So, I've been wanting to put together this post for a while. While, I understand that 99.9% of you who read this blog do not have active c. diff (THANK GOD!), I thought this post could be extremely beneficial and helpful. I wish I could have found information when my family and I had been struggling to figure out how to overcome c. diff, not relapse, and somehow feel human again. Given that 500,000+ people develop c. diff each year, there is a good chance a lot of you guys will unfortunately know someone who acquires c. diff. Since being diagnosed with c. diff last year, I've had countless and countless emails from readers who had acquired c. diff. Or people who have stumbled through my site after searching for c. diff help. And this number keeps growing-- to the point where I now receive multiple emails from people each week. And the age just keeps getting lower and lower. This is hard for me-- it's scary. We're at the point now where I've seen children who have not been on antibiotics acquire c. diff. THIS IS NOT GOOD. I never, ever want anyone to have to deal with c. diff. But as long as we keep over-prescribing antibiotics and creating superbugs, this problem will unfortunately keep growing and getting harder to treat. Oh and if you didn't know, a big cause of continuation is not just through human to human, but also through the unsanitary conditions of animal farming. The meat you're eating could potentially be c. diff filled (40+% of all meat in the US tested positive for c. diff contamination)--- gross. Only we can stop this problem from getting worse...
Now, I have to go into this post reminding you guys that I am in no way a doctor. You guys know this. This post is not intended to diagnose or treat your condition. If you have a true medical emergency--- especially one like c. diff, then I highly recommend finding a doctor you feel comfortable with, who has your best intentions in mind to help you. What I can offer in this post is advice on what I learned through my process and experience of treating c. diff and the foods I learned would help heal my body-- and the foods I knew would exacerbate the problem and cause possible reoccurrence.
During my hospital stay for c. diff. I asked multiple doctors they're suggestions for diet changes and food tips. The ONLY suggestion offered was that I should consider avoiding dairy because it would be likely that I would now be lactose intolerant. Well, thanks for nothing doc--- I was already lactose intolerant to begin with. I was then handed hospital menus with such wonderful options such as hot dogs, burgers and fries, pepperoni pizza, and crystal light. Those things are NOT REAL FOOD. They are processed garbage. They are full of toxins that will further damage your body and not actually heal your body or your newly destroyed gut. Those items are actually things that feed the c. diff and not fight the c. diff. It's not new news that doctors know little to nothing about nutrition-- that doctors receive no actual education on nutrition--- with the exception of some who receive (at most) a few hours of classes in their whole academic career.
Luckily, I had spent the last ten or so years really diving into the world of food, cooking, and health. I was constantly curious on what foods could really heal and what couldn't. And given that I had already had to cleanse my body of candida from antibiotic use some years prior, I already knew that certain foods would feed the c. diff and other foods would starve the c. diff. And I was on a mission to learn more. Some things worked for me and some didn't. A candida diet or the body ecology diet is ideal for anyone who has put their body through antibiotic use-- which was a wonderful jumping point for me. Unfortunately for those of us who have suffered or are suffering through c. diff--- many of the candida and body ecology diet recipes wont work given that both those diets include many raw vegetables that are incredibly hard, if not impossible for someone with a serious case of c. diff to digest.
I knew a good bit, but still needed to learn more. At no point was recovering from c. diff easy. Especially given that there were other problems I was dealing with at the time-- but other problems or not, c. diff is hard, really hard. And it whether you like it or not, it can change your diet, for a long, long time, if not forever. Before getting into my recommendations, I want to remind you that c. diff damage varies from person to person depending on prior health, diet, and microbiome problems, age, the strain of c. diff, and the length in which you went undiagnosed and untreated. I went WEEKS with 15+ trips to the bathroom and multiple trips to the ER and doctors office before someone finally tested me for c. diff. It was BAD. The quicker the diagnose, the quicker the recovery time, so please don't hesitate to demand a stool test if you experience long bouts of diarrhea, especially after an antibiotic. I also want to remind you that everyone is different and what works for some people may not work for others. While some people might do well getting extra protein, some people will find themselves unable to tolerate nuts like they could before. Go forward gently, be kind to yourself, and get to know and trust yourself. If you really listen to your body, you will know what is working for you and what is causing more problems.
