Specific Carbohydrate Diet: A Personal Story

I became very sick after the birth of my first child. My childhood asthma and allergies came back with a vengeance. I did over two years of weekly allergy shots with little improvement. I developed chronic sinus infections. I did course after course of antibiotics only to become sick again with new infections. I was taking very high doses of corticosteriods daily without much improvement in my condition. All these new medications I added to my anti-convulsion medication for epilepsy. I started having problems with yeast infections. The doctors said this sometimes happens taking corticosteriods. So, I had to decide which was more important, breathing or itching. More drugs were needed.

Dr Darlene Hammell, my family doctor, told me that if I lost some weight my asthma would likely get better. I joined Weight Watchers and lost over 40 pounds. I did so well on the program, I became a leader, and worked for Weight Watchers for a year. Everyone thought I looked great. My doctor even gave me a big hug after losing all that weight. But I was still on all the medications, coughing all night long, tired all day long, and starting to wonder if I would be alive to see my children become adults.

My family made the painful decision to leave Victoria, BC for a dryer climate. We sold our house and started looking for another place to live. During this time of desperation, I paid to see a doctor who specialized in peak performance, Dr Kevin Worry. He talked to me for about three hours, ordered a ton of blood tests, and offered me a book to read. The book was Breaking the Vicious Cycle by Elaine Gottschall. I read the book that night. Something written in the book resonated with me on a very deep level. I started the diet, and within three days was feeling better. It was like a fog lifting from my mind. I didn’t even know my thinking was foggy before changing my diet.

In the first 18 months on the diet I had stopped all allergy and asthma medication. I do not have asthma or allergies any more. I stopped the yeast infections by using probiotics and doing a low-carbohydrate version of the SCD. I blended the WAPF nutrient dense foods with the SCD for a great result. I found going high fat was the final piece of the puzzle, something I would have never done in my Weight Watchers days. (I found my personal carbohydrate tolerance is about 40-60gm per day.) My dragging fatigue became a thing of the past.

About a year ago, even though I was really scared, I stopped my anti-convulsion medication for epilepsy. After nearly twenty years on anti-convulsion medication, I am now free of this drug. I was told I would likely have to take the drug for the rest of my life. I have now been drug and seizure free for a year.

The sinus infections were the hardest problem to solve. I found that taking high doses of serrapeptase if I got sick finally stopped the cycle of antibiotics and recurring infections. I had one cold this winter and I did not get an infection.

I started on the SCD about three years ago. I am now completely drug free. I have energy to work a normal job and care for my family. The diet saved my life or at least my quality of life.

Update October 2, 2009: I have been thinking about why I lost 40 pounds on the Weight Watchers program, when so many other motivated people could not. I was different from most women on the program because I was breastfeeding at the time. I am starting to learn a lot about human metabolism from watching livestock. It is a well known fact that “a cow will milk herself skinny” in about three months feeding a calf. This may have been the reason why I had such good results on the Weight Watchers program.

Updated June 20, 2013: Just an update on serrapeptase. The company I got it from has moved from tablets to capsules. Unfortunately, they use rice flour for a flow agent in the capsules. I react to the tiny amounts of rice flour in the supplement so now the supplement does not work for me. I have found another solution, ionic silver. I used the nasal spray if I felt a bit stuffy over this last winter. I didn?t get sick or develop a sinus infection this winter. This is the product I used but any ionic silver product will likely work.

14 thoughts on “Specific Carbohydrate Diet: A Personal Story

  1. Sounds like you found the perfect ketogenic zone via experimentation. The ketogenic diet has been used for decades for epilepsy. Even clinical nutritionists recognize that. It’s well known as an anecdote for asthma as well. It’s not entirely known exactly why the production of ketones can magically cure epilepsy, but it can, and the diet often does not need to be continued forever to maintain success.

  2. Hi Matt,

    Thank you for your reply. By the way, I like your blog. I spend about eight hours reading it last week. I think it will help many people. It has given me a few things to think about. I am going to try eating four to six meals a day for the next month and watch my waking temperature to see if it will increase.
    http://180degreehealth.blogspot.com/2009/08/carb-wars-episode-i.html.

