Our "SCD" Success Story
Intestinal Health through Diet
"The Specific Carbohydrate Diet"
(Recommended diet for Acid Reflux, IBS, Crohn's, UC, Diverticulitis,
Celiac Disease, Cystic Fibrosis, Chronic Diarrhea, Autism & the many problems
stemming from inbalances in the intestinal tract.)
BREAKING THE VICIOUS CYCLE
Elaine Gottschall, B.A., M.Sc.
~ ~ ~
“I DIDN’T BELIEVE IT UNTIL I TRIED IT”
By Kay Stence
Updated February, 2012
The year 2000 was a landmark year for me and my husband, Don. We will be forever grateful to Elaine Gottschall and Dr. Sidney Valentine Haas for giving us new lives through the Specific Carbohydrate Diet. I am still amazed that by changing a few foods on our table, we changed our lives so dramatically. You’ve heard the old adage: “You are what you eat”? I used to think, oh, yeah, yeah . . . Well, we truly believe it now. And the most exciting part of our story, is that it’s been a joy learning this new way of life. There’s been no deprivation, whatsoever! SCD is not about these weird foods you hear about on some “diets”. We not only enjoy the healthiest foods, but we can make them the best tasting foods.
Don and I feel very certain that had we known the ramifications long ago of our “minor digestive symptoms”, and had we known that “little purple pill” was not a cure for them, and that it would quit working eventually, and that it was just masking our digestive symptoms while the “cause” continued to damage our gut, perhaps we would have been motivated to make dietary changes and would have avoided most of the health problems we’ve had over the years.
After experiencing the benefits of SCD, and knowing that most people we knew had health problems, I could not, in good conscience, keep the discovery to myself. Our two-page “Success Story” has grown today to a seventeen page “Family Success Story” and a website . . . and I could write a book of success stories about our ten years of sharing the SCD with others. If I can give you hope for a healthier you and family, I will have achieved my goal. I also hope you will pass this information on to those you know who need a healthier body.
In 1999, after being “holed up” in one bedroom of our home for nine months during a remodel, Don and I were both stressed, exhausted, and in pain. In the following three months, I had four successive surgeries to repair a torn rotator cuff, carpal tunnel, and tendon releases in both hands. After the surgeries, I developed an unexplained cough that grew worse with time; which I’ll talk about later.
Don was diagnosed a couple of months later with Crohn’s Disease. His first Gastroenterologist told him, "Diet has nothing whatsoever to do with your condition or your recuperation from this disease. There is no cure." He told us Don had a cluster of ulcerations in his lower colon. When I asked him what he should be eating, he replied, “It doesn’t matter . . . just whatever he feels like eating.” His body language told me he thought things were quite hopeless. After trying several medications, Don was still having so much pain and bloody diarrhea that his Doctor prescribed cortisone for his next step of treatment. He seemed to be going down fast and we were totally helpless to control his symptoms.
I kept replaying the doctor’s words in my head. Even with my limited knowledge of Crohn’s, I reasoned that if I had ulcers in my mouth, foods certainly would have something to do with how they felt and healed! His statement made no sense to me and actually made me angry enough to begin researching and looking for healing alternatives.
I hit the library and internet, doing intensive research. In time, I learned that cortisone (which was the docs recommendation in a few weeks) was only a “band-aid” for gut diseases, had many horrible side effects, would eventually become ineffective, and that surgery to remove damaged intestines would be the next step . . . if we followed conventional treatment. I also learned that surgeries often brought other complications; such as malabsorbtion of nutrients, an even weaker immune system, scar tissue that often caused intestinal blockages, and, that whatever caused the ulcers in the first place, could eventually come back in another part of the intestinal tract, requiring more surgery.
Don was terribly sick, in a lot of pain, living in the bathroom and terribly depressed. He couldn’t keep up the pace of his full-time job and began making plans for an early retirement. During this time I was diagnosed with Celiac Disease. For weeks, I frantically continued to research. As I became educated, I learned that foods did indeed have EVERYTHING to do with both our illnesses! After many weeks of “all-nighters,” researching, I discovered a diet plan around 3:00 a.m. and a supportive listserve of dedicated people to answer all my questions. I KNEW I had stumbled on to answers to prayers! The Specific Carbohydrate Diet (SCD) brought all the bits and pieces of my research together into one simple eating plan. It turned out to be a "Godsend" for our whole family!
Within one month of changing our foods, Don was a different person! He began the SCD in September of 2000, and was able to taper off all Crohn’s medications by January 2001. He’s had no serious flares since and has been pain and diarrhea free since month two of SCD. He had no more heart burn and acid reflux. His depression lifted and his energy level soared. His three-month check-up and colonoscopy revealed that the ulcerated area in his colon had totally healed. Only scar tissue was found. He had achieved total remission of the disease by following the information on this website and in the book, BREAKING THE VICIOUS CYCLE, by Elaine Gottschall.
In addition, his cholesterol had came down over 100 points by the end of first year. That’s particularly important since he had four heart bypasses in 1994. March 1, 2001 was a milestone in his life when he retired from his job of 30 years and started his own consulting business at home. He was a new man . . . healed and excited about life again, spending more quality time with our 2 sons and 4 grandchildren, working longer hours than before. Two years later he worked almost full-time for nine months in the backyard; building a 2700 gallon pond with a stone waterfall, outdoor kitchen, greenhouse, stone retaining walls, and walkways. Our dreamscape yard was a showplace!
The following year, three of his previous bypasses from 13 years before, collapsed; causing two more heart attacks. There was too much scar tissue around his heart from previous bypasses to do surgery again; so he left the hospital with only one large artery (a mammary gland used previously as a bypass artery) functioning, and a diagnosis of “congestive heart failure”. When I asked his doctor if he could live with only one artery, he just smiled and said, “Well, he is.” We are totally convinced that had he not been in such good health from the SCD, he would not be here today. I call him a “walking miracle.”
