Candida and Quinoa – Is it safe to eat?

candida frequently asked questions

Hey guys, it’s FAQ time. Slightly delayed because of my birthday. But there we go…

Check out what questions people have been asking me:


What are the side effects of eating Quinoa?

Have you heard any conclusive evidence for or against quinoa for the strict phase of the candida diet?

Q: I was wondering if you could clear up some confusion for me regarding quinoa.  On the strict diet food list states that quinoa is okay to eat.  However, I am seeing some other theories on the same site stating that quinoa feeds candida.

A: Technically quinoa is a seed, and not a ‘grain’. Looks pretty though, doesn’t it?

Since it’s not a grain you could presume it’s ok to eat during stage 2 of the candida diet (where you are not allowed to eat grains).

You should never the less avoid eating quinoa during this strict phase (or as long as you have digestive symptoms), and here is why:

The strict phase is aimed at eliminating anything that feeds candida and anything that could cause an allergic reaction. Quinoa unfortunately is known to do both.

  • It contains carbs which feeds candida.
  • And quinoa also contains anti-nutrients that bind to minerals in your gut that can cause magnesium or zinc deficiency, which again can have a knock-on effect on all sorts of other metabolic processes in your body.

That’s why Quinoa is called a ‘pseudo-grain‘, because it not only looks and tastes like a grain, it also causes problems similar to a typical gluten intolerance from grains.

    Quinoa can contribute to a “Leaky Gut”

    The phytic acid, lectins and saponins in it are also  known contributors to “Leaky Gut Syndrome”. So if you have ever had issues with feeling bloated and experienced pain in your lower abdomen after eating then I strongly recommend you stay away from quinoa and all other grains for several weeks to give your digestive system a rest.

    The fact of the matter with Candida is that your intestines are definitely in some way or another compromised. In that state I would not take any chances and go “grain free” during the first 2-4 weeks of candida diet at least (longer if digestive issues persist).

    Other side effects of Eating Quinoa/ Allergic Reactions

    Quinoa can also cause allergic reactions with some people.

    So you could end up with flatulence, bloating, IBS, nausea, sneezing, asthma, skin irritation or you might feel fatigued after eating it. So don’t blame this on “die off” symptoms, in case you are taking antifungals.

    Even if you think quinoa agrees with you, why not test it? By that I mean eat it and listen in with yourself afterwards – how did you feel a few hours after eating it?! Then try and eat practically the same foods the next day, but this time no quinoa – how do you feel?

    Bearing in mind that once you have irritated your gut lining, you will most likely experience uncomfortable digestive complaints for quite some time thereafter – this might skew your test results if you are only quinoa free for one day…

    Sadly, quinoa did not seem to agree with me early on in phase 3, although I totally loved eating it!

    Even these days I only eat it occasionally say once every 2 months in a chicken vegetable soup or as a side dish, not as a daily breakfast choice or snack.

    Everyone is different though. Maybe it will not cause you any problems. Quinoa is after all very nutrient rich, and especially useful if you are vegan. If you are new to eating quinoa and want to give it a shot, here’s some info to get you started:

    Instructions how to cook fluffy Quinoa (Plus Recipes)

    • It’s a good idea to buy organic quinoa that has been ‘pre-soaked’ and ‘washed’ to remove some of the damaging ‘saponins’.
    • And aim to eat no more than 100g (1/2 cup cooked quinoa = 1/4 cup uncooked) in one meal.

    If you don’t have dietary restrictions, here’s a great resource for cooking fluffy quinoa and also some handy basic recipes, and then there’s of course these marvelous quinoa veggie burgers and these delectable sweet potato and salmon cakes – oooh, I could get very excited about quinoa!


    Everything tastes bland on the Candida Diet – how can I season my food?

    Click on the link to go directly to the answer here (including 5 useful ways to season your food).

    You can find out more candida related stuff in the next FAQ session on the 5th of April. Pop your question in the comment box below if you’d like to be included. Don’t wanna wait that long? Then you might want to sign up to my newsletter – that gives you direct email access to me 😉

      1. Great post! Would love for you to come link up on Thanks Goodness It’s Quinoa, a bi-weekly link party celebrating all things quinoa.

        Hope to see you there:

        Happy Friday!


      2. Thanks for sharing this information post! Got it pinned and tweeted! Thanks for linking up at Gluten Free Fridays!

      3. Pingback: healthy vegan friday #36the veggie nook | the veggie nook

      4. Pingback: Healthy Vegan Recipe Inspirations for Spring

      5. Althoug you make some interesting points here and I understand many people won’t soak & sprouted; it seems like soaked & sprouted quinoa would be a helpful food source especially during fighting candida for those who don’t/can’t eat meat.

        • Hi Rosanne, many thanks for pointing this out. This is something that I am not familiar with but I am keen to learn more about.
          What would you advise as a good amount of time to soak the quinoa grains? Do you add anything to the sprouting water?

      6. Pingback: Healthy Vegan Friday #36 Potato Chips, Quinoa and going vegan on a budget

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        • Thanks 🙂 It’s the thesis theme. My boyfriend has given me a hand with the colours and design elements. Wishing you a smooth start with yours.
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      8. During my struggle with Candida, in researching what to eat or avoid, there is a great deal of conflicting opinions. I see how quinoa is good in the diet, I see how it is bad. The same thing with many other foods. Tomatoes are good, tomatoes are bad. I don’t know which way to turn and am so discouraged. It seems there would be agreement on foods to eat. The condition is bad enough, throw in the conflicting recommendations is mind boggling. I don’t know what to do anymore. I think I’m on the way to getting well then have a setback. Sometimes I’d like to just cry and throw up my hands in defeat.

        • Hey Brenda, I can relate to your frustration. I felt very demoralised too when I though I could eat millet and quinoa, but I still felt bloated afterwards. It made no sense to me at the time.
          The main thing is to discover what your body needs and act accordingly. Nobody can give you that answer but you. If you follow an anti-inflammatory diet approach until you are practically symptom free then your body will be in a strong position to deal with potential reactions to certain foods. It’s only when you reintroduce suspect foods too soon that problems arise. If in doubt go back to a simple, nourishing diet. It’s frustrating, but a lot faster than hitting inflammatory road blocks along the way.

        • Brenda,
          I feel your pain and feel so discouraged, depressed and overwhelmed with trying to follow an anti-candida diet while avoiding gluten, corn, soy, dairy, and sugar. I have Celiac Disease, leaky gut and many other health issues. I just ate a big bowl of quinoa thinking it was a safe choice. I am beyond frustrated and confused after reading the information here. I barely get enough nutrients in my diet and keep losing weight. I am down to 104 pounds. I am starving on just vegetables, eggs, nuts, seeds, and protein- chicken, fish and grass fed beef. I make green smoothies and add protein powder but that even has sugar. I feel like I am so nutrient deprived and on top of it all, I can’t sleep so I don’t get adequate rest. I have never been at such low point physically. I go to a functional medical team of doctors at the Cleveland Clinic and I am still feel very discouraged because of everything they tell me I can’t eat. I was eating gluten free bread for some substance but now I must avoid because of the yeast. I truly need some help and support. I am at the point now where I am even too depressed to leave the house or talk to anyone.

        • Hi Julie, I do. Candida in fungus form can feed on pretty much anything. The real issue with nutritional yeast though is that most people with Candida have developed a yeast sensitivity. So they react even to good yeast forms like the nutritional one, same with mushrooms and fermented foods. Once the Candida levels are under control it’s a great idea to have some nutritional yeast because it’s high in B Vitamins. Just start with a small amount when your immune system is strong enough and you don’t react to foods like bread or cheese… anymore.

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