IBD essay to share
Date: Tue, 11 Apr 2000
contacted via e-mail by a fellow IBD sufferer who is trying
to compile a book of essays for people with IBD by people
with IBD on our experiences. I sent in an essay and wanted
to share it with you all on this list. I don't know when or
if the book will be published, but will keep you posted. It's
a rather lengthy essay, but I hope it will inspire or help
someone. Here goes:
years old and have been living with UC for eight years. It
has dramatically altered my life by being both a burden and
a blessing for me and my family. When I first noticed symptoms
I had never heard of inflammatory bowel disease. Unfortunately
my first gastroenterologist was devoid of a "bedside manner"
and offered little comfort or hope other than drugs. Naively,
I accepted his bleak prediction of my future and the opinion
of there being nothing else I could do. After the passing
of six years, four hospitalizations, treatments of three different
GIs who touted the "changing your diet will have no effect"
theory, too many steroids, and too much trust in physicians
and drug companies profiting from my illness?I had enough.
The time had come for me to take charge of my own healing.
by exercising consistently. Though I had been doing yoga off
and on for a few years, I became more serious about my practice
to help to manage stress. I now do yoga daily and it has played
a vital role in my recovery. I started food combining which
involves separating proteins from carbohydrates, like meat
with vegetables or grains with vegetables but no meat and
grains at the same meal. In this practice fruit is eaten alone.
It improved my digestion significantly and I continue to food
combine today. Though all of this helped to put me in remission
for a while I still experienced another flare.
was unexpected and did not accompany an unusually stressful
period in my life as my past flares had. I refused to even
consider prednisone again and consulted a holistic doctor
who in turn referred me to an acupuncturist. Together they
discovered I had high levels of Candida which is quite common
in IBD sufferers and oftentimes the culprit. I had been eating
a lot of whole wheat and they suspected a food allergy or
at least a sensitivity. Wheat in abundance can be very acidic
and cause dysbiosis?an imbalance in the intestinal flora.
The holistic doctor put me on an antifungal and then suggested
I try The Specific Carbohydrate Diet, a diet developed by
Dr. Sidney Valentine Haas and promoted in a book by biochemist
and cell biologist, Elaine Gottschall, B.A., M.Sc., entitled
Breaking The Vicious Cycle: Intestinal Health Through Diet.
Dr. Haas helped Gottschall's daughter recover from ulcerative
colitis through this diet. The diet excludes all grains, high-lactose
dairy products, and sugar. It allows fruit, most vegetables,
nuts, meats, eggs, certain dairy products like hard cheeses
and homemade yogurt, and honey. At the time I had been eating
a borderline vegetarian diet for years, with fish and poultry
only occasionally, and I liked the discipline of my dietary
choices. I mistakenly shunned The Specific Carbohydrate Diet
at that time in my life and instead followed an alternative
diet outlined by my holistic doctor. I excluded wheat, dairy
and sugar and began an intensive program of Chinese herbs
and supplements. I received acupuncture treatments regularly
to balance the energy, chi, in my body.
developed by my holistic doctor and my acupuncturist helped
to keep my UC under control with minimal symptoms and I was
able to avoid prednisone. I continued on my maintenance medication,
Pentasa, and was able to lead a normal life and never had
to slow down or take any sick days from work. I know this
was due also in part to my continued exercise and yoga routines.
Despite all the improvement, however, I did have slight symptoms
that were insistent on hanging on. I could never quite shake
them and after a year of annoyance I took a hard and open-minded
look at The Specific Carbohydrate Diet.
Mr. Frost, I decided to take the road less traveled and this
has made all the difference.
Carbohydrate Diet (SCD) has been the answer to all of my problems
with my UC. I only wish I had found it sooner and that more
people in the world knew about its healing abilities. The
diet is based on sugars and how IBD sufferers digest them.
There are three kinds of sugars, monosaccharides, disaccharides
and polysaccharides. The digestive systems of IBD sufferers
are impaired and can only digest monosaccharides. Monosaccharides
are found in honey, fruit and certain vegetables. Disaccharides
and polysaccharides are found in grains, all other sweeteners
and dairy. When we ingest these our systems can not break
them down and they pass undigested, ferment, and cause an
overgrowth of bad bacteria. The book further outlines the
science of this process and the guidelines of the diet. It
has given me my life back. It is restrictive but very do-able
and once one experiences the benefits of recovery, all the
sacrifices are worth it. Many people can return to a normal
diet after a few years on the SCD and some never experience
is the best kept secret among IBD treatments, despite the
fact that two million copies of Breaking The Vicious Cycle
have been sold. Elaine Gottshcall has worked hard to bring
it to the public but few westernized medical establishments
have embraced it. The bottom line is?it isn't profitable for
them. Fortunately, other research results have begun to surface
concerning the role of carbohydrate digestion in IBD. Hopefully,
this knowledge will begin to spread.
with this disease and living with this way of eating now has
definitely altered my lifestyle. In the past I missed many
days of work, and there are often quizzical looks at restaurants
from servers and friends when I request special preparations
of my food. All of this often ignites questions and I have
had to learn to be open and honest about my condition. It's
funny. If we had diabetes or food allergies, we wouldn't hesitate
to acknowledge it. However, it is often difficult to admit
that you have a problem with your colon. It immediately brings
to mind a taboo subject. This is very unfortunate but realistic.
I often say simply that I have a digestive disease. But recently,
I have more often admitted that I have colitis and I haven't
encountered any negative responses. People have been genuinely
sympathetic and often are interested to learn more about my
lifestyle. The more openly we speak of our disease, the less
an embarrassing subject it will be. This is part of our lives
and we have nothing of which to be ashamed.
earlier that this disease has been both a burden and a blessing
for me. The blessing has come with my appreciation for the
life I live, the developed awareness of my body and health,
and my family and friends who love me. I have also been blessed
with being one of the growing number who have discovered the
SCD and with having this opportunity to encourage other IBD
sufferers to try it and recover. I will include several websites
where you can find both the book and information about the
diet, including the website connecting us to almost 400 users
of the SCD worldwide who regularly post questions and answers
I am now
on the road to recovery and am well enough to begin to start
a family with my husband. He has been my best friend, supporter
and inspiration through many years of illness. I hope others
have a support system like the one provided to me by my husband
and family. I also hope this essay and my experience will
encourage others to take charge of their own health and start
the journey to recovery and to make the SCD road more traveled.
I wish you all health and happiness.