Today, at 72, he is enjoying life, is pain free, and working long hours at what he loves . . . landscape design, land planning, and development . . . and volunteering many additional hours. You can visit his website at
With mainstream treatments, attacks typically recur in Crohn’s patients. We and thousands of others around the world, however, have found that the SCD can bring about a “natural” remission, returning quality and length of life to Crohn’s sufferers.
When I began researching Crohn’s Disease, I, too, was a mess. I hurt everywhere! I could only describe my symptoms as “I feel like I'm falling apart and loosing control. I’m not sick enough to be in bed but not well enough to do what I want and need to do . . . frustrated and panicked that my life was passing me by and I wasn’t going to be able to achieve my lifetime goals. At 57, I felt old, hopeless, and helpless since I continued to get worse in spite of everything I tried. I had reached a point where I didn’t really enjoy much of anything.”
Much of my lifetime had been spent dealing with allergies to pollens, molds, grasses, and foods. They had exacerbated during the house remodel, my surgeries, and Don’s illness. With so many vague symptoms, my doctor treated me as “just another whiny woman.” My annual physical and extensive lab workup revealed nothing . . . most everything looked “normal”. . . except, I was being treated for depression, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, arthritic symptoms, severe acid reflux, asthma and allergies . . . and was still feeling awful. I knew there had to be answers somewhere, and that there had to be a CAUSE. My research on Crohn’s was already helping me to understand that most disease starts in the digestive tract because of poor digestion. I was a desperate woman on a mission to find answers for us both.
I went to a new allergist for testing and began allergy injections to help with the seasonal allergies and what my allergist thought was asthma. He was baffled as to the cause of the chronic coughing. He gave me asthma medications for a while and when I had little relief, suggested I try an acid reflux medication . . . which sounded absolutely “absurd” to me. Out of desperation, however, I tried it. Much to my surprise, I did feel some better and the coughing lessened immediately. He then recommended I see a gastroenterologist to find the cause of the reflux. Wow, a medical doctor looking for the CAUSE of illness!?! I was impressed! Some pieces of the puzzle now began to come together.
About that time, a friend dropped in to visit me who had been diagnosed with Celiac Disease. I had never heard of it and wondered if I had it. Then I thought, I must be crazy . . . my friend has it, so now I do? I began to research Celiac Disease. My symptoms all seemed to point in that direction. I made an appointment with her gastroenterologist but couldn’t see him for three months. I soon began coughing up blood. Feeling terrible and desperate for some relief, I began the gluten-free diet I had downloaded from the internet. It was two weeks before seeing my GI; but I couldn’t wait. The results of the gluten-free diet were quite obvious. In just two weeks I was off of three asthma inhalers and all NSAIDs!
On the Celiac Panel blood test, sure enough, I tested positive for three of the five things my doc looked for in diagnosing Celiac Disease. He wanted to do a biopsy of the upper intestine lining to confirm the diagnosis and rule out anything else. By that time, I had been on the gluten-free diet three weeks and the intestinal lining was somewhat healed, but the esophagus looked like chopped raw meat from the acids refluxing up and eating away at the esophageal lining. There were no cancer cells or polyps, yet; but the esophageal ring at the base of the esophagus had been damaged from the excess acids leaking up into the esophagus from the stomach. This caused the coughing with bloody vomiting and explained the pressure I felt after eating and the feeling that food wasn’t going down. I learned that the damage is sometimes irreversible, except through surgery, which, you guessed it . . . can cause other complications. I chose to control my symptoms by choosing foods carefully and not overeating (to eliminate pressure on this valve).
What a strange coincidence that Don and I would both be diagnosed with different intestinal diseases . . . and, in the same year. I wondered if it’s really true that if you live together long enough, you become alike. For the record, we did have different doctors. After a lifelong search for answers to health problems, I was just thrilled to finally be able to put a name to an illness that had been so illusive, and yet so pervasive my entire life. Little did I know that my research would soon lead me to the REAL CAUSE of Celiac Disease.
My research at 3:00am one morning took me to the “Breaking The Vicious Cycle” website and I read about a food plan that could cure both Don’s Crohn’s, my Celiac Disease, my Mom’s diverticulitis, my son’s and my brother’s GI problems . . . and the illnesses that stem from those diseases. I almost cried with joy! I had new hope. I went to the bookstore the next day, found the book and began the SCD the following day.
WHAT DID "THE SCD” DO FOR US?
I had already had good results from leaving gluten out of my diet; but, a week after I began the SCD, I really made a miraculous change! The first few days I went through some withdrawal symptoms since I was leaving off refined sugars, some (not all) carbohydrates and caffeine. The second week, I felt as though a weight had been lifted from my brain and body, my reflux was almost gone and my energy level soared. In a couple of months, the esophageal ring had completely healed and was functioning properly again.
At first, Don ate SCD food with me at home, but didn’t bother being careful when eating out. After a month, he saw such a difference in me that he decided to follow SCD 100%. The results were unmistakable! Within a couple of months we both had total remissions of both diseases and all their symptoms. Since, several of our family members and friends have joined us and we are all reaping the benefits.
I now know that most of what I thought were "allergies" (bouts of acid reflux that I did not recognize; uncontrollable choking and coughing spasms with occasional vomiting of bloody mucus, wheezing, hoarseness) . . . and intense itching, hives and rashes, sore swollen joints, drowsiness, swelling and bloating, small bouts of diarrhea alternating with constipation, nausea, depression, insomnia, flu-like symptoms, muscle weakness, and inability to loose weight . . . were all the result of intestinal bacterial overgrowth and damaged intestines from years of consuming the Standard American Diet (the “SAD” - a diet heavy in processed foods, starches, carbohydrates, and sugars) that typical Americans consume today.