    As for what I did right. It is a mystery to me. These are some of my ideas about the mechanism:
    1. Going high fat made a great difference in my health especially in my endocrine system, which was in the process of crashing. Getting control of my main hormone insulin might have helped stopped the seizures. Eating tons of healthy fats and cholesterol helped my adrenals come back from the brink of exhaustion. I moved from vegetable oils to natural fats, primarily from animal sources. Finding the “ketogenic zone” may be right. Getting away from all “new fangled” fats may have helped too.
    2. There are many food additives that can cause seizure disorders in sensitive individuals. The most likely ones are aspartame and MSG, but there are now thousands of additives routinely added to the food supply. Any one of these could be my problem. The SCD restricts all processed foods so I am not exposed to this common risk factor. Eliminating all food additives might has stopped the seizures.
    3. Then there is the “gut brain” connection. Did I heal myself of Leaky Gut Syndrome? Did the healing stop the gut from reabsorbing some nasty by-product of the gut flora? Did the SCD kill-off the gut flora which were producing nasty by-product of their metabolism that was poisoning me from the inside?
    4. Maybe it is something in those grains, legumes and beans? Maybe it’s avoiding all those casomorphins and gliadorphins. What I cannot digest does me harm.

    I feel like Alice going down the rabbit hole. I wish I had a clue which mechanism is at work in my situation. I am starting to get very interested in “home testing” methods. It’s cheap and in the control of the individual motivated to finding the answers for themselves.

    One thing I like about the Weston A. Price Foundation recommending eating properly prepared nourishing traditional foods from a high quality source is good advice for just about everyone. Eating outside the Industry Food System to avoid the unintended food additives is a good second step. After doing these things, regaining health becomes so… individual.

    Updated March 22, 2012: I tried eating four to six meals a day for six months and gained 15 pounds. My weight stabilized at this new weight. My body temperature and metabolism never did increase. I failed to find any “safe starches” and actually made myself very ill this winter after trying to reintroduce grains again. I got a flu followed by pneumonia. I am off grains for life at this point. I’ve given up the search for safe starch. I have gone back to two meals a day and have realized there is nothing wrong with a lowish body temperature. I realized I do better on a high fat diet. This is an example of the metabolic individuality I spoke about to Matt Stone.

    Updated June 25, 2014: My weight has been creeping up to a BMI just in the “overweight” range. But my health has been really good! I started experimented with intermitted fasting (IF) and ketogenic diets. I make the transition from being what is called a “sugar burner” to being a “fat burner”. I found fasting easiest if I didn’t eat breaskfast. Leaving behind the “current wisdom” that breakfast is the “most important meal of the day” was a tough transition for me. I recently watched a very interesting interview with Dr Mercola and Dr Krista Varady, author of the book the Every-Other-Day Diet. The first part of the book could be summarized as feast one day, modified fast (500 calories) the next day, then repeat. The middle of the book has recipes based on processed foods which I could never use. The end of the book, outlines the benefits of exercise. I find the modified fasting days easy to do. I feel good and have good energy. More importantly, I’m losing weight for the first time in over five years. My BMI is now in the high “normal” range: http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2014/06/08/alternate-day-fasting.aspx

  3. Hi Nicholle,

    I used to be on very high doses of corticosteroids. I was on twice the daily safe long term dose for adults and my asthma was still a problem. I do not take any medication now. The SCD “cured” my asthma and allergies.

  4. I have been on the diet for 3 months and feel exhausted and my muscles are weak. Many days I can hardly do anything. I am thinking clearer but my chest feels a constant ache. My sister is having the same symptoms. We are not having gut pain anymore but are miserable with constant anemic like symptoms. If anyone has had these symptoms, did you get past them?

  5. Hi Dana,

    I am sorry to hear you are feeling so poorly. Most problems with the SCD resolve within a few weeks of complete compliance with the diet, but not everyone is helped by the diet. Have you found an improvement in the health condition that motivated you to start the diet in the first place? If you have seen a great improvement in the original condition, but you have these new problems, it might be gut flora die off. I have seen people get really sick for a few weeks, but not as long as three months, unless the person goes on and off the diet. If you have not tried probiotics or fermented foods before, you might give it a shot.

    I find it interesting that both your sister and yourself are having the same problem. Do you both suffer from the same original problem or did you start the SCD for different reasons? I could not make any helpful suggestions without you calling me in person. I would need to hear your full story. If you would like to do that please call 250.374.4646. (Pacific Time) You could also post you question on the GAPShelp Yahoo Group: http://www.gapsdiet.com/Support.html.

