The Specific Carbohydrate Diet
About This Therapy
“One of the most sublime experiences we can ever have is to wake up feeling healthy after we have been sick.” – Rabbi Harold Kushner, author of When Bad Things Happen to Good People
If you take one thing away from this website, we hope it is the following truism: “the food you eat directly impacts your health.” This is even more important with a disease like IBD. Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis directly impact the health of the intestine and colon, which is why it is so important to adopt a diet that improves the conditions in the digestive system. The Specific Carbohydrate Diet (SCD) may accomplish this when you follow it carefully.
History of the SCD
Much of the science behind the diet dates back decades to work done by Dr. Sydney Valentine Haas, a Columbia University trained physician. Dr. Haas was a pioneer in the study of diet’s effect on the human digestive system, and conducted extensive research into the use of food to treat patients suffering from Celiac disease (an autoimmune disease of the small intestine which shares a number of similarities to IBD). Dr. Haas theorized that many intestinal diseases have as a contributing factor an overabundance of microbes and bacteria in the digestive tract that feed off of unabsorbed carbohydrates and cause inflammation.
Dr. Haas’s approach to treating Celiac patients involved limiting the carbohydrates these patients would eat to only those that were easily absorbed by the body – essentially the simple sugars of the monosaccharide family. His approach starved the offending bacteria and reduced inflammation in the gut. His technique was so successful that in his later years, the New York Times ran a story that highlighted the impact his body of work had on the science of intestinal health. One of the many volumes Dr. Haas left behind after his passing was the book – The Management of Celiac Disease, in which he described what would become the core tenants of the SCD.
During his life, Dr. Haas successfully treated more than 600 patients suffering from Celiac and IBD. One of those patients was the 8 year old daughter of biochemist Elaine Gottschall. Ms. Gottschall’s daughter had been diagnosed with incurable, severe ulcerative colitis, and surgery to remove her colon was imminent. In one final effort to save her daughter’s colon, she took her daughter to Dr. Haas, who placed her on his diet. Within months, her daughter’s symptoms disappeared, never to return.
Breaking the Vicious Cycle
Ms. Gottschall was so inspired by her daughter’s miraculous healing that she would dedicate the rest of her life to studying the diet and advancing the science of food’s impact on people suffering from Celiac, IBD, and autism. Much of her work and research was conducted at the University of Western Ontario, where she had earned her Master’s degree in biochemistry. She conducted numerous tests into the effects of specific carbohydrates on the digestive system, and reverse engineered Dr. Haas’s diet to understand the science of why it was so effective.
In 1994, she published her most important work, “Breaking the Vicious Cycle: Intestinal Health Through Diet.” The book is a practical approach to eating in order to heal the body from Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, Celiac disease, and chronic diarrhea. People all around the world follow the diet outlined in the book, which Ms. Gottschall calls the Specific Carbohydrate Diet, in homage to the work of Dr. Haas. To date, her book has sold more than 1 million copies and has been translated into seven different languages.
In 2005, at the age of 84, Ms. Gottschall passed away. Her work in the field of diet, nutrition, and their effect on chronic disease has changed the lives of thousands of patients. There are very few treatments for IBD that have the potential to give you control of your life again. The SCD is one such therapy.
Today, the SCD today is recommended by a number of integrative doctors as a tool to help control the symptoms of IBD. While research and anecdotal reports suggest that the approach may not work for everyone, the diet does seem to have a high success rate when it is followed carefully. We recommend you follow our links below to learn more about the SCD, and consider discussing it with your primary doctor.
Next Section: How the SCD Works
Useful Links to Learn More
"The Specific Carbohydrate Diet" and "SCD" are registered trademarks. Used with permission.