The pH level of the body is believed to be a major contributing factor in Candida. We explore the most effective way to balance pH in this question from a site visitor.
I was wondering if balancing my pH would help with Candida. I tested my pH and it is very low-5.5 approx. I read that chicken is very acidic. -Susan
There is great confusion in the field in regard to pH and Candida yeast; some people say yeast will thrive in an acidic environment and other people say it will thrive in an alkaline environment. If you read this post a few years ago, you would know I used to be confused on this topic myself. I updated this page later to clarify this issue.
While it is true that an acidic body (acidosis) can lead to a variety of health conditions like osteoporosis, chronic fatigue, muscle loss, high blood pressure, kidney stones, cravings for sugar and carbs and more, in regard to Candida we are talking about the pH level in the “gut.”
Yes, your “blood” pH should be slightly alkaline for optimal health. However, the pH of your “gut” should remain acidic to function properly. It is acid that keeps pathogens like Candida yeast from growing out of control. Thus, the word “acidophilus.” It is the acid in the dophilus that is important for helping to eliminate yeast overgrowth. Acidophilus is acid forming; e.g. lactic acid and acetic acid. Acid in your stomach and your intestines is your first line of defense against pathogenic intruders.
When you take antibiotics, it kills off your acid forming bacteria and makes the environment too alkaline, which is why antibiotics promote Candida overgrowth. So not only do antibiotics directly eliminate the good guys that help keep Candida from taking over, they also change the pH in your digestive system to one that is more hospitable for yeast and other pathogens.
Different parts of the body have a need for different pH levels. In a healthy body, body tissue and blood pH runs about 7.3 or 7.4, which is slightly alkaline; while an empty stomach is somewhere between 1 and 3, which is highly acidic; and the small intestine ranges between 6 and 6.5, which is slightly alkaline; while the colon runs between 5.5 to 7, which is slightly acidic; and the vagina is typically between 3.8 and 4.5, which is moderately acidic. However, there is variation even within these parameters; for example, the pH may be different in different areas of the small intestine like the duodenum and the caecum.
All species of Candida can survive in a wide range of pH levels. Candida Albicans has been found to thrive in everything from 2 to 10. However, studies demonstrate that it needs an alkaline environment to change from its yeast form into the pathogenic fungal hyphae form. In the vagina, yeast and other pathogens like bacterial vaginosis and trichomoniasis will flourish in a pH that is higher than 4.5.
Some of the toxins that Candida emits, like ammonia, are actually used by the yeast to alter the pH in the environment it is in so it will be more alkaline, which then allows it to morph into hyphae form. If the environment is too acidic, Candida will simply release ammonia to create the conditions that it prefers. Thus, once again illustrating the astounding abilities of Candida to adapt and survive.
pH is a very important factor for other microbes as well. For example, E-coli becomes pathogenic in an alkaline environment, but in an acid environment it is beneficial and helps produce vitamin K. Many other microbes have this same ability to alter pH and some microbes like H. pylori may even become resistant to and survive in an acid environment.
A diet that is void of animal protein and high in fruits will also make the gut too alkaline and encourage yeast overgrowth. Additionally, as we get older, our ability to produce hydrochloric acid diminishes, thus making the environment more alkaline.
Since it is primarily sugar, grains and processed foods, artificial sweeteners, carbonated drinks, caffeine, and alcohol that are responsible for acidosis, my version of the Candida diet, which is basically a Paleo Candida Diet, will promote just the right blood pH. Yes, meat is acidic, but low-starch vegetables are alkaline, and when they are eaten with the meat, they neutralize the acid. If you follow the Paleo Diet diet, it will correct blood pH problems naturally. No other steps are typically needed.
The Paleo Candida Diet will also help promote just the right pH for your stomach, small intestine, colon and vagina. However, a few other steps may be necessary as well, which include taking acidophilus and other healthy bacteria, avoiding antibiotics unless necessary to save your life, supplementing with vitamin C, and avoiding acid blockers, antacids, and chlorinated water. All of which, you should already be doing to address Candida overgrowth. Some people may need to supplement with hydrochloric acid if they are deficient.
Slavena Vylkova, Aaron J. Carman, Heather A. Danhof, John R. Collette, et, al. The Fungal Pathogen Candida Albicans Autoinduces Hyphal Morphogenesis by Raising Cellular pH.doi: 10. American Society for Microbiology, May 2011 mBio vol. 2 no. 3