Alkalinity and Candida: Considerations When Doing the Ketogenic Diet or the Intermittent Ketosis Diet

One of the main tenets of the Naturopathic approach to healing is making the body more alkaline.  A body that is more alkaline tends to resist viral attack and tends to heal more efficiently.  In order for the Ketogenic Diet (or the Paleo Diet, or the Intermittent Ketosis Diet) to assist the body in healing, it should be “alkaline- reacting”.

Dr. Vincent Pedre, M.D. from the Mount Sinai School of Medicine, for example, says alkaline eating reduces the risk of cancer.  He states that most tumors that are solid thrive on glucose.  Since an alkaline diet is relatively low in glucose, it deprives solid tumors of their fuel.

Published research in Nutrition & Metabolism suggests that tumors love an acidic environment – and,   findings in Cancer Research, indicate that a low-acid environment in the body potentially halts the spread of cancer cells. A study from Thailand indicates that the body can become acidic in just one week.   If this preliminary research is true, then we should all be eating more alkaline – regardless of what dietary regimen we adhere to.

What about the Ketogenic Diet then?  On the one hand, it severely limits sugar and carbohydrates – which would lower the acidic load and making the body more alkaline.  What I have found, however, is that most individuals, myself included, who are attempting to eat “keto” tend to concentrate on the protein and fat components of the ketogenic regime with less than optimal intake of fruits and vegetables.  Since fruits and vegetables are required to keep the body alkaline, it is estimated that you would have to eat 10 fruits and vegetables per day.  I haven’t read this book yet, but Ross Bridgeford has a new book out called “The Alkaline Reset Cleanse”-which may be a good resource for those of you who are interested.

The other problem that most of us over 40 have is a sluggish digestive system – which tends to be more acidic – from a lifetime of acidic foods.  This leads to a maladapted gut microbiome and an increased growth in organisms that thrive in an acid environment.

Meat is also an acidic-reacting food as are sugar and carbohydrates.

Researchers at Purdue University cut their subject’s total caloric intake by 30% then put them on either a high plant protein or low plant protein/animal-based diet.  Those subjects who ate more plant protein i.e., beans (which were prepared to eliminate the lectins), lentils and peas lost 325% more weight than those eating animal-based protein.  Plant-based protein is high in fiber – which promotes a healthy gut bacteria diversity and number.

Which brings us to our second point.  Candida albicans – a gut fungal commensal parasitic organism – thrives in an acid environment.  It disrupts our normal microbiome.  Even when a woman follows the ketogenic diet, for example, and does “everything right” weight loss can plateau.  This is often due to the Candida organism which may have extended beyond the gut affecting the liver and the thyroid – which stalls metabolism.

Candida organisms produce more than 75 known toxins. To protect the vital organisms, the body produces new fat cells to store the excess toxins. Tumeric and Curcumin are essential, in my mind, for anyone on low carbohydrate diet, including the ketogenic diet because it is possible that the “ketogenic flu” is just a manifestation of Candida die-off and the release of the candida toxins from the fat stores.   250 mcg of molybdenum per day as a supplement can reduce this effect.

Curcumin kills Candida, shuts off its repair cycle and reduces the candida’s ability to adhere to the body cells.  In addition, curcumin can repair candida-damaged liver tissue, and can cause fat cells to self-destruct and halt the development of new fat stores.  All it takes is to add 1 tsp of turmeric to foods per day (or 1,000 mg of Curcumin in supplemental form).  FYI, Curcumin is up to 10 times more effective when taken in tandem with Vitamin C or Vitamin-containing foods.

In Summary,

When on the Ketogenic Diet:

  1. Alkalize the diet by concentrating on increasing the alkaline-reacting foods –especially the alkaline superstars: kale, cucumber, broccoli, celery, avocado, watercress;
  2. Explore Plant-Based Protein sources and make them a priority i.e., eat more of them in the ketogenic eating plan;
  3. Add turmeric to the diet or take curcumin as a supplement to kill any candida overgrowth and prevent a weight loss plateau – especially if you are female. Remember to take vitamin C or a vitamin-containing food at the same time (bell peppers, broccoli, leafy greens, cauliflower or Brussel sprouts)
  4. Take 250mcg of molybdenum per day to reduce the ketogenic “flu”.

Until next time,

Dr. G