The Specific Carbohydrate Diet: A First-Line Treatment (Finally)
In January of this year, I wrote about a small study on the Specific Carbohydrate Diet out of Seattle Children’s Hospital. 8 out of 10 children went into remission after only 12 weeks on SCD, which is actually a very short time. I just spotted an interview with Dr. Suskind, the lead researcher, on Helio that was really very interesting…encouraging.[i]
- “We use diet as both primary and adjunctive therapy; it all depends on the clinical situation that is occurring, and the patient’s desires. But we do have many individuals who are on diet and diet therapy alone, who have done extremely well clinically, and we’ve had resolution of inflammation within their GI tract…” Wow! How thrilling to know there is a gastroenterologist who uses diet as a primary therapy!
- “We know that the fecal microbiome as a major impact in terms of IBD, as a likely trigger of the inflammation and of the continuation of the inflammation. So, it makes perfect sense that diet should have an impact on how patients do from a disease perspective.” Of course it makes sense. So why then is diet not a first line treatment in every GI practice in this country?
And how about this one. Really important!
- “Well, especially in our animal models of IBD, we are able to really see what occurs in the GI tract with these high-fat, high-sugar diets. They not only change the type of bacteria in the GI tract to bacteria we think are pro-inflammatory, but it also actually breaks down the mucus layer, which is a very thin mucus layer, about 9 microns thick, which actually is able to keep out the vast majority of bacteria. It breaks it down, which allows the bacteria to get much closer to the immune system and have the immune system respond.”
- Food additives and emulsifiers also affect the lining of the GI tract. Those bacteria are there for a reason, but the immune system and the mucus layer are there for a reason, too, and when we break that down, you’re much more likely to develop inflammation and IBD if you’re predisposed to it.”
Currently, he is running another study on people with Crohn’s. One group is on strict SCD, one is on SCD with rice, and the third is on a whole foods diet (just removing food additives and emulsifiers). I’d put money on the pure SCDers. (That is, of course assuming they are actually in compliance.) Stay tuned. I’ll write about the results as soon as they are published.
Dr. Suskind correctly says that SCD is “…not as hard as you would imagine it to be.” As I always told my nutrition clients, “If I can do it so can you. I’m not that special.”
The only disheartening news in the interview was that only 5-10% of patients are opting to go on the diet. As I’ve written about before: considering how often the current medicines for IBD are ineffective (and how high a side effect profile they have), that kind of astounded me. Too many people, I think, still believe medicine has magic pills and that good health requires effort on their parts.