According to the Oxford Journal on Clinical Infectious Diseases, “In the past decade, the frequency of opportunistic fungal infections has increased, and the spectrum of fungal pathogens has changed (1).” Incidences of fungal infections like Candida have become quite common now than ever before.
Today there is a growing awareness of the importance of including antifungal foods in our daily diet to strengthen the immune system. By including an anti-fungal diet and supplements in our daily intake of foods, the body develops the natural capacity to defend against fungal attacks and other pathogens that cause diseases.
Of course, there are effective antifungal drugs to treat fungal diseases like Candida. However, frequent use of drugs leads to the development of drug-resistant fungal strains. Continuous use of antifungal drugs would result in serious health hazards; they upset the proper functioning of the kidney, liver, and pancreas (2).
Most Ayurveda practitioners and Alternative medicine experts advocate the need to eat more and more anti-fungal foods to prevent and cure fungal infections. Candida patients are often provided with a Candida diet food list to be strictly followed for faster healing of the infection.
What Does ‘Antifungal’ Mean?
The word ‘Antifungal’ in medical parlance refers to a medication that limits or prevents the growth of yeasts and other such fungal organisms.
“An antifungal medication is a pharmaceutical fungicide or fungistatic used to treat and prevent mycoses such as athlete’s foot, ringworm, candidiasis (thrush), serious systemic infections such as cryptococcal meningitis, and others (3).”
12 Effective Antifungal Foods
Some foods that we eat have inherent properties that have antifungal effects. It does not mean just by eating those foods you can get rid of fungal diseases like ringworm, Candida, or athlete’s foot. These foods actually boost the immune system with the antifungal capacity to some extent.
Now let us go on to discuss the best foods and diets that help in preventing fungal infections like Candia and athlete’s foot.
Garlic contains efficient antifungal and antibacterial properties that can aid our body to keep the disease-causing pathogens at bay.
This pungent-tasting bulb from the species in the onion genus (allium) contains an enzyme called “allinase.” When this enzyme comes in contact with another compound called allin, the combination of these two creates allicin, a potent antimicrobial, and antifungal agent. Ajoene is another compound found in garlic that can ward off common fungal attacks on body tissues (4,5).
Garlic is a popularly recommended Candida diet food. You can also find that many of the natural therapies for fungal and bacterial infection usually contain Garlic as a major ingredient.
If you are prone to fungal infections, certainly you should liberally eat a lot more Garlic. You can use it in your foods for adding flavor. It is also nice to drink garlic juice or eat raw garlic occasionally. However, you shouldn’t be taking garlic on an empty stomach as this might lead to stomach burn.
Ginger is a popular spicy root herb generally used for adding flavor to foods. Ginger roots both dry and raw are used as a major ingredient in several natural remedies for common ailments.
It contains powerful antioxidant and antifungal properties. According to one of the studies, the naturally occurring gingerol and shogaol present in ginger roots have the potential to inhibit the growth and proliferation of Candida Albicans. However, more such research is required to authenticate the effectiveness of Ginger in expelling fungal infections.
Ginger also has the power to stimulate and enhance the immune system which may otherwise stay dormant in some cases. The anti-inflammatory properties of ginger help to minimize the inflammation caused by fungal infections like Candida overgrowth (6,7).
You could generously use ginger as flavoring agents in most of the dishes you prepare, and there are unique ginger recipes as well. It is beneficial to add ginger to your tea, vegetable smoothies, jams, pickles, and sauces.
Phytochemicals present in medicinal plants like onion, garlic, ginger, etc. have health benefits and helps in antimicrobial activity against some of the pathogenic bacteria and fungi. According to a study that appeared in the Research Journal of Medicinal Plant, extracts from these plant bulbs and roots have an antifungal potential for the elimination of fungus; the study endorses the possibility of using them to eliminate fungus for medicinal and agricultural purposes (8).
Another study appeared in the Ulster Medical Society, the scientific examination of the antimicrobial properties of onion and other six plant species confirmed the presence of antibacterial and antifungal properties in them (9).
Onions also help in flushing out the excess fluids out of the body. This is beneficial for Candida patients who suffer from high retention of water in the body.
You can use onion in various dishes you prepare as it perfectly blends with most of the foods. It provides amazing taste especially when you are preparing fried vegetable dishes and meat.
4. Cayenne Pepper
Cayenne pepper has the natural ability to kill fungus and prevent the development of fungal pathogens. One of the investigations into the vitro fungal activity of the Cayenne pepper proved that it can resist 16 different fungal strains, including Candida (10).
Cayenne pepper also helps to improve the immune system and digestive system. It is effective for getting rid of the Candida fungal infection in the bowel. It improves metabolism and blood circulation which is beneficial for reducing fatigue caused by the Candida infection.
Cayenne pepper is a pungent flavor-giving spice that you can easily add to most of the vegetables and meat dishes you prepare at home.
Rutabaga is another useful anti-fungal food that can increase the defensive mechanism of your immune system against harmful pathogens. One serving of rutabagas possesses 53 percent of Vitamin C which can give an excellent boost to immunity.
It is one of the unique vegetables that contain a diverse composition of antioxidant compounds. Glucosinolate is a rare sulfur-rich compound that has the potential to prevent and control inflammation, especially those happening in cancerous tumors and pathogenic infections.
