The Specific Carbohydrate Diet is not a weight loss diet. It is a diet free of certain carbohydrates believed to play a role in intestinal damage and, therefore, helps intestinal healing for people with Chrohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, diverticulitis, Celiac disease, cystic fibrosis, chronic diarrhea and other conditions. I have just started it and am already feeling better.
I can’t share details as to why I am on the Specific Carbohydrate Diet, because I don’t have a clear answer just yet. I do know that I have a severe B-12 deficiency, but I don’t know if it is a result of accidental gluten ingestion, inflammation in my GI tract due to something else, or perhaps even Lyme’s reactivating in my system at the GI level (I had the acute disease last summer). Being that my doctors appointments are months away and I need relief now, an registered dietitian practicing in this area suggested I try the SCD.
The SCD is a highly restrictive diet and should only be followed by those who need to. It prohibits all grains, potatoes, beans, all sweeteners except for honey, as well as whey-containing dairy items. Without getting too scientific, the SCD is based on the premise that the molecular makeup and digestive pathways of these carbohydrates are responsible for eliciting a series of conditions that leads to intestinal damage and can potentially act as a trigger for an autoimmune response by the body. The elimination of these specific carbohydrates breaks the viscious cycle that goes on in the intestines and allows for healing. When the intestinal lining is completely healed, these foods are allowed again.
I hesitated going on the SCD for two weeks due to its restrictive nature. I’m happy to say I’ve been on it for a week now and am already starting to feel better. My strength is starting to return and I am not as lethargic (probably a mix of the diet and the B12 injections I am receiving) as I have been since the B12 deficiency kicked in. I am, however, still experiencing arthritic joint pain. The best part about the diet is my GI inflammation is subsiding, I am no longer experiencing diarrhea and bloating and I finally feel like my intestines are properly digesting food. I thought it would be close to impossible to follow this diet, but feeling better in such a short period of time is what is motivating me to stay on this diet. And I need motivation, because I will most likely have to stay on it for at least 6 months.
I share this information with you not because I am encouraging anyone to go onto the SCD, but because there are many out there suffering with untreated intestinal disorders as they don’t know what’s going on or the treatment they are on is not working. In addition, there is amazing science being uncovered about the connection between intestinal health and autoimmune disorders. Based with the right knowledge, those suffering can seek proper treatment from specialized doctors.
Never start the SCD diet without the advice and counsel of a health professional. However, if you want to learn more about the rationale behind the SCD diet, I recommend reading Breaking the Viscious Cycle: Intestinal Health Through Diet by Elaine Gottschall, B.A., M.Sc. If you are advised to go on the SCD, Recipes for the Specific Carboydrate Diet by Raman Prasad will be a most worthwhile resource to have.
The recipes inside are not only SCD-friendly, but great for anyone looking to cook healthfully with wholesome ingredients.