What is Candida?

Candida is a yeast that naturally lives on the surfaces of our mouth, intestines and skin and is a normal part of our microbiome (the mix of yeasts and bacteria that live all over the outside and inside of our body). At normal levels, this fungus is not problematic, but if the composition of our microbiome is disturbed for some reason, then this yeast becomes opportunistic and can grow to pathogenic levels. This can lead to candida overgrowth on our skin, vagina (in the form of thrush) and/or mouth.

Candida Overgrowth

Factors that can lead to a candida overgrowth include:

  • Antibiotics – especially a few rounds one after the other and/or long term antibiotics. These drugs cause a disturbance in the microbiome and give candida the opportunity to multiply.
  • A diet high in sugar and refined carbohydrates. Candida loves sugar! The health and diversity of the microbiome is very much driven by diet. A high sugar and refined carbohydrate diet e.g. Weetbix for breakfast, biscuits for morning tea, a sandwich for lunch and a plate of pasta for dinner will encourage pathogenic bacteria and yeasts such as candida to grow. A candida overgrowth will also drive sweet cravings so clients with chronic candida often find that it a challenge to cut back as they are constantly craving sugar. We are what out microbes eat!
  • A high alcohol intake. Alcohol is damaging in the gut, and the high sugar content of alcohol can drive a candida overgrowth. You may find that you wake up with thrush after a big night of alcohol consumption.
  • A weakened immune system. There is a chicken and egg scenario when it comes to immunity. Does a suppressed immune system affect our gut bacteria or does the state of our gut bacteria suppress the immune system. The latter is definitely the case.
  • Oral contraceptives
  • Diabetes
  • High stress levels

Candida Symptoms

Symptoms of a candida overgrowth include:

  • Oral thrush. White bumpy patches appear on the tongue, inner cheeks, gums, tonsils or throat, and the tongue and mouth can become reddened and uncomfortable. It is most common in newborns, the elderly and those with a compromised immune system especially if there is poor oral hygiene or if they are using removable dentures.
  • Tiredness and fatigue. One of the most common symptoms I see in clients with candida overgrowth. A perpetual, deep seated fatigue that doesn’t go away, and it is quite common in my chronic fatigue syndrome clients.
  • Recurring genital thrush. I ask all of my clients if they experience or have experienced vaginal or penile thrush as it gives me a good idea of how their microbiome is doing. Symptoms of vaginal candidiasis include redness, swelling, itching, painful intercourse and a thick, cottage cheese like discharge from the vagina. Some clients experience chronic infections, or it persistently returns every couple of months, especially around the time before the menstrual period. This signifies that candida has gotten out of control.
  • Recurring urinary tract infections. This type of infection is less common that genital thrush but can suggest a candida overgrowth especially if thrush is also present. Symptoms of UTIs include a burning feeling on urination, urinary urgency, cloudy, dark or strong-smelling urine and pain or pressure in the lower abdomen.
  • Frequent sinus infections. Most short-term sinus infections are caused by bacteria. However, longer-term chronic infections can frequently be caused by fungi and mould. Unfortunately, chronic sinus infections are often treated with antibiotics, which can actually make them worse. It is sensible to get a swab taken from the sinus passages so a definite diagnosis can be obtained, and a specific treatment identified.
  • Frequent skin and nail fungal infections. Candida can also get out of control on our skin microbiome and lead to persistent skin and nail infections. Moist and warm areas such as the groin and armpits are particularly prone to skin candidiasis although it can appear anywhere. Fungal rashes tend to be solid, red, raised areas rather than bumpy rashes.
  • Joint pain. If a candida overgrowth is left untreated, it can become systemic i.e., enter the blood stream and travel around the body. It can lead to candida infections in joints and bones, which can contribute to the all-over achy feel that may candida sufferers experience.

Candida Gut Symptoms 

Candida is part of our gut microbiome so an imbalance will cause gut symptoms such as bloating, gas, gut pain, diarrhoea and constipation. Candida overgrowth has been linked to serious conditions such as Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis.

Candida Treatment

To treat candida overgrowth, antifungal medication can be prescribed to you by your GP. The specific type and dose will depend on your age, severity of the overgrowth and your immune status. Treatment usually lasts for a few weeks.

There are several ways diet can also help with controlling the overgrowth.

Candida Diet

To rid the gut (and other body parts) of candida, we focus on limiting the amount of sugars and starches in the diet.