The over-fermentation of indigestible foods sitting in the intestines, waiting to be digested, multiplied the intestinal bacteria that caused inflammation and damage to the intestines. You may have heard it called, “Intestinal Permeability” or “Leaky Gut Syndrome”. The overgrowth destroyed digestive enzymes, caused intolerance to grain gluten (Celiac Disease) and many other foods. That resulted in Acid Reflux Disease that burned and inflamed my esophagus. Antibiotics and other medications for chronic sinus/bronchitis infections and on and off dieting over the years surely added to the intestinal bacterial overgrowth. I’ve since learned that MANY COMMON MEDICATIONS, including antibiotics and birth control pills, also CAUSE damage to the intestines and destroy enzymes that digest foods.
COOKING AND ENJOYING FOOD
For months after starting the "Specific Carbohydrate Diet" on August 13th of 2000, Don and I had fun shopping, cooking, and eating! They became an "adventure!" Who would have thought?!? And now? Well, like most things . . . they've become routine. Don laughs and says he’s loved being my “kitchen guinea pig”. Now, you have to know that didn’t sound like us at all. After our two boys grew up and left home, I got to be really great at buying take-out food and serving it in pretty bowls, like homemade. I never ever considered having much in common with “Martha Stewart”, anyway . . . and cooking had never been “fun” because I liked to eat too much and I had a weight problem. I wanted as little to do with the kitchen as possible! Don was so excited that I was cooking that he even began to surprise me with baking dishes and kitchen gadgets.
We now cook, eat, and enjoy food without feeling so guilty because we’ve lost the unwanted pounds and are feeling sooooo great! In the first three to four months the weight literally "fell" off of us, and we had no feeling of deprivation . . . none! We continued to “eat small” and often, and ate the lower glycemic fruits and vegetables for about six months until we lost the pounds we wanted to lose . . . 53 and 55 lbs. respectively. And, best of all, we lost it without any pain and suffering! Losing weight in the process of getting well never occurred to either of us at the beginning of SCD. WHAT A BONUS!!!
I’ve seen, and tried a lot of “diets” in my lifetime, but I believe this way of eating to be the safest, easiest, and definitely the healthiest . . . and (best of all) it's not “diet” food! Actually, SCD is not what most people think of as “a diet". It’s just a natural way of eating much like our ancestors of long ago ate . . . before there was so much heart disease, diabetes, and cancer . . . and before processed foods were so prevalent.
Don and I still have a hard time believing that we have no more cravings. It was virtually impossible to practice discipline for a long period of time when we felt constantly hungry. We’ve found that when our bodies are nutritionally satisfied, and we’re healthy, we don’t crave, we feel satisfied, we have more energy, and we move more and burn more calories . . . which is what we should be doing. We eat when we’re hungry and eat any of the SCD “legal” foods we want and maintain our weight, unless we overeat too many of the SCD high calorie foods, like nuts and cheese. Actually, we don’t have the urge to binge or overindulge like we used to, since we are so satisfied with the whole, natural, nutrient-dense foods. There are even days when I forget to eat lunch; which is also totally unlike the old me who used to feel constantly hungry.
I’ve learned to substitute “legal” for “illegal” ingredients in almost any recipe, and can find a replacement for any dish I made prior that wasn’t “SCD legal”. We have the confidence that we can live on this “diet” for a lifetime; whereas, before, we always feared we couldn’t keep the weight off . . . and didn’t. It was fun giving away all our ‘big’ clothes, shoes included, as we ‘shrunk' out of them . . . confident that the excess pounds wouldn’t come back.
So as not to frighten those who might need to gain weight, I need to tell you that many with digestive/intestinal/bowel disorders or diseases don’t have an overweight problem as Don and I had. Many have trouble gaining weight and are extremely thin due to intestinal damage, missing enzymes and malabsorbtion of fats and nutrients. When following a healthy balance of the SCD foods, the intestines heal and begin to absorb nutrients more efficiently and people typically GAIN to their proper weight level. When following this eating plan 100%, both the too heavy and the too thin reach the weight they were meant to be.
Remember the old adage, “No pain, no gain?” Well, years ago I lost about 50 lbs. and was literally miserable doing it. I plunged myself into a rigorous exercise program 1-2 hours daily and literally starved myself . . . becoming very unhealthy as a result. I was on a restricted diet that I couldn’t live on indefinitely, and, of course, when I went back to eating my old way, my weight gradually crept back up. I originally thought that if I could just lose the weight, whatever it took, I could keep it off. Years before that, I lost a lot of weight on a high protein diet, but craved all the time and in a short time reached a plateau where I couldn’t loose any more. Years before that, I lost a lot by restricting the foods I tested allergic to . . . and really starved on that one! I used to stand in front of the fridge and cry. I felt better for about 4 years, until my food allergies all changed, and then the cycle began again. Oh, my . . . we learn our lessons the hard way, don’t we?
I’ve learned, the hard way, that the only way to keep weight off is to establish new habits and eat an assortment of the RIGHT foods. I’ve learned that fad diets and restrictive diets only set us up for failure and damage the intestines; and that Eating HEALTHY MUST BE A LIFETIME LIFESTYLE DECISION or the weight will come right back. I feel the SCD is the healthiest way for everyone to eat . . . a “no stress” safe, natural, whole foods way of eating that we all can live and be healthy on for a lifetime.
