The premise of the Specific Carbohydrate Diet is that damaged intestinal walls and bacterial overgrowth are a part of a vicious cycle that wreaks havoc with the body’s health and immunity. The diet restricts the type of carbohydrates that feed these pathogens, thereby restoring the body’s inner ecology. The SCD diet is very similar to a Paleolithic diet except it allows the consumption of certain legumes, fermented dairy products and dry alcohol.
The SCD combats bacterial and yeast overgrowth by restricting the energy they require to live while keeping the host well fed. The concept is simple:
- There are three types of sugars: simple sugars (monosaccharides), disaccharides (such as lactose and sucrose), and polysaccharides (starches).
- When you eat food, the body must breakdown all sugars into monosaccharides before they can be absorbed. Monosaccharides are the only sugars that can be absorbed by the body.
- If the body cannot breakdown the sugars or is slow in doing so, the microbial flora in your gut feeds on these sugars.
- If the body cannot absorb monosaccharides or is slow in doing so, the microbial flora in your gut feeds on these sugars.
- An overgrowth of fermenting bacteria in your digestive tract leads to illness.
The diet requires eating foods that contain monosaccharides or foods that have no carbohydrates at all. The result is a diet that supplies the body with healthy food and starves the microbial flora. The SCD also encourages the use of fermented foods, especially homemade yogurt, and probiotics. The consumption of fermented foods and probiotics replaces the starving microflora with beneficial bacteria. Given enough time, the diet changes the nature of the microbial flora and gives the body the nutrients and environment needed to heal. The diet does not address the problem stated in step #4 above. If the intestines cannot absorb monosaccharides, then these too will lead to a microbial overgrowth. In this case, a restricted low carbohydrate diet would be needed.
Is the SCD a low Carb Diet and what kinds of foods are allowed?
The SCD is not a low carbohydrate diet. It can be followed in a low-carb fashion, but likewise, it can also be very high carb. It depends on what foods you eat. If the SCD is low anything, it would be a low processed food diet. It requires a lot of food preparation the old fashioned way. We have compiled a list of allowed and disallowed foods on the SCD. Again, we highly recommend reading the book to get further details and references as to why the diet works. If you are unsure about a particular food, DO NOT EAT IT. Strict adherence is necessary to obtain relief from symptoms.
If you are interested in starting SCD, it is strongly recommended that you read Breaking the Vicious Cycle by Elaine Gottschall. To learn more about the late Elaine Gottschall, her book and SCD visit her official website at www.breakingtheviciouscycle.info.
To learn more about the science behind the SCD, how to start the SCD, recipes and much more visit www.pecanbread.com.
Another great site for recipes is www.scdrecipe.com/recipes.
All information, data and material contained, presented or provided here is for general information purposes only and is not to be construed as reflecting the knowledge or opinions of Autism Canada, or as providing legal or medical advice. All treatment decisions should be made by the individual in consultation with a licensed health care provider.