  • All foods with refined sugars e.g. cakes, cookies and baked goods, lollies, chocolate
  • Gluten-containing foods. Gluten and candida adversely affect the tight junctions between our gut cells leading to a leaky gut. A leaky gut can allow the yeast, food particles and endotoxins from bacteria to leak into the gut leading to widespread systemic symptoms.
  • Dairy products e.g. milk, cream, ice cream, yoghurt, cheese, etc. Dairy can cause further gut irritation and damage if you are dairy intolerant or gut damage is present. Damage to the gut can cause your body to not produce the enzyme lactase, which breaks down lactose (the sugar in milk). If left un-metabolised, lactose travels down to the large intestine, where it is fermented by gut bacteria. This leads to increased production of gas and extra fluid is absorbed into the gut. Replace all dairy products with dairy free alternatives such as:
    • nuts, oat, soy and coconut milks dairy free cheese e.g. cashew cheese
    • Coconut or nut milk yoghurts
    • Coconut or almond milk-based ice creams
  • All fruits from the diet apart from lemons and limes
  • Starchy below-ground vegetables e.g. potatoes, sweet potatoes, pumpkin, parsnip, etc.
  • Legumes e.g. beans, lentils, chickpeas, peas, peanuts etc.
  • Grains e.g. wheat, barley, rye, quinoa, rice, buckwheat, etc.
  • Alcohol – remove completely.


  • Ensure you have a good serve of protein in every meal – eggs, meat, fish, seafood, poultry etc
  • Include a serve of healthy fats in every meal e.g. avocado, olive oil, nuts and seeds, coconut oil
  • Half a plate of  above ground vegetables with every meal – eat lots of leafy greens and a wide variety vegetables
  • Add lots of anti-fungal foods such as coconut oil (high in carprylic acid which can help to break down the cell walls of the yeast), and fresh garlic and ginger
  • Drink 2L of water per day
  • Add fermented foods to your meals e.g. sauerkraut & kimchi. Avoid fermented dairy foods for now.

Probiotics for Candida

A healthy vaginal microbiome is predominantly made up of Lactobacillus species such as Lactobacillus iners, Lactobacillus crispatus, Lactobacillus jensenii and Lactobacillus gasseri. Research has shown that L. crispatus plays the most important role in the health of the vagina, and this important commensal bacteria inhibits the growth of pathogenic bacteria and yeasts such as candida. This property can be attributed to the production of bactericidal substances such as lactic acid and hydrogen peroxide. The vagina should be an acidic environment. A too alkaline environment can encourage pathogenic bacteria and yeasts to grow. If you are experiencing chronic vaginal infections of any kind, you can now purchase kits to test the acidity of the vagina. If it is too acidic or too alkaline it denotes that the vaginal (and probably the gut microbiome) are out of balance. I prescribe L.crispatus for my candida clients both orally and vaginally to help bring all areas into balance. I also prescribe saccharomyces boulardii, a beneficial yeast that crowds out yeast in the gut. Supplements work well but you must get the diet right in conjunction. If you continue to feed the candida with sugar then it will continue to thrive.


Fiona is one of my all time favourite people. After high school, I weighed in at 99kg. At 174cm, I have been overweight by 15-20 kgs for all my adult life. Until, at age 53, I met Fiona. She immediately diagnosed my primary problem and by following her dietary coaching, I lost 16 kgs in 5 months. More importantly, I have maintained this for more than a year now. Now, well into the second half of my life, life is good, very good. As I said, Fiona will always be one of my all time favourite people. Thank you Fiona.

Fiona ran a course at work and it was fantastic – I learned so much and she tailored the programs to each individual which worked really well. I reached my weight loss and health goals and it really wasn’t too hard and I still have treats!  More importantly, I feel much better in myself for making food changes and continued to see her independently when the course at work finished.
Charlotte Carlish
Indigestion, stomach pain and abdominal cramps, were an every day occurrence for me. I was quite desperate by the time I found Fiona. With the help of some supplements and allergy testing, Fiona Took me on a journey of discovery. Thanks to her professional and kind guidance, I now  know which foods to avoid and which ones will help my gut to stay healthy.  For the very first time in a long time, my tummy now feels quite normal and I no longer suffer any of the above conditions. To say Fiona has change my life may sound rather dramatic but it is completely true and I will be forever grateful to her.

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I have been working with Fiona at Physical Nutrition for about 10 weeks through a corporate program run my employer.  Losing weight and making some real changes to my dietary lifestyle has been a game changer for me.  Through her weekly tutorials, Fiona has taught me about the food I eat, what is best for my body and to gauge how I feel after each meal.  Combined with a sensible exercise routine of walking and cycling, I have managed to drop my weight by 7kgs during this period.  My energy levels are up, I’m feeling fitter and I’m eating much more balanced meals and now know which foods to avoid and which to eat more of!  It’s been a great experience and I would highly recommend Fiona’s program.

I have recently completed the Physical Nutrition 10kg in 20 weeks program and I couldn’t be more thrilled with the support and guidance Fiona has provided.
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Paris Doran
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Alison Thair
My son is 21 and has been ill for years and part of it was Diet, and we have been to many nutritionalist’s but FIONA MAKES SENSE and TELLS YOU WHY you should be careful what you eat. She changed my sons life so I sent my Daughter who had auto immune issues and she has helped her. It is now my turn so I will keep you updated. Highly recommend her she is also very understanding.
Lisa Mann
I have been with Fiona at Physical Nutrition for several months in relation to skin and gut problems and for weight loss. Fiona is knowledgeable and supportive. I am slowly losing weight and my skin and gut issues are improving. Fiona works in conjunction with my integrative medical practitioner which is a very helpful. First time I have had any positive results, a slow but worthwhile approach.
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