After healing, I realized that I had not known in my lifetime what it was to “feel great.” I started the SCD . . . very skeptical; after all, nothing else had worked. I was thinking I had nothing to lose. I was “sick and tired” of being on inhalers every four hours, taking steroids periodically, taking antihistamines and NSAIDs, using nasal sprays every few hours, and still being “sick and tired”. I still can’t believe I was off all those medications in just two weeks . . . just from changing the foods I was eating! Unbelievable! I later was able to discontinue medications for high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and arthritis/FMS. Even while taking these meds, I still had high blood pressure at times, and felt sick, tired, sleepy and miserable much of the time. I was actually on ten different medications when I began my search, and now I take only two!
Today, I rarely even think about acid reflux or the esophageal problems since all symptoms are gone . . . unless I have to take antibiotics. Only three times since I began the SCD in 2000 have I had to take antibiotics; whereas before, I used to have to take them about every 2-3 months for some sort of infection. Each of these last three times my previous symptoms returned with a vengeance! I simply increased my homemade yogurt and went back to the “Beginning SCD Diet” and starved out the bacteria again. I’ve written an article on “Kay's Acid Reflux Cure” that works like a charm and is on my website. Once the bacterial balance was re-established, digestion maximized and the reflux and symptoms again subsided.
My husband also experienced this early on, after a couple of flares from eating out and “testing” illegal foods. The cramping and diarrhea mysteriously began . . . we again went back to the SCD “Beginning Diet”, and once again the symptoms quickly subsided. It’s such a relief to KNOW what to do, instead of feeling helpless and hopeless as we did years ago. “We are what we eat!” And, I’ve realized that without our health, living life to the fullest is absolutely impossible.
I had even lost my sense of taste and smell before SCD. About six months into the diet, I begin to discover new smells in the house or when riding in the car . . . “scents” that I hadn’t noticed in years! I now understand that loss of smell is typically caused by vitamin deficiencies and malabsorbtion of nutrients. Getting the Acid Reflux under control evidently allowed my taste buds to come back, too. Vegetables I never liked before began to taste really good and I began to feel more satisfied from the foods I was eating.
Now, if I could just get rid of my “floaters” (eye floaters), had a tuck here and there, and had my bunions fixed, I’d be in perfect condition! Ha! Well, so much for old age and turning back the hands of time. By the way, people are constantly commenting on our skin and our healthy glow now . . . and they usually guess I’m about ten years younger than my actual age. That’s just another bonus of good nutrition, digestion, absorption . . . and elimination. J
Over time, I had also lost my ability to sing as a result of the reflux. I had grown up singing and even sang professionally for several years; so was really saddened by this. After healing, I wondered if I could get my voice back into shape. So I began to exercise it and work in that direction. I am excited to say that this year I've been able to not only return to singing here and there, but I am now teaching private voice and theory lessons from my home studio . . . and so loving it!!! You can visit my website at www.kayestence.com
MY MOTHER’S STORY:
My Mother, at the age of 77, learned to follow the SCD and also reaped the rewards for many years. She had a long history of acid reflux. I remember as a child, Daddy waking us in the middle of the night and rushing her to the emergency room, thinking she was having a heart attack . . . only to find she had a severe case of indigestion. I am amazed that she didn’t develop esophageal cancer after so many years of acid erosion. As far back as I can remember she would always have to “throw up” after a big meal to relieve her “indigestion” and reflux problem.
Mother had taken two blood pressure medications for over 20 years. About a year after starting the SCD, she became very weak one night. We thought she was having heart problems and called EMS who transported her to Heart Hospital. Tests were run and the only thing they found was that her pressure had dropped too low. The doctor had her discontinue one medication and cut the other one in half. SCD was also responsible for her discontinuing her acid reflux, cholesterol, and arthritis medications during that year. Her bleeding ulcer, hiatal hernia and diverticulitis also completely healed. People who hadn't seen her in a while couldn’t believe how good she looked and how feisty she was. Her eyes sparkled and her skin glowed . . . and she looked younger than her years.
Other family members have also healed on the SCD: My brother with IBS & Celiac Disease; another brother with IBS; a son with Celiac Disease; a second son with Celiac Disease, Acid Reflux & Asthma; and a multitude of friends & acquaintances that I've worked with all over the world with everything from Acid Reflux and Fibromyalgia to inflammatory bowel diseases. Seeing firsthand how seven of my immediate family members healed certainly reinforced my belief in the validity of the SCD. We are all now healthier and feel better than we have in years!
“AUSTIN SCD FRIENDS”:
In 2001, I invited a small group of friends over who were curious to hear about our new “health kick”. Little did I know at the time, that this group would evolve into a Celiac support group, called “Austin Gluten-Free Friends”. I soon realized, however, that most Celiacs were remaining sick on the gluten-free diet. After finding the SCD and seeing many of us heal, I decided to teach the SCD to everyone who wanted to come and learn how to heal and be healthy. It was then that I changed the focus of the group to “digestive health” and changed the name to “Austin SCD Friends.”
The purpose of our group is to come together to support each other as we learn to manage the SCD and become well. We encourage and inspire each other to eat a balanced (hopefully, organic) diet in order to feel better, strengthen the immune system, gain or lose weight . . . and to learn shortcuts in the kitchen so we can incorporate healthy home-cooked whole foods into our busy lifestyles.
In 2006, I found I was spread thin; so, I built a website www.austinscdfriends.com and included all my SCD knowledge, links to other SCD websites and added other helpful health information, too. In the ten years of holding local meetings and working online with hundreds of people out-of-state and in other countries, I have become convinced that most health problems, including autoimmune diseases, can be avoided, cured or greatly improved by maximizing digestion . . . and elimination. My goal is to help increase public awareness about digestive/intestinal/bowel diseases that lead to debilitating and life-threatening autoimmune diseases. I hope those of you reading this will feel compelled to do the same. I do believe that what we send into the lives of others comes back into our own.
