Yeast infections are a problem for many people.
They’re most often caused by Candida yeasts, especially Candida albicans (
If you think you may have a yeast infection, the first thing you should do is talk to your medical provider.
However, several foods and dietary changes may also help.
Here are 5 diet tips to fight Candida infections.
Candida yeasts are microscopic fungi found around the skin, mouth, or gut (
They’re usually harmless but may cause infections when your body’s defenses are weakened.
Plants have their own defenses against yeasts and other fungi, and some produce compounds that are toxic to fungi.
A good example is lauric acid, a saturated fatty acid widely studied for its antimicrobial and antifungal effects.
Coconut oil is almost 50% lauric acid. This makes it one of the richest dietary sources of this compound, which rarely occurs in high amounts in food.
For this reason, using coconut oil as mouthwash — a method known as oil pulling — may curb thrush, or Candida infections in your mouth.
Keep in mind that human studies are needed to confirm these benefits.
SUMMARY One of the main components of coconut oil, lauric acid, may fight Candida infections. However, human research is needed to confirm these effects.
Several factors may make some people more prone to Candida infections, including diabetes and a weakened or suppressed immune system.
These bacteria are a part of your body’s natural defenses against Candida yeasts. They protect against infections by competing with them for space and nutrients (
Probiotics may help restore these populations of beneficial bacteria (
Probiotics are live bacteria often found in fermented foods, such as yogurt with active cultures. They can also be taken in supplements.
Studies suggest that probiotics may fight Candida infections (
A 12-week study in 215 older adults showed that taking lozenges containing 2 strains of the probiotic Lactobacillus reuteri significantly reduced the amount of Candida yeasts in their mouths (
In another study in 65 people with thrush, taking probiotics significantly improved the effectiveness of a conventional antifungal treatment (
SUMMARY Probiotics may reduce Candida growth and protect against infections in your mouth and gut. Vaginal capsules may also be effective.
In one study, sugar increased Candida growth in the digestive system of mice with weakened immune systems (
In a human study, rinsing with dissolved sugar (sucrose) has been linked to increased infections and higher yeast counts in the mouth (
However, human studies are limited, and more research is needed (
Even if a low-sugar diet may not always be effective against yeasts, eliminating added sugar from your diet will improve your health in many other ways.
SUMMARY Candida yeasts favor high-sugar environments. However, there’s limited evidence for the benefits of a low-sugar diet against Candida infections.
When given to mice in high amounts, allicin seems to fight Candida yeasts at a slightly less effective level than the antifungal drug fluconazole (
Test-tube research also indicates that garlic extract may reduce yeasts’ ability to attach to the cells lining your mouth (
However, garlic provides only tiny amounts of allicin, whereas most studies use high doses.
One 14-day study in women found that taking garlic supplements in capsules did not affect vaginal yeast infections (
Overall, more clinical trials are needed to determine whether eating garlic has any treatment value in humans.
Nevertheless, spicing up your food with garlic is safe and healthy. It might also work well alongside conventional Candida treatments.
SUMMARY Allicin in garlic acts against Candida. Still, it's unclear whether eating garlic affects yeast infections.
Another study suggested that curcumin may reduce yeasts’ ability to attach to cells from the mouths of people with HIV. In fact, curcumin was more effective than fluconazole, an antifungal drug (
Nonetheless, studies are limited to test tubes. It’s unclear whether curcumin supplements have effects in humans.
SUMMARY Curcumin, one of the active components of turmeric, may kill Candida yeasts. However, human studies are needed.
If you think you have a yeast infection, see your medical practitioner for an antifungal medication.
If you tend to get a lot of these infections, following a healthy diet or taking supplements like probiotics may help.
On their own, these diet strategies are far from being an effective treatment. But as a preventative measure, or alongside medication, they could make a difference.