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Breaking the Vicious Cycle: Intestinal Health Through Diet
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1,676 of 1,695 people found the following review helpful
on July 5, 2000
Format: Paperback
With a great deal of skeptisizm, I read this book over five years ago. Ulcerative colitis was bleeding me to death, not that I had a life much worth living at the time. My world revolved around pain and I could be no further than 30 seconds from a bathroom. Ms. Gottschall, her book, and the diet completely vanquished all my symptoms of UC, saved my life and restored my intestinal health. I've just finished reading the reveiws of Courtney Lewis and a reader from Conneticut, who were both put off by the amount of work involved in maintaining this diet. Perhaps their symptoms were not as crippling as mine. Perhaps they have success with medication and have no problem with staying on it for the rest of their lives. I wish them well and hope they do not eventually require the surgery that many of us with this disease must face. I am concerned however, that their reveiws might prevent even one person from reading the book, which is why I am writing about my own experience. After 6 months on this diet I went for my yearly colonoscopy and my doctor declared my colon to appear "like that of a healthy 18 year old's". I have been off of all medication for over 4 years. I currently facilitate a listserver of almost 400 participents, most of who are on the diet. If anyone is interested in joining it, write me at rturet@optonline.com
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582 of 594 people found the following review helpful
on February 26, 2000
Format: Paperback
I have been on this regimen for three years. During this time I have been drug and symptom free. A year and half ago I posted the following review, which is even more dramatic proof now: After a year and a half on the Specific Carbohydrate Diet, I finally followed my gastroenterologist's request to get a colonoscopy. After all, it had been over four years since the last time anyone had given me any sort of exam of the gut, and 18 years with Crohns. My doc said "We got all the way to the cecum. No evidence at all of Crohns. No scars. No inflammation. Nothing. You look completely normal."
This dietary modification is far better than a drug-induced remission for me because even in past drug-induced 'remissions' my past exams have showed indication of disease. Now there are no drugs, no side effects. I believe this diet is a superior way to bring on a controlled remission.
This book guides the patient through the process of understanding their illness, describing the research that contributed to creating the diet, how to start the diet, what foods can be added and when. The book also contains valuable a list of links to "SCDiet" resources and online support groups that are available over the Internet.
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662 of 685 people found the following review helpful
on July 6, 2005
Format: Paperback
2 years ago, I was suffering from nightly fevers, night sweats, diarrhea 5-8 times a day, pain and cramping, and would black out every time I stood up and had to rest when walking to the back yard. I was taking the highest dose of Colozal possible, and had lost 30 pounds in one month. I decided to start Remicade, which stopped the diarrhea for a week, and then I would regress. 3 rounds of Remicade were providing relief for 7-10 days after each one, and my doctor was suggesting 6 MP or Imuran, even though I had had a near-fatal reaction to it many years ago.

I decided to try the SCDiet again, which I had tried 8 years before with great results, but hadn't continued when I became pregnant, and had misplaced the book in a move. When I began the diet this time, my fevers stopped in a day! I continued to take Remicade, and followed the diet, though I suffered continuous ups and downs for the first 6 months, and my diet was very limited, since I couldn't tolerate most fruits, most vegetables, the nut flour, or the yogurt for the first 3 months.

I gained back the 30 pounds in a few months, despite the rocky progress, my anemia slowly corrected itself, and I started having energy again for the first time in years. I continued on the Remicade, though by now, I was able to stretch my infusions out to 8 weeks, then 10, but still would relapse towards the last weeks.

A year into the diet, I found out that I had a stricture in my descending colon and sigmoid colon that was the size of a pencil. In July, 2004 I had surgery to remove the stricture, and continued on with SCD in the hospital and afterwards. Recovery was fairly easy, and the doctors were amazed at my speedy progress. I discontinued Remicade, since it was unnecessary with the stricture gone.

It is now one year after surgery, and 2 years on the diet. I had a colonoscopy a month ago, and my GI found very, very slight inflammation in the rectum and secum, and all of the biopsies were normal. I haven't had Remicade since the surgery, and am continuing on a very low dose of sulfasalazine, which I plan to discontinue in a year. I weigh the most I have weighed in over 17 years of this disease, my bloodwork is all normal for the first time in 17 years, and my skin and hair are healthy. Many people have wondered if I am pregnant, because I look so "radiant."

