Breaking the Vicious Cycle: Intestinal Health Through Diet PDF Book by Elaine Gottschall PDF ePub

Breaking the Vicious Cycle: Intestinal Health Through Diet

4.031,165 votes • 132 reviews
Published 01 Aug 2004
Breaking the Vicious Cycle: Intestinal Health Through Diet.pdf
Format Paperback
Publisher Kirkton Press
ISBN 0969276818

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.

Breaking the Vicious Cycle: Intestinal Health Through Diet Reviews

- Savannah, GA
Thu, 21 Aug 2008

Breaking the Vicious Cycle by Elaine Gottschall is about GI diseases, what causes them and how to treat them. And when I say 'treat', I mean that loosely. Obviously each case is different and will yield different results.
The author begins by explaining some simple biology, what can happen to cause things to go wrong and then how it is perpetuated into a series, chronic problem. The language used is easy to understand so you don't have to have a degree in biochemistry to understand. She also draws some interesting parallels between Austism Spectrum Disorders, food allergies and such with the onset of GI problems. There have been some people who report improvements in ASD children who follow the Specific Carbohydrate Diet set forth in the book along with people who have serious GI disease. She states that the diet might not work for everyone, but it's is worth it to give it a shot.
I am glad that I read this book for my own information and would suggest it to anyone who has children or loved ones who fall into these categories. It is good food for thought.

Wed, 02 Sep 2009

I read this book almost three months ago when I was at the end of my rope suffering from intestinal pain/discomfort/bloating/etc and doctors ran tests and said there was "nothing wrong" with me and it was "probably IBS" so just "try not to stress out" and maybe it would get better. GURRR! Anyway, I waited to post my review since I've been trying the diet during the interim. The result: AMAZING! Thus, I feel I can give this book five stars and, more importantly than that, recommend that EVERYONE become acquainted with the concepts presented here. Even if you do not suffer from intestinal issues yourself, chances are you know a friend or family member who is (even if they are suffering silently!) and, beyond that, there has been miracles happening for kids diagnoses with ADHD and Autism who did amazingly well on this diet. Most importantly, most people who make the change in their diet will NOT need to continue medications at all, or as often. This is a completely NATURAL approach to managing one's health.
The diet is not easy. Nor is it particularly inexpensive (though when you figure how little you'll be eating out, the cost is pretty much off-set!). You will have to give up a lot of foods that you love--but that don't love you back! It's like being in a bad relationship! Why continue your love affair with food if it's ruining your health--and probably, by extension, your enjoyment of life!?
The diet proposes that certain carbohydrates cannot break down properly in certain people, leading to various diseases of the gut (and, since there is a clear brain-gut correlation, this can sometimes manifest as ADHD, etc.) Thus, you must eliminate all those offending carbs from your diet. This means NO sugar, no wheat, no rice, no corn, no potatoes, no beans... and no lactose. Yup, most of the food that we eat every day--food that is even "good for us" (except that, in those suffering from a sick gut, etc. it's NOT!)
Now, before you think this is the end of the world--or, at least, of delicious food, there are lots of recipes that are pretty darn tasty. Nothing will ever come close to a tasty tortilla chip or fresh baked bread, but you can supplement with almond flour (which is expensive but a little goes a long way!) and honey and make some pretty tasty "breads" and cookies and cakes that way. You can make home-made yogurt and find some good cheeses (avoid the soft ones, go with the hard ones). Also, your whole approach to food will change. You will pretty much avoid the middle section of the supermarket because pretty much EVERYTHING processed has some sort of sugar or corn derivative in it. You'll spend of time with produce--which is really how things should be anyway. Lots of cooking from scratch!!! No more quick snack of chips (or even power bars or other "healthy" processed food). In time, you may find some restaurants you can go to now and then (Greek is a good choice!) And, if you find you really just want to have a piece of your best friend's wedding cake--I say, go for it--if you are ready for the consequences. I splurged for my birthday and had some sugar and my tummy felt a bit off after but I REALLY wanted that cake! ;-p (The book says you should pretty much never break the diet, BtW, but I can't quite live like that!)
I am not some amazing person who has tons of culinary skill or patience with cooking, shopping or not eating out. I am lazy in the kitchen and also a major foodie and I LOVE trying new foods and eating out. I LOVE bread! I love desserts! I want ice cream!!! But, I was also literally sick and tired from bombarding my system (however inadvertently) with foods that were bad for me. Whether or not you choose to try this diet will probably depend on how crappy you feel. Also, there is another system of thought out there if you have IBS that is pretty much contradictory to this diet (except for the lactose aspect) where you can have rice and bread but must avoid nuts and cheeses, etc. I tried that for a few days, but I got so bloated from just having white rice that I figure I must be better with the SCD diet in Gotschall's book.
If you are curious, you can go to Gotschall's website or type in "Specific Carbohydrate Diet" in Google and a bunch of stuff will come up without you even having to invest in the book. Intestinal problems are not the most romantic thing to talk about, but I wanted to share my experience with everyone because this diet has truly made my life SO much better!!! If you are suffering, and especially if the doctors have told you there is "nothing wrong" except a little IBS, do try this (so long as you HAVE ruled out the other things that could be wrong, of course.)
Good luck and good health!