Carbohydrates in the rutabaga might indeed nourish the Candida overgrowth a little at first, but the antifungal properties in it help to eliminate the Candida fungus later on.
You can include this versatile vegetable in your daily diet in many ways. You can mix it in your vegetable soup; make rutabaga fries or rutabaga mash. Just like the potatoes, it can gel well with most of the other vegetables.
6. Probiotic Foods
Most of the common fungal infections like Candida in the stomach can be controlled by consuming probiotics foods. Probiotics are “live microorganisms, which when administered in adequate amounts, confer a health benefit on the host” (11,12)
Probiotic foods help to develop a healthy digestive tract and a healthy immune system which is extremely beneficial for preventing pathogenic diseases.
Since the mid-1990s, clinical studies suggest that eating probiotic foods can help in remedying several gastrointestinal illnesses, prevent allergies and remedy vaginal and urinary infections in women (13).
There is a need for more research and clinical trials before adopting probiotic foods as an antifungal diet for Candida and other fungal infections.
The best probiotic foods that you can really enjoy well are Kefir, sour pickles, Raw Cheese, Kvass, Yogurt, Kombucha Tea, and Cultured Vegetables (Kimchi) which are rich in probiotic bacteria.
7. Coconut Oil
Coconut oil is a perfect antifungal food diet for Candida and other pathogenic maladies. The Lauric acid and Caprylic acid amply present in the coconut oil are effective in inhibiting Candida overgrowth and for strengthening the immune system (14,15).
Make coconut oil your preferred cooking oil, and also you can eat 1 or 2 teaspoons of raw coconut oil daily. Directly apply coconut oil regularly on fungus-infected areas on the skin; this is a powerful remedy for getting rid of the infections. Use coconut oil directly on the skin and even sensitive areas without worry.
8. Olive Oil
According to a study published in the Journal of Clinical and Diagnostic Research, olive and cinnamon oil possess antifungal properties that help in eliminating Candia. The study covered 1376 patients clinically suspected to have fungal septicemia. According to the final result of the study, cinnamon and olive oil showed marked sensitivity against Albicans and non-albicans spp (16).
Oleuropein, a natural chemical, present in olive oil is an excellent antifungal agent. This chemical also helps to boost the immune system response to Candida. Olive oil also helps in stabilizing the blood sugar which is necessary for inhibiting the yeast overgrowth in Candida patients.
Make olive oil as one of your cooking oils and also add it to your favorite foods for adding flavor. You can also directly apply olive oil to skin infections caused by fungus and other microbes.
Cinnamon bark and oil are excellent anti-inflammatories and antifungal herbal spice that works very well to contain fungal infections. Cinnamon essential oil is a fantastic anti-microbial and antifungal food. Studies have proven the ability of cinnamon oil in suppressing the fungi that are responsible for the yeast Candida (17,18).
The caprylic acid in cinnamon suppresses yeast overgrowth. Cinnamon oil and extracts are traditionally used in natural remedies for treating H. pylori and Candida. However, those suffering from stomach ulcers should not be using cinnamon in foods or external applications.
You can use cinnamon as flavor adding spice to your foods, smoothies, and juices.
The eugenol in cloves is a powerful essential oil that works as an effective antifungal remedy. It works well for fungal infections on the nails.
Its antiseptic properties allow it to kill the Candida yeast and help in boosting the immune system.
You can use clove buds as a flavoring spice in your food preparation, smoothies, tea, and juices.
Marine seaweeds are well-known antifungal diets that help in preventing and healing fungal infections of every type.
According to a research report published in the Asian Pacific Journal Of Tropical Biomedicine, the seaweed extracts have strong antibacterial and antifungal inhibition capacity. This particular study used seven different solvent extracts of seaweeds, and each of them has shown significant bacterial action (19).
Seaweeds are nutrient-rich antifungal food diets that can help in fighting Candida and other fungal infections. The iodine content in seaweed helps to prevent hypothyroidism usually experienced by many Candida patients.
Fungus and other pathogens in the gut thrive when the intestinal tract and colon are infested with toxic waste. Having seaweeds in your diet helps to cleanse the toxic pollutants from your gut and improve the health of the intestinal tract.
If you search a little, you’ll find several recipes with seaweeds that you can integrate into your daily meal plan.
12. Pumpkin Seeds
Various important medicinal properties including anti-diabetic, antioxidant, anti-carcinogenic, anti-inflammatory and others make the pumpkin and pumpkin seeds an important vegetable that you should not miss out on. (20)
The Omega-3 fatty acids in the pumpkin seeds have amazing antifungal and antibacterial effects. The antifungal proteins in pumpkin seeds are capable of combating the symptoms of Candida infection.
There are several pumpkin seed recipes that you can prepare at home; you can also add them to smoothies and ice-creams.
The Bottom Line
Fungal infections like Candida have become rampant for a few decades. Most of the prescription medicines available for fungal infection treatments have some drawbacks that make their continuous consumption harmful to health.
You can make use of some of the anti-Candida diets, which we have already discussed above, to prevent and heal fungal infections.
Although there are so many antifungal foods to combat fungal infection, you should always consult your physician to get the last word on curing the fungal infection. Antifungal diets are not a total therapy in themselves but an additional boost to your regular treatment. Mostly you should have anti-Candida foods to prevent fungal infections and to fortify your immune system.
Do not forget to add your opinion on natural treatment for Candida and other diseases caused by a fungus in the comment section below.
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