Last updated April 10, 2019 by Lisa Richards, CNC

Gluten Sensitivities And Candida

Gluten intolerance

Is there a connection between gluten sensitivities and Candida Related Complex? They tend to appear together, and in fact gluten sensitivities are extremely common among Candida sufferers. But is this correlation or causation? Can a disturbed gut flora and Candida lead to gluten sensitivities?

In today’s article, I’m going to explain the connection between these two common conditions. This article will go some way to explaining why, in our treatment program, Dr. Eric Wood and I recommend avoiding gluten entirely while you are recovering from Candida.

Gluten is a particularly difficult protein for us to digest, especially when many foods these days contain very high levels, and our digestive systems are simply not built to process it well. Until you have managed to restore a normal balance to your gut flora, gluten is highly likely to be a problem food.

What Are Gluten Sensitivities Anyway?

Gluten sensitivities are generally split between two different disorders named celiac disease (an auto-immune condition), and non-celiac gluten sensitivity (often known as gluten intolerance). In terms of the symptoms they cause, gluten intolerance in many ways just a ‘milder’ version of celiac disease, although the way in which they cause these symptoms is quite different.

Celiac disease is a hereditary condition where the consumption of gluten causes a specific immune response resulting in damage to the intestinal lining. This can lead to malabsorption of nutrients and various other problems. Simply put, eating gluten causes the body to attack itself.

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Non-celiac gluten sensitivity, on the other hand, results in similar symptoms without the same kind of immune response and antibodies that we see in celiac disease. In other words, someone with gluten intolerance is sensitive to gluten without having full-blown celiac disease.

What’s The Connection To Candida?

How does this all relate to Candida? Well, there is a protein on the surface of Candida Albicans that is very, very similar to the proteins found in gluten. This link was noted back in 2003, when a team of researchers postulated that C. Albicans might actually be a trigger for celiac disease.

This protein is named HWP1, and its structure is very close to that of alpha-gliadin and gamma-gliadin, two of the protein groups found in gluten. It is this close similarity that confuses your immune system.

When Candida albicans attaches to the walls of your intestine and begins to spread, your immune system responds. As it attacks the Candida overgrowth, it also attempts to destroy the surface proteins like HWP1.

By attacking this particular protein (which is almost identical to the gluten proteins), your immune system starts to build a sensitivity to gluten. Over time, this can turn into an intolerance or even something very similar to celiac disease. Soon, an individual might find that eating gluten causes digestive issues, fatigue, headaches, and many other symptoms of a gluten sensitivity.

Avoiding gluten is usually a good idea if you suffer from Candida Related Complex. If you are already suffering from a disturbed gut flora and a permeable intestinal lining, eating gluten can trigger an inflammatory response that will set you back. Focus on avoiding foods that will inflame your digestive system, and eating foods that will help to repair it.

Reversing A Candida Overgrowth Can Eliminate Gluten Sensitivities

Here’s something important that you should know. The HWP1 protein only appears when Candida albicans takes its fungal form. As you may know, Candida can exist in both yeast and fungal forms. It is the fungal form in which Candida is able to grow more quickly and penetrate the intestinal lining. To avoid a Candida overgrowth, you need to prevent Candida switching from its yeast form to its fungal form.

A number of conditions need to be in place for Candida to take its fungal form. The most important condition is that the surrounding environment must not be strongly acidic. Candida is much more likely to switch to its fungal (more dangerous) form in neutral or alkaline conditions. These conditions can be brought about by a round of antibiotics, the wrong diet, chronic use of antacids, or a number of other causes.

Your intestines should be a naturally acidic environment, but a combination of factors can result in them losing this acidity. Indeed, one of the main goals of the Candida diet and treatment plan is to restore a proper level of acidity to the intestines. The eating plan, supplements, lifestyle changes, and other elements all contribute towards this.

As you can see, Candida Related Complex can trigger gluten sensitivities by tricking your immune system into attacking the proteins found in gluten. By activating the immune system in this way, Candida can create a long term sensitivity to gluten. However, by eliminating the Candida overgrowth you can also improve your digestion, and perhaps say farewell to some of your food sensitivities too.

