial.
- Add garlic and coconut oil to your daily meals
- Coconut oil contains lauric acid and caprylic acid. Both of which are potent antifungals.
- Garlic contains allicin which has been shown useful in treating yeast species. (3)
Each of these can be employed regardless of the diet you follow.
Ok, now you know the ins and outs of a keto diet as a means of treating candida overgrowth.
It’s time for me to hear from you!
How did a keto diet affect your candida symptoms?
Leave your answers in the comments section below!
It have Jesu gone 5 days on this keto but I am exhausted fatigued weak in my body joint headache dont know if its die off symptoms or if its bc I dont get carbs I just feel more sick than good… what are your advice ?I have no energy.. shall I keep keto diet I dont want it to get worse:( or shall I try eat sweet potato small one day a meal? I got candida infection beacuse of antibiotics … bless
Mark Volmer says
Be sure to check out my article on keto fatigue – I think it has a solution for you 🙂
I’m seeing an amazing Naturopath and we’re healing the gut, did a blood test that revealed all the food allergies and candida.. and I have never had the relief I had until keto! no diabetes or anything either. I did keto for a month while healing the gut and said amazing! i’ll start to go back to a little more normal, until all my symptoms were terrible again. I’m back on keto now and other than on and off candida die off, i feel AMAZING. This had to be said, that everybody is different. I havent felt this great in years and i’m only 25. I recommend everybody be open and with the guidance of a great practitioner, see what works for YOU! <3
I began the Candida diet recently and after discovering reoccurring thrush in my mouth. I had insane bloating in my stomach and my face/body was extremely bloated, too. The candida diet was interesting and taught me what I was eating and how that was causing this effect. The sudden turn I think was because of coming off hormonal contraception pills (the pill can cause candida overgrowth in the gut). This diet, after so much research, slowly turned into a clean keto diet. Felt awful, headaches, fatigue etc until I learned that by letting go of carbs you are letting go of a lot of water weight in your body, meaning electrolytes go down. I have been drinking Himalayan salt water and keeping my diet as clean as possible and have found drastic changes already. It’s been about 2 weeks. My bloating is gone, brain fog gone, energy levels are up, not eating so much, just feeling so great. And the thrush from my tongue, gone. I am yet to see longer term results but I can see myself staying on keto for a long time. I am 24, female. This article helped me understand a lot about the similarities of these two diets as well so thank you!
Recovering Vegan says
No more candida issues after two years on a mostly ketogenic, meat-heavy Paleo diet. It has been life changing for me and helps me manage my autoimmune disease. I had leaky gut before I went keto. You might experience fatigue at first while the yeastie besties die off.
I’m on week 8 of a hopscotch keto diet. At first, I was trying to substitute what I usually eat with keto foods. It was pretty disastrous, buying strange pea proteins, bad guts from cauliflower rice, and eating so much dairy I felt sick. So I had a day every weekend off to relieve the pressure. Back onto my gluten-free diet for 24 hours and out with my mates eating pizza. I guessed that being in ketogenesis for 6 days a week was better than nothing. I have lost my belly fat and transformed myself from a frumpy 60-year-old, back into my pre-menopause shape with defined muscles.
I didn’t do this keto diet because of body image though, although it’s lovely to feel lithe again. I did the keto diet to heal my body, starting with my gut. The effects on my gut have not been as remarkable as the effect on my fat cells and energy levels though.
As I started taking HRT to help with my fibromyalgia and IBS last summer, I have asked my Doctor to add the third hormone, testosterone, to my prescription. I feel this may be the final key to resolving eostrogen-related gut problems and hope I won’t turn into a gorilla.
As I get used to this new strange diet, I feel my tastes changing as my gut flora changes. I am really getting into oodles of low-carb veggies with a small amount of fish/dairy/meat. It feels great to be breaking away from grain dominance and industrial agriculture, potato fillers keeping us slaves to food cravings. Supermarkets are being replaced by box schemes and farm shops. I can go for 8 hours without feeling that familiar pull of the quick-fix carbs. I am experiencing real hunger. Like when I was a kid and I had just spent the day building igloos. The sludginess I feel when I hopscotch back onto my pre keto gluten-free diet every weekend is really profound, and I might break away totally into keto sometime soon, and starve those candida bugs back into balance with the rest of my microbes.
Meanwhile, I am eyeing up the giant easter egg in the corner of the bedroom, that my brother has left for me, and find myself actually wanting to have this weekend off sugar.