In part one of this series we talked about the first 5 chapters of Breaking the Vicious Cycle.
We established that in susceptible individuals, the more complex sugars from carbohydrates can be problematic because they can feed bacteria in our guts. The bacteria can overgrow and release toxins that damage our intestines. They can also release by-products that cause embarrassing situations such as gas, bloating and diarrhea.
People with IBS, Crohn’s disease, Ulcerative Colitis, Celiac disease, Diverticulitis and other forms of IBD are trapped in what’s known as the vicious cycle where their intestines are under constant attack.
The factor that we have the most control over in this vicious cycle is our diet.
In order to stop the constant damage being done to our intestinal villi we can stop eating certain foods such as grains, corn and potatoes, and start healing the gut with nourishing foods.
Chapter 6: The Celiac Story
Late in the 19th century a doctor named Samuel Gee developed a criteria for describing and diagnosing celiac disease. Diet was found to be the only means to curing the disease and that the greatest offenders to the disease were milk, highly starchy food, rice, sago, potatoes and corn were unfit for celiacs. Gee noted that when a food is eaten that an individual can’t digest, it ends up doing much harm to the body.
Dr. Christian Herter, a scientist at Columbia University who worked on the clinical and theoretical aspects of celiac disease concluded that proteins were very well handled in those with the disease while fats were moderately handled. He noted that in almost every case carbohydrates caused a relapse of the symptoms, causing diarrhea even after a period of improvement.
A few years after Dr. Herter came to this conclusion, two other doctors who studied the disease at Vanderbilt Clinic found similar results. Dr. John Howland noted in his presidential address that carbohydrates are the foods that must be rigorously excluded in the case of celiac disease and that proteins and fats are almost always well digested, even though fats aren’t digested as well as in completely healthy individuals.
At first, the pioneers of celiac research would put patients on no carbohydrate diets, but then they discovered that by consuming certain fruits and vegetables they could hasten the recovery time. This was when Sidney Haas, a doctor who worked with Dr. Howland came up with the Specific Carbohydrate Diet. The diet was so successful that Dr. Haas became known world-wide for essentially finding a cure for what was once a deadly disease.
“In 1951, Dr. Hass and his son Dr. Merrill P. Haas published The Management of Celiac Disease, the most comprehensive medical text that had ever been written on celiac disease.” This text became widely accepted and used as a means for a cure to celiac disease.
Then scientists decided to investigate further and in a study of just 10 patients with celiac disease, they concluded that it was the protein gluten found in wheat, rye and barley that caused the debilitating effects of celiac disease. They ruled out the starches and other carbohydrates as culprits to the disease. This became the new normal.
A reason why wheat is so detrimental to our health is due to the fact that it is composed of a starch core surrounded by a network of gluten protein. This starch-gluten combination causes malabsorption of the starches and intestinal damage by the gluten. The undigested starches get fermented, which contributes to the degradation of the intestines along with the gluten. The fermentation also causes gas and digestive distress, while the damaged intestinal villi result in malabsorption of nutrients.
Once gluten was isolated as a culprit, scientists did more studies with other foods and found that soy, oats and rice to cause a reoccurrence of symptoms in many patients.
With the invention of the intestinal biopsy, celiac disease became a disease that was only diagnosed if the intestinal lining was damaged before taking gluten out of the diet and healed after gluten was taken out of the diet. It seems like the definition of celiac was based solely off of the one study with 10 people saying that gluten was bad. The newly used method for celiac diagnosis completely ignores Dr. Haas’s and others findings that there are many carbohydrates cause problems. It only focuses on gluten when the reality is that many grains, even gluten-free grains, cause problems.
This is a problem because now people with symptoms of celiac yet no positive intestinal biopsy are simply told they have ibs and there’s nothing they can do about it. Going gluten free is often prescribed to those with ibs and always prescribed to those who are diagnosed with celiac, except going gluten free isn’t enough.
As we learned, many carbohydrates including soy, corn, potatoes, wheat, rye, barley, oats and rice all have been shown to aggravate those with celiac. That’s why a lot of times when people go gluten free they still don’t get better. And if you remember from part one of this series, disaccharides and starches cannot be digested by intestinal microvilli that have been damaged. So in reality if a celiac wants to truly heal, a complete avoidance of all grains and lactose-containing dairy products needs to be adhered to.
According to Elaine Gottschall, if the specific carbohydrate diet is followed for one year, most cases of celiac can be completely cured.
For those people who are not satisfied with their progress on the “gluten-free” diet, the Specific Carbohydrate Diet offers them the opportunity to become healthy.
This was a summary of chapter 6 of Breaking the Vicious Cycle by Elaine Gotschall. For a more in depth overview, please buy the book.
In part 3 of this report I’ll summarize chapters 7 and 8 which talk about the brain and autism connection.
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