If you don’t know what the SCD protocol is and haven’t tried it, many people haven’t, then please read on to learn more. You might just find a way to relieve your Crohns symptoms, go into remission and stay there. This blog is simply bringing your attention to the existence of the SCD protocol so you can check it out for yourself. If you’d like to read more about our story, how we found SCD and how it turned our lives around I wrote a book called ‘Better Bowels & Beyond’ which you can purchase via our shop. Please note that this is just Lorraine's perspective and that Crohn's Disease cannot be "cured" or managed by diet alone. There is currently no cure.
Our SCD story and Crohn's Disease
When our son was diagnosed with Crohn's disease at the age of thirteen, my initial reaction was one of fear, what would this mean for him, how would his life change? Then disbelief, how could this be happening to our previously super healthy, athletic son? Then guilt, was it something I’d done to cause him to develop Crohn's, was it genetic or lifestyle, could I have done something different to protect him from this wretched disease? Then I cried a lot (in secret of course) before I went into warrior mode and set about researching anything that was known about Crohn's and any treatment that could alleviate his symptoms; a treatment that was natural & that he could use safely for the rest of his life.
My background was in science and nutrition, so I was able to really dig into the research and evaluate it. Eventually I came across something that the doctors were not talking about but had been known for many years, the ‘Specific Carbohydrate Diet’ or SCD for short. I asked them about it, but their response was it’s too difficult to follow so they don’t tell their patients about it.
My view is to inform people and let the them be the judge of how difficult or not. There is no doubt that following a strict dietary regime can be challenging but I found that doing it together for moral support and practical reasons it was definitely worth it. I found a great book ‘Breaking The Vicious Cycle’ by Elaine Gottschall, which I highly recommend as your starting point to learn more. This book introduces the theory in laymen’s terms behind how the SCD works, along with a simple plan on how to introduce it into your life and some staple recipes.
Sharing my SCD findings with my family
Once I learned about the SCD and shared it with my family and my son, we all agreed it was worth trying, so in a gesture of solidarity and ‘together we are stronger’ mentality, we set about ‘detoxing’ our kitchen cupboards removing all forbidden foods and stocking up on the ingredients we would need to follow this SCD plan.
As a family, we all embarked on the SCD together, going through each and every stage. It was tough initially but gradually it become the new norm and as the results were so good it made it easier to stick to. My son’s symptoms went into complete remission with no meds needed. He gradually returned to a ‘normal’ diet and enjoyed good health for more than 10yrs.
His symptoms started to come back, (as we knew they eventually would) and he has used his knowledge of the SCD protocol to keep his symptoms successfully at bay. It’s not a cure and it may work to a greater or lesser degree with each individual as everyone of course is unique but it is a very powerful tool and I am so happy my son has now got this method to be able to live a very productive life despite having Crohn's disease.
What is SCD?
Without turning this into a scientific discussion of the research behind the mechanisms that make this diet so successful in healing the bowel I will briefly summarise the basic principles behind it.
It is unknown exactly what causes IBD but once it is present, the diseased bowel lining becomes coated in a thick mucus layer which interferes with the absorption of certain carbohydrates. This now poorly functioning bowel can become easily overwhelmed by the ingestion of more carbohydrates, then these undigested carbs become ‘food’ for certain bacteria which reside in the bowels. These microbes then overgrow, and the balance of a healthy microbiome is lost. The by-products these bacteria produce causes further damage to the bowel and so the vicious cycle grows.
The Purpose of the SCD
The purpose? To starve out the ‘bad’ bacteria to resume a balanced microbiome. By completely removing specific carbohydrates we can ‘starve out’ those harmful overgrown bacteria in the gut. It is the complex carbohydrates that require enzymes to be broken down that become difficult to digest.
Foods like potatoes, rice, pasta, bread & sugar. These foods do not cause a noticeable reaction after eating them, but they will not be properly digested and so silently feed those ‘bad’ bacteria in the gut causing further imbalance and more harm.
This process takes time but the SCD protocol provides a nutritious balanced diet with certain easily digestible forms of carbs allowed. The diet is broken down into stages, starting very simple and slowly introducing more and more variety. With time the lining of the bowel recovers and can begin to digest those complex carbs efficiently again as a healthy bowel should do. The SCD protocol can take over a year for the bowel lining to fully heal but once it does you should enjoy better health and more energy.
Can SCD reduce the need for meds?
When you became ill with IBD, whether or not your symptoms came on suddenly or gradually, the damage would have been occurring silently and slowly as the vicious cycle built up in your bowels. The repair of your bowels through the SCD will also take time.
It is not a quick relief protocol like some medications can be, but it is definitely worth the effort. You may do the SCD alongside taking essential meds and then talk to your doctor about tapering once your symptoms start to improve. Even if you cannot completely come off your meds indefinitely the SCD can certainly help reduce your need for them and improve overall health and vitality through a healthy lifestyle.
It's been 12 years since our son was diagnosed and I’m very happy to share how well he is now doing, enjoying life to the full.
Also 12 years on, the information about the SCD is now much more freely available. There are several books and websites to learn from. Some useful resources for you to dig deeper and learn more about the SCD to see if it’s for you or your loved ones are listed below.
Useful SCD links
https://breakingtheviciouscycle.info/ - An excellent informative website with lots of videos
https://www.scdrecipe.com/recipes/ - Quick access to some simple SCD recipes
https://www.scdrecipe.com/medical-journal-articles/list - Some insightful research papers
http://www.pecanbread.com/ - A great SCD resource site
https://www.nomorecrohns.com/ - Mother and daughter inspiring site
I know there is no cure for IBD but I honestly don’t know where we’d be today if it wasn’t for the SCD. I’d love to hear your thoughts on this protocol and any feedback if you decide to try it. No two cases of IBD are the same but I hope in sharing our story that it helps somebody.
There are thankfully many treatments out there, including NHS treatments such as medication, infusions, nutritional supplements and injections.
Until next time,
Lorraine (Marketing Director at Comfizz)
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