The Candida Diet is quite a strict protocol, with a long list of foods that are forbidden. However dieters often complain that the hardest thing to give up is not the junk food, the fruit or the alcohol. What many people have the most trouble with is actually giving up their morning coffee.
There are a number of reasons why you need to avoid coffee and tea while on the Candida Diet. Happily, there are also several very good alternatives that you can use to replace your caffeine hit. So read on for a few options that you can use to ease your way on to the diet.
Why should sufferers of a Candida overgrowth avoid caffeine?
Sadly caffeine is one of the items that you definitely need to avoid on the Candida Diet. The good news is that caffeine is really not that good for your health anyway, so when you quit the coffee remember that you’re really doing your body a favor.
Firstly, caffeine drains your immune system by stressing your adrenal glands. Every time you drink coffee you are stimulating your adrenals to produce adrenaline. If you do this several times a day for a few years, your adrenals will get worn out and fatigued. When this happens, the adrenal glands fail to do their regular job properly, which is to regulate hormone levels in your body. This leads to symptoms like weight gain, mood disorders and disrupted sleep. Importantly, it also weakens your immune system response, which drops your defenses against Candida overgrowth.
Secondly, caffeine also causes spikes in your blood sugar that feed the Candida overgrowth. A 2008 study found that caffeine increased glucose levels in the blood by as much as eight percent. And this effect was even more pronounced after meals. As you know, sugar is the one thing that you really need to avoid on the Candida Diet – it feeds the yeast in your gut and contributes to Candida overgrowth.
Thirdly and lastly, coffee can also contain mold that can trigger an allergic reaction in those already suffering from Candida overgrowth. If you leave coffee beans out long enough, you will often see a light green or white moldy coating appear. This is trichoderma or one of a group of molds that frequently grows on coffee. Most teas also contain mold, so you need to be very careful which ones you choose.
Although decaffeinated (‘decaf’) coffee is certainly better than normal coffee, it still contains small amounts of caffeine. When you’re trying to find a substitute for your morning beverage, you need to look a little further afield.
So what are the alternatives?
There have been many times in the past (before Starbucks!) when coffee became unavailable. One solution that Europeans used is the Chicory plant. When the root is dried, roasted and ground, this makes for a tasty bitter drink that is not so different from coffee. By a happy coincidence, the chicory root is also a great prebiotic (it contains 20% Inulin), so it can even help to repopulate your gut with healthy bacteria. And lastly, the bitter taste stimulates the production of enzymes that help regulate your digestive system.
Herbal teas are another alternative, but you need to be careful which one you choose. Be careful to get one that doesn’t contain mold, as this will just feed your Candida. One of the best options is Nettle Leaf tea, which contains flavanoids (antioxidants), Vitamin C and Iron. It also helps with your blood circulation, which will get the toxic byproducts of Candida out of your body faster. Alternatively, try cinnamon tea, camomile tea, peppermint tea, ginger tea or licorice tea. All these have antifungal properties that will help with your Candida overgrowth.
This last one might not be a drink, but it deserves a mention because it should be an integral part of your Candida treatment anyway. Even better, it gives you an energy boost too! In addition to containing a natural antifungal named caprylic acid, coconut oil also contains a unique form of saturated fats (named MCTs). Your body doesn’t store these like it does with other fats – instead, it uses them as an energy source. Start with 1-2 tablespoons a day and see how you feel.
For a comprehensive list of drinks that you can try during your Candida treatment, take a look at my Ultimate Candida Diet treatment plan.