Specific carbohydrate diet to the rescue with IBD
by Sue Kira, Naturopath & Clinical Nutritionist
Client name and identifying information changed
When Robert first came to me, he had been suffering from and diagnosed with Ulcerative Colitis, which meant that he had ulcerations in his intestines. His bowel was constantly trying to clear the imbalance by giving him terrible diarrhea that was so bad that he bled each time he went to the toilet.
He was already on medication and things had settled quite a bit, but he still needed more help as he was getting terrible tummy cramps and nausea most days, with the occasional bout of diarrhea. His fatigue was so bad that he reverted to working part-time from home so he could easily run to the toilet when needed. Fortunately he could because he worked for himself.
The reason why he had an inflammatory bowel disease had not been investigated, so we ran bowel tests which showed that he had an infection of an overgrowth of unfriendly bacteria and very low levels of good bacteria. He also had leaky gut (intestinal permeability) and loads of inflammation markers even though he was on high doses of anti-inflammatory drugs.
He took the test results to his doctor and was promptly put onto drugs to kill off the bad bacteria. We started Robert on some good bacteria (probiotics) along with The Specific Carbohydrate Diet so we didn’t feed the bad guys.
The Specific Carbohydrate Diet is for serious gut conditions. It’s grain free and eliminates most carbs, with only specific carbs allowed that require minimal digestion.
Unfortunately, Robert reacted badly to the antibiotics and had to stop taking them before they had a chance to help. He also reacted to the herbs and nutrients I prescribed. His intestines were far too sensitive at that point, so it was left to the diet to do the job.
Robert was highly motivated as he just felt so awful most days, so he followed the diet very strictly. He became more aware of his body and how different foods felt, and he even dropped a couple of foods on the allowed list that he felt aggravated him.
Robert’s symptoms settled quickly in a couple of weeks and he was excited. Once a lot of inflammation settled, he could tolerate the herbs and extra nutrients much better, such as extra zinc and B12, to help heal his gut. He didn’t want to try the antibiotics again but felt the herbs and nutrients were fine for his body and he felt stronger and more energetic each day.
He followed the diet for several months and then asked his doctor if he could go off his medication. His doctor thought it might be a potentially bad idea, but was willing for Robert to slowly decrease his dose and see if there were any flare-ups of symptoms. Robert gradually cut back his dose in small increments and had no problems.
After 12 months on the diet, Robert was off all meds and had started to re-introduce some of the foods he had previously eliminated, which went well.
Some foods such as dairy products, gluten, refined anything, sugar and nuts and most legumes did not suit his body and upset him. But everything else, including all his favourite vegetables and fruits were fine. Gluten free flours were also ok, provided they weren’t made from nuts. (Nuts were a specific problem for Robert as many are fine with nuts on the The Specific Carbohydrate Diet).