I discovered the Specific Carbohydrate nearly a year ago. At the time I was struggling to feel well on a day-to-day basis. I was struggling with bloating, diarrhea, constipation, daily nausea, stomach pain and general discomfort. You can read more about my journey to wellness HERE.
Are you searching for wellness? Have you come across the Specific Carbohydrate Diet, but didn’t really understand what it was all about? I receive quite a few questions from family and friends about the nature of my diet. It’s easy to say it’s like Paleo, only different. However, understanding the diet and WHY it works may be the key to making the decision to give it a try. It may also be the key to sticking with it if you find yourself having trouble adhering to the diet.
TRUTH: As I started to write this post, I realized I was trying to cram a ton of information in one post. I don’t want you to feel overwhelmed so I decided to break it down into parts. Today, in Part I, we are going to cover who should consider trying the diet and then we are going to talk about about carbohydrates and their role in our digestive health. Are the kind of carbohydrates you eat every day helping or hurting your digestive system? Read on and let’s find out!
I am in NO way a doctor. The information here is from my own experiences on the diet and information I have acquired while researching the diet for my own understanding. Please do not consider this medical advice in any way.
GUT PROBLEMS HELPED BY SCD
Here are some of the gut problems that are helped by the SCD. If you don’t have any these illnesses, check out the ‘Other problems’. If there is one thing I have learned from my health journey, much of our health problems take root in our digestive system.
SCD treats many gastrointestinal disorders. For example:
- Leaky Gut
- Ulcerative Colitis
- Celiac Disease
- Chronic Diarrhea
OTHER PROBLEMS HELPED BY SCD
Interestingly enough, those who have tried the SCD diet also experienced relief from other nagging symptoms-which can be traced back to the microbiome in your gut. Here are some examples:
- Chronic skin rashes
- Muscle aches
- Stiff joints
- SIBO (Small Intestine Bacteria Overgrowth)
- Brain fog
- Night terrors
- Behavior problems
WHAT SPECIFIC CARBOHYDRATES ARE WE TALKING ABOUT?
The Specific Carbohydrate Diet focuses on consuming carbohydrates that are single sugars. These carbohydrates are easier for the gut to digest. Typically when you have a gut disorder there is a significant amount of malabsorption of nutrients. This malabsorption is usually caused by food that is undigested in the small intestine.
The carbohydrates that are not digested or absorbed are the culprit in many digestive disorders. Why? In a nutshell, they stay in the gut longer and are more likely to create an environment in which the bad bacteria is able to grow and multiply. An example of this is yeast overgrowth. Commonly associated with female problems, you can also have yeast overgrowth in your gut. Who knew, right?
In a study of Crohn’s patients, it was discovered that Crohn’s patients had 20%-220% higher sucrose intake than in people who did not have Crohn’s. Now, if you don’t have Crohn’s you may think it does not apply to you. However, what this study suggests is that a high-sugar diet can lead to some major gut issues such as auto-immune diseases like Crohn’s.
BAD sugar for your gut:
Double sugars (disaccharides) such as lactose, sucrose, maltose, and isomaltose take a long time to digest in your small intestine. By removing the double sugars in your diet, you can give your small intestine a helping hand, make it easier to do it’s job if you will. As mentioned above, if the carbohydrates are not digested or absorbed, they stay in the gut longer and are more likely to create an environment in which the bad bacteria is able to grow and multiply. This bad bacteria changes the bacterial balance in your gut. This imbalance leads to inflammation and a compromised immune system.
Where do I find these bad sugars?
- Lactose is found in milk products.
- Sucrose is found in table sugar. If you’ve ever checked labels on products you know they sneak it into everything!
- Maltose and Isomaltose are found in corn syrups, candy and malted milk.
What is the sugar that will help your gut heal?
GOOD sugar for your gut:
By choosing carbs that have GLUCOSE, which is a single sugar (monosaccharides), your gut doesn’t have to digest it at all. Isn’t that crazy? It’s considered a ‘pre-digested’ sugar. These nutrients can pass quickly through your small intestine and be absorbed in the blood stream to give your body nutrients. When your body is able to absorb nutrients, it is the beginning of healing in the gut, reduced inflammation, a stronger immune system and finally, better overall health.
There are two types of starch: amylose and amylopectin. Here’s the gist of what you need to know: Amylose is easier to digest, amylopectin- not so much. The amylopectin starches sit in the gut longer, increasing the likelihood of an environment that breeds bad bacteria. Some examples of amylopectin are oats, rice, corn, potatoes, and wheat.
Understanding how carbohydrates work through your digestive system is the first step in understanding the premise of the diet. Understanding the WHY can be powerful stuff. Your next question is WHAT? right? For part II – we will dive into what you really want to know about the diet. Next week: WHAT can I eat?