Consuming foods containing probiotics can be beneficial if a person has a clostridium difficile (C. diff) infection. A doctor may also recommend probiotic supplements.

C. diff is a strain of bacteria that causes severe diarrhea and intestinal infection. It may also lead to inflammation of the colon.

Although it can occur in people of any age, C. diff is most common in older adults. People who have recently taken antibiotics or who are in a hospital or long-term care facility are also more likely to develop the infection.

Antibiotics can alter the balance of bacteria in a person’s intestines, making it easier for disease-causing bacteria, such as C. diff, to grow.

When a person has C. diff, the bacteria will be in their stool. These bacteria can contaminate any surface or material they come into contact with. Spores can survive on a surface for up to 5 months without proper decontamination and disinfection.

This article explains the best foods for a person with a C. diff infection, foods to avoid, and recipe ideas.

A person making sauerkraut, grating into a bowl to help with a c. diff infection.-2Share on Pinterest
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When a person has a C. diff infection, a doctor may recommend eating foods that contain probiotics. Probiotics are microorganisms that can help regulate a person’s digestion.

Foods that contain probiotics include:

  • fermented dairy foods, such as:
  • sauerkraut
  • fermented tempeh
  • miso — a fermented soybean paste

It is vital to consume products that contain live cultures. A person can find this information on the product package.

Also, after talking with their doctor, a person may want to take probiotic supplements. Some are available over the counter, while others may require a prescription.


Other than probiotics, a doctor may suggest other dietary changes to help manage the symptoms of a C. diff infection. However, the ideal diet may vary depending on the severity of the infection.

Anyone with this infection should speak with a doctor about what they should and should not eat.

Someone with diarrhea may benefit from eating foods that contain soluble fiber, such as:

Avoid dehydration

Someone with severe diarrhea may also become very dehydrated, meaning that they have lost a lot of fluid. For this reason, a person should be sure to drink plenty of clear fluids, such as:

Young children, infants, and older adults are at higher risk of dehydration and its associated complications.

Someone with a C. diff infection may want to avoid or limit the following foods:

  • whole milk or foods made from whole milk, as the person may become sensitive to lactose during the infection
  • acidic or spicy foods
  • greasy or fatty foods
  • caffeine, which, as a diuretic, can exacerbate fluid loss
  • foods that contain solid fats, total saturated fats, and added sugar, which may reduce colonization odds, according to some research

It may be better to consume probiotic-rich foods uncooked, because heat above 45°C can destroy these helpful microorganisms — although some bacteria can survive above this heat.

However, some recipes are fermented and produce probiotics in the cooking process. They include the following.


This recipe from Eat Fresh serves 8. A person needs the following ingredients:

  • 1 pound of cabbage, finely shredded (about 6 cups)
  • 2/3 tablespoon (tbsp) of salt

Follow these directions to make sauerkraut:

  1. Mix the cabbage and salt in a bowl for about 5 minutes. Massage the mix to release most of the liquid.
  2. Let the mixture sit for about 1 hour.
  3. Place the mixture in a jar, ensuring the liquid fully covers the cabbage, and seal the jar.
  4. Leave the jar to ferment for at least 5 days. A longer duration gives a tangier taste.
  5. Open the jar once daily to release the pressure and ensure the brine still covers the cabbage. Push down if necessary.
  6. When done, move to the refrigerator and enjoy.

Macrobiotic miso soup

This recipe will take around 10 minutes to make and requires the following ingredients:

  • 1–2 inches of wakame sea vegetable per cup of water
  • 2–4 thin slices of a root vegetable per cup of water
  • 1/8–1/4 of a cup of leafy greens, finely chopped
  • 1/2 to 1 level teaspoon (tsp) of miso per cup water
  • finely chopped scallion for garnishing
  • 1 and 1/8 of a cup of water per serving or 2 and 1/8 cups of water per 2 servings

Follow these directions for macrobiotic miso soup:

  1. Soak the wakame in water for 1–2 minutes or until soft. Remove it from the water and cut it into even pieces.
  2. Pour the measured water into a pot and put the wakame in the water. Turn the oven on and boil the water.
  3. Add the root vegetables and cook for about 5 minutes.
  4. Measure the miso and place it in a small bowl. Dilute the miso in the bowl using a small ladle of the cooking stock until the consistency is thin enough to dissolve once added back to the pot.
  5. Add the leafy greens to the boiling pot, then the diluted miso paste.
  6. Reduce the heat to the lowest setting and simmer for 3–4 minutes.
  7. Pour into a small bowl to serve and garnish with the scallions.

