A yeast infection is a very common infection of the vagina that affects most women at some time in their lives, sometimes recurring over time, according to MayoClinic.com. Also called vaginitis and candidiasis, a yeast infection develops when the fungal microorganism candida becomes too prolific in your body. While it's not the only contributing factor in the development of yeast infections, the amount of sugar in your diet can play a role.
If you are experiencing serious medical symptoms, seek emergency treatment immediately.
Normally, candida — a type of yeast — exists in your vaginal canal with no problem; your body's natural healthy bacteria keep it in check. Occasionally, however, changes in your body's bacterial balance can stimulate the overgrowth of candida and develop into a yeast infection. Although generally not harmful, yeast infection symptoms can be unpleasant and annoying. Symptoms generally include inflammation of the vulva and vaginal opening; itchiness, pain and burning sensations; pain upon sexual intercourse; and creamy, white vaginal discharge, according to the College of Charleston Student Health 1.
- Normally, candida — a type of yeast — exists in your vaginal canal with no problem; your body's natural healthy bacteria keep it in check.
Yeast and Sugar
Diet for Bacterial Vaginosis
It might seem strange that your diet could contribute to yeast infections but it can. Any disruption to the normal, healthy bacterial environment inside your vagina can trigger the excessive growth of yeast and that includes some of the types of food you eat. High sugar intake is one of the conditions that promotes yeast overproduction, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center 2. That's because yeasts like candida feed on sugar; therefore, a high-sugar diet creates the ideal environment for candida to proliferate. This may be especially worth considering if you tend to experience stubborn, recurring yeast infections.
- It might seem strange that your diet could contribute to yeast infections but it can.
- Any disruption to the normal, healthy bacterial environment inside your vagina can trigger the excessive growth of yeast and that includes some of the types of food you eat.
Adjusting your diet to inhibit candida overgrowth is one of the most important steps you can take to combat recurrent yeast infections, according to TheYeastDiet.com. An anti-yeast diet encourages the avoidance or severe limitation of sugar and foods comprised of simple sugars and starches, such as:
- baked goods
- refined bread products
- sugary drinks
Diet for Oral Thrush
Several other factors besides sugar intake can contribute to recurrent yeast infections, such as:
- antibiotics use
- sexual activity
- an impaired immune system
- uncontrolled diabetes
Therefore, it is imperative to consult a physician if you suffer from yeast infections. Your physician can provide a full evaluation and recommendations for treatment, which may include medication and lifestyle changes, in addition to dietary adjustments.
Diet for Bacterial Vaginosis
Diet for Oral Thrush
What to Know Before You Try to Treat a Yeast Infection With Food
Can Avoiding Certain Foods Prevent Bacterial Vaginosis?
Phase One of the Anti-Fungal Diet
Yeast, Gluten and Dairy Free Diets
Low Carbohydrate & Low Yeast Foods
Candida Diet & Soy
Foods to Avoid With Candida Albicans
What Does Candida Look Like in Stool?
- College of Charleston Student Health: Yeast Infection
- "University of Maryland Medical Center"; Vaginitis; Steven D. Ehrlich, N.M.D.; June 2010
- Martin Lopez JE. Candidiasis (vulvovaginal. BMJ Clin Evid. 2015 Mar 16;2015:0815
- National Center for Biotechnology Information. Vaginal candidiasis (vulvovaginal candidiasis). Updated February 24, 2019.
- Sobel JD. Patient education: Vaginal yeast infection (beyond the basics). UpToDate, Inc. Updated February 7, 2019.
- Zomorodian K, Kavoosi F, Pishdad GR, et al. Prevalence of oral Candida colonization in patients with diabetes mellitus. J Mycol Med. 2016;26(2):103-110. doi:10.1016/j.mycmed.2015.12.008
- Moshfeghy Z, Tahari S, Janghorban, et al. Association of sexual function and psychological symptoms including depression, anxiety and stress in women with recurrent vulvovaginal candidiasis. J Turk Ger Gynecol Assoc. 2020 Jun; 21(2): 90–96. doi:10.4274/jtgga.galenos.2019.2019.0077
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- Behmanesh F, Pasha H, Sefidgar AA, et al. Antifungal effect of lavender essential oil (Lavandula angustifolia) And clotrimazole on candida albicans: An in vitro study. Scientifica (Cairo). 2015;2015:261397. doi:10.1155/2015/261397
- Mertas A, Garbusinska A, Szliszka, E, et al. The influence of tea tree oil (Melaleuca alternifolia) On fluconazole activity against fluconazole-resistant candida albicans strains. Biomed Res Int. 2015; 2015: 590470. doi:10.1155/2015/590470
- Ferris DG, Nyirjesy P, Sobel JD, et al. Over-the-counter antifungal drug misuse associated with patient-diagnosed vulvovaginal candidiasis. Obstet Gynecol. 2002 Mar;99(3):419-25. doi:10.1016/s0029-7844(01)01759-8
- Department of Health & Human Services. Office on Women's Health. Vaginal yeast infections. Apr 1, 2019.
- Iavazzo C, Gkegkes ID, Zarkada IM, Falagas ME. Boric acid for recurrent vulvovaginal candidiasis: the clinical evidence. J Womens Health (Larchmt). 2011;20(8):1245-55.
- Rane HS, Bernardo SM, Howell AB, et al. Cranberry-derived proanthocyanidins prevent formation of Candida albicans biofilms in artificial urine through biofilm- and adherence-specific mechanisms. J Antimicrob Chemother. 2014 Feb;69(2):428-36. doi:10.1093/jac/dkt398
- Williams A. Yogurt: Still a favorite for vaginal candidiasis?. J Natl Med Assoc. 2002;94(4):A10.
- Gonçalves B, Ferreira C, Alves CT, et al. Vulvovaginal candidiasis: Epidemiology, microbiology and risk factors. Crit Rev Microbiol. 2016 Nov;42(6):905-27. doi:10.3109/1040841X.2015.1091805
- Hanson L, Vandevusse L, Jermé M, et al. Probiotics for treatment and prevention of urogenital infections in women: A systematic review. Journal of Midwifery & Womens Health. 2016;61(3):339-355. doi:10.1111/jmwh.12472
- Mendling W. Guideline: Vulvovaginal candidosis (AWMF 015/072), S2k (excluding chronic mucocutaneous candidosis). Mycoses. 2015;58:1-15. doi:10.1111/myc.12292
- Office on Women's Health. Vaginal yeast infections. Apr 1, 2019.
Shannon Hyland-Tassava has more than 16 years experience as a clinical health psychologist, wellness coach and writer. She is a health columnist for the "Northfield (Minn.) News" and has also contributed to "Motherwords," "Macalester Today" and two essay anthologies, among other publications. Hyland-Tassava holds a Ph.D. in clinical psychology from the University of Illinois.