Fungal infections, such as candida, have spiked over the past few decades, according to a study in the "Journal of Dental Sciences and Research," and the standard drugs used to treat them have numerous drawbacks. Anti-fungal drugs can be both expensive and toxic, and their frequent use has led to the development of drug-resistant fungal strains. Ayurvedic practitioners have long used anti-fungal foods to help fight and prevent fungal infections, and although more research is required to confirm their exact efficacy, anti-fungal foods are generally safe and nontoxic.
Forms of Ginger
A pungent and spicy root herb, ginger not only adds flavor to meals but also has a range of therapeutic uses. Ginger is a potent antioxidant, and it has strong anti-fungal properties when consumed fresh or dried, or as a paste, starch or extract. One study, published in the "Journal of Dental Sciences and Research" in 2011, examined the effects of ginger extract on the fungi responsible for candida infections. The researchers found that the naturally occurring gingerol and shagelol found in ginger inhibits the growth and proliferation of candida albicans. More research needs to be done to confirm ginger’s efficacy as a candida fighter, however.
Garlic is well-known for its ability to fight microbes of all kinds, including bacteria, viruses and fungi. When you chop or dice garlic, an enzyme called allinase comes in contact with a compound called allin, and together they form allicin, a potent anti-microbial, fungi-fighting agent. Garlic also contains ajoene, which has been found to help fight a variety of fungal strains including candida. For the best results, consume garlic raw, as cooking can deplete some of its beneficial enzymes.
Kefir and Other Probiotic-Rich Foods
Kefir, yogurt, a spicy fermented vegetable dish called kimchi and a yogurt-based drink known as lassi are all rich in the beneficial bacteria known as probiotics. Although very little scientific research has been done on the anti-fungal properties of probiotic foods, consuming probiotics has been shown to promote digestive health and replenish beneficial bacteria. By replenishing healthy bacteria in your gut, you may make your body less hospitable to fungi and help prevent them from replicating. Although more research is required to confirm the exact effects of probiotic foods on fungi, probiotic foods are generally considered safe, according to Harvard Medical School, and consuming them has the added benefit of helping to reduce the risk for gastrointestinal disorders.
Additional Anti-fungal Foods and Precautions
Onions contain allicin and ajoene, which are the same fungi-fighting compounds found in garlic. Cold-pressed coconut oil contains lauric acid and capric acid and, according to a study published in the 2013 edition of "BioMed Research International Journal," both ingredients help fight fungi. Although these foods may combat fungi naturally, you should always consult with a health care practitioner for guidance because it can be dangerous to attempt to self-treat fungal infections.
- Journal of Dental Sciences and Research: Antifungal Activity of Ginger Extract on Candida Albicans: An In-vitro Study
- Revista Iberoamericana De Micologia: Ajoene the Main Active Compound of Garlic (Allium Sativum): A New Antifungal Agent
- Journal of Nutrition: Kefir Milk Enhances Intestinal Immunity in Young but Not Old Rats
- Natural News: Kill Candida Overgrowth With These Nine Powerful Herbs
- American Society for Nutrition: Coconut Oil
- American Academy of Family Physicians: Health Effects of Garlic
- PLOS One: A Meta-analysis of Probiotic Efficacy for Gastrointestinal Diseases
- Harvard Medical School: Health Benefits of Taking Probiotics
- BioMed Research International: Improvement of Medium Chain Fatty Acid Content and Antimicrobial Activity of Coconut Oil via Solid-State Fermentation Using a Malaysian Geotrichum Candidum
J.J. Ashton is a registered holistic nutritionist. She has been writing since 2007, with work featured in various publications, and holds a B.A. in English. Ashton also runs her own holistic health company.