The SCD Diet – Improving Digestive Health Through Your Food
If you have ever had to deal with the daily irritations and inconveniences caused by frequent or even chronic digestive issues you know its no fun. Sure, some people accept symptoms like discomfort, cramping, constipation, and diarrhea as a fact of like, provided it doesn’t happen very often. However, many others are plagued with these symptoms on a daily basis and have to live their lives around the whims of their digestive tracts.
Can anything be done about these all-too-common problems? Many turn to medications to ease their symptoms and as an attempt to treat the underlying causes for certain diseases that lead to these problems. Medications, however, come with their own issues. Many medications for certain diseases, such as Crohn’s disease, are expensive, and those who need them often struggle to afford them. They are also often accompanied by unwanted side effects that can present a whole new level of problems. On top of all of this, the medications may simply not work for everyone, causing them to become an expensive and risky experiment with your digestive system.
SCD Diet is an Alternative to Medication
Dr. Alan R. Gaby, a trusted authority on the holistic lifestyle, recommends the SCD diet as an alternative to expensive medications. The SCD diet, or Specific Carbohydrate Diet, eliminates three types of carbohydrates from your diet that have been linked to digestive issues such as the following:
- Crohn’s disease
- Ulcerative Colitis
- Celiac disease
- Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
- Digestive discomfort, “nervous stomach,” etc.
The SCD diet was actually developed by the late biochemist and nutritionist Elaine Gottschall. When her four year old daughter was diagnosed with incurable ulcerative colitis over forty years ago, Elaine Gottschall began the process of researching and developing the specific carbohydrate diet in order to help relieve her daughter’s symptoms and prevent the need to replace her colon with an external bag. She hypothesized that eating certain foods exacerbated the symptoms caused by many digestive disorders, and excluding these foods from the diet would relieve or eliminate the symptoms over time. The SCD diet has had decades of dedicated research and seen measurable results. Elaine Gottschall published her story and her findings on the SCD diet in early 1994 in her book, “Breaking the Vicious Cycle: Intestinal Health Through Diet.”
What is the SCD Diet?
The specific carbohydrate diet exists on the idea of eliminating specific carbohydrates from your diet in order to prevent the side effects caused by the poor digestion of these carbs. The SCD diet gets rid of all grains, lactose, and sucrose from the diet. These carbohydrates are known to have the most influence on the intestinal microbes – the yeast and good bacteria – that live in your digestive system. Reducing or cutting out these carbohydrates completely will prevent the microbes from producing excess mucus in your intestines.
Foods to Avoid
The SCD diet avoids all grains, dairy products, and certain starches such as potatoes and corn. All of these more complex carbohydrates can be difficult for our bodies to digest and absorb for energy and nutrition. The undigested carbohydrates instead go on to feed the intestinal microbes found in our gut, which leads to excess byproducts formed by these microbes. These byproducts are the cause of those uncomfortable and often inconvenient symptoms such as cramping, bloating, diarrhea, etc. that can ruin our day or cause long term problems. When these foods are eliminated from the diet, the microbes do not receive the undigested carbs that allow them to overproduce, and will instead continue to function normally. People who are lactose intolerant, for example, can avoid their symptoms simply by cutting dairy products from their diet.
What to Eat on The SCD Diet
Approved carbohydrates in the SCD diet include the more simply-structured carbs such as fructose, glucose, and galactose. These carbohydrates are more easily digested and do not give your intestinal microbes the chance to overproduce. Foods like fruits, yogurt, legumes, honey, and some vegetables are okay to eat and can help improve your overall digestive health.
Many who follow this diet begin to see improvements within just a few days, and much more noticeable improvements after the first few months. Most who suffered previously from diseases or common digestive complaints reported greatly reduced symptoms, and some have even cured themselves completely by sticking to the SCD diet.
Other Benefits of the SCD Diet
Although the specific carbohydrate diet is shown to have noticeable and lasting results for
many who suffer common or chronic digestive complaints, but almost anyone can enjoy benefits from reducing or eliminating these complex carbs from their daily meals. Undigested materials in your intestines cause the microbes found there to produce excess mucus, which in turn can prevent your body from absorbing many of the nutrients found in the foods you eat and lead to temporary digestive complaints such as discomfort and diarrhea. Following the SCD diet allows your body to properly absorb more of those nutrients from what you eat, improving your overall health.
Breaking the Vicious Cycle
Elaine Gottschall’s book is still widely known today as the go-to source for learning about
the specific carbohydrate diet and all of its benefits. Many people who have suffered from diseases related to the digestive system have turned to “Breaking the Vicious Cycle” as an alternative to expensive medications and treatments that showed unsatisfactory results or harsh side effects. The book includes an explanation of the SCD diet and why it works, as well as some recipes and guides for healthy eating.
With processed foods and complex carbohydrates becoming more and more common in our daily meals, digestive issues are on the rise. Following the specific carbohydrate diet is a great way to get your digestive system balanced and back on track.