Superbugs: The not-so-sweet side effect of a food additive

Of all the antibiotic-resistant bacteria out there that wreak havoc on our health, there’s one that’s especially dangerous for those of us 65 and over.

Each “superbug” causes its own particular type of infection. Some cause recurring urinary tract infections, while others cause skin infections.

The one we’re talking about causes severe diarrhea. Inconvenient, for sure.

But if you’re over 65 and are infected by this bacterium, you have about a ten percent chance of dying within the month.

And to make matters worse, a commonly used FDA-approved food additive may be responsible for the dramatic rise in infections caused by this dangerous superbug…

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At birth your body’s pH is balanced. But starting immediately acid waste builds up and starts to shift your pH level from healthy alkaline to unhealthy acid. If your body is too acidic it provides the right terrain for germs to thrive. To add insult to injury… MORE⟩⟩

C. diff: one of the deadliest superbugs

Clostridium difficile, better known as C. diff., is a bacterium that causes severe diarrhea and colitis (inflammation of the colon).

According to the CDC, C. diff causes about half a million infections in the United States each year.

Being 65 or older is a major risk factor for contracting a C. diff infection.

Symptoms of an infection include severe diarrhea, fever, stomach tenderness or pain, loss of appetite, and nausea.

Many people get repeated C. diff infections, usually within two to eight weeks of the previous one.

Most cases of C. diff are “hospital-acquired” where they can live on hard surfaces. The bacteria are also present in the gut microbiomes of most people where it typically doesn’t cause a problem unless dysbiosis occurs.

Dysbiosis is when an imbalance in the microbiome allows a dangerous strain of bacteria to take over.

Overuse of antibiotics can cause dysbiosis. Can you guess what else can? Yep, that food additive.

Trehalose: not as innocent as it seems

Trehalose is a saccharide (sugar) that is found naturally in many types of mushroom, seaweed and seafood — foods that, as a whole, are considered healthy.

But in 1994, Japanese company Hayashibara Co., Ltd. developed a way to mass-produce trehalose. The sugar is now used to prolong the shelf life of food products as wide-ranging as nutrition bars and chewing gum.

In 2016, scientists from Hayashibara published the results of a randomized controlled trial, claiming that a small amount of trehalose could “potentially reduce the development of metabolic syndrome and associated lifestyle-related diseases, such as type 2 diabetes.”

But around the same time, independent researchers found a problem with trehalose that far outweighs this potential benefit.

In 2018, scientists at Baylor University found that a particularly harmful strain of C. diff, known as RT207, is especially good at metabolizing trehalose.

At that time Dr. Robert Britton noted “In 2000, trehalose was approved as a food additive in the United States for a number of foods from sushi and vegetables to ice cream, and about three years later the reports of outbreaks with these lineages started to increase.”

But as researcher James Collins from the Baylor College of Medicine pointed out, “These lineages have been present in people for years without causing major outbreaks.” 

But when you eat foods with trehalose, it’s like scattering birdseed to attract birds to your yard. Except in this case, you’re feeding deadly bacteria and inviting it to thrive in your gut.

Peak Organic Alkalizing Greens

At birth your body’s pH is balanced. But starting immediately acid waste builds up and starts to shift your pH level from healthy alkaline to unhealthy acid. If your body is too acidic it provides the right terrain for germs to thrive. To add insult to injury… MORE⟩⟩

Where trehalose is hiding

In a word: everywhere.

Trehalose is used to extend the shelf life of products, as well as to lend a slightly sweet flavor.

It’s found in:

  • Nutrition bars
  • Ice cream
  • Cereal
  • Sushi
  • Frozen foods
  • Processed desserts and baked goods
  • Fruit juices
  • White chocolate
  • Fast food
  • and more.

To lower your risk for C. diff, drastically lower how often you eat processed foods. Here are a few other steps that can help.

  • Don’t take antibiotics unless you absolutely need them for a true bacterial infection.
  • Don’t take PPI (proton pump inhibitors) for acid indigestion.
  • If you are in a hospital or other healthcare facility, wash your hands often to avoid letting the bacteria enter your body. Make sure everyone else is frequently washing their hands too.
  • Support a healthy balanced gut microbiome with probiotics and prebiotics.

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Sources:

A Common Sugar Additive Could Be Driving The Rise of One of The Most Aggressive Superbugs — Science Alert

This food additive is hard to avoid and could make hospital superbugs more deadly — cbc.ca

Dietary sugar linked to increasing bacterial epidemics — Eureka Alert

What is C. diff? cdc.gov

Dietary trehalose enhances virulence of epidemic Clostridium difficile — themethodsman.com

Daily Intake of Trehalose Is Effective in the Prevention of Lifestyle-Related Diseases in Individuals with Risk Factors for Metabolic Syndrome — Pubmed

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Joyce Hollman

By Joyce Hollman

Joyce Hollman is a writer based in Kennebunk, Maine, specializing in the medical/healthcare and natural/alternative health space. Health challenges of her own led Joyce on a journey to discover ways to feel better through organic living, utilizing natural health strategies. Now, practicing yoga and meditation, and working towards living in a chemical-free home, her experiences make her the perfect conduit to help others live and feel better naturally.