Last updated February 14, 2019 by Lisa Richards, CNC   Reviewed by Dr Eric Wood, ND.

Molds, Mushrooms, And Candida

Mold, mushrooms, and Candida

One of the biggest sources of confusion in relation to Candida is whether or not to avoid eating fungi. Should you eat mushrooms? Does it matter if there is a little mold on your food? There are a lot of opinions out there and a lot of non-scientific information being portrayed as fact. So, what’s the real story?

It would be great if there were clinical trials where some Candida sufferers were fed mold or mushrooms, and others were not. No trial like this has been completed, so what can we say? That is exactly what we are going to discuss in today’s article.

Two Important Points About Molds, Mushrooms And Candida

First of all, let’s start by understanding what Candida feeds on.  As you may already know, Candida likes sugar and refined, simple carbohydrates.  Mushrooms and mold are neither of these, so they do not qualify as a food source for Candida. They are certainly not going to supply Candida with any of the raw materials it needs to multiply, spread through your gut, or create biofilms.

Secondly, it’s important to understand some of the positive properties that molds and fungi (like mushrooms) possess.  Many mushrooms are known for their powerful immunostimulatory properties.  In fact, some mushrooms are prized for these capacities in Chinese and Western herbal medicine.  These include mushrooms like agaricus blazei, coriolus versicolor, Shiitake, Maiitake, Reishi, and many others.

Candida sufferers tend to be dealing with low immune function. If anything, immune-supportive mushrooms will tend to help someone boost their immune system, and potentially help them to overcome Candida overgrowth. There are also mushroom-derived supplements like Active Hexose Correlated Compound (AHCC), which have been shown to support and enhance the immune system.

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Molds, which are not the same thing as yeast, often produce noxious substances to hinder other microorganisms from growing in their presence (called mycotoxins).  Molds typically grow on and feed on decaying organic matter.  They are also not refined, simple carbohydrates, so Candida will not be able to feed on them.  If anything, molds will be a noxious nuisance to Candida, because of the toxins they produce.  So again, Candida is not going to grow directly because of mold or fungi.

There Are Good Reasons To Avoid Molds

There are several reasons why we want to avoid consuming molds (but not really fungi) in the diet.  Many molds can be irritating to the gut because of the toxins that they produce.  These toxins can damage the lining of your gut, making it more porous and susceptible to other microorganisms’ overgrowth (such as Candida, pathogenic bacteria, and other parasites). In this indirect way, they can encourage Candida to take root and potentially become a problem.

Some individuals may also be allergic to certain types of molds. These molds (which will differ in each respective person) can trigger the familiar list of allergy-like symptoms such as sneezing, redness, coughing, itchy skin, as well as digestive upset, hives, and more. If you are a longtime Candida sufferer, you may find that you are more sensitive to mold exposure.

Avoid Molds, But Most Mushrooms Are OK

Much of the worry about fungi (mushrooms) in the diet of Candida sufferers is unwarranted. Mushrooms can be a healthy part of your Candida diet, and in fact their immune-stimulatory properties may be quite helpful. If you are foraging, remember to be careful of poisonous mushrooms. And if you notice any mold growing on your mushrooms, it’s best to throw them away. But in general, mushrooms can be a sensible addition to your eating plan.

Mold is a different matter. Try to avoid foods that are moldy, including those where mold is an intentional part of the food (like blue cheeses or camembert). Mold simply isn’t a nutritive thing for you to eat, and it can trigger unpleasant allergy symptoms or mold sensitivities. For the same reasons, you should ensure that you don’t have black mold in your house.

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Comments

  1. Brenda says:

    What about fermented foods? Are kombucha and other probiotic drinks good for candida sufferers?

    1. Wiley200 says:

      Kombucha often contains yeast, and it always contains caffeine, so that’s probably not the best choice. Other probiotic drinks like kefir and kvass are better though!

  2. Sharon Huxtable says:

    Hi,
    I have read your article and was wondering…do you recommend eating nutritional yeast?

    Regards

    Sharon Huxtable

    1. Lisa Richards says:

      The yeast cells in nutritional yeast are dead, but they are not always well tolerated by Candida sufferers. You can think of it as a test food – avoid it at first but introduce it later in your diet and see how it goes.

