Paleo Diet Can Make Yeast Worse! Beware!


What is the “Paleo” diet?

Nowadays, the high protein “paleo diet” is very popular. So what is this about? If you have a problem with yeast, should you go on the paleo diet?  Not so much.  The paleo diet can make yeast worse, not better.

There are many explanations of the paleo diet that you can find on the internet and in books. I take my cue from the website explaining the paleo diet. Basically, the idea is to eat how “paleo” people did—hunters and gatherers. That is, a lot of protein, nuts and seeds, healthy oils, and no carbohydrates other than in fresh fruits and vegetables. They specifically rule out cereal grains (like rice and wheat), refined sugar, potatoes, processed foods, salt and refined vegetable oils. This is directly from their website:


  • Grass-produced meats
  • Fish/seafood
  • Fresh fruits and veggies
  • Eggs
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Healthful oils (Olive, walnut, flaxseed, macadamia, avocado, coconut)


  • Cereal grains
  • Legumes (including peanuts)
  • Dairy
  • Refined sugar
  • Potatoes
  • Processed foods
  • Salt
  • Refined vegetable oil

Parts of the Paleo Diet are OK!

I agree with part of the paleo diet–what you should eat.  I recommend eating the same types of meat (grass-fed), wild caught fish, fresh fruits and veggies, eggs, and healthy oils such as olive and safflower oil and canola oil. I also agree that eliminating or cutting down on refined sugar and processed foods is good.

The Paleo Diet Make Yeast Worse?

We part company there. As you can see below, cutting out complex carbohydrates such as brown rice and potatoes, eliminating all salt, and eliminating legumes such as beans, is a bad idea.

The very first writers about the yeast problem thought that a diet like the paleo diet was a great idea.  I have a different opinion based on my research and clinical experience.  In my more than 20 years of treating people with yeast problems, I have found that people who go on high protein diets really suffer.  They  have not been able to improve and resolve yeast problems unless they avoided all the protein and ate complex carbohydrates.

Yeast Like Carb’s

This seems odd, because yeast “like” carbohydrates.  But if you look at the science, it makes sense.

Yeast LOVE Protein!

Scientists have known for more than 50 years that yeast love protein so much they use it to make chemicals that are very toxic to people, toxic alcohols. These are not the same alcohols as in wine and beer.  These toxic alcohols have names like 3-methylbutanol, 2-methylbutanol, 2-methylpropanol, propanol and 2-pheylethanol.  If you want to know exactly how this occurs, y ou can read more about this in this article: Yoshizawa, K and M. Yamada. The Formation of Higher Alcohols in the Fermentation of Amino Acids by Yeast. Agr. Biol. Chem., V.26(8), pages 494-499, 1962.

Complex Carbs Help You Combat the Protein-Loving Yeast

So, what is the relationship between adding in complex carbohydrates, like brown rice and potatoes, and eating protein?  Complex carbohydrates contain fiber.  Fiber makes it harder for the yeast to break down protein.  Complex carbohydrates also are different from simple carbohydrates (think table sugar) because the fiber in complex carbohydrates slows down the yeast. Simply put, they need to get past the fiber to start their process of breaking down the sugars and proteins. Yeast have less raw material to work with.

You can think of this another way. Yeast process the protein in grains and beans and other foods indirecty in a multi-step process. For example, when yeast spoil grapes, you get wine. Wine contains alcohol but will not kill adults. When yeast spoil barley, you get malt, which then turns into beer. Beer contains alcohol but will not kill adults. On the other hand, yeast act on meat sources of protein directly. When yeast spoil meat, they form toxic chemicals which which may make you very ill.

How to Get Protein on a Yeast Free Diet

You might ask me then, “How do I get protein in my diet without eating meat?” You don’t need to cut out meat altogether. You can eat less meat, and make sure it is from good sources. If you want to get protein from vegetarian sources, look at beans and rice. Most of the world exists on beans and rice because they contain protein. Many vegetables contain protein. You need to combine them in the right ways to get what are called “complete” proteins. The amino acids (building blocks of protein) in foods such as beans and rice are also bound up with fiber and will be harder for the yeast to use for growth.

For More Information…..

In a nutshell, the “paleo” diet may be good for some people, but it is not good for people with yeast problems. To find out what you should eat, click here or see our books Feast Without Yeast: 4 Stages to Better Health (or in Spanish, Un Banquete Sin Levadura), and An Extraordinary Power to Heal.