Specific Carbohydrate Diet

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The Specific Carbohydrate Diet (SCD) is an alternative medicine treatment for Crohn’s disease (CD) and ulcerative colitis (UC), collectively termed inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). The SCD removes starch and complex sugars from the diet. This is intended to alter the gut biome (the number and mix of bacteria living in the gut), suppressing bacteria that may trigger IBD symptoms in some individuals, and so providing disease remission in some cases. The SCD has also been suggested as a treatment for autism and other conditions.


The Specific Carbohydrate Diet was developed by Sidney V. Haas (1870–1964) as a treatment for celiac disease and inflammatory bowel disease, and described in his medical textbook The Management of Celiac Disease.[1] The diet was later popularized by biochemist Elaine Gottschall, M.Sc., the mother of one of Haas's patients, whose 1987 book Breaking the Vicious Cycle: Intestinal Health Through Diet outlines the diet and provides guidelines and recipes.[2]

The idea of treating autoimmune disease with a low-starch diet has arisen independently on several occasions. The Paleo diet, similar to the SCD in its total avoidance of grain-based products, was developed by gastroenterologist Walter Voegtlin in the 1970s as treatment for IBD.[3] A low-starch diet for ankylosing spondylitis (AS) was developed specifically to suppress the bacterium Klebsiella in the gut, and was demonstrated to reduce AS symptoms in the 1990s.[4] Finally, Life Without Bread describes the positive clinical aspects of a low-carbohydrate dietary regimen, including impact on IBD.[5]


The Specific Carbohydrate Diet restricts the consumption of complex carbohydrates (disaccharides and polysaccharides). Acceptable foods include unprocessed meats, fish, most fresh fruits and vegetables, aged cheese, eggs, butter, certain legumes, nuts and nut flours, homemade yogurt that has been fermented for at least 24 hours, and honey are included. Processed foods are not permitted because of possible added sugars and starches.[6] Prohibited foods include cereal grains, potatoes, starches, and lactose-containing dairy products.[7]


Retrospective studies, case studies, and numerous self-reports reports suggest that the diet is helpful for some people with IBD.[8][9] Small non-blinded clinical trials are now achieving publication in the scholarly literature.[10][11] More research is necessary, and several clinical trials of SCD and similar diets are in progress. The efficacy of SCD for treating disease has not yet been established scientifically.


Some researchers have expressed concerns that SCD may not provide complete nutrition, and could risk imposition of an undue financial burden.[6]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Haas, Sidney Valentine; Haas, Merrill P. (2011). The Management of Celiac Disease. Literary Licensing. ISBN 1-258-19621-2. 
  2. ^ Gottschall, Elaine (2004). Breaking the Vicious Cycle: Intestinal Health Through Diet. Kirkton Press. 
  3. ^ Voegtlin, Walter L. (1975). The stone age diet: based on in-depth studies of human ecology and the diet of man. Vantage Press. 
  4. ^ Ebringer, Alan (8 November 2012). Ankylosing spondylitis and Klebsiella. Springer Science & Business Media. ISBN 978-1-4471-4300-0. 
  5. ^ Allan, Christian B.; Allen, Christian; Lutz, Wolfgang (2000). Life Without Bread: How a Low-Carbohydrate Diet Can Save Your Life. McGraw Hill Professional. ISBN 978-0-658-00170-3. 
  6. ^ a b Hou JK, Lee D, Lewis J (October 2014). "Diet and inflammatory bowel disease: review of patient-targeted recommendations". Clin. Gastroenterol. Hepatol. (Review) 12 (10): 1592–600. doi:10.1016/j.cgh.2013.09.063. PMID 24107394. 
  7. ^ Brown AC, Roy M (2010). "Does evidence exist to include dietary therapy in the treatment of Crohn's disease?". Expert Review of Gastroenterology & Hepatology 4 (2): 191–215. doi:10.1586/egh.10.11. 
  8. ^ Suskind, DL; Wahbeh, G; Gregory, N; Vendettuoli, H et al. (January 2014). "Nutritional therapy in pediatric Crohn Disease: the specific carbohydrate diet". Journal of Pediatric Gastroenterology and Nutrition 58 (1): 87–91. doi:10.1097/MPG.0000000000000103. PMID 24048168. 
  9. ^ Fridge, J. L., J. Kerner, and K. Cox. "P0637 The Specific Carbohydrate Diet - A Treatment For Crohn's Disease?" Journal of Pediatric Gastroenterology and Nutrition 39.Supplement 1 (2004): S299-300. Print.
  10. ^ Cohen, Stanley A., Benjamin D. Gold, Salvatore Oliva, Jeffery Lewis, Angela Stallworth, Bailey Koch, Laura Eshee, and David Mason. "Clinical and Mucosal Improvement with Specific Carbohydrate Diet in Pediatric Crohn Disease." Journal of Pediatric Gastroenterology and Nutrition 59.4 (2014): 516-21. Web.
  11. ^ Olendzki, BC; Silverstein, TD; Persuitte, GM; Ma, Y et al. (16 January 2014). "An anti-inflammatory diet as treatment for inflammatory bowel disease: A case series report". Nutrition Journal 13 (1): 5. doi:10.1186/1475-2891-13-5. PMC 3896778. PMID 24428901. 

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