I receive daily emails from people suffering with c. diff. Mostly I receive a lot of questions but sometimes I receive just a kind thank you email for the my personal c. difficile posts and dietary recommendations (I’m so happy they work for you guys!). Alex asked me the other day, “do all the emails make it better or worse?” and I guess the answer is, “both”. On one hand it sucks seeing so many others suffer through the after effects of such a terrible illness. Especially when I get them emails from mothers about their children– those are the worst. I can’t fix anyone. I’m still working on fixing myself. And that’s a very hard reality.
On the other hand, I know it can help some people in the world find some relief in my own tried and failed experiences and tips. And it does help others feel less alone to read about my experiences— and it does help me to feel less alone in my strange symptoms (that doctors were absolutely useless at helping with me). All the super strange symptoms that seem like they would be completely unrelated to c. diff– well, I’m not alone in them. And if you’ve had or have c. diff, then you can know, you’re not alone in them either. While doctors can’t provide much (or any relief), know that there is a system of people trying with you. The emails remind me of that.
But the difficult thing about emails is that I only have so much time and energy in the day and it’s becoming harder and harder to answer the influx of emails about c. diff. Especially when so much of the information people are asking for has already been shared on the blog. I do send out an email reply that has all the links to past posts and recommendations, but I thought maybe this post would be helpful as well. I’ve decided to put together a post with the most frequently asked questions I receive via email. So yeah, while this post is obviously not useful for most of my readers (thank god), here we are: A C. diff personal FAQ post that can help those who are struggling with their own recovery.
Please know/remember that I am not a doctor or medically trained in any way. What I am putting out there is just my personal experience dealing with and recovering from C. difficile. I have theories and ideas on things, but those are just that. I can only speak from my own experiences and thoughts. Nothing more. Unfortunately, doctors are not well-trained in C. difficile or nutrition / diet in general. Time and time again (daily) I’m being reminded (through my own experiences and so many of you guys’ experiences) at how little doctors know when it comes to c. diff. It’s very, VERY discouraging. But here we are. Working forward in healing in the best way we can, right? Right.
I’ll edit the posts if topics and questions change, but for now, these are:
the most asked questions man answers in regards to recovery from c. difficile.
PS. If you don’t have c. diff and would prefer not to read about very personal poop topics, maybe skip over this one.
How long after c. diff did your bowel movements return to normal?
A few months at least. I don’t remember exactly. But my bowel movements were loose and strange for a very long time. About a few months after c. difficile I switched to this probiotic and within about three days they improved drastically. Was it back to “normal”? No. It became a new normal. I’d say they’re normal now though for sure.
Did diarrhea return without the presence of c. diff/ a positive stool sample?
Yes. Often. I went in for multiple stool tests after my initial c. diff diagnosis due to diarrhea. All tests came back negative. As diarrhea would come and go and I would panic, but there was not much I could do other than keep taking probiotics.
Here are my thoughts on this: we all know that stool tests are not super accurate. Even a doctor will admit that to you. So you can have a negative test result, but be positive for a lot of things. It’s a really tricky place to be in. On one hand I wanted to demand more antibiotics because of the diarrhea. On the other hand, antibiotics will cause more diarrhea (with or without c. diff) because they kill off any good biome left in your gut.
Depending on the severity and length in which you had c. diff, your bowel movements are going to be messed up for a while. At the end of the day, I’m happy I didn’t demand more antibiotics, and I went the probiotic route instead– after my initial treatment of antibiotics.
But you have to trust your gut and be your own advocate. If you’re absolutely convinced that you still have a bad and attacking case of c. diff living in your system, then you need to speak up to your doctor.
What do you think helped most to keep c. diff from relapsing?
Replenishing your gut with healthy floral through probiotics and healthy diet is crucial. Recovering from c. diff is not the time for alcohol, carbonated waters and sodas, and low quality crappy “foods.” Rebuild your gut with natural, fresh, and organic vegetables and fruits. And probiotics are crucial for sure. Antibiotics kill your gut flora. Probiotics replenish your flora.
