The Whats and Whys of the C-Diff Diet
What’s C-Diff and Why Should I Need a Certain Diet to Treat It?
Also referred to as C. difficile, C-diff is considered a ‘superbug’ by many, and is officially termed Clostridium difficile. It is a bacteria which causes the irritation and swelling of the large intestine or colon. Known as colitis, this type of inflammation can result in loss of appetite, dehydration, fever, weight loss, diarrhea, nausea and cramps. It can be transferred between people on door knobs, telephones, or bed rails when the ill individuals do not wash their hands thoroughly after using the bathroom. Diagnosed mostly in those being treated for cancer with chemotherapy or older people in staying in nursing homes or hospital settings, health care workers must use and encourage caution and exemplary hygiene to avoid transmission among patients. It should be noted that C. difficile is best prevented by thorough and frequent hand washing with soap and water. It is most commonly caused by the current or previous ingestion of antibiotics. It has also been noted in those who take medications such as Prilosec, Nexium, or Prevacid for stomach acid reduction. Although usually mild to moderate in severity, colitis can occasionaly become serious enough to be fatal.
Why not just more antibiotics?
Interestingly, C-diff is usually treated with antibiotics (although a common source of the problem is reportedly antibiotics, since they kill healthy gut bacteria as well as the problematic). In addition, eating a healthy and balanced diet should be and is often encouraged. Since bouts of diarrhea from C-diff can mean 10-15 trips to the bathroom per day, the Mayo Clinic recommends a diet rich in starchy foods like pasta, crackers, potatoes, rice and wheat, and avoidance of dairy, and greasy or sugary foods and caffeinated drinks.
Diarrhea and nausea can lead to dehydration as well, so care should be taken to alleviate this. Increased water intake, as well as specific replenishment of necessary electrolytes (like magnesium, potassium, and sodium) are recommended. Sports drinks, fruit juice, soups, and broths are often suggested for C-diff sufferers to up their electrolytes.
Since antibiotics often cause the problem, probiotics can frequently be used to treat it. Yogurt, tempeh, miso, soy milk and juices are usually suggested to re-introduce healthy bacteria to the C-diff sufferer’s belly, with Saccharomyces boulardi being specifically beneficial (as well as Lactobacillus GG, Lactobacillus Reuteriis, and Lactobacillus acidophilus) according to the Mayo Clinic. Dietary supplements can also be consumed to provide probiotics.
Nutrient-dense foods are most highly recommended for C-diff patients because of the possibility for them to become malnourished. (If all you can keep down is two bites, better make it two of the most nutritionally dense bites you can!) Whole grains, veggies, fruits, and lean proteins are suggested to build up proper immunity and fight the infection. Supplements of vitamins and minerals may be necessary if food cannot be kept down or is otherwise insufficient.
What are some other alternatives for C-Diff sufferers?
Addition natural remedies recommended include such alternatives as bentonite clay. This powdery substance is also called Montmorillonite, is formed from aged volcanic ash, and acts an excellent detoxifier. The clay is named after the site of the largest known deposit of bentonite clay found in Fort Benton, Wyoming. Often recommended for those exposed to toxins or poisons, bentonite clay is said to draw toxins from the body and re-establish a healthy balance of gut flora.
Activated charcoal is another such alternative remedy for C-diff which is said to behave in the body in a very similar way to bentonite clay. Pulling out the toxins while restoring the necessary balance to the gut is its priority. Some recommend alternating or cycling natural remedies with foods for optimal results in restoring this balance.
What about a natural alternative to the antibiotics themselves?
In addition to the aforementioned remedies, some alternative practitioners recommend that C-diff sufferers take oil of oregano instead of antibiotics as well. With excellent anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties present in the compound forms of carvacrol and thymol, oil of oregano is also without any of the harmful side effects caused by prescription antibiotics, making it frequently a superior treatment (a well-known chicken producer recently advertised replacing their antibiotics with oil of oregano as well). This impressive lack of harmful side effects from the oil of oregano treatment also leads to less problems with vitamin absorption, damage to the lining of the digestive tract, leaky gut symptoms, and overall antibiotic resistance than their prescribed antibiotic nemesis.
* As with all my articles, please consult your physician before trying this or any other activity or diet strategy recommended here.