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 reducing their caffeine intake.
There are a number of reasons why you need to reduce the amount of coffee and tea that you drink while on the Candida Diet. Happily, there are also several very good alternatives that you can use to at least partially 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 reduce caffeine?
Caffeine is one of the items that you definitely should cut back on during your Candida diet, especially if you have become dependent on it, or find that you have been increasing your dose. Coffee if overall quite good for your health, but only if it’s not disturbing your sleep or burning you out.
Firstly, caffeine drains your immune system by stressing your adrenal glands. Every time you drink coffee you are stimulating your adrenals to produce adrenaline and cortisol. If you do this several times a day for a few years, your adrenal glands and HPA axis may become dysregulated, leaving you worn out and fatigued. When this happens, the HPA axis fails to do its 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 can cause 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.
Decaffeinated (‘decaf’) coffee is a better chioce than normal coffee. It still contains small amounts of caffeine and shares many of the health benefits that coffee can bring. This is a good option when you’re trying to find a substitute for your morning beverage, but you can also 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. 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 may be an integral part of your Candida treatment anyway. 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 our Ultimate Candida Diet treatment plan.