I did have one infectious disease doctor tell me that he didn’t trust probiotics– but this is also the same doctor who told me, “children don’t get c. diff, because god protects them.” Wrong. Children are dying because of c. diff everyday.
I saw a noticeable difference in my healing when I added a new probiotic and upped the dose.
This is the probiotic (another brand option) everyone should take after c. diff. It’s been proven to be more effective in fighting c. diff strains. I added this one in after, I recommend it to anyone. Both are good, but the second one has multiple strains which is more beneficially in replenishing. Another option is this one.
I have sporadic and random fevers too, did you get those without the return of c. diff? How long did the fevers last?
Yes, I had on and off random fevers for probably about a year+. I had constant fevers in the beginning and then they became less and less frequent as time passed. They usually flared up after more amounts of movement/activity. I wasn’t super functioning so I noticed the times I got out of bed and tried to be more active, it would sort of “stir everything up.” Even up to a year and a half later, something as simple as yoga could give me a random fever.
My theory is one similar to herxing. It’s like a slight detox process, even if the c. diff is no longer present there are leftovers that need to be worked through the liver and digestive system. As I got better, the fevers became less frequent and shorter lasting.
In the beginning I would get at least once a week. Then it became every two weeks. Then three weeks. Then once a month. Then only after harder physical activity like yoga. And now, I don’t get them at all unless I’m maybe having a viral flare, even then I rarely get a fever anymore.
I have joint pain after c. diff, how long did your joint pain last?
It is now 3.5 years after my first c. diff diagnosis I still will get sporadic joint pain– this now only happens when my stomach flares (typically due to gluten or other dietary allergy contamination– like a post c. diff celiac).
C. diff can cause a lot of long-term problems due to the damage inside your colon. This can be felt in all parts of the mind and body. I believe that with proper diet and eating habits, a lot (but maybe not all) of the other weird symptoms can subside.
When I paid attention, I noticed the times my stomach flared were the times everything else in my body hurt. Pay attention to your body. See what triggers it. And go from there. Any inflammation in your body can be felt elsewhere. Your inflammation is likely to be starting in your colon now. Remove the root cause, remove the pain.
Which probiotics should I take?
S. boullardii is the one most recommended by doctors since there has been the most research on this and c. diff. I took this in the beginning. But the reality is that antibiotics kill basically almost all the flora in your gut– so you need to replenish more than just S. boulardii. The thing is that everyone reacts to different bacteria differently. The same way that doctors didn’t realize the damage random antibiotics could do on the gut– there is still not enough research done on what probiotics should be living in our guts and not. It’s a tough place to be in. In a perfect world we’d all be living off natural organic grown produce picked off tree and never going near an antibiotic ever. Then we’d all have super healthy probiotic rich guts– naturally. But that’s not the case. We have weakened guts and lacking flora in todays modern world.
I recommend taking this probiotic after c. difficile because it worked best for me. And it will probably be great for most people reading this, but you have to test and see. Please do keep in mind that you might feel worse before you feel better with probiotics. This is because the addition of probiotics will help kill off the bad bacteria and you will feel sick from the die off of bad bacteria. I needed about three days of crappy days before I started to feel the positive effects. Some people might need a week or two. Start slow and up your dose mindfully.
If at the end of it you notice more diarrhea or overall that you feel worse, you might want to consider a different probiotic. When choosing a probiotic, it’s good to find one that has a variety of strains and with minimal to zero fillers.
Also I want to put out there that a new, crappier company has bought out garden of life. I still use the probiotic and haven’t felt the difference, but I’m certain the quality has gone down. So while store-bought probiotics are good, one oft the best and most natural way to get probiotics is through raw organic foods and fermented foods.
How much/how long/how many probiotics should I take?
That’s up to you to decide. In the last three and a half years I’ve gone through periods where I stop taking probiotics all together and then add them back in as needed. Sometimes I feel better without them. But usually I feel better with the addition of one in my daily life.