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  1. Cindy says:

    Excellent information as usual from this site. I’ve been working on getting my Candida under control by doing what this site says and it does work. There is a whole lot of itching going on at times but that tells me I may be doing something right. I’ve not given up my coffee as she says to do but instead I’ve started putting coconut oil (about a tsp or more ) in and it dissolves and then I stir it real good and it actually gives a slight taste to the coffee which is very pleasant and I like it. Plus I take a supplement that has the caprylic acid in it among other things and I feel like I am finally on the mend. So glad I found this site when researching how to get rid of the yeastie beasties.

    1. Anna says:

      Hi Cindy, I also have been doing coconut oil in my morning coffee. It is incredibly powerful for reducing the gravings to eat anything not allowed. I have been doing good fats, no grains, no starch, no fruit sugar or sugar and vegetables only. I have been also having more external itching. I tried the bentonite psyllium drink for two days with homemade caprol but it made me sooo tired I could not function. Maybe it was two strong of a die off and too soon. The itching you mention is interesting, it is almost like the chronic yeast is moving more external (before my symptoms were felt only internally) I have been taking a product called Candidase which helps to break down the cell walls and it seems to help. I really think the coconut oil coffee is the key for us in being successful on the elimination diet. I am glad to hear you too are on the coffee and doing okay with it. I just wonder if it makes our enviroment a bit too acidic?

  2. Marcin Kaminski says:

    Hello Lisa. I benefited from your advice on candida diet though I always felt terrible after eating avocado, indigestion, bloating and burping. Avocado might not be recommended for everyone as it has much fat. However, I feel fine after eating coconut.

    1. Fabulator says:

      Hi. Interesting article, but I’m confused as everyone knows candida like cancer cannot survive in an alkaline environment, thus the effort we all make to keep acidity to a minimum. Your article would appear to go against that. Am I missing sometime ?.!

      1. Lisa Richards says:

        Hi, that’s a common belief but unfortunately completely wrong! The fungal form of Candida actually requires an alkaline environment, and its the fungal form that you need to worry about. Read this:

  3. Evey says:

    The comment you make about the fungal form of Candida liking a more alkaline environment confuses me. This would suggest the foods we want to eat to fight Candida should create a more acidic enviroment in the body.

    I was taught that yeast thrives in an acidic environment and, overall, our bodies function better in an alkaline environment. That is why we eat an alkaline diet, to fight Candida. It sounds like you are saying just the opposite.

    Can you clarify this point for me? Thanks!

    1. Lisa Richards says:

      This is a complicated topic that a lot of people get confused. Each area of the body has its own pH. The intestines need to be acidic – this helps with digestion and is actually an important part of your immune system. Candida can live in acidic conditions in its yeast form, but in alkaline conditions it switches to its fungal form (which is much more virulent). By maintaining a healthy acidity in the gut you can boost your immune system and prevent Candida from spreading. I hope that clears things up!

      1. Natalie says:

        So how do we maintain acidity in the gut but alkalinity in the rest of the body?

        1. Lisa Richards says:

          Two simple ways to do this are to eat lots of probiotics and probiotic foods, and to avoid antacids and acid blocking medications.

  4. sandratunstall says:

    Coming towards the end if an antibiotic (penicillin) course…having had a build up of candida in the past (larynx/gut) I have a 150mg fluconazole tab. Should I take it when finished?

    1. Lisa Richards says:

      Are you taking lots of probiotics? That’s the most important thing to do while you’re taking antibiotics.

  5. Megan says:

    I’m confused: in one sentence you say the environment must NOT be strongly acidic and in the next sentence, you say it’s most likely to change to fungal( more dangerous form) in a neutral or more alkaline environment. Can you clarify?

    1. Lisa Richards says:

      Hi Megan, please read that paragraph again, it does actually make logical sense! An acidic environment is a good thing that prevents C. Albicans from switching to its fungal form.

  6. Shannon Dale says:

    If the candida has already changed to a fungal form can it still be overcome, I know it would take longer and be more difficult.

    1. Lisa Richards says:

      Candida only really becomes a problem in its fungal form. So when we talk about Candida Related Complex, we are really talking about fungal Candida. This kind of disturbance in the gut flora is not easy to recover from, but it is perfectly possible with time!

  7. Jeannine says:

    Hi. What is the best supplement to take to reduce intestinal swelling. I have a sharks nose that protrudes from above my belly button and is extremely uncomfortable and painful

    1. Lisa Richards says:

      It sounds like you should first get that checked out by a doctor. If it is just bloating, then you should try to identify any food intolerances that might be causing it.