After ten years of voluntarily teaching the SCDiet and helping others heal from digestive and inflammatory bowel diseases, I was asked by the Gottschall Foundation to become one of their approved paid SCD Counselors. Shortly after, I enrolled in the "Institute for Integrative Nutrition" in New York City (accreditation through the State University of New York) to broaden my nutritional knowledge and coaching expertise and have become Certified as a Nutrition and Lifestyle Coach. Please visit that website at
THE SAD (STANDARD AMERICAN DIET):
Health researchers tell us that many people today are literally “starving” their bodies of vitamins and nutrients because they are living on “fast, convenient, packaged foods” instead of the whole, natural, raw foods we evolved on and that are genetically suited for our digestive systems. More people are obese than ever, including children; and yet are suffering from malnutrition. Many are eating "fat-free" or "low-fat" trying to maintain or lose weight and are still getting fatter because they continue to "crave" since their body’s nutritional needs are not being met. Their willpower eventually breaks down and they eat more or "nibble" all day or "binge" periodically.
Mainstream nutritionists are finally beginning to admit that people are getting fatter by eating low fat! It has been proven that most people actually “gain” weight on a low fat diet because the body cannot digest properly without the right balance of fats and protein. When food manufacturers make fat-free foods, they remove fat and replace it with carbohydrates. Carbs make us fat . . . not fat! We must have the right kind of fats in our diet to be healthy. Mary Enig, author of KNOW YOUR FATS, states: “Foreign populations that do not have an obesity problem are usually found to consume only natural fats. Switching from a diet of imitation foods, such as those found in the typical low fat and high carbohydrate diets or those imitation foods high in partially hydrogenated fats, to a diet of real foods with normal levels of natural fats in the foods will result in a gradual and sustained weight loss in most overweight people. Sometimes it is as simple as using home processed foods instead of factory processed foods.” That probably explains why my Mom, who had been overweight all her life, lost over 45 lbs. without even consciously cutting down on the amount of food she was eating . . . but just by eating whole, natural . . . “real” foods.
If you have digestive/intestinal/bowel disorders or diseases and are living on "fast foods” that are high in starch, carbohydrates, and hydrogenated fats, you are getting a "triple whammy". You’re suffering from all the symptoms of your disease and you’re getting “empty” calories because processed/refined foods have most of the nutritional value removed. Also, you are unable to absorb little of the nutrients that are there.
Even nutritional supplements help little to none if you’re not absorbing properly. They are simply going through you, unabsorbed, and down the toilet! As a result, your immune system continues to become weaker. If you’re “popping” a pill as a “quick fix” to your health problems, remember that you’re not “fixing the SOURCE of the problem”. Irregardless of what the doctors tell you, with every medication there are numerous side effects. I know people who take a second medication to combat symptoms of the first medication . . . and that’s another “vicious cycle.”
Doesn’t it make better sense to get as healthy as possible through proper nutrition and exercise . . . and fix the nutritional problem that’s likely CAUSING the symptoms? If you have children, do them the favor of a lifetime and give them an example to follow . . . change your family’s way of eating so they will learn from you and cultivate good habits now in order to stay healthy for life. If you can’t do this for “you”, do it for your loved ones who love you and need you at your best!
WE ARE ONLY AS HEALTHY AS OUR GUT:
I’ve learned over the years that we are all only as healthy as our intestines. And almost everyone I know, children and adults, have digestive/intestinal/bowel complaints. Elaine Gottschall’s research proved that digestive/intestinal/bowel diseases are a direct result of over-fermentation of indigestible foods. It is a well-known fact that other contributors are overuse of antibiotics, steroids and other medications, preservatives, chemicals, and, yes, even stress. It’s no wonder acid relievers are one of the biggest selling OTC drugs today, and the number one selling prescription drug. I’ve also learned that inflammation in the gut travels throughout the body 'poisoning' the joints, muscles, and even the brain. There’s a strong link between bowel diseases and autism, ADD, schizophrenia, and other emotional disturbances – a definite gut/brain connection. I believe that Chronic Fatigue and Fibromyalgia are also caused by faulty diets, damaged intestines, and malabsorbtion of nutrients.
Symptoms of intestinal damage and malabsorbtion can manifest in all sorts of ways and vary from person to person. Some people have very subtle symptoms until they are diagnosed with an autoimmune disease which was brought on by a weakened immune system as a direct result of years of malabsorbing nutrients. OBVIOUS symptoms often manifest after severe emotional stress, a pregnancy, an operation, or a viral infection where antibiotics have been taken. The nine-month house remodel did it for us!
It’s believed by many that Celiac Disease and Crohn’s Disease are genetic. I believe that the propensity for having gut/intestinal problems/diseases may indeed be inherited; but from my research, experience first hand, and from working one-on-one with many people these last ten years, I can tell you that most humans cannot digest grains; and what we take in that cannot be digested, causes harm. When we go back in history, we find that even heart disease and diabetes soared AFTER refined, packaged, and fast foods became “staples” in our diets. Kenneth Fine, M.D., Gastrointerologist and Medical Director of EnteroLab in Dallas (and other researchers around the country), specializing in the diagnosis, treatment and research of Celiac Disease, believes that between 35% to 40% OF ALL AMERICANS HAVE CELIAC DISEASE. Some researchers believe the percentage is even higher. Some say that 60% of all people have a problem with grains. They also believe that “it’s just a matter of time” before these people will develop full-blown autoimmune diseases . . . unless they change their way of eating.
