Clostridium difficile (C. diff), spreads like wildfire through care homes and assisted living facilities and hospitals, killing as many people a year as prostate cancer… and many of our most powerful antibiotics don’t have any effect on it.
If you’ve been reading my Health eTips for a while now, you know that we can largely blame the overuse of antibiotics for creating the conditions that allow C. diff to flourish in your gut.
These drugs wipe out not only bad bacteria but also the good bacteria in your gut — opening the door for pathogens like C. diff to dominate.
But according to a new study, we can’t point the finger for the C. diff epidemic solely at antibiotic overuse — because there’s something else that may also be contributing to it.
It’s called trehalose, a sweetener commonly added to processed foods like nutrition bars, instant noodles, and jams.
It won’t spike your blood sugar as much as regular sugar — but when trehalose reaches your gut, it feeds some of the bad bacteria in your belly.
In the study, out of Baylor College of Medicine, researchers tried to grow various strains of C. diff in body fluids containing trehalose, taken from volunteers’ small intestines.
It turned out that only two of the strains — called “RT027” and “RT078” — thrived in the fluids, which means that these two strains have developed the ability to use low concentrations of trehalose as a food source.
And they just so happen to be the very same strains that have caused C. diff epidemics in recent years!
Not only that, but when the researchers added trehalose to the diets of mice who had these two strains in their system, the risk of death shot up.
And the reason why is pretty scary — because trehalose coaxed these superbugs into releasing even more toxins.
That means that if you’ve got trehalose in your diet — even in small amounts — it could make it more likely that you’ll die from a C. diff infection if you happen to catch one.
That makes sense to me — because interestingly, cases of C. diff began to skyrocket around the same time (nearly two decades ago) that the food industry started adding trehalose to processed foods like gangbusters.
Sounds like a smoking gun to me!
Now, small amounts of trehalose do occur naturally in foods like honey, mushrooms, and seafood — but that’s not the type you need to be worried about.
The trehalose that’s used as a food additive is chemically produced from cornstarch — and you shouldn’t touch the stuff with a 10-foot pole.
While you could read each and every ingredient label like a detective, an easier way to steer clear of trehalose is to switch to the Paleo diet, which eliminates ALL processed foods in favor of fresh produce, meat, fish, nuts, and dairy.
Wishing you the best of health,
Dr. Glenn S. Rothfeld
Nutrition & Healing
Dietary sugar linked to bacterial epidemics, published online, bcm.edu/news/molecular-virology-and-microbiology/dietary-sugar-link-to-bacterial-epidemics