This subject has been of great confusion. Our body's typical pH reading should be 7.4 (slightly alkaline), but Ironically we need to make gut more acidic to kill the Candida yeast. The truth is blood needs to be slightly alkaline, whereas digestive system needs stomach acids to function correctly.
The Candida yeast likes an alkaline environment, which is often brought about by a course of antibiotics or an excessively alkaline diet. One of the aims of the Candida Diet is to restore gut acidity to the correct levels. The right dietary changes and a course of good probiotics will do just that.
Acidity and alkalinity in body, what's better?
Saying that body needs to be more alkaline or acidic, is over-simplifying a very complicated subject. body's average blood pH is between 7.35 and 7.45, (slightly alkaline). However, the various organs in the body require very different pH levels to work efficiently. Stomach, for example, needs an acidic environment to work properly, so this has the highest acidity in body (a pH of somewhere between 2 and 4). Colon requires a slightly acidic environment, i.e. a pH between 5.5 and 7. Even within blood supply there is variation – blood that has circulated around stomach has a lower pH than blood in other parts of body.
Therefore it will be completely wrong to generalise body Ph
Why does Candida overgrowth require an alkaline environment?
Candida overgrowth relies on increased alkalinity in intestines. It needs neutral or alkaline conditions to switch to its fungal form from spores. This is why acid-producing probiotics like acidophilus are very effective at slowing and even reversing the overgrowth, caprylic acid derived from coconut oil is an effective anti-fungal. Digestive system has evolved with a naturally acidic environment that protects us against pathogens like Candida, Therefore a good Candida treatment plan emphasises on maintaining acidity.
Candida not only prefer an alkaline (or less acidic) environment; it actually acts to further reduce the acidity of intestines. One of Candida's byproducts is ammonia, an alkaline gas that forms when the Candida Albicans yeast ferments sugar in intestine. Ammonia increases the alkalinity of digestive tract, and has even been found to promote the growth of other yeasts.. In alkaline environment, Candida triggers a switch to its pathogenic, hyphal form, which is the form that causes Leaky Gut Syndrome.
The acidic environment in stomach and intestines is hugely important - its the first line of defence against pathogens that enter our digestive system.
This leads us on to another very important part of your Candida treatment: probiotics. One of the reasons that probiotics are so effective in treating Candida is that they produce small amounts of lactic and acetic acid. This helps to rebalance the pH in intestine and restore the acidity that is needed to curb the Candida overgrowth. In fact one of the most common reasons that a Candida overgrowth happens is that a course of antibiotics has killed the acid-producing bacteria in stomach, thus making the environment too alkaline and allowing the Candida to thrive.
Why does gut become alkaline?
There are a number of reason for gut becoming too alkaline.
Major cause of Candida overgrowth is antibiotics, which are sadly over-prescribed these days. When the antibiotics kill the good bacteria in gut, they're not just reducing competition for the Candida yeast. They're actually also destroying one of your sources of stomach acid. These friendly bacteria produce small amounts of lactic acid and acetic acid that help to maintain stomach acidity. When they are killed by the antibiotics, gut becomes less acidic, more alkaline, and a perfect environment for Candida to grow!
Eating sugar and carbohydrate rich diet.
Eating too many fruits, Most fruits are very alkaline, so eating too much of these is one important cause of excess alkalinity in the stomach. There is another reason to be careful with your fruit intake of course - fruits contain large amounts of sugar that feed Candida overgrowth.
Age related decline :Its a fact that stomach acidity actually declines with age, so as we get older we become more susceptible to Candida overgrowth.
How to restore gut acidity & prevent candida overgrowth?
Avoid antibiotics: One of the most obvious things one can do to maintain gut acidity is only take antibiotics if absolutely needed. If you do need to go on a course of antibiotics, taking probiotic supplements at the same time will help maintain the balance of gut flora and prevent stomach from becoming too alkaline.
Take probiotics and prebiotics regularly :Taking probiotics is one of the best ways to restore normal gut acidity. The "good" bacteria in probiotics secrete small quantities of lactic acid and acetic acid, which help get the pH in stomach and intestines to normal levels.
Vitamins to boost acidity: Vitamin C is otherwise known as ascorbic acid, and is also an excellent supplement for boosting adrenal glands and immune system. Vitamin C taken in quite large quantities and its a very useful in Candida treatment plan. Vitamin B (or more specifically B6 and B12) helps with the production of hydrochloric acid in the gut.
Diet : Probiotic foods like kefir and yogurt, fermented vegetables, lactic acid and acetic acid into gut, increasing the acidity.
Avoid antacids and acid blockers: Anything that reduces gut acidity can help the Candida yeast to flourish. If one is taking alkaline waters it is also recommended that it is stopped until Candida overgrowth is controlled.
Avoid certain food products : direct carbohydrates, sugars, inflammatory grains like wheat, dairy, processed foods.
Dr Kalpana Shekhawat-M.D.
Functional Medicine Specialist
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