RSSSpecific carbohydrate diet improves inflammatory bowel disease

Posted on Tue, 14 Mar 17

Specific carbohydrate diet improves inflammatory bowel disease

The specific carbohydrate diet has been shown to reduce disease activity and improve gut bacteria in children and adolescents with inflammatory bowel disease. 

The specific carbohydrate diet (SCD) was originally developed for the management of celiac disease symptoms in the 1950s and subsequently popularized in the book “breaking the vicious cycle” in the 1980s for the management of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).

Considerable anecdotal reports and a handful of published case reports and clinical studies suggest it can work very well for some people, but more research is needed to clarify its potential benefits. 

A new study set out to assesses the clinical and gut microbiological impact of the diet in paediatric patients with mild to moderate Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis. 

After 12-weeks on the diet disease activity decreased from a mean score of 28.1 to 4.6 for Crohn’s disease, and 28.3 to 11.6 for ulcerative colitis, C-reactive protein (CRP) levels normalized in most patients, and stool analysis revealed significant changes in microbial composition. Dietary therapy was ineffective for 2 of the 12 patients in the study. 

Within just two weeks 5 of the 12 patients were in clinical remission, and at 12 weeks 8 of the remaining 10 were in remission.

By comparing the gut microbial composition of Crohn’s disease patients with a disease-free control group they found that there was a trend towards a healthier gut microbial profile with the diet, suggesting that it improved dysbiosis.

“The results of this prospective study show that diet in a small cohort of paediatric patients with active IBD was safe, and well tolerated,” wrote the research team behind the study. “In addition, though a control group was not utilized, clinical and objective laboratory improvements were seen in the majority of patients with many patients achieving clinical remission and normalization of inflammatory markers."

If you are considering the SCD, its best to seek the guidance of a registered nutritional therapist or other health professional who can support you with nutritional counselling. 


Suskind DL, et al Clinical and Fecal Microbial Changes With Diet Therapy in Active Inflammatory Bowel Disease. J Clin  Gastroenterol. 2016 Dec 27. doi: 10.1097/MCG.0000000000000772. [Epub ahead of print]

Tags: Inflammatory Bowel Disease, Ulcerative Colitis, Digestive Health

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