What is the SCD?
The Specific Carbohydrate Diet (SCD) was developed for healing gastrointestinal illnesses, although it can benefit many different health concerns. The main concept behind SCD is that the elimination of certain carbohydrates based on their chemical structure allows for the repair of the GI tract and a reduction or elimination of GI symptoms; the diet includes only foods that are grain-free, sugar-free, starch-free, and unprocessed.
How does it work?
Dietary components, particularly carbohydrates, help determine the type and concentration of our intestinal flora, which include beneficial bacteria, pathogenic bacteria and yeast. If undigested carbohydrates remain in the gut, they become food for unwanted microbes, which digest unused carbohydrates, producing gases, such as methane, carbon dioxide & hydrogen, lactic & acetic acids, as well as toxins that irritate and damage the gut. [Note – lactic acid produced during the fermentation process has been implicated in the abnormal brain function and behavior sometimes associated with intestinal disorders]. Carbohydrates in the gut, also cause water and nutrients to be pulled from the body into the colon, resulting in chronic diarrhea and impaired absorption from increased gut transit time. The goal of the diet is to starve out these bacteria, so the balance of bacteria in our gut is slowly restored. By eliminating complex carbohydrates, lactose, sucrose and other man made ingredients from the digestive process, the gut flora levels begins to stabilize, and allows inflammation levels to retreat.
Who is it good for?
SCD is mainly used for those who suffer from bowel disorders and other problems related to imbalance of the GI tract such as Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, celiac disease, diverticulitis, cystic fibrosis and chronic diarrhea. Chronic Candida sufferers, including some children on the autistic spectrum (ASD) may also benefit from implementing the SCD.
Key foods to avoid:
Disaccharides or double sugar molecules (disaccharides: lactose, sucrose, maltose and isomaltose) and starches (polysaccharides) are primarily avoided on the diet.
The starches in all grains, corn, and potatoes must be strictly avoided.
Things to know:
-Monosaccharides including fruits, honey, some vegetables are allowed on the diet.
– Some starches have been shown to be tolerated, particularly those in the legume family (dried beans, lentils and split peas only). However, they must be soaked for 10-12 hours prior to cooking, and the water discarded since it will contain other sugars which are indigestible, but removed in the soaking process.
– SCD also relies on yogurt fermented for 24 hours (which allows time for the bacteria in the yoghurt culture to break down the lactose (disaccharides) in milk, into galactose.
– While the diet can be very healthy if balanced, ensuring an adequate intake of all macro and micronutrients is key on this diet.