Probiotic breakfast bowls

This example of a probiotic breakfast bowl serves 4. Use the following ingredients:

  • 1 cup of quinoa
  • 1 and 3/4 cups of water
  • salt
  • 1 medium avocado
  • 2 medium scallions
  • 3 tbsp of olive oil, divided
  • 4 packed cups or 4 ounces of baby spinach
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 cup of fermented red cabbage or beet kraut
  • 1 cup of plain Greek yogurt
  • 4 tsp of hemp seeds

Follow these directions to make the breakfast bowl:

  1. Rinse the quinoa and put it in a medium saucepan. Add 1 and 3/4 cups water and a generous pinch of salt. Once it boils, reduce it to a simmer and cook it uncovered for 10–12 minutes until the quinoa is tender.
  2. Remove the pan from the heat, cover it, and let it steam for 5 minutes.
  3. Thinly slice the avocado and scallions.
  4. Heat 1 and 1/2 tsp olive oil in a large nonstick pan over medium heat. Add the baby spinach and cook, stirring often, for 1–2 minutes until wilted. Divide the spinach between 4 bowls and clean the pan.
  5. Heat another 1 and 1/2 tbsp of olive oil in the pan over medium heat. Add 4 large eggs and season each. Cook for 2 minutes until the edges are crisp and the whites set.
  6. Divide the quinoa between the bowls and top each with a fried egg. Divide the cabbage or kraut, the avocado slices and scallions, the Greek yogurt, and hemp seeds among the bowls.

The symptoms of a C. diff infection can include:

However, a person can have the bacteria without having any symptoms.

To diagnose a C. diff infection, doctors take a stool sample for analysis in a laboratory. This test can determine which species of bacteria is causing the infection and the best antibiotic to treat it.

Other diagnosis steps may include:

When someone develops a C. diff infection after taking antibiotics for another illness, they may need to stop taking them. However, this may not be possible in all situations — especially for people with severe infections.


Someone with mild symptoms may require additional antibiotics to treat the infection. Doctors can prescribe a variety of oral antibiotics, including:

  • Vancomycin (Vancocin): A doctor may prescribe 125 milligrams (mg) four times daily for 10 days.
  • Fidaxomicin (Dificid): This antibiotic works similarly to vancomycin. The dose is 200 mg twice daily for 10 days.
  • Metronidazole (Flagyl): A doctor may prescribe 500 mg three times daily for 10 days.

A person with C. diff infection should not take antidiarrheal medications, as these can increase the risk of severe complications.


Someone with a severe infection and damage to the colon may require surgery. If a person’s colon is severely damaged, it may require surgical removal.

If antibiotics do not work, a doctor may recommend a fecal microbiota transplant. During this procedure, a doctor collects stool from a healthy donor and dilutes it with saline or another solution.

They then transplant it directly into the person with the infection. Doctors can do this using a colonoscopy, sigmoidoscopy, or an enema.

This procedure allows healthy gut bacteria from the donor stool to move into the injured or diseased colon, making it easier for the colon to heal after a C. diff infection.

C. diff infection is a bowel infection that, without treatment, can lead to severe complications. It is essential for anyone who develops diarrhea or abdominal pain after taking antibiotics to contact a doctor.

If a doctor diagnoses a C. diff infection, they will start treatment immediately. Dietary changes can be an essential part of treatment and allow the colon to rest and heal.

Doctors may encourage a person to stay hydrated and eat probiotics and foods high in fiber to manage infection symptoms, such as diarrhea.