C Diff Diet: Clostridium Difficile Symptoms, Treatment and Recommended Foods

Watery diarrhea is the major symptom of a C diff infection. Although C diff can’t be treated with diet, some foods are better for diarrhea.

c diff diet

C diff diet basics include "soft foods" to soothe your stomach.

© Samotrebizan | Dreamstime

Clostridium difficile infection (C diff) is a bowel infection caused by toxin-producing bacteria. C diff is a serious infection that can range from mild diarrhea to severe inflammation of your colon that can be life threatening. C diff is not caused by anything you eat and you can’t cure it with diet changes. The treatment is a specific type of antibiotic that will kill the bacteria. [1,2]

What Causes C diff?

About 10 to 20 percent of people have diarrhea as a side effect of taking an antibiotic. That’s because antibiotics can kill the healthy bacteria in your colon, allowing “bad” bacteria to grow. Bad bacteria can cause inflammation and diarrhea. C diff is a particularly bad bacteria that takes over when healthy bacteria decrease. C diff produces a poison (toxin) that is very damaging to your colon. [1,2]

C diff infection is more common if you have taken a type of antibiotic that kills lots of different types of bacteria, called a broad-spectrum antibiotic like clindamycin, cephalosporins, and quinolones. You could be at higher risk if you are elderly or sickly or in a hospital or long-term care facility. [1,2]

What Are the Symptoms of C diff Infection?

The main symptom is crampy and watery diarrhea. You may also have fever, nausea, and vomiting. Dangerous infection may cause fever, bloody diarrhea, and a distended, tender belly. If you have any of these symptoms let your doctor know. C diff is diagnosed with stool testing to look for C diff toxins. [1,2]

How Is C diff Treated?

Your doctor may stop or change an antibiotic that you are still taking if possible, but you will need to start another antibiotic that kills C diff bacteria. The first choice is an antibiotic called metronidazole. Other options are vancomycin and fidaxomicin. [1]

An emerging alternative treatment is a stool transplant from a healthy stool donor, called a fecal microbiota transplant (FMT). Studies show that FMT can replace harmful bacteria, like C diff, with healthy bacteria and restore a healthy bacterial balance in your colon. About 20 percent of people get a recurrence of C diff after treatment. FMT may be most valuable in these cases. [2]

What Should You Eat to Help a C diff Infection?

probiotics benefits c diff diet

Look for probiotic-rich yogurts and kefir in the dairy aisle.

Diet changes will not get rid of a C diff infection, but they may help you manage the diarrhea. [2] One possible change is to add probiotics, which are common in foods like yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, tempeh, or miso. According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, live cultures of “friendly bacteria” may be helpful for C diff diarrhea. [3]

The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics also says that although there is not much research on the best diet for C diff diarrhea, some studies suggest a diet that includes soluble fiber and reduces insoluble fiber.

Soluble fiber foods include:

  • Oats
  • Beans
  • Peas
  • Carrots
  • Barley
  • Citrus fruits
  • Strawberries
  • Bananas
  • The pulp of apples

Insoluble fiber foods include:

  • Whole wheat in breads and cereals
  • Rye
  • Brown rice and other whole grains
  • Cabbage
  • Beets
  • Brussel sprouts
  • Turnips
  • Cauliflower
  • Apple skin [3]

Mayo Clinic suggests drinking plenty of fluids and starting with a liquid diet until you get your appetite back. Mayo also warns that some people develop a temporary lactose intolerance, so you might want avoid milk-based foods for a while.

Good foods for managing diarrhea include:

  • Starchy foods (potatoes, noodles, rice, and oatmeal)
  • Saltine crackers
  • Bananas
  • Soups
  • Boiled vegetables [2]

The bottom line is that symptoms of C diff should not be ignored. They do require a diagnosis and medical treatment. Diet changes may help you manage diarrhea until treatment takes effect. [1,2]


For related reading, please visit these posts:


  1. American College of Gastroenterology, C. Difficile Infection, https://gi.org/topics/c-difficile-infection/
  2. Mayo Clinic, C. difficile infection, https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/c-difficile/diagnosis-treatment/drc-20351697
  3. Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, Diet and C. Difficile, https://www.oncologynutrition.org/erfc/eating-well-when-unwell/surgery/diet-and-c-difficile

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Cindy Foley

Cindy Foley is the editor of several health reports, including Managing Your Cholesterol, Core Fitness, and Brain Power & Nutrition, among others. Foley has worked in the private medical practice field … Read More

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