Fri, 03 May 2013

For anyone dealing with digestive disorders, this book is highly informative and I recommend it. There is a lot of information to be gained from reading it, even if you are not considering trying the diet.
Breaking the Vicious Cycle is scientific in explanation, but on a level of accessibility most readers should be able to understand and absorb.
After two and a half years dealing with my own digestive disorder, I just learned I have been eating the absolute worst things I could possibly attempt to eat. My diet, as recommended to me by my Gastroenterologist, would only serve the purpose of keeping me ill for the rest of my life. That isn't my goal.
One major problem with the Specific Carbohydrate Diet is the lack of information for how to handle an egg allergy.
The Specific Carbohydrate Diet prohibits all grains, lactose, and sucrose (sugar), which leaves you with: fruits, vegetables, fish, meat, and eggs. The author mentions it is possible to be a vegetarian on the diet but says it is out of the scope of this book. Personally, I don't see that being a vegetarian would at all be possible, and even having an egg allergy will make this very strict, very limiting diet - incredibly difficult to maintain.
However... what do I have to lose?

- Portland, ME
Mon, 13 Aug 2012

My typical dinner used to be pizza, pasta, or sandwiches, always followed by something sweet--candy, cookies, cake. Bread/grain was my life. I rarely ate vegetables or meat. My gastroenterologist had told me to follow a low-residue diet, so I figured the more carbs, the better. He advised me to stay away from raw vegetables and meat, the "hard to digest" foods he thought would tax my digestive system. Then I read this book and realized I had been eating all the wrong things for years.
This book has changed my diet for the better, though it requires monumental effort. It's been a month and a half since I went SCD and I have high hopes for healing my gut as I follow the diet. This book was much better than the similar Maker's Diet, which was apparently based on the principles Elaine Gottschall learned from the Drs. Haas. SCD is more strict than the Maker's Diet in some respects, but the firm science behind it spoke louder to me than the biblical interpretations and expensive aromatherapy and cleansing products espoused by the Maker's Diet.
While I respect this book and would highly recommend it to any other sufferers of digestive disorders, there are some not so great things about it. Some of the recipes are just plain terrible. The coconut-honey candy balls were a disappointingly goopy waste of honey. On the other hand, the honey-garlic spare ribs were unbelievably easy to make and delicious. Experiment until you find what works for you, and equip yourself with alternate sources of recipes to compensate for the flops. There are so many SCD-friendly recipes out there (,, that even cooks with limited experience can be successful in the kitchen.
The book editing is poor, with some pages tumbling into ever smaller fonts from paragraph to paragraph. If you aren't an editor like me, this probably won't bother you.

- Alamosa, CO
Mon, 27 Jul 2015

If you're suffering from Crohn's, ulcerative colitis, diverticulitis, celiac disease, cystic fibrosis and/or chronic diarrhea, I HIGHLY RECOMMEND THIS BOOK. It may be your key to ending your unexplainable suffering (or why going on a gluten free diet as a celiac didn't cure you).
My whole life I've been very fit, active, and not had any diet or health problems, although before my issues started I was on a high bread, high sugar diet (as an athlete I thought I needed all that energy and it was going to me). This all mysteriously changed four years ago, at age 36 after a time of extreme emotional stress, when I began having mysterious gastro signs and symptoms (painful abdominal inflammation, chronic diarrhea, malabsorption, gastro bleeding, and at its most extreme- a nerf football sized hydrocele hernia).
Since 2011, I've gone through a barrage of exhausting medical tests by multiple general practitioners, a urologist, two gastros, and a holistic MD. In the summer of 2014 I was finally diagnosed with celiac disease as well as several other severe food allergies (peanut butter, dairy, soy, and caffeine). Going gluten free helped lessen my s/sx, but it did not cure me, and all the numerous doctors I've seen are still frustratingly stumped and apologize for having no answers or potential solutions.
Researching about potential causes of celiac and other gastro diseases online, I ran across several references to this book. I had already begun to suspect that a gut microbe imbalance was the cause of my issues including celiac, but this book NAILED IT.
I now know why it's not just wheat, but ANY grain that causes my suffering. I now know why sugars and starches are very dangerous to my health.
As much help cutting gluten out of my diet was, this diet is FINALLY curing my body of the inflammation, brain fog, pain, exhaustion, etc. I even have some hope that I can eventually add back some carbs and foods I'm currently allergic to once I've healed in a year or two.
The history of the medical establishment's understanding of celiac and other gastro illnesses is fascinating (it includes European research which I've found hard to come-by up to this book). If you are celiac, this history is worth the book, even if you don't plan on trying the specific carbohydrate diet.
Again, highly recommended for those suffering from gastro diseases.

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