Most doctors probably wouldn’t recommend this, so you decide if it’s the right choice for you– but just as a doctor might give you an extra high (therapeutic) dose of vitamin D if you’re lacking, maybe consider initial therapeutic doses of probiotics (after you’ve worked your way up to it). Again, not a doctor, but if I were to find myself back in the place I was, I would start taking therapeutic doses of probiotics from the start.
How long and how much will vary person to person and with the severity of c. diff. I had light diarrhea/stool problems for a while before it turned into full-blown c. diff diarrhea (for about 2.5 weeks) after taking clindamycin. But I also was taking the occasional probiotic and eating/drinking loads of probiotic foods at the time. So while my situation was severe, it would have been much more severe (id probably would have been dead) had I not eaten like I did. I took the recommended dose of probiotics for myself and did not relapse. But like I said, I would take more if I could go back in time.
If you’re eating a healthy diet with loads of fresh food (consider juicing) and probiotic foods, you might find yourself able to skip the probiotics after a few months. But only you will be able to judge how you feel.
I have become allergic to alcohol, were you able to drink alcohol again?
I have not even tried to drink alcohol in the past year. I’ve taken a sober approach to it. I know I feel better both physically and mentally without it, so it’s not worth it anymore.
My two theories on alcohol allergies after c. diff are this:
- Antibiotics killed off all your good bacteria. Some of these good bacteria were the ones that converted alcohol sugar into something your body could tolerate. Over time it might be possible to develop these bacteria again. Maybe– not sure, just a theory. So maybe one day again I or others who became intolerant could drink again. Again, I don’t plan to, but maybe I could– I haven’t tried.
- Our poor livers are struggling and working so hard for us to filter all the crap from c. diff and antibiotics– how do we expect our livers to filter alcohol as well? It might be possible that once our livers have finished with c. diff and all the die off and been cleaned and detoxed, that maybe it can go back to filtering alcohol without making us sick.
But again, I don’t know. These are my two theories on why people can no longer tolerate alcohol after c. diff.
Have you been able to eat gluten again?
No. Definitely not. I basically have full blown celiac now. I even have to be careful with oats and corn. My colon flares up so painfully bad and I end up with diarrhea then constipation after a gluten contamination. again, this is just me and my gut. Maybe others can eat it again. I cannot.
You mention kombucha, is it okay for me to drink kombucha? Will the sugar cause problems?
I don’t know. Test it and see. On one hand you dont want to eat processed sugar (its not good for anyone). And there are trace amount of alcohol in it (more or less depending on the brand– read your labels). On the other hand there are loads of probiotics (especially S. boulardii) in it as well as much-needed B vitamins. I found that even kombucha can trigger a headache for me sometimes. I dont avoid it completely, but I don’t drink it everyday like I used to. Now I tend to stick with eating things like tempeh, kimchi, dosas, miso, and sauerkraut for probiotics. (On top of a daily probiotic).
Can you drink coffee again?
I can. I choose not to, except occasionally when traveling.
I have extreme weakness/cant get out of bed, how long will that last?
I don’t know. Again this varies person to person. How healthy were you before c. diff? How long did you have c. diff? What strain of c. diff did you have? How much work are you willing to put into your diet and body after c. diff? All these things make a difference.
For me, the absolute biggest difference (outside of adding extra probiotics) was changing my diet from a high fat/high protein diet to a much easier to digest high carb /low fat/ low protein diet). Within three days of my diet change, I was out of bed and my weakness and brain fog was gone. Even now I can notice the difference when more fat slips in my daily diet. I become more tired and low energy when I don’t mindfully eat the foods my body was designed for.
How do you take your slippery elm?
What supplements should I take?
I have pain in my pelvis, have you experienced this?
Oh yes. And I had a few ultrasounds because it was so hard to tell whether it was my colon or ovaries. This eventually went away. If I have a colon flare now (after gluten) I might experience some pelvic pain, but it’s not as common anymore.
Can we connect on the phone?
I could potentially set up paid for Skype and phone calls if that is something of interest to you, but for the most part, you’ll find all the info you want and more right here.