My family and my husband’s family always thought we ate healthy growing up on farms in West Texas. We attempted to follow the FDA Food Pyramid, for the most part. For the life of me, I can’t figure how the “powers that be” thought we could be healthy eating 12 servings of grains per day! How anyone would have room for enough nutritious vegetables and fruits is beyond me! My Father, probably ate what we considered the healthiest of anyone in our family; yet, he had chronic digestive/bowel problems that were never cured and ran from doctor to doctor looking for help. Sadly, most of the family labeled him a hypochondriac. Unlike the rest of us, he couldn’t gain weight, seldom felt “well”, suffered from deep depression, and eventually died from Lymphoma Cancer. Research has established a strong link between Lymphoma Cancer and bowel/intestinal inflammation. How I wish I knew then what I know now.
THE SUBJECT NO ONE WANTS TO TALK ABOUT
Elimination - a most important subject! I find that few people know how much they should be eliminating daily, or know that they can tell a lot about their health by studying their stools. We can pretty well tell the health of our pets by studying their stools. Right? I hadn't really thought about my “elimination” much until Don and I were faced with intestinal issues. After some study to understand the human digestive system, I realized how critically important elimination is. I began to delicately teach Don about it . . . not a subject any of us likes to talk or hear about . . . but a wife or a mother's “gotta” do what a wife or mother's “gotta” do, right? I found a great "ice breaker" to open up our conversation when he was so sick. It was an online article called, "Dr. Fart Speaks." I had never thought of this subject as funny before; however, in the wee hours of the morning, and being really desperate for laughs, we both laughed until we cried at his "tongue in cheek" humor and play-on-words as he educated us on the human digestive system. From then on, we were able to talk more freely about our "bodily functions". Well, here's what we learned . . . are you ready for this?!?
***A normal healthy digestive system EASILY produces 2-3 bowel movements per day consisting of formed stools that do not float and that fall apart when flushed. The stools should be a light brownish color (not yellow, gray, or black), should not contain undigested particles of food, should not be “explosive” or foul smelling, and there should not be an oily film floating on the water surface (indicating malabsorbtion of nutrients).
There, that wasn't so bad, was it? ***
Please, read it again . . . every single word here is important. That is our goal. ONLY when we reach that goal have we fine-tuned our diet to be healthy. Now isn't it a relief to KNOW what to look for? My guess is that most of you reading this need to make some changes.
CONVERSATION WITH ELAINE GOTTSCHALL
In conversing with Elaine Gottschall, author of BREAKING THE VICIOUS CYCLE and Dr. Kenneth Fine with Finer Labs in Dallas, I’ve learned that ANY food that does not digest well CAUSES DAMAGE to the intestinal lining (villi), resulting in bacterial overgrowth, a multitude of nasty symptoms, and a loss of digestive enzymes. Food allergies and intolerances are one of the first indications of an overgrowth of bacteria or Candida in the gut . . . causing Leaky Gut Syndrome and eventually a weakened immune system; leaving us subject to all sorts of autoimmune diseases and disorders; including anemia, osteoporosis, arthritis, IBD, IBS, UC, diabetes, heart disease, diabetes, thyroid disease, liver disease to cancer, etc., etc.
THE VICIOUS CYCLE TO DISEASE
Indigestible foods sit in the intestines too long waiting to be digested =
Over-fermentation & overgrowth of bacteria =
Excess toxins & waste products produced by the bacteria =
Inflammation and more damage to intestinal walls (flattened villi) =
Digestive enzymes are destroyed =
Malabsorbtion of nutrients from foods & supplements that can’t be digested =
Weakened immune system =
Leaky gut/allergies/symptoms/disease =
More damage =
. . . and the cycle begins again . . . and on and on it goes in a continued “vicious cycle”
until a full blown disease has developed.
Many believe that unless their symptoms are overwhelmingly obvious, and they are deathly ill, they don’t need to dramatically change their diet. Please know that the more your health deteriorates, the less chance of a complete comeback/cure. Subtle indicators of digestive/intestinal/bowel/gut problems are: chronic indigestion (indigestion more than twice a week), burping, Acid Reflux (GERDS), gas, a little diarrhea, a little constipation, or a little pain. People often make jokes about “burps and farts”, when in reality, they really are a serious matter and a clue to serious health problems to come. Medication is only a temporary “band-aid” that masks the symptoms for a little while . . . while damage continues in the gut.
I hope some of you won’t just chalk up symptoms you may be having to "getting older", as Don and I did for a long time. If you’re having acid reflux and/or heartburn, there is inflammation in the intestines and/or stomach caused . . . most likely . . . by a diet not genetically appropriate for you. Medication is not a "cure"! It's only a TEMPORARY band aid.
Bacterial overgrowth damages the intestinal lining and destroys enzymes that are made there. Enzymes are necessary for breaking down foods. They help our body absorb the nutrients from those foods in order to keep a healthy immune system. Without the necessary digestive enzymes, food sits in the lower colon, continues to ferment and multiply the bacteria which release more toxins that cause more damage to the intestinal lining. If this cycle continues, eventually you will likely get a diagnosis of IBS, Crohn's, UC, Celiac Disease, and/or any number of auto-immune diseases. In a nutshell . . . the immune system eventually becomes suppressed and can't fight off disease effectively. That is THE VICIOUS CYCLE that the SCD stops.
A NOTE ESPECIALLY TO CELIACS:
I’ve learned first-hand that Celiacs who avoid only gluten (as they are instructed to do by the national Celiac organizations and mainstream doctors) find they may feel better for a while, then begin to feel worse as the bacteria overpopulate from the addition of processed gluten-free foods in their diet. You see, when gluten is removed from processed foods, something has to take its place; so starches and sugars are added. Elaine Gottshall said that it doesn’t really matter what name you give your “gut” gastrointestinal problem (Acid Reflux/GERDS, IBS, IBD, Crohn’s, Diverticulitis, UC, Colitis, Celiac Disease, etc.), a gut problem, is a gut problem, is a gut problem. Doctors call them by different names; but they are all caused or exacerbated by indigestible foods. The SCD (or a tweeked version - depending on your allergy foods) is a diet to cure them all . . . if you don't wait too long!
