Hospital Superbug Evolves To Thrive On A Typical Western Sugar-Rich Diet

by | Aug 16, 2019 | Headline News | 9 comments

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    A superbug, first discovered in a hospital, is evolving to thrive on the sugar-rich diets common in the United States. Clostridioides difficile (C. difficile) is a bacterium that can cause a nasty spell of diarrhea and colitis for those unlucky enough to be infected by the superbug.

    According to IFLScience, researchers analyzing the genomes of various strains in Nature Genetics have discovered it is a millennia-long process of evolution that will see it separate into two different species. One of those species is particularly adept at evading hospital disinfectants and thrives on a sugar-rich Western diet.

    “This largest ever collection and analysis of C. difficile whole genomes, from 33 countries worldwide, gives us a whole new understanding of bacterial evolution,” author Brendan Wren, a professor at the London School of Hygiene and Medicine, said in a statement.  “It reveals the importance of genomic surveillance of bacteria. Ultimately, this could help understand how other dangerous pathogens evolve by adapting to changes in human lifestyles and healthcare regimes which could then inform healthcare policies.”

    In a healthy person, “good” gut bacteria will fend off the bad superbug while antibiotics extinguish the “good” gut bacteria, leaving the patient vulnerable to infection. Because of this, the bug is frequently found in hospital settings.  C. difficile clade A) accounts for roughly 70 percent of the samples collected from hospital patients.

    Noticing that it showed differences in genes associated with the metabolization of simple sugars, they monitored its effects in mice. Those given a sugar-rich diet appeared to provide a better host for the bacteria – it seemed to flourish in guts exposed to a high-sugar Western diet.

    The team was able to calculate when this species of the C. difficile bacterium first appeared using dating analysis, pinpointing its origin to a time approximately 76,000 years ago. Yet, it was towards the end of the 16th century that things really began to take off, with the number of different strains of C. difficile clade A starting to increase. –IFLScience

    According to the study’s authors, this is the largest genomic study of C. difficile and shows that it is evolving in response to human behavior.  “This particular bacteria was primed to take advantage of modern healthcare practices and human diets before hospitals even existed,”  explained joint first author Nitin Kumar from the Wellcome Sanger Institute.

    “Our study provides genome and laboratory-based evidence that human lifestyles can drive bacteria to form new species so they can spread more effectively,” said senior author Trevor Lawley from the Wellcome Sanger Institute.

    This means focusing on one’s diet an improving the quality of food eaten could help stave off dangerous and potentially deadly superbugs like C. difficile.


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      1. Howdy All,

        C Diff is nothing to sneeze at. It killed my Aunt over the course of roughly 2 months subsequent to treatment with oral Vancocin.
        Not very long after the medical community ascertained that once that becomes a ‘super-infection’ – becoming the primary bacteria populating the intestines – that the only possible treatment consisted of a course of antibiotics specifically designed to virtually anihilate all intestinal flora in toto. Thereafter, a protologist takes a sample of ‘healthy’ bacteria from an ordinary person and places that relatively high up in the tract. Before the advent of wholly drug resistant this was an effective procedure.
        If however C Diff becomes resistant to the available spectrum of antibiotics yhen you can rest assured that the likely outcome is grim indeed.
        In the last 100 years the response of Humanity to disease is rapidly producing pathigens for which no viable treatment exist…and given the lead time to research new candidates for treatments I’m long been of the opinion that somewhere (likely India, possibly in a sub-Saharan country) we’ll discover within a decade some pathogen which is both untreatable and sufficiently mutagenic such that viable treatment will not be possible.
        Mankind will reach singularity via one avenue or another relatively soon and whatever form that takes the likely outcome is a 90-98% reduction of the existing population…maybe that’s just Mither Nature’s way of enforcing what we’re all familiar with via the Georgia Guidestones, just less…people, that is.


      2. I would say that I am very good at finding and cultivating food, until the harvest takes up too much room.

        Sugar makes my legs want to go out from under me, and simple carbohydrate causes a nasty spell of diarrhea and colitis without the superbug. I would rather be the animal’s friend but am at risk for anemia. Can happily, successfully, and strongly live as a savage but not as a civilized person.

        They’re showing you this article, against sugars and standard American diet (SAD), while simultaneously moving against protein in fastfood franchises and cafeterias. They are probably just as adamant about removing farm animals as fossil fuels from the social bargain.

      3. Didn’t Dr. Atkins cover this about 50 years ago?

      4. HONEY, is my sweetener. I never use sugar, unless it is in the foods I eat outside of my home.

      5. I wonder what would happen if you ate a bunch of sugar then a spoonful of yeast???

        • I often wondered that myself. You should try it and let me know what happens

      6. Cancer is fed by sugar.


      7. Too much sugar, even healthy sugars like honey, maple syrup, and fresh fruit can upset the apple cart.

        Most sugars in Americans diets are hidden in processed food and drinks like alcohol and soda.

        Fermented foods like kimchee and sauerkraut are excellent. Kieffer is fermented milk and an excellent food.

        Naturally occurring probiotics in fermented foods can save your life protecting you from dangerous diarrhea which kills more people than you might imagine.


        • Pickles are awesome. Sugar is rocket fuel.

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