By David Blyweiss, M.D., Advanced Natural Wellness
April 4, 2022
In the March 30 issue of Advanced Natural Wellness you learned about the impact certain foods have on your gut microbiome; and the impact your gut microbiome has on your health.
Today I want to alert you to a little-known sugar that can lead to a dreadful condition called Clostridium difficile. This is a bacterial infection that occurs when the gut microbiota gets out of whack, particularly after the use of antibiotics.
Now, back in the1980’s and 1990’s, C. difficile wasn’t really much of a problem. It was easily treatable.
But once large amounts of a sugar additive called trehalose entered our food supply in 2000, two specific strains of C. difficile suddenly started to cause major outbreaks. The strains proved to be much more toxic than previous strains, and produce toxins for longer periods of time. At the same time, they are largely resistant to treatment.
As a result, cases flourished, and the severity of the disease became much more life threatening. Even fatal. Around a half million people in the U.S. have C. difficile each year. And about 29,000 patients have fatal outcomes within 30 days of the initial diagnosis.
Rise of Virulent C. difficile Linked to Food Additive
I think one of the most disturbing aspects of the trehalose/C. difficile connection is that, historically, C. difficile was considered a healthcare acquired infection that occurred in older folks. Today nearly half cases of C. difficile are occurring outside of the healthcare environment, and increasing among younger patients and people who haven’t been exposed to antibiotics.
If you haven’t heard of trehalose before, it’s a compound used in many foods as a sweetener, texturizer, thickener, stabilizer and flavor enhancer. Large quantities of it were introduced to our food supply during the early 2000s.
Since it also naturally occurs in shellfish, mushrooms, yeast and honey, the FDA lists it as “Generally Recognized as Safe” (GRAS).
What the FDA doesn’t take into consideration is the huge quantities of trehalose we’re consuming.
The amount of trehalose we get from natural foods amounts to less than .3 grams per day. The amount of it we’re getting as a food additive is estimated to be about 34.43 grams per day.
That’s a 114% increase! That gives these deadly trehalose-loving strains of C. difficile plenty of fuel to feed on and multiply.
Adding so much of an unresearched compound to our food supply is bound to have multiple effects on the gut microbiome. It is quite clear that this is another of those enormous mistakes that keep happening over and over again to destroy our health.
The Best Way to get Trehalose out of Your Diet
We’ve long known that the use of any type of antibiotic greatly increases your chances of acquiring a C. difficile infection. So does the use of certain antacid drugs like proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) and H2-blockers. Your risk also increases if you are admitted to the hospital.
But this is a whole new ballgame. The best thing you can do is get trehalose out of your diet.
It’s hard to know exactly what foods contain trehalose, because it is listed on packages as a “natural flavoring.” So it could be in many foods where it might benefit the profile of a food.
This includes in all sorts of foods you would never expect a sugar to be in. It’s added to meats to improve taste and juiciness. It’s used in frozen foods to reduce freezer damage.
Trehalose extends the shelf life of baked goods and reduces sodium content in any number of canned, packaged and frozen foods. This stuff is even used to improve the aroma of other foods and beverages.
Your best bet to avoid trehalose, maintain a healthy gut microbiome and slash your risk of a C. difficile infection is to eat fresh, natural foods as often as possible.
I recommend buying organic produce whenever you can. I also advise my patients to always choose grass-fed meat, pasture-raised poultry and wild-caught fish for your proteins.
In particular, I suggest eating a healthy, Mediterranean style diet. This way of eating is associated with a healthy and well-balanced gut microbiome. It’s loaded with healthy fats and high-quality proteins. Red meat consumption is low, fish consumption is high.
More importantly, these folks eat large amounts of high-fiber plant foods every day. This includes things like vegetables, beans, fruits and nuts. (People who eat the most of these foods have a much healthier diversity of gut microbiota. Plus, these foods help protect the lining of your gut.)
In the event that you or someone you know does develop a severe C. difficile infection that resists treatment, I suggest checking into the possibility of a Fecal Microbiota Transplant. This basically involves the insertion of a small, diluted sample of healthy donor feces into the colon.
Scientists are also perfecting oral capsules made by processing feces until they contain only bacteria. They have no taste or scent, and thus far appear to be very effective.
I know that both of these options sound disgusting. But they can work wonders when it comes to helping patients with severe or repeat C. difficile infections.
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