Antifungal Foods

Natural antifungals play a vital role in combating Candida Overgrowth and are one of three Pillars of Success. The combination of the Candida Meal Plan, quality probiotics, and antifungals work together to create an effective treatment plan against Candida Overgrowth.

Candida is a fungus that is present in the gut, and normally it does not cause any problems. However, if the immune system is compromised and does not keep it in check, Candida can overgrow and cause inflammation and infections, leading to serious health problems. Since Candida is a fungus, it works by attacking the cell membrane and absorbing sugar molecules. Candida creates biofilms to protect itself and its colonies, which are difficult to target and treat.

Natural antifungals are compounds that have been specifically developed to target fungal organisms like Candida albicans. These compounds work by damaging the cell wall of the fungus, preventing it from growing and spreading any further. Natural antifungals have been shown to significantly reduce the levels of Candida albicans in the body and are an important part of any treatment plan for Candida Overgrowth.

Although there are drugs you can get from the doctor to treat Candida, they might come with some not-so-fun side effects like an itchy rash, tummy trouble, and more. Furthermore, taking antifungals may cause the Candida cells to become resistant, making treatments less effective over time.

Natural antifungals are a promising alternative or addition to prescription antifungals making the Candida treatment more effective. People who are sensitive to certain medications or who experience side effects from prescription antifungal drugs may find natural antifungal foods easier to tolerate.

Here is the list of the natural antifungal foods:

1. Garlic

Garlic is a natural antifungal that has been used for centuries to fight infections. It can be eaten raw, cooked, or taken in supplement form as an extract. The active ingredient in garlic is allicin. Allicin has antifungal, antibacterial, and anti-inflammatory properties, making it a powerful agent against Candida infection (1). It helps inhibit the growth of Candida fungi and Candida biofilm formation. A study on Allicin discovered that the antifungal properties of Allicin can be used to reduce the doses of antifungals needed to inhibit the growth of Candida albicans (2).

Garlic also contains sulfur-containing compounds, which have been shown to reduce blood pressure and cholesterol levels. It has also been linked to a reduced risk of some kinds of cancer and can help improve immune system function.

Consuming fresh garlic is more effective than garlic powder extract at inhibiting the growth of Candida (3).

You only need to eat 2-4 cloves of garlic per day to start seeing an effect on your Candida.

If you don’t tolerate eating fresh garlic well or experience heartburn, try removing the garlic germ from each clove. Slice the clove lengthwise and pullout the sprout from the middle of the clove. The germ can easily be separated from the clove by picking at it with the tip of a knife.

2. Onions

Onions have been used to address numerous health issues and ailments for centuries. In recent years, research has revealed that onions are a natural antifungal agent. Onions contain a variety of compounds that are effective against certain fungi.

One compound, Quercetin, is an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory with some antifungal properties. Studies show that it has the ability to inhibit the growth of fungal strains such as Candida and Cryptococcus (4). It also assists in inhibiting Candida biofilm formation (5).

Onions contain around 300mg of quercetin per kilogram, much higher than many other fruits and vegetables.

Another effective antifungal compound found in onions is Allicin, which is derived from sulfur. It has also been found to act against Candida species and other fungi.

Studies suggest that the combination of multiple compounds found in onions can be more effective than a single compound alone. This means that consuming onions or products made from onions may provide greater antifungal benefits than isolating a single compound in a form of a supplement.

An interesting fact is that onions contain more antioxidant and polyphenolic activity the longer they are stored, often giving a greater effect against biofilm formation (6).

3. Ginger

Ginger (Zingiber officinale) is a plant native to southeastern Asia. It has been used for centuries as an herbal remedy in traditional medicine for its anti-inflammatory and antiseptic properties. It’s been popular for the treatment of gastric and respiratory ailments, such as for common colds and flu.

In more recent times, ginger has been studied for its potential antifungal properties. Studies have found that ginger contains 3 major active compounds – gingerols, shogaols, and paradols.

Besides being antioxidants, these compounds prevent the growth of different kinds of fungi, including Candida albicans and their biofilms (7). In fact, ginger’s candida-fighting abilities are so strong that it has been found to be just as effective as nystatin, a prescription antifungal (8).

Ginger can be consumed as tea, or added to cooked dishes. Since it can be bitter, some people mix it with lemon juice to make it more palatable.

4. Coconut Oil

Coconut oil has long been used as a natural antifungal remedy. Studies have shown that its fatty acids, specifically Lauric acid and Caprylic acid, make it highly effective at killing off pathogenic bacteria and Candida fungi.

Another benefit of coconut oil is its ability to restore the natural balance of bacteria in the intestinal flora and aid digestion, making it an especially important food item to have in your arsenal against Candida.

Coconut oil can be incorporated by adding to your diet as cooking oil, added to smoothies, or eaten by a spoonful alone. You can also create a bulletproof coffee with coconut oil.

5. Rutabaga

Rutabaga, also known as swede or yellow turnip, is a root vegetable native to Scandinavia. It’s a cross between a cabbage and a turnip.

