Clostridium difficile, also known as C Diff is a species of Gram-positive spore-forming bacterium https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clostridium_difficile_(bacteria.
Microorganisms can be spread from person-to-person by touch or by direct contact, making C Diff a contagious infection.
Some individuals are carriers of the bacterium but have no symptoms.
The infection can be detected by a sample of your stool.
Some of the lab tests used to determine C diff include enzyme immunoassay, cell cytotoxicity assay, and polymerase chain reaction.
Testing for C Diff is unnecessary if you are not having diarrhea or watery stools.
The infection can be treated in two ways, with conventional antibiotics, but also with a special C Diff diet.
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What does diet have with C Diff?
C Diff is actually a bacteria that can cause severe diarrhea, but also nausea, fever, and stomach pain.
People in medical care who require antibiotics for an extended period of time are at greater risk of C diff.
The main symptom of C diff is severe diarrhea, which then leads to dehydration and inability to absorb nutrients in food https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/c-difficile/symptoms-causes/syc-20351691.
Therefore, what you eat during and after treatment is crucial to your wellbeing.
We all know nutrition has a significant impact on our health.
But for patients with C diff, that is even more important.
What is crucial during the treatment is that you consume foods that are easy on your stomach and help you control diarrhea.
Being that malabsorption is a side effect of C diff, during and after treatment you should focus on foods with high nutritional value.
Conventional Treatment for C Diff
The first step in treating C diff is to stop taking the antibiotics that can trigger the infection.
Depending on the severity of the condition, your physician will prescribe the following treatments:
- Antibiotics for mild to moderate infection. The irony is that the standard treatment for C diff is actually another antibiotic. These antibiotics keep C diff from growing, and prevent diarrhea and other complications that can happen
- For more severe and recurrent cases, doctors prescribe more potent antibiotics, taken orally https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/07/170703170528.htm
- If you experience severe pain, and organ failure, surgery to remove the diseased portion of the colon might be the only option doctors have. But this happens in very rare cases
What to eat?
As mentioned previously, the diet is an integral part of your treatment.
During and after infection, what you eat might make the difference between sleek and easy recovery, and an irritating and challenging recovery.
The key to restoring bacteria balance in your gut is consuming more probiotics.
Known as the “good bacteria”, probiotics are friendly and live bacteria that can combat the C diff germ.
Probiotics are usually found in yogurt, fermented foods, and kefir.
Probiotics help in two ways.
They battle the germs, but also prevent and reduce diarrhea.
We mentioned that dehydration is a common side effect of C diff.
Therefore, it is crucial that you replenish fluids in your body during treatment.
Drink a lot of water and broth-based soups that are also high in healthy nutrients.
Calcium is another important ingredient you need during C Diff diet.
You can source it either from dairy products, or from almond milk, hemp milk, and soy milk.
These “healthy milks” work wonderfully in fruit smoothies that will get you some nutrients as well.
Some of the protein foods that are easy on your stomach include lean chicken, lean turkey, and eggs.
Do not forget to consume protein while C diff treatment.
There are two types of fiber, soluble and insoluble.
The former is important, as it helps you regulate your bowel movement.
Foods containing soluble fiber include oatmeal, oranges, lentils, and flaxseed.
We all know veggies as healthy, but during the diet, you have to be careful which vegetables you are consuming.
You need veggies that are cooked well, and then can be made into juice.
The list includes green beans, zucchini, cucumbers, beets, and celery.
The key here is to consume a lot of starchy foods that are easy to digest.
That means banana, potato, noodles, crackers, and white rice.
What is interesting that foods you usually avoid during a low-calorie and low-carb diet, like pasta and potatoes, become staple foods in a C diff diet.
What to avoid
During your diet, what you eat is important.
But also what you avoid.
There are certain foods that can worsen your condition.
Take it easy during the C diff infection https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clostridium_difficile_infection.
Here is a list of all the foods you should avoid during the infection and treatment.
- Raw vegetables of any kind
- Fried or greasy foods
- Cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, cabbage, and cauliflower
- Caffeinated beverages
- Spicy foods
- Foods with high fat content
- Synthetic cooking oils
We also have to mention that lactose intolerance is a common side effect of a C diff infection.
Therefore, during the treatment for the infection, and afterward, you should avoid milk and dairy products.
Yogurt is the only exception, as it contains probiotics, which we mentioned previously is beneficial for you.
Can I have a Recurrent infection?
It is worth noting that up to 20% of people with C diff get sick again https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4442717/.
This happens either because the initial infection never went away, or because they are reinfected with a different strain of the bacteria.
After two or more recurrences, rates of further recurrence increases up to 65%.
The risk factors for recurrence include https://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT01887912:
- Being older than 65 years
- Taking antibiotics for a different condition while being treated for C diff
- Have a severe underlying medical disorder, for example, chronic kidney failure or inflammatory bowel disease
What if the diet doesn’t help?
The treatment for C diff starts with the change in your current antibiotics.
Your doctor will prescribe you other antibiotics to battle the germs, as well as a diet.
The problem is some antibiotics carry side effects.
And the diet not always helps.
C diff can continue and lead to organ failure, which is an emergency situation.
Surgery is a common option when you experience organ failure, inflammation of the abdominal wall lining, or severe pain that interferes with your daily life.
Fecal microbiota transplant is a procedure that has a success rate higher than 90%.
The treatment is for people that do not respond well to antibiotic treatments.
Digestive enzyme use is another treatment that helps break down food into easily digestible parts.
This may help you absorb more nutrients from the food you consume.
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