So lets start with,
FOODS YOU SHOULD ABSOLUTELY AVOID WITH C. DIFF & WHY:
sugar and yeast: sugar feeds yeast and bad bacteria. If you have a bacterial or fungal overgrowth of any kind you MUST avoid sugar. This unfortunately means all sugary drinks and even extra sweet fruits as well. While something like a mango is packed in vitamins C and really good for you--- you must eat fruits carefully, and with a plan to not cause more problems in your gut. I would suggest reading this book to understand the best way to eat fruits for your gut healing. If having fruits, try to have low sugar ones, such as blueberries, cranberries, strawberries, kiwi, or papaya. Otherwise I would only recommend eating fruits on a low fat diet, as to not spike your blood sugar. Sodas, desserts, anything with added and processed sugar, is very bad for you right now. And yes, diet soda too--- for a few reasons. But the most simple reason is because it's toxic. More reasons to come--->
white starchy foods: for the same reason as above. White rice, white breads, white potatoes, pastas, all those yummy high starch foods will also feed bad bacteria.
gluten and most other grains and legumes: I tried brown rice from time to time in the beginning and learned my body did much better without most grains* In general, you'll find it's best to avoid all grains (for a while) after you've had c. diff. Gluten + grains, while are okay in moderation (if you have no intolerances) prior to c. diff are not at all suggested in your c. diff recovery time. Gluten and grains can both cause a leaky gut-- or make your leaky gut worse if you already have it. If you have symptoms like brain fog, extreme tiredness, shakiness, irritability, or joint pain then you've got to be extra careful to avoid foods that will irritate your gut lining any further. Pay attention to your body and what you feel after eating each item.
raw foods: I mean, you can and should eat raw foods, they're really good for you and it won't feed the c. diff-- but I added this on here because you might be in for a pretty painful experience depending on the condition of your gut. Raw foods are very hard to digest after the c. diff has just worked its way to destroy as much of your colon as it can--- be gentle to your colon, eat soft and cooked foods in the beginning and add raw foods in, as you can. While raw foods are incredibly nutrient dense and good for you, they will be very hard to digest for a bit of time after c. diff. When choosing to eat raw foods, chew your food well, very well-- into mush so that your body had a much easier time digesting. You can absolutely try green juices (*without fruits-- lemons are okay). This will give you a quick nutrient boost and your body won't have to digest it like it has to break down a raw leafy salad. If your body approves, then yay! So again, raw foods: GOOD, but processed with lots of caution to not be bent over with digestion pain.
nuts: this is tricky one--- you'll have to listen to your body on this one and see how it reacts. 1. most nuts are high in mold--- which will also feeds the fungus in your body. Almonds are typically the only nuts recommended after candida and bacterial infections. 2. nuts are very hard to digest. 3. this won't apply to everyone, but even if you tolerated nuts in the past, you may find that they don't agree with your body anymore. I actually developed a mild nut allergy after getting c. diff. I ate a huge assortment of nuts prior to c. diff, but after my infection I would feel ill and have a terrible sore throat after eating nuts! (*tear*) While it doesn't happen to everyone, it's not uncommon for new allergies to develop after c. diff. If you do plan on eating nuts (they are a great source of fat and protein), I'd recommend to have them in butter/pureed form (as is, in smoothies, in sauces) so they are easier on your gut.
dairy: if you're lucky a doctor may have warned you to avoid dairy after c. diff. (though he probably didn't explain why). Pasteurized dairy doesn't really have any health benefits anyway so you're going to live a much healthier lifestyle cutting it out anyway. Yes, there's calcium, but you can find calcium in loads and loads of other food items. But reasons not have it: 1. you probably didn't know you had issues with it prior to c. diff, but chances are you did. most people don't realize how lactose intolerant they were until they've given it up for a minimum of two weeks. 2. casein (milk protein) and milk sugars are very bad for you and they feed candida/bad bacteria. 3. pasteurized milk doesn't contain any beneficial bacteria for you gut. 4. any microbes you had left in your gut to digest dairy are now gone. The c. diff has killed them as well as the antibiotics. This is what causes people to be lactose intolerant. Don't mess around with this--- it's hard, but skip the dairy.
processed foods: this may not seem like an obvious one to avoid, but you should avoid processed foods as much as possible. Besides the sugar, salts, (unhealthy) oils, and whatever flavor enhancers are pumped into the processed foods-- you've also got a large array of chemicals and preservatives added in there. Chemicals and preservatives shouldn't be ingested in general, but especially now. Your body is going through a very serious time trying to 1. fight off the c. diff. 2. detox your body of all the bacterial die off and toxins. Your liver is struggling, please don't make it work harder by having to process extra chemicals!
alcohol: this should be a pretty obvious one, but I figured I should mention it just in case. It's loaded with sugar and also difficult on your liver.
