The Specific Carbohydrate Diet (SCD) is a gluten-free, grain-free, starch-free, lactose-free, sucrose-free and additive-free diet, intended for those living with Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, celiac disease, irritable bowel syndrome, food intolerance, other digestive disorders, as well as autism spectrum disorders.
The intestine is normally populated with trillions of microbes: bacteria, yeast, fungi, and viruses. All of these intestinal flora live together harmoniously in a healthy gut. When the gut is not healthy, which can happen for a variety of reasons due to our modern lifestyles, imbalances in the flora occurs and symptoms and disease processes can follow. This called dysbiosis.
A person with an unhealthy digestive tract (dysbiosis) will have trouble digesting certain foods. Of the three macronutrients (proteins, carbohydrates and fats), carbohydrates are actually the hardest to digest. Carbohydrates are also the main food for the intestinal flora. When they are not digested properly, they stay in the intestines and become food for the pathogenic bacteria and yeast. These pathogens can then proliferate and overpower the numbers of beneficial bacteria and yeast in the gut. When this happens, a vicious cycle begins. Undigested carbohydrates become food for pathogens, and these pathogens multiply and take a strong residence in the gut. These pathogens give off toxic acidic byproducts which can damage the delicate lining of the intestinal tract and cause symptoms such as, excess mucous (in an attempt by the goblet cells to protect the epithelium against toxins), excess gas, diarrhea, constipation, blood in the stools, etc. Any damage to the lining of the digestive tract also causes a loss of the digestive enzymes that are embedded in the lining. Therefore, digestion is further compromised. This can eventually develop into a disease process. If the carbohydrates are continuously eaten, it drives the cycle, and the symptoms as well as the intestinal damage gets worse and worse.
The concept of the SCD is that only certain or specific carbohydrates will feed the pathogenic flora, and by eliminating them from the diet the pathogens will eventually starve and die off. As the pathogens decrease, so do their harmful byproducts. Less mucous is produced and the digestive enzymes residing along the lining of the intestinal villi are able to do their job of digesting food. This diet corrects malabsorption and allows assimilation of nutrients to the cells of the body. When the ability to receive nourishment is returned, the body can start to regain health and wellness.
The SCD was developed by Dr. Sydney Valentine Haas, and is described in his book, “The Management of Celiac Disease”. Elaine Gottschall’s daughter was saved by the SCD, causing Elaine to further research the diet and to describe it in detail in her own book, “Breaking The Vicious Cycle: Intestinal Health Through Diet”.
Specific Carbohydrate Diet Resources
Special ebooks that will help you on your journey
SCD Lifestyle: Surviving to Thriving by Jordan Reasoner and Steve Wright
This is a remarkable book that really troubleshoots all the problems and obstacles and helps you move forward. It teaches you how to tweek the diet to make it work. Highly recommended if you are serious about having success on the diet.