Bread isn’t the only thing to avoid when you’re on a yeast-free diet - there are some surprising foods you shouldn’t eat.
What’s more, your body naturally contains yeast so even if you don’t eat foods containing yeast, you may find that yeast flourishes when you eat certain foods, exacerbating your symptoms.
Do you have a yeast infection?
Safe foods for people with yeast intolerance
There are some types of foods that you can always eat without worrying.
Vegetables: Low-starch vegetables such as peppers, artichokes, leafy greens and any veg in the cabbage family.
Fruit: Low-sugar fruits such as tomatoes and avocadoes are ideal (yes, they are fruits!). Avoid high sugar fruits, such as those listed in the risky sections, and go for raspberries and blackberries, if you can.
Meat: Protein in the form of chicken, fish, beef or shellfish won’t contain any yeast but will help keep your body strong and keep you feeling full, too.
Eggs: No yeast in eggs and they are a good source of protein, too.
Possibly risky foods for people with yeast intolerance
Prepared fruit and vegetables: Although fresh fruit and vegetables are a safe option, they may not be if they’re included in a ready meal or in a pre-made sauce or dessert, for example.
Similarly dried fruit like raisins or apricots can cause problems as the sugar is concentrated so you may end up eating more than you intend to, causing a flare up of symptoms.
There are also some fruits that contain high levels of sugar, such as dates, figs or grapes, and this can worsen your symptoms. Other high-sugar fruits include bananas, cherries, pears, mango and pineapple.
Milk products: Dairy foods contain lactose which is a form of sugar and can feed the yeast inside your body. But some milk products may actually help – see probiotic yogurt in the Great Foods section, below.
Fruit juice: While fruits are fine to eat in moderation fruit juice is best avoided because it’s a highly concentrated form of fruit and so contains more sugar, feeding the yeast in your body.
Nuts: Some nuts are more likely to contain mould than others. For this reason it’s best to avoid cashews and walnuts.
Beans. They’re not easy for your body to digest so best avoided at least to begin with. But if you do eat them, do so in small portions and soak and cook your own, to avoid unwanted additives such as sugar or vinegar in tins or jars.
Mushrooms: Some types of mushrooms will help boost your immune system such as shiitake, for example, and so can be eaten in moderation. However, some people may find that their symptoms worsen after eating mushrooms which may be because they are intolerant to fungi in general.
Wholegrains: If you have chronic yeast intolerance, wholegrains are best avoided but, on a long-term basis once your yeast problem is under control, you can begin eating them again.
Supplements: It’s important to check the ingredients label on any supplements you take as they also may contain sugar or yeast.
High-risk foods for people with yeast intolerance
Bread/pastries/pizza: These types of wheat-based foods usually contain yeast. You may be able to find yeast-free types of wholegrain bread, though, which can be eaten in moderation.
Vinegar: Vinegar goes through a fermentation process and so unfiltered vinegar can exacerbate your symptoms. However, according to the Vinegar Brewers' Federation, most vinegar is filtered after fermentation and does not contain yeast cells. Ketchup, mayonnaise, relish and salad dressings are normally prepared with filtered vinegars. However, do keep a look out for products containing unfiltered vinegar, as these are likely to contain yeast cells.
Processed meats: Some hams or salami contain sugar, as well as yeast or MSG (see below). Sausages also often contain bread and with that comes yeast.
Biscuits/sweets/honey or chocolate: Anything that contains such large amounts of sugar is out.
Cereals: While they may not contain yeast they are likely to contain malt, which can also trigger flare-ups. They are also often very high in sugar content, making them a problem for those with yeast intolerance.
Alcohol, specifically beer and wine: Gin and vodka are usually tolerated well by people with yeast intolerance as they’re distilled without the same fermenting process as wine and beer, for example.
Olives: It’s not the olives themselves that are the problem but what they’re in – usually a liquid containing vinegar. If you can get those without, you’ll be fine.
Blue cheese: As this contains mould, albeit a type that most people can eat, people with yeast intolerance should avoid it.
Marmite: This yeast-based spread is out.
MSG: Monosodium glutamate is also made via a fermentation process and is included in many foods, so always read the label.
Fruit: Avoid melon as this often contains mould, as well as a lot of sugar.
Great foods for people with yeast intolerance
Cabbage/turnips/broccoli/cucumber/kale.: Some foods are better than others at helping your body cope with your intolerance.
Fibre-rich vegetables such as cabbage or turnips, for example, are ideal because they won’t ‘feed’ your yeast in the same way as starchy foods such as potatoes.
Garlic and onion: Other foods that fight fungi via their antibacterial and antifungal properties are ideal – these include garlic and onion.
Probiotic yogurt: While you should try to keep your overall dairy consumption down, eating live yogurt regularly may actually help keep your intestines healthy by helping ‘good’ bacteria flourish and so keep yeast levels lower.
Peppermint tea: This also helps fight excessive yeast production in your body.
High-fibre grains: Buckwheat, millet and quinoa contain more fibre than other grains such as wheat so are a better choice for a yeast intolerance diet.
Read about Julie Walters' battle with yeast intolerance
"If I were to have Marmite, it would just take the roof of my mouth right off. Anything with yeast makes my eyes go funny, makes me a bit wheezy."
Read about Julie Walters' battle with yeast intolerance in the March 2015 issue of Saga Magazine
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