In 2016 I took a food intolerance blood test which showed intolerance for yeast.
What I should have realized is this simple fact: if you have yeast intolerance don’t eat yeast or yeast containing products. Simple. Anyone who tells you that a further long list of other ingredients also creates yeast or candida overgrowth in your body (a condition known as candidiasis) is leading you up the garden path.
I was definitely sucked in, and while I don’t regret it, I have learned a lot in the last 18 months which I want to share with readers and followers.
In my desperation to try and treat* my IBS symptoms, I started to read more and more online about yeast free diets and the lists of things I ‘shouldn’t’ be eating. I became convinced after cutting out all these ingredients for a period of 3 months and finding my symptoms subside, that this was the answer and that a yeast free diet and candida overgrowth must be the truth.
However, as the months went on, starting my blog and ‘circulating’ online with qualified nutritionists and dieticians, the more, I began to have my doubts. I cringed a little inside when I needed to explain my diet choice: I couldn’t find anyone else extolling the virtues of yeast free, why was I the only one? I had an inner nagging doubt that something was amiss.
Before I go on, I must say that of course candidiasis does exist. But usually only in high-risk patients with extremely low immune systems, for example, people with AIDS/HIV or those who have recently been admitted to hospital. Candidiasis does not occur in the vast majority of the ‘worried well’ who can look at the long list of supposed symptoms caused by candidiasis and think it applies to them.
Candida overgrowth is not something that affects a large proportion of the population.
Ultimately a ‘yeast free diet’ is extremely healthy. And that’s what I came to understand, through reading and learning from qualified nutritionists and dieticians. Naturally, a diet which is low in alcohol, free sugars and processed foods and high in vegetables, fruit, untreated fish and meat is going to get the thumbs up from your body and better reaction from an unhappy gut. This has nothing to do with starving the candida in your body, but everything to do with adjusting your intake to more natural, wholesome ingredients.
The interest in candida and yeast free is intrinsically linked to the huge scaremongering that goes on about sugar in today’s press about health. Now don’t get me wrong, I love Sarah Wilson’s I Quit Sugar just as much as the next person – delicious recipes and ways to decrease* free sugar intake right there in one lovely book.
However, turning sugar into a demon which it is not and in particular scaring people looking to find a healthy way to nourish themselves from fruit and other naturally occurring sugar, is completely counterproductive. The basis of the yeast free and anti-candida diet run the risk of doing the same: scaring people away from perfectly healthy products and ingredients like mushrooms, miso, shellfish and grapes on the basis of wholly unbalanced evidence.
So in summary: if you’ve been reading online and think you’ve got candida overgrowth and you’re not someone with an extremely low immune system, the chances are you probably don’t.
What I would say is do what’s right for you. Absolutely adjust your diet if you are suffering from IBS symptoms and keep a record of your own food intake and warning signs to see what your body reacts to. Everyone is so different – your gut contains millions of bacteria that are unique to you and won’t ever be the same as someone else.
What’s right for me is sticking to the ‘yeast free’ principles 80% of the time when I am cooking and eating. But that’s not because I believe I’m killing off nasty candida in my gut – it’s because the list of ingredients is generally pretty healthy and if you don’t get too obsessed with sticking to it, it’s a great basis for a good diet. Give it whatever name you like – just know what suits you.
And finally, if you are suffering from IBS symptoms and think candidiasis is the answer from searching on Google, I would strongly suggest you go to your GP and speak to them to get some tests. Get a referral to a dietician or nutritionist if you can, as they are the experts who can really get you the help and solutions you need.
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