Approximately 85% of all those with digestive/gut problems/diseases respond to the SCD, when followed 100%. I believe it may not work for the other 15% for several reasons: They do not understand the diet, don't take their health seriously, don’t follow SCD “fanatically”, don’t take the time to tweak it (pinpointing and removing allergy foods), rush through the stages too quickly, don’t give it enough time to work . . . or perhaps, their intestines have already deteriorated past the point of return. Even if you've had surgery to remove damaged intestines, it is critical to avoid the foods, etc., that caused the damage in the first place . . . or the damage can/will typically occur somewhere else in the intestinal tract.
Can you just imagine how much less illness there would be if everyone followed the SCD for a lifetime? Perhaps, with time and more success stories like ours, mainstream doctors will even admit, “DIET HAS EVERYTHING TO DO WITH HEALING THE GUT AND DISEASE.”
DOCTORS, PHARMACEUTICAL & FOOD COMPANIES:
If you are having symptoms, and plan to begin the SCD, it’s still very important to get an accurate diagnosis from your doctor so you will KNOW FOR SURE what you are dealing with. Don’t expect a mainstream doctor to get excited about or even discuss the SCD with you, however. A few will, but most won’t. Why? It appears that even mainstream doctors who know about the success of the diet are often hesitant to recommend it because of fear that they may be ostracized by their peers for not following “traditional” protocol. If my doctor had objected to my following the SCD, I would have found another doctor. Your doctor should work WITH, NOT AGAINST YOU in your healing.
It took Elaine Gottschall, a Molecular Scientist, years of study to understand the interaction of foods and bacteria in the gut. Doctors don’t study molecular science. Unfortunately, medical schools do not teach preventive care or nutrition. A physician’s job is to diagnose, dispense drugs, and/or do surgeries. We must also realize that if everyone was on the SCD, we wouldn’t need as many drugs or doctors . . . and big business would suffer. Drug companies would certainly lose a lot of business if EVERYONE wasn’t on multiple drugs.
Most Celiacs are not getting well on the gluten-free diet; yet the national organizations continue to promote a gluten-free food industry that’s made up of refined fast foods that are little but empty calories loaded with starch/sugar/carbohydrates . . . foods which helped to cause the gluten intolerance to begin with! Again, we all know that making money, at the expense of health, has been the driving force behind the food industry for many years.
LET’S TALK ABOUT PREPARING YOUR FAMILY FOR CHANGE . . .
The cook usually has to be the one to instigate change in most households; so, if you are not the cook in your household, it’s important that you and the cook get your heads together to make this diet change work. For those who say they don’t have time to cook . . . I say, “Do you have time to be sick? Do you want to see your children sick? Do you want your or your children’s lives shortened?” Never in history has there been so much disease in our country! Even our children are becoming sicker earlier, insuring a shorter lifetime. Please do some research in order to become motivated to make the necessary changes for you and your family. As parents and grandparents, we also need to also take a stand on getting better nutrition into the public schools.
Restocking your kitchen to contain only “SCD LEGAL FOODS” will make this new "way of life" easy and simple! And besides, your family needs a healthy diet as much as you! Clean out the “junk” foods in your refrigerator and pantry and stock up on healthy organic “SCD legal” foods so you won’t be tempted to cheat.
I gave away bags and bags of food to people who needed it. Do this while your family is away so they don't panic. If it’s not SCD legal, don’t buy it or bring it home. If you have plenty of healthy foods on hand, and are willing to cook, you and they will not miss the junk foods. Of course, it will take everyone a little time to adjust. Just keep selling them on the benefits of good, whole foods. They will soon feel the benefits.
Rather than tell your family you’re “eliminating all junk foods” or “we’re all going on a diet”, just casually tell them you’re trying out some new foods or recipes. Better yet, don’t say anything . . . just start cooking! The word “diet” sets you up for failing . . . nobody wants to “go on a diet”. They perceive that as “starvation!” Besides, this is not a deprivation “diet” as you may have experienced before. We’re talking deliciously wonderful whole foods . . . the real thing . . . with plenty of flavor, fiber, vitamins, and minerals your body needs to be strong and healthy. Your family members will love the SCD foods, and you all will be getting healthier and feeling better and better!
I cook SCD for our whole family when we have family occasions . . . and they love it! I let those who are not on SCD bring an “illegal” dish for their family, if they want. Ask family members who don’t want to eat what’s in the house, to eat their junk before coming home. If that sounds extreme, you’re right . . . your health is worth taking extreme measures! In time, your food will look better to them than theirs.
Be prepared to spend a little more time in the kitchen and a little more money on your grocery bill. Believe me, it is well worth it! What you save in doctor bills and medications alone will be worth the extra time and money . . . to say nothing of the stress and drugs and their side effects that you’ll eliminate!
MAINTAIN AN ATTITUDE OF GRATITUDE:
Attitude is everything . . . in dealing with health problems . . . and life in general. As many of you, I went through an angry period when my husband was diagnosed with Crohn’s and then I was diagnosed with Celiac Disease. I was upset that I had to change my lifestyle and habits. However, I am so very THANKFUL now because we and many others have better health and a better life than we would have had otherwise.
