A Diet to Satiate the Brain and Calm the Tummy:
Benefits of the Specific Carbohydrate Diet
In many cases, parents of children with neurological issues such as seizure disorders, autism, and cerebral palsy, have often reported that their children frequently experience symptoms of chronic constipation, periods of diarrhea, and abdominal pain. In some cases, the children have a limited ability to verbally express their pain and discomfort.
"My daughter Mia has been on SCD for 10 months to you. She is doing great."
Focused on more obvious cognitive or motor skill issues, many parents and physicians may not make the connection between their child's neurological disorder with their gastrointestinal symptoms, or vice versa. However more and more parents and clinicians are beginning to connect these two nervous systems, the Central Nervous System and the Enteric Nervous system, and are finding that correcting digestive imbalances can lead to significant overall improvement in their child's mental and physical health and in several cases reduce or even eliminate seizure activity.
After years of treatment with prednisone, sulfonamides, and innumerable other medical approaches proved unsuccessful for biochemist and cell biologist Elaine Gottschall's daughter, surgery seemed imminent. From 1952-1960, there seemed to be no answers to the series of health problems including severe diarrhea, severe constipation, spontaneous nosebleeds, night-time seizures, failure to thrive, and finally, the diagnosis of ulcerative colitis, facing Elaine's daughter. To Elaine, the prospect of removing her eight year old daughter's colon was described, as one mother facing the same prospect, "like every black cloud ever created was hovering over us".
With the advice of an acquaintance, Elaine went to visit Dr. Sidney Valentine Haas, a specialist practicing pediatrics in New York City. Dr. Haas placed Elaine's daughter on The Specific Carbohydrate Diet (SCD) and within days, the neurological symptoms went, never to return, the colitis symptoms were completely gone in one year, and Elaine's daughter began to thrive.
The mystery of the diet's curing attributes launched Elaine on a "treasure hunt" through academia for the next 12 years. For Elaine, the pieces of the puzzle began falling into place during the process of integrating old and new findings of the science of digestion, immunology, nutritional biochemistry, microbiology, cellular biology, and histology. Even as this odyssey progressed, discoveries were rapidly being reported in medical literature.
It was apparent that those suffering with intestinal problems had injury to the intestinal surface, specifically, to the digestive enzymes residing on the intestinal cells. This injury prevents the completion of most carbohydrates and some protein digestion providing excess nutrition and thus, overpopulation for the unseen world of intestinal microbes. Overpopulation directly causes an increase in fermentation resulting in: (1) the production of an excess of short chain organic acids (thus lowering of the pH of the colon); (2) an increase in the production of metabolic byproducts of fermentation as well as bacterial toxins; and (3) a possible mutation of some harmless bacteria into pathological forms. Additionally, excess mucus production on the surface of the intestinal cells prevents further digestion and absorption of carbohydrates.
Research shows that 60-70% of the human immune system is located in the intestinal tract and its digestive organs. The gut lining's job is to block outside pathogens from damaging internal organs. When the gut's lining is incapable of blocking outside pathogens due to toxins, these children have been found to have "leaky-Gut" Syndrome
The "Leaky-Gut" Syndrome occurs when yeast generated toxins interrupt the intestinal wall allowing toxins to enter the child's bloodstream and may inflame or cross the blood/brain barrier and interfere with the flow of nutrients to the brain, impairing consciousness,
cognition, speech, or behavior.
"My son Philip is 10 years old
and has autism. He has
been helped tremendously
by the SCdiet."
Developed by Dr. Sidney V. Haas, The Specific Carbohydrate Diet provides an intervention to this vicious cycle by depriving intestinal microbes of their energy source while providing excellent nutrition to the patient. The SCD is a strict grain-free, lactose-free, and sucrose-free dietary regimen intended for those suffering from Crohn's Disease, Ulcerative Colitis, Celiac Disease, IBD, and IBS. The diet is based on the principle that specifically selected carbohydrates requiring minimal digestion are well absorbed, leaving virtually nothing for intestinal microbes to feed on. By providing a diet that contains predominantly "predigested" carbohydrates, the individual with an intestinal problem can be maximally nourished without over-stimulation of the intestinal microbial population. The SCD corrects mal absorption, allowing nutrients to enter the bloodstream and be made available to the cells of the body, thereby strengthening the immune system's ability to fight.
The year 2000 yielded landmark research linking autism to the gastrointestinal tract. A flurry of remarkable scientific papers appeared demonstrating conclusively that serious intestinal pathology was found in more than half of the autistic patients.
Parents of autistic children on The Specific Carbohydrate Diet have reported weight gain, increased alertness, increased speech abilities, and more regular digestive processes.
If you are a parent of a child that experiences neurological symptoms and GI discomfort, consideration of the SCD may prove beneficial.
To find out more about the SCD and Autism, go to: http://www.pecanbread.com/,
To find out more about The Specific Carbohydrate Diet visit http://www.scdiet.com/
Elaine Gottschall, B.A., M.Sc
Questions for Elaine can be emailed to: