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Specific Carbohydrate Diet

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The Specific Carbohydrate Diet (SCD) is a strict dietary regimen that is used by many people suffering from various intestinal maladies like Crohn's Disease, Ulcerative Colitis, Celiac Disease and IBS. SCD is also a very healthy, balanced and safe diet that has health benefits for everyone. The prescribed diet is grain-free, lactose-free, and sucrose-free.

SCD has been developed and tried by thousands of people for intestinal problems. It is a difficult regimen to follow, and there is not much evidence about people who are otherwise healthy following this diet.

Contents

[edit] Basic Tenets

The SCD is based on the principle that intestinal microbes (specially yeast and bacteria) are the main causes of intestinal disorders. Most of these intestinal microbes get their energy from carbohydrates. If the body does not digest carbohydrates well, they are not absorbed and remain in the intestinal tract. These undigested carbohydrates provide nutrition for the microbes and provide the right atmosphere for them to multiply. The microbes then produce acids and toxins that injure the intestine. If the microbes multiply in the small intestine, they can destroy the enzymes on the intestinal surface, further limiting the digestion and absorption of carbohydrates. This can also lead to excessive production of mucous as the intestinal tract attempts to lubricate itself against the irritation caused by the toxins, acids, and the presence of incompletely digested and unabsorbed carbohydrates.


[edit] How Does it Work?

The Specific Carbohydrate Diet attempts to disrupt this cycle. It involves severely limiting the availability of these carbohydrates to the intestinal microbes by eating only specifically selected carbohydrates that require minimal digestion and are well absorbed, thus, leaving virtually nothing for intestinal microbes to feed on. Due to the lack of food available to them, the microbes decrease and also the toxins produced by them. As protection is no longer needed, the mucus producing cells stop producing excessive mucus and carbohydrate digestion is improved. Thus SCD corrects malabsorption and strengthens the immune system's ability to fight.

The foods that are allowed in the SCD include carbohydrates that are monosaccharides and have a single molecule structure such that they are easily absorbed. Complex carbohydrates – disaccharides (double molecules) and polysaccharides (chain molecules) – are not allowed.


[edit] Why it is the Right Kind of Diet

The SCD is also biologically correct because it is the appropriate diet for our species. The allowed foods are mainly those that early humans ate before agriculture began. That diet which evolved over millions of years was predominantly one of meat, fish, eggs, vegetables, nuts, low-sugar fruits. Our present diet has elements most of which including starches, grains, pasta, legumes, and breads have only been consumed for less than 10,000 years. Moreover, in the last hundred years the increase in complex sugars and chemical additives in the diet has led to a huge increase in health problems ranging from severe bowel disorders to obesity and brain function disorders. We have not adapted to eat this modern diet as there has not been enough time for natural selection to operate. It therefore makes sense to eat the diet we evolved with.

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 further detail in her own book, "Breaking The Vicious Cycle: Intestinal Health Through Diet".


[edit] Disallowed Foods

Sugars: Sugar, molasses, sucrose, high fructose corn syrup, fructose, or any processed sugar is not allowed. Veggies: All canned vegetables are not permitted. Grains: All grains are not permitted. Starchy foods are not permitted, such as: potatoes, yams, and parsnips. Seaweed and seaweed byproducts are not allowed. Meats: All canned meats are forbidden. Most processed meats are not permitted. Dairy: All variations of milk are not allowed: whole, skim, 1%, 2%, chocolate, etc. Some cheeses contain a high lactose content and are restricted: ricotta, mozzarella, cottage cheese, cream cheese, feta, and processed cheeses and cheese spreads. Commercial yogurt contains a high amount of lactose and is not allowed. Heavy cream, buttermilk, and sour cream are not allowed. Misc.: Other foods that are not permitted include: bread, pasta, other starchy foods, canola oil, commercial mayonnaise (because of additives), ice cream, candy, chocolate, whey powder, margarine, commercial ketchup, baking powder, commercial nut mixes, balsamic vinegar, and FOS (fructooligosaccharides) products.


[edit] Allowed Foods

  • Sugars: Honey is the only allowed sugar product. Not everyone can tolerate it, so use with caution.
  • Veggies: Most vegetables, fresh or frozen and raw or cooked, are allowed.
  • Legumes: Dried navy beans, lentils, peas, split peas, unroasted cashews, peanuts in a shell, all natural peanut butter, lima beans, and string beans.
  • Meats: All unprocessed meats.
  • Dairy: All natural cheeses except those listed above are allowed: cheddar, colby, swiss, havarti, dry curd cottage cheese, etc. Homemade yogurt that has been fermented for a minimum of 24 hours is allowed and encouraged.
  • Fruits: Most fruits are allowed such as: avocadoes, apples, tomatoes, olives, apricots, ripened bananas, coconuts, dates, berries, cherries, citrus fruits, peaches, pears, tropical fruits, and grapes. Nuts Almonds, Brazil nuts, walnuts, chestnuts, filberts, and pecans.
  • Misc: The following foods are allowed: olive oil, coconut oil, soybean oil, corn oil, weak tea, weak coffee, unflavored gelatin, mustard, vinegar, saccharin, and juices with no additives.

[edit] References

  • SCD Web Library
  • The Specific Carbohydrate diet