One of my biggest challenges today is learning to accept the fact that many who need the SCD so desperately will not read to learn about it or even consider it. Often, those that are so resistant are the ones closest to us; and it’s heartbreaking to have to give up on them in order to keep the peace. I remember hearing Elaine Gottschall’s frustration with doctors and researchers who would not embrace the SCD. I treasure a personal copy of Breaking The Vicious Cycle in which she wrote a few kind words and signed it, “A fellow warrior.” There are many of us “warriors” whose lives have been changed, due to Dr. Haas’ dedication to his patients, and Elaine’s dedication to research and her learning why the diet worked, and then seeing that the world knew about its healing power.
I believe that everything that happens to a person is for a reason. We can use our experiences for good or for bad. We can face them positively or negatively. It's our choice. I chose to believe we found the SCD so we could get well and help others get well. I believe the good Lord put us here to use our experiences in positive ways to enrich other lives. I've chosen to pass on our positive experience to help others get well naturally and have a happier, healthier, longer life. That decision has brought me great satisfaction and happiness through the years; as I’m sure it will you, too.
ABOUT “THE SPECIFIC CARBOHYDRATE DIET”
This diet is just a very healthy, natural diet, very close to the way our ancestors ate. It is recommended for EVERYONE (young, old, sick or well) who wants to get or stay healthy. It is important to understand that some people have to fine-tune the diet a bit in the beginning to fit their specific needs. Some cannot eat all of the “SCD legal” foods at first if they’ve had serious damage to their intestines and have food sensitivities/allergies. That’s why it’s important to own the book, BREAKING THE VICIOUS CYCLE, so you’ll know how to begin and proceed with the diet. Most respond to the diet in two or three weeks, some in two to three months, some, two to three years to see dramatic results. Sometimes they will take two steps forward and one back for a while as the symptoms gradually taper off. Some people continue to have “flares” once in a while if under a lot of stress or they eat the wrong things.
Timing and results are different for each person. I had profound results in two weeks and Don in about three . . . and we’re still reaping the benefits! I’m still having a hard time believing I am pain free . . . as I had every symptom of fibromyalgia and arthritis for years! I still find myself thinking, “I hope this isn’t just a dream and that I won’t wake up tomorrow with all the symptoms back.” We never, even for a moment, consider ever going back to our old way of eating! Have we “cheated”? Absolutely . . and paid the price! We've learned that it’s just not worth it. We’ve been called “fanatical” by some . . . and that’s ok. As with many things, until a person has walked in our shoes, they won’t understand.
According to Elaine Gottshall in BREAKING THE VICIOUS CYCLE, a year or two adhering FANATICALLY to this way of eating has CURED disease in many people. The word “cure” has been debated often, particularly among Celiacs, since many believe there is no “cure” for Celiac Disease. The GF food industry jumps all over this statement and uses it to try to discredit the SCD because they see the SCD as a threat to their processed gluten-free food industry. Most of them are ignorant of Elaine Gottschall’s statement that going back to the old way of eating will bring back the same old problems. If it makes you feel better, use the word, “remission”, rather than the word “cure”.
Before you begin this diet, it is highly recommended that you check with your doctor to make sure it is suitable for you. Remember, however; medical doctors are not “schooled” in nutrition and may not support you enthusiastically . . . much to my dismay. Also, mainstream doctors do not have knowledge of the relationship of starch/sugar molecules on intestinal bacteria. It took Dr. Haas in the 1940s to lead the way and a Molecular Scientist (Elaine Gottschall) to do the research and learn how and why certain foods worked with patients and some did not.
In the beginning you may think the SCD sounds difficult. I promise you, it is not! It’s just different from the SAD (Standard American Diet). And you will be enjoying food more than you have in your lifetime! Your taste buds will come alive! Once you become familiar with the “Allowed” and “Not Allowed” food lists and RESTOCK your kitchen, this way of eating becomes EASY AND EVEN FUN! Having never been a “kitchen lover” myself, I’m now spending more time there and loving it! Food preparation gets easier and faster with practice and I’m constantly experimenting with different recipes. I recently came up with an absolutely heavenly German Chocolate Cake recipe with no chocolate, no sugar, and no flour . . . and it’s healthy! Now, that’s fun!
KEEPING THE SCD BALANCED & HEALTHY:
In my material on this website, I strive to include information on how to make the SCD foods as balanced and healthy as possible. I hope you refer to this website often. You will want to read and reread “BREAKING THE VICIOUS CYCLE” and my articles several times over the first few weeks in order to absorb all the information. Then you will need to “FANATICALLY” adhere 100% to the allowed foods to really see a difference. If you “ease” into the diet you will likely see little to no improvement and become impatient. “Kay’s Safe Shopping List”, carried in your purse or wallet, can make the job of shopping and restocking your kitchen easy. When it’s easy, you will be more apt to stick to this healthy way of eating for a lifetime.
WARNING SIGNS OF GOOD HEALTH
(From the Utne Reader Almanac)
1. Regular flare-ups of a supportive network of friends and family.
2. Chronic positive expectations.
3. Repeated episodes of gratitude and generosity.
4. Increased appetite for physical activity.
5. Marked tendency to identify and express feelings.
6. Compulsion to contribute to society.
7. Lingering sensitivity to the feelings of others.
8. Habitual behavior related to seeking new challenges.
9. Craving for peak experiences.
10. Tendency to adapt to changing conditions.
11. Feelings of spiritual involvement.
12. Persistent sense of humor.
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This website is maintained by Kay Stence in Kingsland, Texas.
Information published on this Web site is intended to support the book
BREAKING THE VICIOUS CYCLE by Elaine Gottschall and is for information
purposes only. It is not the intention of this site to diagnose, prescribe, or replace
medical care. Your doctor or nutrition expert should be consulted before
undertaking a radical change of diet.