What is this SCD?

From our friends at Wikipedia:

The Specific Carbohydrate Diet (SCD) is a nutritional regimen, created by Dr. Sidney V. Haas and popularized by biochemist and author Elaine Gottschall, which restricts the use of complex carbohydrates (disaccharides and polysaccharides) and eliminates refined sugar, all grains and starch from the diet.[1] It is promoted as a way of reducing the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, coeliac disease and autism.

Gottschall believed that due to damage to the microvili in the body, these microvili lack the ability to breakdown specific types of carbohydrates (i.e. disaccharides and polysaccharides), resulting in dysbiosis, the overgrowth of harmful bacterial flora. In a 1924 study, Haas reported “in cases which the diet can be controlled for a sufficient long time, recovery ensues in every instance and without nutritional relapse.”[2]

In 1922, Kleinschmidt wrote a scientific paper about the efficacy of Dr Haas’ diet, stating “the prognosis in celiac disease has undergone a complete change during the last few years. The discouraging results of the previous methods of treatment have entirely disappeared since we have followed the diet of the American, Haas.”[3] In 1928, Von den Steinen reported on a study which validated the efficacy of Dr Haas’ diet and verified its results.[4]

Following the death of Dr Haas in 1964, there have been no controlled studies published of the SCD related to IBD. [5] One trial is ongoing. [6]

Several books written by doctors and dietitians since 1998 mention or recommend this diet for specific conditions.[7] [8] [9] [10]


The rationale of the diet, as described in Breaking the Vicious Cycle, is as follows:

  1. When the body receives complex carbohydrates (disaccharides or polysaccharides), these substances must be broken down before they can be absorbed.
  2. In the body of a person who is not able to break these substances down efficiently, an influx of undigested material causes harmful bacteria to flourish.
  3. Bacterial overgrowth is accordingly followed by a significant increase in the waste and other irritants they produce.
  4. Irritation in the lining of the digestive tract results in the overproduction of mucus and injury to the digestive tract, which in turn causes malabsorption and makes it even more difficult to maintain proper digestion.

The purpose of the diet is to break the ongoing cycle caused by an overpopulation of harmful bacteria in the gut. When the body is able to absorb the proper nutrients from simple sugars and other carbohydrates that are easy to digest, the inflammation and other complications caused by many autoimmune diseases can be lessened. The goal is to rid the body of complex saccharides so the gut will be able to heal itself and enable further healing to occur.

The method of the diet is to keep the bacterial flora well balanced and to allow the gut to digest all of the food it is given, thereby starving out the harmful bacteria.

Certain foods, such as commercial syrups and sugars, starchy vegetables, and dairy products are not allowed while on the diet. Other foods, such as fruits, greens, animal protein, and nuts, are allowed.

  1. 10/12/2011 at 8:35 am

    I had been looking around for natural cures of the disease ulcerative colitis once i found this blog. Such a great post. We d just adore to share it on facebook. Can there be the right way to achieve that?

  2. 10/12/2011 at 7:35 pm

    Click the “facebook” link and share away 🙂

  3. 10/17/2011 at 12:22 am

    I started out with the SCD, and eventually turned it into a low-carb thing (as per Lutz, in Life Without Bread- note the 90% success rate with “his” diet and Crohn’s disease from that book), and now eat mainly fat and protein, plenty of meat and SCD-compatible yogurt. Works great for me. I found small amounts of vegetable matter, even when cooked/peeled, still gave me problems. I can eat bananas and wild blueberries without problems, so at least the yogurt is tasty!

    • 10/23/2011 at 11:41 pm

      YEAH- bananas are saving my life right now! Can’t wait for the day where I can dive into the blueberries and make a blueberry cheesecake with almond flour crust- nomzzzz

  4. Peggy Waldrop
    01/13/2012 at 11:40 pm

    Buy an ice cream maker, the kind that has a bowl you put in the freezer and use the SCD Yogurt to make delicious ice cream. Lucy’s Kitchen has a great little cookbook that goes along with the diet. We’ve made lime ice cream and cherry ice cream. Both were yummy delicious!

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