Beating a Candida overgrowth is about much more than simply taking supplements – you need to choose the right diet too. Antifungal foods can play an important role in fighting off fungal pathogens like Candida, and I’ve created a list of the best anti-Candida foods that you can use just for this purpose.
Foods like garlic, rutabaga and coconut oil are natural antifungals that you probably already know. But today I’m going to add another antifungal food to the list. Delicious in salads or stir-fries, this crunchy root vegetable packs a powerful punch when it comes to fighting off fungal pathogens. I’m talking, of course, about the humble radish.
Radish As An Antifungal
There has been an increasing amount of research into radish as an antifungal, particularly over the last 10 years or so. This is a result of the deepening crisis in emergency wards, where fungal pathogens like Candida can have life-threatening implications for those with depleted immune systems. The universe of antifungal drugs is much smaller than that of antibiotics, so researchers are constantly looking for promising new antifungal compounds.
Some of this research has focused on a plant defensin known as RsAFP2, which is found in radishes. Defensins are simply proteins found in animals and plants that have antimicrobial qualities. Plants are regularly threatened by fungal pathogens, just like we are, and the antifungals that they use to protect themselves often work for us too.
So what exactly does this antifungal protein do when it meets a fungus like Candida? According to a Belgian research team in 2009, “antifungal protein 2 (RsAFP2) from radish induces apoptosis [cell death] … in the human pathogen Candida Albicans.” Another research team in 2012 discovered the reason for this – RsAFP2 interacts with the Candida Albicans cell wall, damaging it and effectively destroying the cell.
It has also been shown that this particular antifungal protein acts to prevent Candida’s transition from its yeast form to its more virulent fungal form. This is a very useful property, and one of the reasons that Candida albicans is just a difficult opponent. When Candida morphs into its fungal form it grows hyphae which enable it to spread along your digestive tract much more rapidly. Any compound that prevents it from doing so will help to slow down the spread of a Candida overgrowth.
Separately, researchers have also managed to identify two different antifungal proteins in radish seeds. The seeds need these antifungals to protect themselves during the time before germination, and during the early part of their growth when they are particularly vulnerable to microbial infection. Research is continuing on both the antifungal protein RsAFP2 and those antifungals found in the radish seeds. Here are a few of the most recent studies:
- In Vitro Activity of the Antifungal Plant Defensin RsAFP2 against Candida Isolates and Its In Vivo Efficacy in Prophylactic Murine Models of Candidiasis (Tavares et al, 2008)
- The antifungal plant defensin RsAFP2 from radish induces apoptosis in a metacaspase independent way in Candida Albicans (Aerts et al, 2009)
- The plant defensin RsAFP2 induces cell wall stress, septin mislocalization and accumulation of ceramides in Candida Albicans (Thevissen et al, 2012)
Using Radish In Your Recipes
Radish is a surprisingly versatile vegetable. You can steam it, roast it, pan-fry it and eat it raw, so there are still plenty of ways to add it to your diet. Here are just a few for you to try:
- A zesty spring salad with sliced radish, egg, lettuce and a citrus dressing made from olive oil and lemon juice. Here’s a Spring salad with a delicious mustard dressing
- Use raw radish slices as crudités to munch on your favorite dips.
- A no-sugar Candida-safe coleslaw
- Sautéed radish with chives, a delicious side dish to enjoy at dinner.
- A tasty dip made from radish, plain yogurt, salt, pepper and dill.
- Juiced radish is a great addition to your green juices. Trying combining it with juiced vegetables like kale, cucumber, zucchini and celery.
For more recipe ideas and tips on antifungal foods, check out the Ultimate Candida Diet program that I created with Dr. Eric Wood.