A letter to the Washington
Post, requesting coverage of the Specific Carbohydrate Diet.
Modify this to suit your own success and feelings, and send it to your local paper!
Suggested Topic for coverage: Dietary Therapy for Intestinal Diseases, 2/14/2001
I would like to suggest that the Washington Post Health Section run an article on the Specific Carbohydrate Diet, which is designed to correct bacterial imbalances that result in intestinal diseases.
I recently heard a radio commercial which stated that IBD, or Inflammatory Bowel Disease, is one of the leading causes of absenteeism in the workplace. I have suffered from ulcerative colitis, a form of IBD, for 15 years. Other related diseases include Crohn's Disease, celiac disease and Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). These debilitating conditions involve damage to the large and/or small intestine, resulting in a multitude of problems including severe abdominal pain, chronic diarrhea, gas, bloating, rectal bleeding and bowel urgency. In severe cases, surgery to remove all or part of the colon and replacement with a colostomy bag is necessary. In addition, these diseases put sufferers at increased risk for colon cancer, a leading cause of death in the United States.
Medication is often ineffective at keeping the disease in remission. Many people, including myself, are reluctant to risk the possible side effects of long term medication. Many well-meaning but ill informed gastroenterologists insist that diet does not have any bearing on the disease (mainly due to the lack of scientific study). However, I am one of many people who have found remarkable improvement in my condition by following the Specific Carbohydrate Diet (SCD). With strict adherence, some are able to control their condition without any medication at all, while others are able to decrease reliance on medication.
The SCD was originally developed by Dr. Sidney Valentine Haas, a pediatrician in New York. In the 1960's, Elaine Gottschall took her 8 year old daughter to Dr. Haas. The child, who was facing surgery to have her colon removed, was cured of the disease and is now a healthy adult. Elaine Gottschall went back to school to study biochemistry and eventually wrote a book codifying Dr. Haas' Specific Carbohydrate Diet. Ms. Gottschall's book, "Breaking the Vicious Cycle: Intestinal Health Through Diet" sets forth the science behind the diet as well as the "do's and don'ts".
In a nutshell, the theory is that undigested carbohydrates are fuel for bad bacteria that normally exist in the gut. These bad bacteria multiply and eventually there is an imbalance of good and bad bacteria in the intestine. The by products of the bad bacteria cause damage to the wall of the intestines. The intestines become less and less able to digest certain carbohydrates. Therein the vicious cycle is begun.By avoiding difficult to digest carbohydrates such as grains, starches, sugar and lactose, the bad bacteria are essentially starved. Eventually the intestines begin to heal and the vicious cycle is broken. In many cases, after healing is complete, one can reintroduce certain forbidden foods.
If you are interested and wish to find out more, there is a website devoted to SCD, operated by several people whom have been helped by the diet to regain their health. The address is www.scdiet.org. Elaine Gottschall, now 80 years old and living in Canada, continues to be very involved in an online support group of over 500 people on the diet. She devotes enormous amounts of her time to personally responding to questions from people all over the world, helping them to avoid pitfalls and providing encouragement. I am fairly certain that she would be willing to be interviewed for an article. In addition, I am aware of at least one gastroenterologist in the Rockville, Maryland area who advocates the use of the SCD for his patients, who perhaps could also be interviewed for this article.
Most medical doctors, even if they were aware of SCD, would not recommend dietary therapy without scientific study to back it. It is unlikely that there will be such a study due to the lack of funding for something as unprofitable as a healthy diet. Many doctors (including my own) question the ability of their patients to adhere to a strict diet, believing that most people would prefer to take a pill and eat whatever they want. While this may be true of some people, many simply don't know their options.
I would urge you to run an article on this diet. I think you would be doing a great service to your readership and to the local companies and organizations who employ them. I certainly wish I had found out about this healthful, reasonable diet 15 years ago.
Please do not hesitate to contact me should you need any additional information.
Very truly yours,