Because it is so hard to keep up with all of the diets and fads that keep emerging, some of the helpful ones may go unnoticed. Some diets out there are meant specifically for those who have certain health problems. The Specific Carbohydrate Diet is one of those diets that may have benefits for anyone who follows it, but it is especially useful for those with different kinds of bowel ailments.
The Specific Carbohydrate Diet (SCD) focuses on eating like our ancestors before modern agriculture and food processing were factors. Not everyone’s bodies have evolved to the point where they can handle the processed foods and complex carbs that are found in nearly every food today. This diet is specifically for these kinds of people, but anyone would give their system a fresh start by following it.
The main goal of this diet is to cut out grains, sugar, starch and processed foods. Carbohydrates are categorized by their chemical makeup. The different categories are monosaccharides, disaccharides and polysaccharides. Out of these three categories, only monosaccharides are allowed on this diet, along with proteins and fats. Disaccharides and polysaccharides require extra steps in digestion to breakdown the chemical bonds and are not allowed on the SCD.
When the disaccharides and polysaccharides are not completely broken down, bacterial and yeast growth are more likely. This diet may help eliminate the foods that the bacteria and yeast feed on, which helps get the gut flora back to normal. Irritation levels go down when the toxins and undigested food clear out of the intestines.
So what can you eat? It might sound a little intimidating to change your diet completely when you are used to consuming the man-made foods that have become the norm today. You can eat almost any food that is not processed and does not have added preservatives or sweeteners. Mostly all of the common fruits and vegetables are allowed, as long as they are either fresh or frozen. Canned fruits and vegetables are not allowed due to the preservatives they contain.
Most legumes and nuts are allowed, as long as there are no additives or salt-mixes. Most spices that are not mixed are allowed, just be sure to check the ingredients and watch for anti-caking agents. Eggs, beef, turkey, chicken, fish, pork and wild game are all allowed. Ham, processed sausages and hotdogs are examples of the meats that are not allowed.
You can drink water, coffee, tea and mineral water. The only sweetener you are allowed to use is honey. Sugar of any kind, artificial sweeteners and syrups are not allowed on the SCD.
Some people who have followed this diet have found relief for certain diseases like Irritable Bowel Syndrome, Inflammatory Bowel Disease, Ulcerative Colitis, Crohn’s disease and Celiac disease. The diet gets some criticism because it is so restrictive, but in its defense the Specific Carbohydrate Diet is meant to bring us back to our roots by giving our bodies the foods it was made to handle while eliminating those it cannot.
If you think that you could benefit from the SCD, or if you are looking for relief from a bowel ailment, you can find the complete list of what you can and cannot eat on the SCD here. As always, you should talk with your doctor about any diet changes and possible undiagnosed diseases. Once you know better, you can do better.
Reference: “Breaking the Vicious Cycle” by Elaine Gottschall