Within the last decade, IBD or inflammatory bowel disease cases have risen across the globe. The signs and symptoms of the said medical condition include anemia, ulcers that are bleeding, diarrhea, and overall bodily pain. Certain diets that are classified as elimination, an example of which is SCD lifestyle or Specific Carbohydrate Diet have garnered some level of popularity as a possible treatment to address disorders that are autoimmune and inflammatory along with IBD.
The disease IBD was first introduced by a gastroenterologist by the name of Sidney Hass in the 1920s and it was popularized and expanded in Elaine Gottschall’s book entitled Breaking the Vicious Cycle released in the 1980s.
In this article, we will look at what the SCD lifestyle or Specific Carbohydrate Diet (SCD) is and how effective this diet is.
SCD or Specific Carbohydrate Diet: What is it?
The Specific Carbohydrate Diet or the SCD is a form of diet that is classified as elimination that focuses on removing several types of foods that contain carbs depending on their chemical composition. The theory governing this form of diet is that complex carbs can lead to an overgrowth of bacteria that are unhealthy typically in the small intestines for people affected by Inflammatory bowel disease or IBD. As the growth of these bacteria progresses, they come up with a byproduct that can lead to the promotion of inflammatory conditions that can eventually lead to nutrient absorption that is reduced and affecting the overall effectiveness of the digestive system.
The Specific Carbohydrate Diet or SCD claims that it can have the growth of bacteria and have the digestive function restored by having all food sources containing carbs that have two or more molecules of sugar linked. While there is a prohibition on a lot of these carbs, this form of diet allows the consumption of specific carbs with sugar molecules that are unbound or monosaccharides to ensure that the digestive system can have them absorbed much more easily.
SCD Lifestyle: Foods To Avoid
As the name of this diet suggests, SCD applies restrictions on certain carbs based mainly on their chemical composition. The diet identifies all types of food or additive to foods as off-limits if it contains 2 or more sugar molecules that are chemically linked. The guidebook on SCD entitled Breaking the Vicious Cycle calls these types of carbs complex carbohydrates. Based on scientific terms, any food item with polysaccharides, oligosaccharides, and disaccharides will be tagged as a type of food item that is illegal.
As one can expect, these food items listed as illegal will have an extensive and long list of items included. Below are some of the said common illegal food items:
- Millet, Quinoa, corn, wheat rice, and other forms of pseudograins and grains
- Meats with additives and other processed meats
- Dairy except for cheese, yogurt that is fermented and homemade, and butter
- Legumes (certain lentils and dried beans though may be allowed after being soaked)
- Sugar alcohol, artificial sweeteners, and processed sugar
- Processed foods
The structure of the SCD, in general, will most likely be restrictive and rigid and is supposed to closely adhere exactly as detailed in the SCD handbook. Also, the said diet will offer minimal or almost no room for being flexible. While several individuals may have certain food items tagged as illegal reintroduced after seeing symptoms start to subside or fade, this will be different from one person to another based on their diet response.
SCD Lifestyle: Foods To Eat
Food items that are allowed during the SCD diet are known as the group of legal foods. A majority of these food types are whole foods and foods that are not processed meaning that they have complex carbohydrates in them. Most of the legal carbs approved for the SCD diet will come from galactose, fructose, glucose, and monosaccharides.
Below are some of the legal foods for the SCD or Specific Carbohydrate Diet:
- Fruits: This can come in the form of juices, frozen fruits, fresh fruits, and unprocessed fruits. Fruits that are canned may be permitted as long as no starch or sugar has been added.
- Veggies: Except for potatoes plantains, yams, and other veggies that are classified as high-starch, a majority of veggies are permitted.
- Meat: Meats that are fresh without any additives or fillers are okay or permitted.
- Eggs: Considered one of the ultimate health snacks for the SCD
- Certain Dairy Products- Yogurt that is homemade and fermented for one whole day along with some natural cheeses is permitted on the Specific Carbohydrate Diet or SCD.
- Butters and nuts: A majority of nuts are permitted as long as they do not have any starches or sugars that are added.
- Spices and herbs: Most spices and herbs that are dried and fresh are permitted in the Specific Carbohydrate Diet or SCD. Spice Blends are also not recommended as most of them have additives that are considered illegal by this form of diet or eating program.
Since the list of illegal foods can be long, extensive, and confusing to the uninitiated, the handbook on SCD recommends that people only consume foods that have been explicitly tagged as legal to ensure that the consumption of other illegal food items (that may throw one’s diet efforts out of whack) be avoided.
SCD Lifestyle: Can It Help With Digestive Disorder?
The Specific Carbohydrate Diet or SCD has been designed originally to address Crohn’s disease, celiac disease, ulcerative colitis, and other irritable bowel diseases. These conditions can lead to one’s digestive abilities being hampered and as such, SCD’s main goal is to restore the functions of the intestinal tissues. One’s adherence to the SCD in a very strict and restrictive manner is ought to have the problem-causing bacteria in the gut deprived of their sustenance which can allow the digestive tissues to start getting healed and improve the digestive functions.