    2. Cassandra says:

      Jeannine that sounds like an umbilical hernia – an opening in your abdominal muscle wall that allows fat or intestines to poke through. If you squeeze both sides of your belly in towards the middle at the same time it should push the “shark nose” back inside of the opening unless it is intestines which could become an emergency (fat protrusions are generally not an emergency though). No changes to your diet will fix that issue. Look into the Tupler technique for a non-surgical way to close that opening.

  8. Raewyn says:

    I’m celiac with candida (definitely the fungal variety). Both were diagnosed about the same time. I had always assumed being celiac had opened the doors for the candida. Is that possible?

    1. Bharat says:

      Could you please tell what test was done to find the candida issue? Doctor does not believe on any candida theory and my brother is facing issues.

  9. james mcmaster says:

    Can you give me information please. What type of sugar free products can I use as I play a lot of sport, do not want to go back to heavy laden sports drinks and energy bars. Thank you

    1. Lisa Richards says:

      Xylitol, stevia and erythritol are good sweeteners. Make some healthy cookies or energy bars at home and take them with you!

      1. gracy says:


        you’ve listed erythritol as a good sweetner here in your response but above as a sugar alcohol to avoid? Is that correct or am I reading it wrong?

        Gracy McMullan

        1. Lisa Richards says:

          Hi Gracy, you’re absolutely right, there was an old post in which erythritol was included as a sugar alcohol to avoid. I have now updated that. Thanks for the heads up!

          1. Megan says:

            Hi Lisa,

            I had an allergy testing and it came back that I should completely avoid yeast, therefore a yeast intolerance. Is this the same as an overgrowth in candida? Will this diet cure me?


          2. Lisa Richards says:

            That’s not necessarily the same as a Candida overgrowth, but it makes it much more likely. Most kinds of food or yeast allergy imply that something is going wrong in the gut, so restoring the balance of microorganisms there and repairing the intestinal walls should be two of your biggest priorities.

  10. Kelly W says:

    Hi Lisa, I have been following a program to heal gut flora and feel I have the candida systems I was having under control and have cleaned up my diet to insure it doesn’t reoccur. The practitioner, however, had us test saliva and urine pH in an effort to reach a more alkaline state. You, however, are talking about blood pH or pH of organs, which would require different testing. Is this a correct assumption? What tests would be suggested? Thanks so much for you time!! Have a nice day 🙂

    1. Lisa Richards says:

      Hi Kelly, in this article I’m talking about intestinal pH. This is very different from the pH of blood, tissues, or other areas of the body. The biggest misconception that most people have is that they need to ‘alkalize their whole body’. There is actually no practical test for intestinal pH, and indeed each section of the intestines has its own pH too! Your urinary pH should be slightly acidic (especially in the morning) and your saliva pH should around neutral. If these are in healthy ranges, then your intestinal pH is probably healthy too.

  11. Nicole says:

    I am following the cleanse and have seen dramatic improvement in only a few days. Taking an anti-fungal, probiotic and drinking the bentonite clay with water. Cutting caffeine completely out of my diet took away the itching almost immediately although I have to admit it was one of the hardest things for me to give up. I haven’t had a skin flare up for the first time in 10 years and by replacing it with water, my skin has cleared up too. Wrinkles and dark under eye circle have even diminished and I no longer have insomnia. Now my mother is doing the cleanse with me! This site is such a blessing! Thank you!

  12. janet says:

    thanks for the information its been a great help. had a very bad bladder infection in the hospital I was put on IV antibiotics and have had skin break out and itching all over . I’m trying to eat foods that will help the condition, which it has to some degree but I feel I have a long way to go. Keep the information coming.

  13. Virginia says:

    Glad that I found this website. I have always had yeast issues after taking antibiotics, and 2014 was a year that I’m glad is gone. I feel so much better after having gone thru the cleanse and staying as close as I can to the diet. I do know that caffeine is something I need to stay away from totally. If I do have any caffeine, I too will start itching. (old habits die hard!)
    Thank you for all the information it has really helped me.

  14. Tom says:

    I agree with the author that curing Candidiasis is a good solution against gluten sensitivity. There are natural remedies available that can help mitigate the effects of candida overgrowth that can help relieve the symptoms of gluten sensitivity. Controlling the number of Candida Albicans in the body is your best defense against the adverse effects of gluten intolerance. There are holistic approach to treatment against Candidiasis that can also offer solutions against gluten sensitivity symptoms. They are less costly and safe than other forms of Candidiasis treatments.

