Breaking the Vicious Cycle: Intestinal Health Through Diet

Breaking the Vicious Cycle: Intestinal Health Through Diet

by Elaine Gottschall


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It is a strict grain-free, lactose-free, and sucrose-free meal plan.

Of all dietary components, carbohydrates have the greatest influence on intestinal microbes (yeast and bacteria) which are believed to be involved in intestinal disorders. Most intestinal microbes require carbohydrates for energy. The Specific Carbohydrate Diet works by severely limiting the availability of carbohydrates to intestinal microbes.

When carbohydrates are not digested, they are not absorbed. They remain in the intestinal tract, thus encouraging microbes to multiply by providing food for them. This can lead to the formation of acids and toxins which can injure the small intestine.

Once bacteria multiply within the small intestine, they can destroy the enzymes on the intestinal cell surface, preventing carbohydrate digestion and absorption. At this point, production of excessive mucus may be triggered as the intestinal tract attempts to "lubricate" itself against the irritation caused by the toxins, acids, and the presence of incompletely digested and unabsorbed carbohydrates.

The diet is based on the principle that specifically selected carbohydrates, requiring minimal digestion, are well absorbed leaving virtually nothing for intestinal microbes to feed on. As the microbes decrease due to lack of food, their harmful by-products also diminish. No longer needing protection, the mucus producing cells stop producing excessive mucus and carbohydrate digestion is improved. The Specific Carbohydrate Diet corrects malabsorption, allowing nutrients to enter the bloodstream and be made available to the cells of the body, thereby strengthening the immune system's ability to fight. Further debilitation is prevented, weight can return to normal, and ultimately there is a return to health.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780969276814
Publisher: Kirkton Press, Limited
Publication date: 08/01/1994
Edition description: Revised
Pages: 207
Sales rank: 45,259
Product dimensions: 5.90(w) x 8.90(h) x 0.60(d)

Table of Contents

Foreword by Ronald L. Hoffman, M.D. i-iv
CHAPTER 1 Past and Present 1
CHAPTER 2 Scientific Evidence Relating to Diet 5
CHAPTER 3 Intestinal Microbes: The Unseen World    11
CHAPTER 4 Breaking the Vicious Cycle 17
CHAPTER 5 Carbohydrate Digestion 21
CHAPTER 6 Beyond Gluten 31
CHAPTER 7 The Brain Connection 37
CHAPTER 8 Introducing the Diet 43
CHAPTER 9 The Specific Carbohydrate Diet 53
Glossary 137
Appendix 140
References 145
Index 157
Websites 165
Supplement - The Celiac Story


INTESTINAL PROBLEMS account for the second greatest number of hospital admissions; maternity cases are first. In fact, four out of ten people visiting their doctors are there because of gastrointestinal complaints: diarrhea, excess gas, loss of weight, excess mucus, cramping, blood loss, severe constipation. Not only are these disorders widespread, they exact a high toll in pain, suffering and expense.

Breaking the Vicious Cycle, written by biochemist and cell biologist, Elaine Gottschall, is an extraordinary book and one of the first to address this problem with a practical approach for the general public as well as for the health professional. Based on extensive research and personal experience, Elaine is convinced that proper nutrition is often an alternative to heavy medication and surgery. Many diseases can be prevented, alleviated, or cured by nothing more than the correct diet.

In writing Breaking the Vicious Cycle, Elaine Gottschall wanted to share what she has learned in the three decades since her four-year-old daughter was diagnosed as having severe, incurable ulcerative colitis. The book is a result of her uncharted odyssey to keep her child alive and stave off an ileostomy (surgical removal of the colon and replacement with an external bag).

Breaking the Vicious Cycle is divided into two sections. The first half explains how different carbohydrates (starches and sugars) affect the body, and how diet affects behavior and development. The Specific Carbohydrate Diet is introduced with an explanation of how it can prevent, alleviate, and cure gastrointestinal disorders. The second part of the book contains recipes for appetizers, soups, salads, meats, desserts, beverages, and candies which are allowed on the Specific Carbohydrate Diet. The book ends with an excellent glossary, a detailed appendix, an index, and is highly referenced for those who wish to read prime source material.

