You will find many different variations of the Candida diet online, and some of them will exclude almost all protein from your diet. This applies particularly to red meat.
In this diet, we don’t forbid the consumption of meat and fish but we do advise that you limit the amounts that you are eating.
There is some evidence that these proteins may create the type of environment in your intestines that can lead to a Candida overgrowth. However, avoiding sugars is far more important for beating your Candida. Small amounts of meat or fish will not hurt your diet, you just need to make sure that your portions are small.
How can animal protein enable a Candida overgrowth?
Repeated studies have shown that animal proteins are metabolized into a number of byproducts in the intestines, one of which is ammonia. In fact, a 2009 study (see here) showed that participants on a high-meat diet excreted twice as much ammonia as those on a low-meat diet. This ammonia increases the pH level of your colon, making it more alkaline.
An alkaline colon is the perfect environment for your Candida overgrowth to flourish. In fact, Candida itself actively makes your colon more alkaline (ammonia is a byproduct of Candida too!). The regular pH of your colon should be somewhere between 5.5 and 7.0, i.e. slightly acidic. This acidity helps you to digest food and forms an important part of your immune system. Eating too much animal protein, particularly red meat, can throw your pH out of balance and create a breeding ground for Candida.
Research has also linked excess ammonia in the gut to colorectal cancer. A study in 2000 (see here) found that “Ammonia exhibits a number of effects that suggest that it may be involved in tumor promotion.”
How often can you eat meat and fish?
We would recommend that you eat small portions of meat or fish no more than 3 times each week. Buying antibiotic-free, organic meat will help. As you progress through your treatment and start to feel better, you can try slowly increasing the amounts of animal protein that you are eating – if you have a reaction, you can simply cut back your portions and continue with the diet.
If you currently eat a lot of red meat, you should consider switching to white meats and fish. Red meat can be troublesome for Candida sufferers because it releases larger amounts of ammonia in the colon. You need not give up meat and fish completely, but cutting your red meat consumption right back is likely to help your Candida treatment. As another alternative, eggs are a great way to get your protein without increasing the ammonia in your gut.
For lots more information on the symptoms, causes and treatment of Candida, take a look at my Ultimate Candida Diet treatment program.