    I really hope this can help your community of readers.

  15. Keleigh Asbury says:

    Thank you everyone for the reminders about caffeine elemination-I sympathize with many of you because for me it has been more of a reduction. Keep a coffee alternative like Akava in the house. It helps with the mental cravings too.

  16. Hi! I have just started to cut out sugar and carbs and am already gluten-free. I am confused because in many places on the internet it says that erythritol is a no no on the diet because it ferments in the large intestine thereby feeding the yeast? From what I have read only stevia is ok? Please could you clarify for me. At the moment I am steering clear all together…Also, is it sensible to take anti-fungal drugs at the same time as being on this diet? I have been prescribed them by the dr. Thanks for your help!

    1. Lisa Richards says:

      Everyone is different, but erythritol is usually OK. Here is a study from 2005 stating that “it seems very unlikely that erythritol will be fermented in vivo”:

  17. Alexandra says:

    Dear Lisa,

    I have been reading your website and it had some great info. However, I think a lot of the time when people say they have candida overgrowth, they don’t really fully appreciate what it really means. 6 years ago I got sick and an endoscopy revealed I actually suffered from oesophagus candida infection. This was confirmed by biopsies. Since then, Ive been in a roller coaster of antifungals, detoxes but I’m still suffering with reoccurant candida in my throat and oesophagus. I’ve had two babies in the meantime and the candida often got worse during pregnancy. The doctors are puzzled with my case as I’m not obviously immunocompromised. Have you even seen cases like mine? What would be your suggestion? This has a profound effect on my life and I really need some help. Thank you so much!

    1. anne says:

      You need to look at your adrenal function. The adrenals are in charge of the SigA in your gut and if your adrenals are burnt out then that defense system will also be burnt out and you will keep having infections come back. Go to a Doctor of Functional Medicine and have them help you.

  18. Sam says:

    Hi! I’ve been following this diet for a few weeks now. I did the week long detox (well I made it until the end of day 6 anyway!) and I’ve been following Phase 2 of the diet for two weeks. I’m gluten and milk intolerant and so I’ve been having gluten free oats for breakfast either with almond milk (as a porridge) or as part of a homemade granola with coconut yoghurt.

    However, from what I’ve read (here and elsewhere) I’m confused about whether I should be eating gluten free oats or not? I know oats are not recommended but is this just because they contain gluten or are there other Candida related issues with oats – even the gluten free ones? Thanks :0)

  19. Leigh Stephens says:

    I have a very restrictive diet due to food sensitivities; no gluten, oats, millet, spelt, quinoa – being able to use only rice, tapioca, corn or sorghum flours. No cucumbers, yellow squash, kelp, tarragon, saffron, or parsley. Also, no chicken. But, I do eat a fair amount of organic home raised rabbit and goat. Can I substitute either of these meats for chicken?
    Any other suggestions you can offer with my already limited diet would be greatly appreciated. TIA!

    1. Lisa Richards says:

      Yes, you can absolutely eat rabbit and goat!

    2. Sikandar Ali says:

      Probably you have a leaky gut please go with No Grain diet even rice. No Grain No Pain please try for atleast one month and you will find difference.

  20. Jen Corns says:

    Hello! I am an athlete training for a 64mile bike event next month. Recent events have reflared my candida (is that the right term?) and I have been set back a bit. The reason I am writing you is because I put on an extensive amount of miles on my bike in a weeks average and during the cleanse and dietary changes, I am afraid I am not receiving the proper caloric intake. I currently use MHP Paleo Protein powder in the morning for my pre-ride fuel. I typically mix the protein with unsweetened almond milk, coconut oil, chia seeds, 1/4lemon and spinach. I guess what I want to know, is protein powder frown upon on the candida diet?


    1. Lisa Richards says:

      A high quality protein powder is a good choice while on the diet!

  21. Dana says:

    Hi Lisa,
    If I drink iced tea with lemon will the lemon offset the drawbacks of the tea in terms of candida risk? I’m not a coffee drinker but I love an occasional unsweetened tea!

  22. Chris says:

    It seems like research into Celiac and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome may someday converge:

    I went from thinking I had one to thinking I had the other, now firmly believe CFS is a direct result of ‘leaky gut’ and am starting to probe whether Candida is the source of that for me.

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