SCD - The Specific Carbohydrate Diet


When about ten years ago I was admitted to hospital to deal with a flare up (every few years I had these) my consultant suggested that the best long-term solution to my Crohn's flare ups was to have a colostomy (bringing my small bowel out to an opening so that waste could be collected in a bag). Another benefit of this is that the part that still had active inflamed bowel disease would be removed also. This area is often responsible for cancer developing and during my current problems this is what was thought but it now seems to have come from my upper gastro-intestinal tract (stomach, pancreas, liver, etc.).


So after this hospital stay I decided to try and find another solution. I found a lot of websites that claimed cures but most were trying to sell you something and didn't seem to have a reasonable basis on which they might work. I found the Specific Carbohydrate Diet which did not seem to be selling anything other than a book but there were also self-help email lists and websites where the information was available free. The way the diet is supposed to work is by taking complex carbohydrates out of the diet. Harmful bacteria that thrive on sugar and starch are eventually starved out of the bowel and the bowel returns to a better balance of bacteria that do not inflame the bowel. I'm not so sure this is the reason that it seems to work in some cases. It is a radical change of diet where huge ranges of modern foodstufs are removed from the diet. It is an attempt to return to the food that we ate as we evolved: Bread, milk, potatoes, pasta, rice, chocolate, sugar and virtually anything manufactured with preservatives, etc. is eliminated. The diet relies on meat, poultry, fish, fruit and veg, nuts and a special type of yoghurt. It is a very difficult diet to stick to.



Does it work?


I felt I got benefits, I still had bouts of diarrhea but not so often and I felt fitter all round. One important point is that I never landed back in hospital for a flare-up in about a ten-year period.


However I have never had as severe a case of Crohn's as many people.


Some people it never helped, some people couldn't stick to it for long enough to get benefits, many people probably tried it seriously and it didn't seem to work so they quietly went away without denouncing it.


I think that there are several reasons that it does seem to help some people:


  1. It is a sudden change of diet, and the gut bacteria balance changes.
  2. By eliminating a huge range of foods a food that some people could be having an adverse reaction to is removed from their diet.
  3. Eating a healthier diet.


The only way to really know if it works is if a serious study is carried out.


I have recommended the diet to lots of people but they never tried it because they said they couldn't do without the foods they enjoy. Life for them wouldn't be worth living without the food they like.


For some people bowel disease is so debilitating that they don't have a life.


I think it is worth trying it for two months. If it works, great; if it doesn't, well you have given something a good try that could have given you a good future. It won't have cost much to try it.


I recommending joining one of the email discussion lists. There are people who have been on this diet for years and are very knowlegable on all types of bowel disease and the diet.




One point to bear in mind is that this type of group seems to attract people that desperately grasp at whacky ideas - belief in homeopathy, herbal cures, etc.



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