  6. I’m not sure why you posted a link to the GAPS diet when that is so different from the SCD diet (just as one example, they are very much opposed to fermented foods).

    Anyway, just wanted to post why the SCD may not work, or may be even harmful for some folks (which I’m surprised Matt Stone didn’t mention).

    First of all, it is very, very high in salicylates, which many folks cannot tolerate, especially kids with autism and folks with autism spectrum disorders. Almond flour, honey, two of the staples, are extremely high in sals.

    Perhaps that’s why Dana couldn’t tolerate it.

  7. There are a lot of phytochemicals in plants that cause people problems. If you find one of these phytochemicals that bother you, PLEASE avoid them. Many people likely do not know what salicylic acid is. Here is a link:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Salicylic_acid
    Here is a link about salicylate sensitivity:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Salicylate_sensitivity

    Personally, I am very careful about eating too many nuts or seeds. I use them for special occasions such as birthdays or holidays. I do not consider purchasing nut flours a good idea because they will be rancid. All shelled nuts and seeds should be stored in the freezer. I don’t consume very much honey either. I needed to go on a low carbohydrate version of the SCD to solve my chronic yeast infections. I also do not consume those bean flours recommended in Breaking the Vicious Cycle. I eat no beans in any form. As I have stated in another posting the GAPS is a new evolution of the SCD. I mention the SCD because of its history. The SCD was the diet that healed me. I learned about GAPS after being on the SCD about two years. I think the GAPS program is better for many people. Here is the posting about SCD/GAPS:
    /specific-carbohydrate-diet-scd/

    Recently, I found a diet that is very close to what I am doing now. After being on the SCD/GAPS for years and only being able to safely reintroduce raw dairy, I have come to realization that I will never reintroduce grains, beans or legumes into my diet. Maybe other people will be able to do so, I can’t. I have been watching the Paleo Diet movement evolving over the last few years. In fact, I used to get many of my recipes from this source but I would increase the fat or change the fat to an animal source. I found it funny that the Paleo Diet people didn’t think primitive humans ate LOTS of fat. I like everything about Mark Sisson’s program except the supplements. You know how I feel about supplements! Mark is a high fat, Paleo Diet follower, that likes raw milk products. Now that’s a hunter/gatherer/herdsman, I could live with! I could eat everything at his table. I really like his exercise program too:
    http://www.marksdailyapple.com/

  8. Great Success! Just found your blog, I have not been able to read around yet – so if this is already known then ignore me 🙂

    I use a netti pot, it is like a tea pot that you fill with warm water and sea salt. It irrigates your sinuses, taking out any yuck and killing out bacteria. I think it is a God Send! I had a terrible sinus infection earlier this year and it took care of it. Now I am committed to using it a few times a week to keep my sinuses clean 🙂

  9. Hi Fonda,

    I have used sinus irrigation and sinus lavage for a number of years trying to manage my chronic sinus infections. Many people find sinus irrigation or lavage works very will for them. Personally, I found the salt water would become trapped in my sinuses due to all the inflammation. I wouldn’t be able to get the water out again. I found serrapeptase worked at eating away the necrotic tissue and brought down the inflammation. I do not have sinus infections anymore and only use serrapeptase if I get a cold or flu. I am very happy to hear that the irrigation works for you. It is a much better solution than antibiotics or corticosteriods. I am glad you found something that works that does not do damage to your body.

    I have looked at your blog. You might find these posting useful. Good luck with your goals:
    /healthy-household-staying-clean-safely-and-saving-money/
    /healthy-clothing-guidelines-and-suppliers/

    Cheers,
    Caroline

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  12. Just an update on serrapeptase. The company I got it from has moved from tablets to capsules. Unfortunately, they use “rice flour” for a flow agent in the capsules. I react to the tiny amounts of rice flour in the supplement so now the supplement does not work for me.

    I have found another solution, ionic silver. I used the nasal spray if I felt a bit “stuffy” over this last winter. I didn’t get sick or develop a sinus infection this winter. This is the product I used but any ionic silver product will likely work: http://www.natural-immunogenics.com/product_detail.php?ProductID=1.

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