  3. Kevin says:

    Mushrooms contain the complex sugar called raffinose and some fungi may naturally contain the enzyme to extract the energy from raffinose (“… confirm the presence of one or more galactosyltransferase activities in the Golgi apparatus in fission yeast” — https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/7522655). Furthermore fungi have been engineered to digest raffinose (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20585772) and perhaps humans commonly harbor fungi that now have the gene. It isn’t impossible for genes to be transferred between fungi in natural environments. Microorganisms adapt fast!!

    1. Lesley says:

      What does that exactly mean?

      1. Kevin says:

        All that means is that there may be strains of Candida (or other fungi that can live in us) that can digest mushrooms. Similarly coconut is touted as a great way to get rid of candida but PCR analysis has verified that I have a strain of Candida that is resistant to the caprilic acid in coconuts, and so coconut is not helpful for me regarding Candida (but I still eat it for the fat and taste). These are examples of why every kind of antibiotic that can be found must be thrown at the microorganism overgrowth that some of us get. If Candida is a problem then there are likely many other microorganisms that have gone pathogenic in a person.

  4. Barbara Temples says:

    Do you have to give up having a glass of wine or a beer for the rest of your life or can you have a drink now & then after you complete program & get rid of the Candida?

    1. Lisa Richards says:

      Yes you can certainly go back to enjoying occasional alcoholic drinks, once you’ve recovered your gut health.

  5. Sharon Dunn says:

    Can I have fruits on the diet if so which ones are best to eat

    1. Lisa Richards says:

      Fruits are kept to a minumum but, depending on what stage you’ve reached, you might want to consider fruits with a low glycemic load. These include most berries and green apples.

  6. Sam says:

    I lived with black mold for four months. Is that all the more reason to do a candida cleanse? Are stevia and blueberries okay for a long term candida diet?

    1. Lisa Richards says:

      Here’s a blog post about black mold: https://www.thecandidadiet.com/mold-and-candida/

      Stevia is OK, although not everyone loves the taste. Blueberries are a good choice as they are a low sugar fruit, but remember you should be keeping your sugar intake pretty low overall, including those from natural sources.

  7. Ruthie says:

    Yay thank goodness for updates. I so love mushrooms and it’s been so hard watching the family eat them when I’m serious again with the candida diet. So I can put them back in. I’m truly not even sure if it’s candida I have I just gave my symptoms to the ladies at the health shop n they told me, so as much as I can I follow the eating I think it minimizes it considerably n I definitely lose alot of weight but then I get bored n go back to bad habits n it’s a circle around I go again, scratching starts weight back on and grumpy lol. But now abit happier cos I’ve got my mushrooms back

  8. Lauren Garner says:

    Thank you for this updated information. I am a vegan who has been dealing with candida overgrowth for more than three decades(the last 2 have been the worse). About 30 yrs ago I became disabled due to complications from candida overgrowth. I’ve been able to make great strides through diet change(candida diet), use of anti-fungals, probiotics, chlorella, a few treatment modalities and yoga. I enjoy a full life now, but must always be diligent in tending to the signs and symptoms and act accordingly. I am currently in the cleanse phase of the diet, which I must do on occasion, when symptoms flare. As a child, I loved mushrooms, but stayed clear from them because doctor once thought them to be a culprit to overgrowth and irritation. I look forward to adding them(first in small quantities) to my ever growing repertoire of tasty bites. Thank you for you guidance and tireless work!

    Kindly,
    Lauren

  9. Dan says:

    So thankful for this article.
    I have stayed away from mushrooms since being diagnosed with Candida 5 years ago. I strictly followed the Candida diet and thankfully life drastically improved for me.
    Great to know I can add mushrooms back to my diet, though I will do it in moderation.

  10. K says:

    I have read many conflicting things about drinking raw milk/flash pasteurized cow milk kefir on a candida diet. It is loaded with prebiotics, probiotics, B12 etc ect and is also said to be great for rebuilding the gut/gut lining. That being said, is it something one can drink while doing a candida cleanse? If so, is it ok to drink even in stage 1 of a diet?

    1. Lisa Richards, CNC says:

      Kefir is a great choice, go for it! Just be aware that it does contain lots of probiotic bacteria, so you might want to start with small amounts and see how it goes.

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