You will find many different interpretations of the Candida diet online, and some of them will exclude almost all protein from your diet. This can leave very little to eat! Luckily, there’s no need to remove animal protein from your diet. In fact, it can form a nutritious part of your balanced Candida diet.
In this diet, we don’t forbid the consumption of animal protein but we do advise that you avoid certain types of meat and fish that may be harmful to your gut health.
There is some evidence that certain animal 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. Eating meat or fish in moderate quantities will not hurt your Candida diet.
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?
It’s perfectly acceptable to eat moderate amounts of meat or fish every day. Buying antibiotic-free, organic meat will help. Be sure to avoid processed meats that are high in dextrose, nitrates, sulfates, and other additives that may affect your hut health.
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 our Ultimate Candida Diet treatment program.