As a crucifer, Rutabaga contains Phytoalexins which are a type of secondary metabolite produced in plants to defend against herbivores, fungi, and other diseases. This property makes Rutabaga an effective natural antifungal agent (9).

Rutabaga also contains compounds that help boost your immune system, making it even more beneficial for fighting fungal infections.

There are several ways to enjoy rutabaga. It can be boiled, mashed, shredded, or roasted for a delicious side dish. You can also add it to soups and stews for added flavor and nutrition.

6. Olive Oil

Olive oil has long been used as a natural antifungal agent due to its unique composition of fatty acids. These fatty acids have been found to help fight off fungal infections, helping to keep the body healthy and strong. A study conducted in 2016 showed olive oil was able to inhibit the growth of nearly 50% of Candida isolates (10). It is believed that the monounsaturated fatty acids and polyphenols present in olive oil are responsible for its antifungal properties.

Olive oil contains Oleuropein, a phenolic compound that has been found to inhibit the growth of certain fungal species. In addition, it contains Tyrosol and Hydroxytyrosol, which have also demonstrated antifungal activity in laboratory studies (11).

The benefits of olive oil go beyond its antifungal properties. It also contains antioxidants that help reduce inflammation and improve cardiovascular health. Additionally, the fatty acids present in olive oil can help reduce cholesterol and lower triglyceride levels, helping to keep your heart healthy.

Not only is olive oil a staple of a Mediterranean diet, but you can also benefit from consuming it. Whether you’re using it for cooking, as a salad dressing, mixed with herbs and spices or not, adding 2-3 tablespoons of olive oil into your daily routine can make all the difference.

7. Seaweed

Seaweed is an incredibly versatile natural resource that is also effective against Candida albicans.

It’s a staple food in many Asian cultures and is often used in medicines, but its antifungal qualities are lesser known.

The structure of seaweed is particularly well-suited to combating Candida albicans as it can absorb and bind to yeast molecules. The polysaccharides contained in seaweed also have antimicrobial properties which render them effective against Candida fungi.

You can get seaweed in a form of nori sheets, flakes, or powder that can be added to soups or smoothies. It’s also possible to find canned or frozen varieties.

8. Pumpkin

Many people love pumpkins during Halloween and Thanksgiving because they are pretty to look at and make delicious pies. But behind its seasonal reputation, pumpkin is also known for its medicinal properties. It contains antifungal agents that can help fight off fungi and bacteria when consumed or applied topically. The 2009 study showed that Pr-2 protein found in pumpkin skin works as a novel antifungal against various fungal pathogens (12).

Additionally, the seeds of pumpkin are known for their antifungal properties. They contain phytosterols and polyphenols that inhibit the growth of fungi, including Candida albicans which is a common cause of yeast infections. Pumpkin seed oil also has anti-inflammatory effects which can help reduce symptoms of fungal skin infections (13).

9. Carrots

It might be surprising to see carrots on this list of natural antifungals, but they are indeed an effective treatment. Carrots contain a natural compound called Falcarinol which is known to have antifungal properties (14). Falcarinol is found in the skin of carrots and is what gives them their bitter taste. In addition, carrots also contain high levels of vitamin A which helps boost the immune system and fight off fungal infections.

Carrots can be eaten raw, boiled, or steamed and are an easy addition to any meal. Cooked carrots improve the bioavailability of carotenoids, precursors of vitamin A. Because carrots are relatively high in natural sugars, it’s best to eat them in moderation.

10. Apple Cider Vinegar

Apple cider vinegar (ACV) has several pharmacological effects such as antifungal, antibacterial, and antioxidant. It’s also antidiabetic and helps stabilize and control glucose levels (15).

ACV’s phenolic content makes it an ideal antifungal agent against Candida. Its acidic nature helps to create an environment where Candida cannot thrive and its components block the growth of fungal cells, making it a potent natural solution for treating Candida infection (16).

Another active component in ACV is Acetic acid which gives the vinegar its sour taste. Its’ anti-inflammatory properties help reduce pain and irritation. In addition to these benefits, Acetic acid also helps balance pH levels in the body which is important for treating fungal infections like Candida.

Apple cider vinegar should always be diluted before use in a ratio of one part ACV to four parts water. It can be taken internally with water or added to salads when mixed with olive oil.

11. Aloe Vera

Aloe vera is a species of succulent plant with multiple therapeutic benefits, including antifungal properties (17). It has been used for centuries in folk medicine to treat ailments such as skin irritations and infections. However, this plant has a multitude of other uses that are not as commonly known.

Aloe vera is an edible plant. Its leaves can be used to make juice. This healthy food contains a variety of vitamins, minerals, and enzymes that can be beneficial for overall health. It’s soothing to the gut and helps to reduce inflammation of the intestinal walls (18). You can eat the leave raw, or add them to salads, yogurt, or smoothies.

12. Lemon and Lime Juices

The antifungal properties of lemon and lime juice make it an effective natural treatment for Candida infection. A study investigating the inhibitory effects of citrus fruit juices showed that lemon and lime help suppress Candida albicans growth the most (19).