What type of brand of yogurt is best?
Homemade is best. Store bought yogurt is not true yogurt. It is pasteurized and then the probiotics are added back in. I really dont think it’s any different than you mixing a probiotic into a smoothie. But if you can, I’d suggest looking up some homemade coconut yogurt recipes and making them. Or maybe check your local farmers market– you might be able to find some there. On top of being pasteurized, store bought yogurt has added sugar + loads of preservatives and fillers in it. I enjoy the taste of coconut best. But that is my taste preference. There are loads of different kinds out there these days. This should go without saying, but avoid dairy based yogurts. Dairy is the number one food based cause of inflammation in the body.
Can I eat avocado?
I don’t know, again that’s personal to you. Maybe. Again, everyone is different. Try it and see how you feel. Most people find that avoiding all fats will make them feel much better. Fats and protein are very difficult on the digestive tract. But if you’re going to eat something with fat in it, an avocado is probably the best one, as it’s the most natural.
It hurts every time I eat, what does this mean?
Your digestive tract is damaged. It’s going to take time to heal. Eat things that are easy to digest– bananas, smoothies, pureed soups (raw or lightly cooked), vegetable juices, etc.
When I eat or even when I drink water my stomach bloats. Why would water bloat my stomach?
It isn’t necessarily the water that’s bloating your stomach. When you eat something, drink something, even a sip of water, triggers your digestive process to start. Hell, even chewing gum or getting a good whiff of delicious food can kick-start your digestive process. So let’s say your digestion starts, things start moving, and bacteria, toxins, undigested food, and whatever might be in there (that shouldn’t be) can cause bloating.
I struggled with this from time to time. Really cleaning up my diet, chewing better, practicing proper food combining, and being mindful of what goes in my body in general helped.
What can I eat?
My stools are still watery, how do I know if the c. diff is there?
The biggest indictor is usually when its super yellow/mucusy. You can always go back to your doctor and ask for another stool test if you’re concerned. Your stools might stay watery and unformed for a while until your replenish your flora.
I am always starving now, will this go away?
It should– or at least get better. I am still more hungry than more people, but wouldn’t call it “extreme” hunger anymore. Different causes for extreme hunger after c. diff could be:
- your bacteria (both good and bad) demanding sugar/fuel
- post. c. diff blood sugar issues
- you’re actually starving. You’re obviously going to the the bathroom A TON. your body is being depleted of its nutrients, you need more food.
- speaking of nutrients, you may or may not be digesting your good properly. Undigested food in stools after c. diff is not uncommon.
Whatever the cause is, it should eventually subside. You might even notice when switching probiotics (even a healthy person) will find that their metabolism picks up. More or less bacteria can change things. Our bodies are sensitive. It should balance out eventually. I definitely overate like crazy after c. diff. I felt best when my stomach was REALLY full. And I felt shaky and weird when it emptied out.
I’m thirsty all the time. Did you have this?
Yes, and I still do. I complain of dehydration all the time sinceI developed c. diff. No doctors or amount of research has been able to help with this.
I’m dizzy and have ear ringing too, were you able to fix this?
My dizziness has gone away. My ear ringing has not.
I’ve been told to eat a bland, no fiber diet/the brat diet, but this seems crazy, should I be eating bread and crackers?
I personally think that eating bread, crackers, and white rice is a terrible idea post c. diff. I’m honestly shocked that some doctors still recommend this. Bananas are not a bad idea– but I would be sure that they are RIPE! Do not eat bananas with green on them! You want a yellow banana with brown spots. I would focus on soups, vegetable juices, ripe – low sugar fruits, boiled potatoes, sweet potatoes, or other tubers. Avoid animal products, grains, high fat, and processed items as much as possible. You can see my food recommendations /what foods to eat and avoid after c. diff list HERE.
I’ve been told that I can eat whatever I want after c. diff, but everything I eat hurts my stomach/makes me feel bad, what do I do?
