RESEARCH ON THE SPECIFIC CARBOHYDRATE DIET IN IBD
The research on the Specific Carbohydrate Diet (SCD) in IBD has mostly come from Seattle Children's Hospital, the Children's Center for Digestive Health Care in Atlanta, Stanford University in California, and Rush University in Chicago.
Improvements in symptoms and lab tests
A study of 7 children with Crohn's Disease who were on the SCD, but not on immuno-acting medications, found improvement in their symptoms, blood tests and stool tests after 3 months. Similar results were found 14 months later at the end of the study. (D Suskind and others, Journal of Pediatric Gastro and Nutrition, 2014, pages 87-91)
Disease improvements and intestinal healing
Researchers put a group of 9 children with Crohn's disease on the SCD for 12 weeks. At the end of the 12 weeks, each child swallowed a pill camera and did standard lab tests, both of which showed improvements in the disease. Seven of the original 9 children continued on the SCD for a year and the disease continued to improve with 2 children having healing in the intestine. (S Cohen and others, Journal of Pediatric Gastro and Nutrition, 2014, pages 516-21)
Improvements in the intestinal bacteria (microbiome)
Drs. Suskind, Cohen, and their colleagues at their 2 centers (Seattle and Atlanta) found that 8 children on the SCD had improvement in the symptoms, lab tests and significant changes in the bacteria in their intestines (microbiome).
Partial SCD still has improvements
The Stanford group found that the SCD worked well even when some participants began eating prohibited foods. Of course, their lab tests weren't as good as the strict SCD group, but they still had improvements in their disease (J Burgis and others, World J Gastroenterology, 2016, pages 2111-17).
Research in Adults
The SCD achieves remission
Drs. Suskind, Wabbeh, Cohen and others surveyed 417 people on the SCD diet for IBD, contacting through SCD websites and support groups. Most of the participants were female (70%) with an average age of 35 years old. About half of the group had ulcerative colitis (53%) while the other half had Crohn's disease (47%). Using the SCD, 13% reported they were in remission within 2 weeks, 17% entered remission by a month, and 36% by 3 months. Of those that went into remission, 42% stayed in remission at 6 months and a year. For those that did not go into remission, many felt they had still benefitted from the diet. (Digestive Diseases and Science, 2016, pages 3255-60)
Individuals report SCD is 90% effective in controlling flares
A review looked at 50 individuals who were in remission from their IBD (36 had Crohn's disease) using the SCD for an average of 3 years. The individuals felt that the SCD was over 90% effective controlling a flare and keeping them in remission. While the majority (66%) no longer had any symptoms, it took them almost 10 months to get there. (S Kakodkar and others, J Academy Nutrition and Dietetics, 2015, pages1226-32)
This article, as well as all others, was reviewed and edited by a member of our Medical Advisory Board.
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