by Elaine Gloria Gottschall, B.A., M.Sc.
WHAT IS THE SPECIFIC CARBOHYDRATE DIET?
It is a strict grain-free, lactose-free, and sucrose-free meal plan.
HOW DOES IT WORK?
Of all dietary components, carbohydrates have the greatest influence on intestinal microbes (yeast and bacteria) which are believed to be involved in intestinal disorders. Most intestinal microbes require carbohydrates for energy. The Specific Carbohydrate Diet works by severely limiting the availability of carbohydrates to intestinal microbes.
When carbohydrates are not digested, they are not absorbed. They remain in the intestinal tract, thus encouraging microbes to multiply by providing food for them. This can lead to the formation of acids and toxins which can injure the small intestine.
Once bacteria multiply within the small intestine, they can destroy the enzymes on the intestinal cell surface, preventing carbohydrate digestion and absorption. At this point, production of excessive mucus may be triggered as the intestinal tract attempts to "lubricate" itself against the irritation caused by the toxins, acids, and the presence of incompletely digested and unabsorbed carbohydrates.
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. As the microbes decrease due to lack of food, their harmful by-products also diminish. No longer needing protection, the mucus producing cells stop producing excessive mucus and carbohydrate digestion is improved. The Specific Carbohydrate Diet corrects malabsorption, 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. Further debilitation is prevented, weight can return to normal, and ultimately there is a return to health.