Don’t eat whatever you want. Eat foods that are gentle and will heal your stomach– or at the very least, foods that will not cause more pain to your stomach. Fats, high protein, gluten, animal meats with antibiotics and/or contaminated with c. diff, foods high in lytic acid like grains, or things high in mold like nuts, or fake food filled with processed chemicals should probably be avoided.
You might still notice pain or discomfort with digestion, but at least you’re starting the process to heal and feel better. You can read my personal experience trying different foods and diets in recovery. I tried high fat/high protein/ Chinese medicine/ ayruvedic diets, everything until I found something that works: RAW EASY TO DIGEST WHOLE FOODS. This book and this book inspired me. I recommend them to everyone– fighting c. diff or not.
You mention juicing, what type of juicer do you recommend? What type of juice should I drink?
Yes, juicing is GREAT. Think about it– there is very little digestion involved and vegetables juices are packed with nutrients. The inability to digest food properly/absorb nutrients after c. diff is high. Vegetable juices are an easy way to get all those vitamins to your cells quickly. The downside of juicing is that it can get very pricey, but think of it as the most natural and healthful medicine you’ll be able to take.
I own and love this juicer. It’s a slow speed masticating juicer. I like it because it’s easy to use and easy clean up. I used to own a juice fountain before but I found it more difficult to clean it up afterwards. Still worked great though– and it’s cheaper. Depends what you’re looking for.
I don’t recommend drinking fruit juice. Other than some lemon, lime, and cucumber, it’s probably better to stay away from fruit in juices– as the sugar absorbs super quick in your bloodstream without the fiber. Try making a simple juice of your favorite green, celery, lemon, ginger, and cucumber. Or keep it simple, maybe just cucumber and celery. Whatever you prefer really. It might quicken digestion a bit, which can be scary, but it’s not a bad thing to flush out bad toxins.
If you don’t already have a juicer, I highly recommend you invest in one. Just one juice a day will drastically improve your health and your gut.
Do you have problems drinking juice?
No. Sometimes you might find that you need to go to the bathroom for a bowel movement right after, but that’s not a bad thing. I typically juice a whole lemon or lime in my green juice and have no problem with this either. Find what works best for you. I also love fennel in my juice– which is maybe weird, but its great for gut health.
I’m nervous about candida/ did you go on a candida diet? Did you recover from candida after c. diff? Does eating fruit affect candida?
I had some pretty bad yeast/fungal issues after all the antibiotics. I did a bit of anti fungal medicine, they helped a bit, but not completely. I tried the traditional “candida diet” for about a year and a half, maybe a little longer, but I didn’t seem much improvement. If you’ve been considering switching to a candida diet then I suggest you research candida and blood sugar and learn more about how fat intake affects candida. I saw my candida issues like brain fog, itchiness, tiredness, and more go away when I switched from low carb/high fat candida diet to a high carb low-fat diet. Eating fruit will affect candida if you have high fat levels in your bloodstream. Cut out the fat, and you can eat the fruit. Read THIS book or THIS book if you’re curious to learn more about fruit carbs/fat and gut healing.
Do you have meal ideas for me?
But if it were me, starting over, I’d probably just juice like its my job until symptoms subsided. This is the juicer I use and recommend. But thats just me. If you want some other, more filling ideas, then here are some c. diff friendly recipes on my blog.
Oatmeal (please make sure you buy clearly labeled gluten free oats).
Green oatmeal (again, only certified gluten free).
Tropical green smoothie bowl
Acai bowl recipe
Cauliflower bites (eat sparingly, can be gassy)
Carrot Ginger Dressing
You can find all my recipes HERE. Many are c. diff friendly some are not.
Did you develop gall bladder issues after c. diff?
Not that I know of. But I’ve had emails from people who have.
Did you develop kidney problems after c. diff?
I had some serious hydration issues after c. diff. as well as kidney pain. No matter how much water I drank water I drank, I was dehydrated. I constantly had low blood pressure due to dehydration. I would go to the doctor/hospital and the would say I needed more water. I’m only 100-ish pounds and was drinking about 80 ounces of water a day but being told I needed more. Eventually this got a bit better, but I still feel under hydrated, no matter what I do.
Now, I definitely have to be aware of my hydration levels more than before. I drink a lot, but I still find that even going to the bathroom can leave me feeling dehydrated.
Did you develop liver problems after c. diff?
Well, I can’t filter alcohol anymore, so theres that. But emergency liver problems, no. I just make sure to eat and drink really clean to not have to make my liver work any harder than it needs to after processing all the junk from c. diff. But if I had to guess, I should take extra time to detox my liver. Thats on my agenda this year.
Did you develop celiac after c. diff?
I never underwent testing to get officially diagnosed (no point to), but I get seriously crippling ill after I eat gluten, oats, and corn.
Did you develop allergies after c. diff?
Yes. Prior to c. diff I was allergic to dairy. I am now allergic to mango (trees/flowers), gluten, corn. And I have sensitivities to cashews, almonds, strawberries (sometimes– it’s a seasonal thing), peaches, and probably more.
Did you develop anxiety/ptsd after c. diff?
Yes, this is apparently not uncommon. C. diff is obviously a huge stressor. On top of the fact that most causes of anxiety and mood disorders begin in the gut. If your colon is inflamed, the rest of you will not feel well. Not only that but it’s an illness of your gut– and your gut is everything when it comes to mental health. Without a healthy gut, you can’t be a truly healthy and clear minded person. I still suffer a bit from it– certain things trigger it. But it’s not at all as bad as it was. Before even loud noises or simple body actions (like digestion) would startle me after c. diff. I have been working on on being mindful of my anxiety and healing for years– and it’s working. I am looking to start therapy to further improve this. I’ll keep ya updated on how it goes.
Did you develop heart palpitations after c. diff?
Yes. They are scary! It eventually went away. They came back after my miscarriage last year, but went away again. If I had to guess, I think magnesium could be the supplement that benefited me most with my heart palpitations.
I’ve been told that I’ve developed post c. diff IBS, do you know anything about this?
I have not heard of a single person who has recovered from c. diff without life long gut issues of some sort. The severity of your gut issues will vary with a lot of different factors. It’s basically the doctors way of saying, “something is wrong, here is a label, we can’t fix it.”
Do you think your book, the plantiful table, would help after c. diff and getting my gut back to normal?
Not really, sorry. It’s weird when you put out a cookbook and the year it comes out you have to drastically change your diet and you’re unable to eat most of the foods from it. I still make a lot of my own recipes, but I modify every single of one of them. I now make the recipes from my book gluten free and low in fat. It’s possible to modify the recipes, but unless you’re really good at doing it in the kitchen, you might find it more work than its worth.
Do you have tips for healing my gut?
I have an entire list of gut healing supplements I took HERE.
When will I be normal?
Well, you wont ever be who you were before. even without c. diff, we’re all changing daily. You’ll find a new normal and a new sense of self. Embrace it.
How can I get rid of c. diff?
You have to kill the c. diff bacteria through natural or prescribed antibiotics. And you have to replenish and strengthen your gut with probiotics, healthy foods, and healthy stomach acid. People live with small amounts of c. diff in their gut with no problems, it’s when your gut health is suffering and your good flora amounts drop that the c. diff takes over.
Do you have advice for me?
C. diff is freaking scary, but you’re not alone and you can get through it. Work on strengthening your gut and taking care of your body, and you will eventually feel better. Obstacles are put in front of us everyday, this is the opportunity to learn more about your body and your health and be proactive about your gut and overall health. What we eat, what we do, and what we think affects everything. Make changes and breath through the hard parts.
Alright friends. There are tons more questions I get asked, but this is a majority of the questions I am asked about C. diff. If you’re currently fighting c. diff, I hope you find some answers and help here. I have an entire tag dedicated to my c. diff recovery– both in things that helped me as well as the emotional process of trying to recover and find relief in all the strange lingering symptoms. It wasn’t an easy road. And if you’re on it, know you’re not alone. It takes time, but you can feel better <3