Lemons and limes are also on the Candida Meal Plan list and don’t need to be restricted. They are extremely low-calorie, low-sugar fruits that can be eaten guilt-free.

You can add half a lemon or a whole lime to your glass of warm water early in the morning, or include them in salads with olive oil. They are also great for seasoning your vegetable or seafood dishes.

13. Black and Green Tea

Black tea is adored around the world for its warm flavor and aroma. But beyond its delightful taste lies a fantastic property – it’s a powerful antifungal.

Black tea contains polyphenols, a type of antioxidant that gives the tea its rich flavor and aroma. Theaflavins and Catechins, the predominant polyphenols found in black tea have been shown to possess antifungal properties against Candida albicans and other Candida strains (20).

Green tea, much like black tea, contains polyphenols that are primarily made up of Catechins. These have been known to be antifungal as well as inhibitory against Candida albicans growth (21).

14. Turmeric

Turmeric has long been used as an effective antifungal agent against Candida albicans, a type of fungus that causes yeast infections. Native to India, it is a common ingredient in many Ayurvedic medicines. Recently, Turmeric has gained worldwide attention for its numerous health benefits.

Curcumin, an active compound present in turmeric, has antioxidant, anticancer, anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, and healing effects (22). A study done comparing Curcumin to a prescription drug against Candida albicans found that it was effective against multiple Candida strains (23).

Turmeric can be added to smoothies, soups, or sauteed dishes. For optimal turmeric absorption, take it with a pinch of black pepper.

15. Cayenne and Black Pepper

Cayenne pepper, also known as Capsicum annuum, is a spicy red chili pepper commonly used in Mexico. The active ingredient in cayenne pepper, Capsaicin, is effective against fungi such as Candida glabrata and Candida tropicalis (24).

The anti-fungal activity of cayenne pepper is thought to be due to its ability to inhibit the growth and reproduction of fungi. Additionally, studies have found that cayenne pepper can reduce inflammation and promote healing in damaged tissue.

Black pepper also exhibited antifungal activity, including against Candida albicans (25). The main component in pepper oil, Piperine, might be the reason for this. Piperine is thought to inhibit the activity of certain enzymes produced by fungi, which helps reduce their growth rate.

16. Cinnamon

Cinnamon is a versatile spice with multiple health benefits. Research has shown that it can be an effective antifungal, particularly when used in the form of cinnamon oil. This is due to its chemical composition and active components, which are known as Cinnamaldehyde and Eugenol.

Cinnamaldehyde is responsible for the distinct smell of cinnamon and is an effective antifungal agent. According to research, Cinnamon is especially effective against Candida albicans and inhibits its adhesion to intestinal walls (26). Eugenol, another active component of cinnamon, contains powerful antioxidant properties that destroy fungi and other microbes (27).

In addition to its antifungal properties, cinnamon also has other health benefits. It can help lower cholesterol and regulate blood sugar levels. If you take cinnamon together with meals or drinks, it can level out the blood sugar spikes caused by food intake. By keeping your blood sugar levels stabilized, you can also help keep yeast overgrowth under control.

Cinnamon is also good at reducing inflammation. It does that by counteracting cytokines, which is the body’s inflammatory response to infection. Such a cytokine release causes body aches, fatigue, and joint pain. A prolonged cytokine response often leads to chronic inflammation, resulting in lasting damage to the body. Cinnamon is known to reduce the effects of this response and prevent chronic inflammation from developing in the body.

There are numerous ways you can incorporate cinnamon into your diet. You can sprinkle it on certain foods, like oatmeal and yogurt, or mix it in with warm beverages like tea and coffee. You can also create a delicious cinnamon-infused smoothie by blending some fresh fruit with almond milk and a teaspoon of cinnamon. You can even add it to meat marinades for a unique flavor.

No matter how you choose to enjoy it, cinnamon is an excellent way to get the antifungal and health benefits that it provides.

17. Cumin

Cumin is another antifungal spice on this list. Cumin contains an active ingredient called Cumin aldehyde, which is responsible for its antifungal and antimicrobial properties. Studies have shown that this compound can be effective against various types of fungal infections, including Candida albicans (28). Cumin is a great way to bring out the sweetness of root vegetables or enhance the savory flavor of meats like beef and lamb.

18. Bay Leaf

Bay leaf is an evergreen perennial shrub that has been used for over 1000 years. During the Middle Ages, wreaths made of bay leaves crowned victorious athletes in ancient Greece. Currently, it’s a popular spice used in pickling and marinating vegetables and stuffings, as bay leaves are delicately fragrant.

In recent years, it’s been discovered that bay leaves have antifungal properties which help to suppress fungal infections. The antifungal properties of bay leaves are due to an active compound called Eugenol, a natural phenolic compound that acts as a fungicide. Eugenol kills fungi by blocking the cell membrane, thus inhibiting the growth and spread of pathogens. Cinnamic aldehyde, another active ingredient in bay leaves, restrains the growth of various fungi by hampering their mycelial stage (29).

Bay leaves aren’t only for pickling and marinating. They can also be used to enhance the flavor of soups, stews, braises or rice dishes.