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Eating your way back to health

Diets and DietingDiseases and IllnessesPharmaceutical Industry

The Specific Carbohydrate Diet (SCD) can help alleviate and possibly cure a number of debilitating digestive disorders, including Crohn's, celiac and irritable bowel disease ( IBD), irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), ulcerative colitis and chronic diarrhea.

How it Works

The diet, which was introduced by Dr. Sidney V. Haas more than 60 years ago, is designed to eradicate the overgrowth and imbalance of harmful intestinal microbial flora that feed on carbohydrates. By eliminating certain carbohydrates from your diet, the harmful microbes starve and die.

While SCD dieters must adhere to a grain-free, lactose-free and sucrose-free regimen, there are plenty of foods they can eat without limitation, including all fruits and fruit juices, nuts, eggs, non-processed meats and poultry, fish, non-starchy vegetables, some legumes and cheeses, and lactose-free yogurt. Breads and pastries are made with gluten-free flour and sweetened with honey or saccharine.

SCD dieters must avoid all sugars (except honey), canned foods (because canned foods may legally contain small amounts of sugar without having to list sugar on the ingredients label), grains, soy, milk, cream, starchy vegetables and most processed meats.

Recipes with SCD-legal ingredients are available on the Internet, in SCD cookbooks and in the SCD "bible," biochemist Elaine Gottschall's book, Breaking the Vicious Cycle, which explains the chemistry behind the SCD and how to follow the diet properly. Internet support groups are available.

What to Expect

Some SCD dieters report that their digestive disorder symptoms moderate within weeks of starting the diet. Some dieters whose symptoms eventually disappear completely can stop taking their digestive disorder medication, slowly reintroduce the "illegal" carbohydrate foods into their diets and eat "normally" again.

Although no clinical studies have been conducted to determine the average time it takes for successful SCD dieters' symptoms to disappear, anecdotal evidence suggests it may take 2-3 years. Anecdotal evidence also suggests a 75 percent success rate.

If your lifestyle is already limited by one of the digestive diseases that the SCD helps, it may be worth 2 or 3 years of depriving yourself of grain-based breads and pasta, and sugary candies and desserts in order to enjoy a future free of your disease and the possibility of no longer having to take your digestive disorder medication.

Before starting this diet or stopping your medication, consult your physician.

For more information visit www.scdiet.org, www.scdiet.com, www.breakingtheviciouscycle.info/index.htm and www.ccfa.org/about/news/scd.

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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