Celiac.com 12/20/2007 - The Specific Carbohydrate Diet is an excellent option in dietary intervention for celiac disease and was originally developed for that purpose over fifty years ago by Dr. Sydney Valentine Haas. Dr. Haas treated over 600 cases of celiac disease with his Specific Carbohydrate Diet, maintaining his patients on it for at lease twelve months, and found that the prognosis of celiac disease was excellent. "There is complete recovery with no relapses, no deaths, no crisis, no pulmonary involvement and no stunting of growth."
Specific Carbohydrate Diet - A Dietary Intervention for Celiac Disease and AutismA fifty-year-old diet used by adults to combat Celiac Disease and other digestive and bowel problems is also having a remarkable effect on autistic children.
The Specific Carbohydrate Diet restricts but does not eliminate or limit carbohydrate intake. It is neither a low carbohydrate diet nor low calorie diet. The Specific Carbohydrate Diet developed from the research and practice of celiac management by a pioneer in the field, Dr. Sydney Valentine Haas and his son, Dr. Merrill B. Haas. Haas discovered that feeding monosaccharides and restricting polysaccahrides is effective in manipulating the food supply of types of bacteria that damage the intestinal lining, flatten microvilli and interfere with nutrient absorption.
The late Elaine Gottschall, pursued her study of the effect of food on the functioning of the digestive tract and its effects on behavior for nearly four decades. Gottschall had visited Dr. Haas as a last resort before agreeing to radical surgery for her five year old daughter. The child was cured on Specific Carbohydrate Diet and went on to resume a normal life and diet. Gottschall, sought additional answers and pursued the brain-gut connection after the death of the senior doctor Haas until her own demise at age eighty-four. The diet has enjoyed great success among adults who follow it to heal Celiac Disease, Crohn's Disease, Ulcerative Colitis, and Irritable Bowel Disease. Celiac disease is considered incurable, but this diet can be a very effective treatment for it, especially when it is started very early for children. Recent research shows that more than 50% of children with autism have GI symptoms, food allergies, and mal-digestion or malabsorption issues. The history, an overview of celiac disease and the diet protocols are among topics that appear in in Gottschall's book, "Breaking the Vicious Cycle."
The Specific Carbohydrate Diet excludes a category of carbohydrates not easily digested. The Specific Carbohydrate Diet is about the type of carbohydrates that will heal and not hurt. It is not about the quantity of carbohydrates and should not be confused with "low carb diets" or even the Paleo or "Caveman" diets to which it is sometimes compared. Elaine Gottschall was emphatic in stressing that the Specific Carbohydrate Diet is a balanced and wholesome diet.
Thinking of the Specific Carbohydrate Diet as a low carb diet is one of the most common mistakes made by those who are not sufficiently informed. Eliminating
carbohydrates can lead to a condition called "ketosis," which is why it is essential to include adequate carbohydrates in the daily menu. Carbohydrates contribute energy, essential nutrients, and fiber. People who have validated concerns about yeast may moderate the use of fruit and honey until things improve but should not have to eliminate them.
Rest assured! You may include plenty of carbohydrates on Specific Carbohydrate Diet. Former choices of starchy foods like rice and potato are replaced with filling items like squash, bananas, peas, apples (and applesauce), avocados, almond flour muffins and others. These are carbohydrates that are easier to digest and more nutritious. Their nutrients are absorbed directly into the bloodstream without taxing a compromised digestive system.
That is why the word "Specific" was chosen to name Specific Carbohydrate Diet.
There is a strong brain-gut connection and it appears decreasing bacterial overgrowth is restoring cognitive abilities in many of the children following the special version for Autism, Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) and Attention Deficit Hyperacticity Disorder.
The autistic community of parents and doctors have favored popular dietary approaches like the gluten-free casein-free diet until recently, but in light of anectdotal reports of 75% success using the Specific Carbohydrate Diet as a dietary intervention, more physicians are recommending it. Parents and teachers of autistic children report changes in attitude, increases in skills and responsiveness, in some cases after only a few weeks on the diet. Although long term properly controlled studies have not been conducted, these numerous first hand reports attest to the potential this diet holds for the autism community, in addition to celiacs which have been helped by it for decades. The diet is more restrictive in some ways than the gluten-free casein-free diet, as most foods must be homemade, but the diet is varied, balanced, nutritional and the food every appetizing.
Gluten sensitivity and intolerance to salicylates are symptoms of a damaged digestive system which is overrun with intestinal pathogens. When the health of the gut is restored, these symptoms disappear. It is better to cure the underlying cause than to just try to treat the symptoms. Because Specific Carbohydrate Diet reaches to the root cause of these problems by restoring the health of the digestive system, the Specific Carbohydrate Diet is being viewed as the optimal choice for celiacs and children with Autism Spectrum Disorder.
As one mother has said, "When you see them emerge, the true child, with a loving personality, like an iridescent butterfly breaking out of its cocoon, well, that's why we all persevere."
Editor's Note: Celiac.com supports the idea that the Specific Carbohydrate Diet is gluten-free and can be very helpful for many people, depending on their situation. We disagree, however, with the assertion that Elaine Gottschall makes in her book Breaking the Vicious Cycle that people with celiac disease can be cured by the Specific Carbohydrate Diet after being on it for a certain time period.