factory farmed meat: most meat (but not all) is very hard to digest and colon clogging, not cleansing. But even easier to digest meats need to be careful chosen or avoided all together. Factory farmed meats are packed with hormones and antibiotics. You know what kills your healthy gut microbes, but not c. diff? The antibiotics being given to factory animals-- which then end up in your body, killing your healthy gut flora. The same way that even one dose of antibiotics can alter your gut flora for a year+, think about the effects of what years of eating antibiotics from meat eating is doing to your gut. Every day you're harming the beneficial bacteria in your gut--- that you NEED! Other reasons to avoid factory farmed meats? They are mostly fed GMO-laden corn and soy--- which also does terrible things to your body. The hormones injected in meats are another (very obvious) reason to avoid these meats-- all the time, but especially now. You need your body in tip top shape to fight the c. diff and ensure a quicker recovery. And if thats not reason enough, because C. diff is found in over 40% of factory farmed animals and the meat on grocery shelves. Not only that, freezing and standard cooking does not kill the c. diff in your meat. Want to read more? Here are a few articles: one, two, three, four, five. If you're going to eat meat, make sure it's pasture raised, grass fed, and hormones and antibiotic free. It's not worth it to have any other kind of meat. And make sure your fish is wild caught, so that it's eating its natural diet.
SO WHAT LEFT?! THERE'S STILL SOME GOOD STUFF.
vegetables, lots of them: feel free to fill up on as many veggies are you can. they will be your main source of nutrition (and should be in general). Roast them, sauté them, blanch them, steam them, however you prefer them, just eat them! Pureeing them in soups is an amazing option, as it'll be easier for you body to absorb all the nutrients in it. All vegetables are wonderful--- and the more variety you can include, the better. Do try to limit the amount of sweet vegetables you consume in the very beginning (sweet potato, beets, large amounts of carrots), but do be sure to add them in later. Dark leafy greens are wonderful, but definitely harder to digest-- but adding them to soups (blended) is a great option. While things like cauliflower, broccoli, brussels sprouts, and cabbage are wonderful (especially cabbage because of all its natural probiotics), they do cause a good amount of gas in your intestines, so eat those with care and caution!
fermented foods: I can not emphasis the importance of fermented foods enough! Fermented foods might be the most important food when healing your gut. This is how you will get your good gut flora alive and thriving again. By eating fermented foods you are introducing all sorts of new and beneficial bacteria back into your gut! Try things like: non dairy yogurt, kombucha, kvass, and other probiotic drinks, kimchi, sauerkraut, tempeh, and miso. Eat a little bit of any of these with every single meal. Even just a tablespoon will help at each meal will help.
C. diff friendly miso soup recipe // Easy Kimchi Recipe
protein: if your body will let you have blended nuts, do that. You can also buy nut flours to cook with. Other great options are organic tempeh and (pasture raised-antibiotic free) eggs. Tofu has a lot of debate on whether or not it feeds candida or not. I eat it very sparingly, and only organic tofu to ensure it's non-GMO. Seeds (blended think seed butters/tahini) are another great source of protein. I'm not usually one to promote protein powders, as they are highly processed and filled with a lot of junk, but if you protein stores are really low (as mine were), then I would suggest adding some to your diet. Be sure to check the labels! Make sure your protein powder is dairy/whey and grain free. And be sure to stay away from soy protein isolate, as it is incredibly bad for you. And of course make sure it's sugar free or at least has no added sugars in it. So far I've found this brand and variety of protein powder to be one of the better options. I also like to add a scoop of hemp protein powder to my smoothies or breakfast bowls for extra protein. And hemp is rich in omegas too win/win.
healthy fats: in general, having healthy fats in your diet is SO incredibly important. It's what feeds your brain and keeps you fully functioning, don't skimp on it now! Healthy oils (olive oil, coconut, and sesame) are wonderful for you. As well as olives and avocados! Eats lots of those. Instead of blending bananas into smoothies, I love to blend an avocado in there. So rich and creamy.
some grains: as mentioned, it's better to avoid all grains, but I do know how highly restricting that can be (as if all that^^ isn't restricting enough)--- so if you do plan to include grains into your diet, I would recommend millet, quinoa, or buckwheat. As these don't feed yeast and bacteria like other grains. Also millet and quinoa are incredibly high in protein! They're very good for you. Best of all you can have these in many forms--- as is, puffed (for cereal), noodles, as a flour for cooking, etc etc. But I do recommend to soak your grains prior to cooking if possible! At least a few hours, but overnight is preferred. This will help break down some of the phytic-acid on the grains for easier digestion. I don't really recommend eating legumes/beans right away, as they are far too starchy and turn too sugar too quickly, but if you choose to have them in moderation, then make sure you soak these too.
steal cut oatmeal: this one is a bit debatable. Steal cut oatmeal is a prebiotic meaning it feeds your bacteria. But on one hand, this might include yeast and bacteria. But prebiotic foods keep your gut flora healthy and happy, just as healthy foods keep your body nourished and healthy. There have been a few studies done on the benefits of steel cut oats and c. diff and all show to be good. Just be sure you soak your steel cut oats overnight first and cook them well (in new water) for easier digestion. I eat a bit of steel cut oats every single morning since having c. diff. and I find it a really good and nourishing way to start my day.
Body Cleansing + Gut Healing Oatmeal / Protein Packed Oatmeal
spices and herbs: spices and herbs are SO good for you! 1. they will increase the deliciousness of your food by 100%. 2. they have so many health benefits! They even fight off and kill a lot of the bad junk in your gut. Load up on things like oregano and garlic (bacteria/microbial killers) coriander, fennel, star anise, peppermint (gut soothers) all the spices and herbs you can in your cooking. Fennel is especially beneficial for easing your gut issues. And turmeric and gingers are superfoods, especially for all the inflammation you're experiencing.
probiotics and other things: by now, you probably (maybe) know that Sacharomyces Boulardii is super helpful for fighting off c. diff. It is! And if you're not already taking it, you should! Also, having a probiotic with a lot of different strains is super important with c. diff and after any antibiotic use in general. There are loads of different kinds out there now, and some will be more tolerated than others for each individual. For me, I really liked this probiotic blend after c. diff. I saw a noticeable difference in how I was feeling and my stool too (gross) after a few days of taking it. And it has S. Boulardii in it so you get a bogo with it! I was recommended by a doctor to take glutamine in the beginning of my c. diff experience (for protein/restore gut lining), but after learning that excessive glutamine intake actually feeds cancer tumors, I don't feel comfortable suggesting it to others anymore. But do your own research and weigh out the risks. On one hand, you need some glutamine in your body (you find this in healthy eating) and it helps heal the gut lining, on the other, excess in glutamine (whether by food intake or in supplements) enhances tumor/cancer growth. If you're like me, with a tumor sitting there in your body, then maybe avoid. I plan on doing a follow up posts with other supplements I found helpful through my c. diff recovery-- but those are the main things to keep in mind for now.
blood sugar/food combining: as mentioned, you need to be kind to your liver at this time, it's working hard to detox your c. diff (and candida) toxins. Eating too many starchy foods in a sitting (even if its with healthy vegetables) can really spike your blood sugar and make you feel off. Be sure to always have a portion of protein with each meal. This not only ensures you're getting enough protein in your recovery, but also slows down the absorption rate of the sugar into your body.
think well balanced, always: in general, it's always a good rule to aim for as well-balanced as possible. With your protein and your veggies, you'll find it helpful to add a healthy fat for absorption of vitamins, and a bits of greens too. And don't forget your fermented foods!
salt: a good healthy sea salt or pink Himalayan salt is key! it helps add back in minerals to your body.
detox: as mentioned a few times, your body is heavily detoxing-- and you're feeling it. New probiotics might make you feel worse, before you get better. This is normal. I wrote an e-book on detoxing a while back-- while the recipes may not be useful for someone with c. diff (many raw recipes), you may find much of the detox information helpful. Check it out if you'd like, and pay whatever price you want. As mentioned here, you might spirulina a useful tool during your detox time.
listen: pay attention to your body and how you feel after what you eat. Your gut is now different than it was before, especially if it was antibiotic induced c. diff. If something doesn't make you feel right, take it out of your diet. Try it again later, if you'd like. Just listen to your body and your gut.
So the reoccurrence rate for c. diff is high, really high, right? (1 in 5). The idea of relapsing into c. diff again gave me anxiety alone. But as long as you're feeding the good bacteria and detoxing the bad, you should be on your way to recover, without the relapse. It's hard, I get it. I still have lingering symptoms (from the c. diff, but also from a whole slew of other issues that came about at the same time) and I still have to be quite careful with what I eat, but it gets better. Just remember, these changes are good changes--- you're nourishing your body with healthy and whole foods. It's a good thing.
If interested, you can see a all posts about c. diff and my food experience here and journal of all my fighting c. diff thoughts here. I know I definitely would have loved to have some help when I got c. diff a year and a few months ago. If you found this to be a useful tool, please share it-- especially with anyone who might be struggling with c. diff. Also, this did take time, and while I considered making this an e-book to sell--- I know how terrible c. diff can truly be and the information needs to be out there for everyone, but if you've found this to be helpful, please consider donating to this site as these articles do take a lot of time to write! Thank you :)