As antibiotic resistance grows, C. difficile is becoming more virulent.
A gram-positive bacteria, Clostridium difficile (C. difficile) is the leading cause of diarrhea in hospitals, daycare centers, and nursing facilities—moving aggressively into the larger community much the way MRSA infections have. And many experts consider this new super bug even more deadly.
Between 1993 and 2001 C. difficile infections increased 74%. By 2005, the incidence had doubled!
Responsible today for 30% of antibiotic-associated diarrhea and 70% of antibiotic-associated colitis, C. difficile is more than simply unpleasant—it has increased mortality as well as healthcare costs in this country. This pathogen causes more than a million infections annually—topping the incidence of flu—with up to 30,000 deaths linked to C. difficile each year.
Most at risk are older Americans and anyone who’s recently been hospitalized or taken antibiotic drugs. An anaerobic bacteria, C. difficile is increasingly common with tube feeding.
While most experts blame the spread of this pathogen to antibiotics (particularly cephalosporins, fluoroquinolones, and macrolides), new research also links C. difficile to the growing use of acid suppression with proton pump inhibitors (PPIs).
Aside from its growing virulency, C. difficule is now considered the most prevalent super bug of all so it packs a double whammy. Recent studies suggest, however, that beneficial bacteria, or probiotics, may stop C. difficile infections dead in their tracks.
Published in the American Journal of Gastroenterology, a dose-response study finds higher amounts of probiotics most protective against antibiotic-resistant diarrhea. Earlier research, published in the British Medical Journal, proved probiotics effective in hospital patients.
The rapid spread of C. difficile into the entire community may be due, in part, to this super bug’s super-staying power. Because it can live on surfaces for as long as five months, this pathogen has more time to infect more people.
Apparently, alcohol does not kill C. difficile spores, so wash your hands carefully—and often—with soap and water. But do avoid soap bars used by others—bacteria and super bugs may remain on them! At the gym, bring your towel from home—and never, ever share a towel with anyone else. Always wash your hands before leaving a gym or healthcare facility.
A True Story
My colleague Nan Fuchs, PhD, reported this real-life account in her Women’s Health Newsletter back in 2004—and it’s more important to know about today with the rapid increase in super bugs:
The doctor told Joan that her 95 year-old mother, Bernice, was unlikely to survive the night. The massive doses of antibiotics she had been taking for a severe bacterial infection were not working.
Although the doctor (who knew nothing about probiotics) advised against them, Joan felt there was nothing to lose. She knew that beneficial bacteria fight harmful pathogens, so she gave Bernice the strongest probiotic formula I’ve ever found—Dr. Ohhira’s Probiotics 12 PLUS. The next morning Joan found her mother sitting up in bed and eating!
“I saw a tunnel,” she told Joan. “At the end there was a white light and lots and lots of white clouds.” Bernice also said she had seen her parents and long-dead husband.
Not everyone can expect to be saved from near-death—especially not with just any probiotic supplement. In truth, many have very little activity. They may improve your digestion or help relieve Candida symptoms, but they won’t turn your life around like the best formulas—such as Dr. Ohhira’s Probiotics 12 PLUS, with a dozen different beneficial bacteria strains and immune-supportive vitamins, minerals, and amino acids, did in this true story.
Feed Beneficial Bacteria
Research published in the World Journal of Gastroenterology shows that dietary fiber supports colonic fermentation so important in keeping beneficial bacteria alive and well—and fighting pathogens—in your gastrointestinal tract. It’s important to eat fiber-rich fresh veggies like broccoli (a great super bug fighter), and add Whole Chia Seeds to your salads and smoothies.
Also consume plenty of prebiotic foods to keep the beneficial bacteria in your gut well fed. Two daily servings of garlic, Jerusalem artichokes, jicama, leeks, onions, and oregano are prime sources of prebiotics.
For everyday use, consider the probiotic sweetener Flora-Key, which combines 6.5 billion beneficial bacteria per serving with prebiotic FOS to help colonize even more friendly flora in your digestive tract. And last but not least, don’t forget that stomach acid plays an important role in fighting bacteria and super bugs. So, if you have acid reflux, heartburn, and other digestive disorders, maintaining a protective acid pH in the colon might help offset the neutralizing effect of the PPIs on your stomach acid. Pathogenic bacteria cannot live in an acid medium.
The Gut Flush Plan