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Breaking the Vicious Cycle 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 25 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
We almost lost our beautiful, once healthy 24-year old daughter to ulcerative colitis just last year. Anyone who is familiar with this disease knows how debilitating, frustrating and embarassing it can be. Doctors say 'Eat what you want, it doesn't matter...' Don't believe it!!!! We saw rapid improvement by following the protocol in this wonderful book, and now, a year later we have our daughter back, healthy, happy and radiant. We cannot praise this book and its author enough! If you have GI disease, you have nothing to lose and EVERYTHING to gain by reading this book and trying the SCD Diet. This was our last-ditch effort, and the only thing that worked!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Having suffered from chronic diarrhea for 3 years, in 2002 I finally decided to get this book and give it a try. What a godsend it has been. I have been on this diet for almost 3 years now (!), and I'm feeling great, with lots of energy, looking great (many people comment on how healthy I look), and, of course, no more diarrhea! I rarely get colds, never get flu or any other sickness-- I am 39 and healthier than I have ever been in my life. This diet really worked for me-- I noticed results just by the end of the first day of trying it-- and my health just kept improving. The book is very explicit on what is allowed and what is not allowed, and I followed it fanatically (as the author recommends), and have been thankful ever since to the author and her miraculous wisdom. I recommend this book to anyone with just about any kind of GI disorder, as I understand it has also been of enormous help to many people with Crohn's disease, Ulcerative Colitis, and Irritable Bowel Syndrome.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Amazing book! I just started to read this book but I already got so much valuable information about my diet, about food in general that making me more considerate how I eat and what?! So much misleading information out there and so hard to know what is right out there and what is wrong to eat for my condition but in the "Breaking the vicious cycle" book, I find the answer. So thank you, Elaine Gottschall, for your dedication to the cause and for your hard work. I’d also recommend that you check out The Hungry Chick Dieting Solution which will change how you look at food forever. Buy it! Buy it! Buy it!
Guest More than 1 year ago
During those thirty years I have had three surgeries and have been on just about every medication under the sun. Nothing worked. Six months ago I started the SCD as described in this book and have amazed my Gastroenternologist with my progress. My bloodwork is all normal, my inflammation is just about gone and I am medication free for the first time in many many years. This diet may not work for everyone but for me it beats a fourth partial bowel resection!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I've been on this for 2wks and I must admit that I've seen significant improvements. No more gassy, bloated feeling all the time.. This is a great book to read and follow if you are fed up with your condition and want to lead a normal life... The first wk was the hardest (with carb. headache) but once you see the way you feel, there is NO TURNING BACK...Word of caution: IF you decide to follow this diet, you must be very committed and no cheating, even if you cheat a little it defeats the purpose... Good Luck!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
After struggling on a gluten free diet, this book finally brought a solution to my woes! Gottschall fully researched the biology that plagues those with Celiac, Colitis, Crones and IBS. Through the help of Dr Haas, they established the SCD to relieve suffers of the painful symptoms surrounding these diseases. In conjunction with recommended websites and yahoo groups, this book is an answer to prayer for those who are dedicated to truly healing themselves. Now, if only the medical profession would catch up and realize the power of healing that the right food can bring!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The book explains how the protocol for the SCD diet came about. It gives a basic outline of how to start the diet and includes actual letters and testimonials from people who have been successful while using the diet. The book, however, does not answer a lot of specified questions you might have in your own personal situation. You will need the internet and other resources to answer those "specific" questions you might have. The book is just a start to understanding the SCD diet.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I am a 26 year old woman who has been living with Crohn's Disease since the age of 17. I have been on medications since I was 17 years old, and am now at a point where the medications do not work nearly as well as they used to. When I heard about the SCD, I picked up this book and immediately read it. I have been following the diet strictly and have had a slight ease in my symptoms, so I feel there is some merit to this diet. I'm definitely giving it a shot and believe it to be working so far. To anyone who is suffering from any sort of IBD disease, this is definitely worth checking into. Even if the diet only moderately reduces your symptoms, at least it is an improvement!
Guest More than 1 year ago
The thing about ibs is that you can't seem to get a straight diagnosis or treatment;maybe that is because most doctors don't realize why the grain based food pyramid is so unhealthy. I started feeling better within a week on this diet, and I am almost entirely symptom free now, almost 2 months later!
crazybatcow on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The book "makes sense". If you know nothing about chemistry or digestion, etc, you won't see anything in here that is glaringly incorrect... in fact, I have no idea how "correct" the author is in her diet. Apparently it works for those who suffer from bowel disease, and I guess the proof is in the pudding, right?The problem is that I have to think that it's dated information - the book was written in 1994 and focuses on science at that point. I am not a scientist so I don't know how much has changed, but one has got to suspect that things *have* changed since then. There are numerous current websites that are based on the information in this book, but they are still using the "facts" as presented in this book.Many of these facts do make sense, but in other cases, the author actually admits that she "doesn't know why but it works"... case in point: chocolate isn't allowed because Haas (the original doctor on whom Gottschall has based her work) said it wasn't. Stevia isn't allowed but saccharin is. (She believes saccharin has gotten a bad rap over the years... )Does it work? It's an awfully hard diet to follow but if you have chronic bowel problems, you might have the willpower to follow it - then you can tell the rest of us who are only human and want some rice with our dinners.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This was recommended reading on the website of my gastroenterologist. There were areas that were more technical than I needed, it gave me a good insight into this health problem. FOr me, no immediate solutions but a level of comfort that there is hope.
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specialmelissa More than 1 year ago
This book is a God send!! I cannot even begin to describe the importance of changing your diet and following this book! I have not even started the complete compliance and I am feeling better and I have spoken with one of the resources in the book. Lots of support and other links and ideas. If you have tried everything this is the book and the lifestyle change for you!! Don't be afraid you will feel SO much better and be happy and excited too!!
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Guest More than 1 year ago
I have had UC for 10 years. I started this diet 1 month before my daughter was born. I wanted to breastfeed, but could not do so with the medications I was on. I stopped 6MP and had only minor flares during postpartum. Now 6 months later, I am still breastfeeding and feel the best I have felt in a very long time(even while on meds). I have more energy than I ever have before. And that's saying a lot considering the new baby. I highly recommend anyone with and IBD to give this diet a try!
Guest More than 1 year ago
After taking an antibiotic for a sinus infection, I came down with C.Diff. and 'very bad ulcerative colitis' according to my gastroenterologist. I was given several prescriptions but I felt really awful and didn't have my life back for months until I found this diet. Miraculous!!