Hopefully, in 2 more years, my follow up colonoscopy will be all clear, and I will have weaned from my last medication. I am just saddened that I didn't stick with the diet 8 years ago, because I probably would not have had to have surgery, or 17 years ago, when I was first diagnosed at 16. There are so many things I lost because of this disease; a year abroad at a very prostigious art school, a modeling contract, a normal college experience, besides many, many years of blood, fever and sickness.

Some doctors are beginning to recommend this diet. It is becoming the treatment of choice in the autism community. This diet includes high strength pro-biotics in the form of homemade yogurt; there is more and more evidence that bacteria are playing a large role in these diseases, so the premise of the diet makes sense. I was spending $500 a month on supplements, and was still very sick; when I began this diet, I found that every one of them had some kind of starch or sugar; I now spend $7 a month on vitamins/fish oil. For a decade, I have known that certain foods I ate made me ill; it was so freeing to finally know what to eat, and my food choices are huge compared to what I tolerated in the past. I now can drink wine for the first time in 10 years, and coffee, and tea, and the many baked goods allowed on this diet are delicious. I feel like a teenager again, though this time, I am not sick. Everyone who comes to my house comments on the incredible food my family eats.

It is a crime that no one will do a double-blind study on this diet, and the general advice is, "there is no medical evidence" to justify it. Well, do the study then! Find the medical evidence! In the meantime, there is nothing to lose in trying it. It is healthy, and prevents many other diseases by eating whole, homemade foods. There is no danger in eating this way, except that you will be required to cook - a lot- and it may mean a significant lifestyle change if you are used to eating out, or rely on pre-made, packaged products. I just wish I found it many, many years ago. I wonder who I would have become if I had not suffered such extreme illness for half of my life. To have control again over my body; to know what to eat and that I am progressing! What a miracle.

Debora
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545 of 576 people found the following review helpful
on January 17, 2002
Format: Paperback
How can I find words to describe the miracle that is this diet? Following it has given me back my son in a way I never dreamed possible. Elaine's diet has cured my son's autism and his three year struggle with GI troubles.
My son Colin, age 4 ½ , has struggled with GI troubles since 11 months old. He had the ROTAvirus, chronic diarrhea, and was constantly on steroids (for asthma) and antibiotics (for ear and lung infections). By age two-and-a-half he was having night terrors every night. By age three, he was labeled "failure to thrive" due to his low weight and height. He was also diagnosed as having developmental delays (Pervasive Development Disorder, ie Autism). He was behind in speech and motor skills...he banged his head and stopped looking at me. My son slipped away from me!
Everyone had answers for us...the mainstream doctors (neurologists) wanted to give him drugs. The GI doctors thought Colin had "autistic" diarrhea and wouldn't help us. They wouldn't even do a colonoscopy on a child who had struggled with a GI disorder for years.
The alternative doctors told us to cut out gluten and milk and use high dosages of vitamins. Stopping gluten stopped his night terrors--but his chronic diarrhea and delays continued. In fact, as I became a "gluten-free" cook and branched out to new starches, Colin's symptoms got worse.
When my son was labeled as having "high functioning autism" at age 3 1/2, God told me to "put Colin first." So I quit my job to save my son. I decided that instead of listening to "experts" in autism, I would listen to my son. I knew he had the answers inside him so I studied him.
I always knew Colin had a problem with food. His bizarre food cravings as a toddler-milk, cheese, and bread-had been replaced with a craving for gluten free waffles, potatoes, and basically all starches and complex sugars. Some said he was allergic to these foods. But, I knew it was impossible for him to have 30+ allergies. I also knew if food was the problem-somehow it was the answer too.
I concluded that my son was not autistic, but instead a boy with celiac disease or some other GI disorder. Then, thanks to a former co-worker, who was a Celiac not cured by gluten-free living, I found Elaine's book.
Within months on Elaine's diet, my son's stools were normal for the first time in his life! Then, he started doing complex pretend play, looking at us, and advancing in ALL AREAS OF DEVELOPMENT. He played with toys appropriately. He voiced his wants, needs, and questions. Oh-the glorious why questions! He started asking me questions about God, about life, about the seasons...and about why his tummy had always been sick. His teachers were amazed. Our family was amazed. We know this diet saved him. We watched it happen before our eyes. No drugs. No expensive behavioral therapies. Just diet.
I say don't give up. When Colin couldn't digest the fruits and veggies, we cooked them. When he couldn't eat the almond flour-we gave him squash and banana for carbs until he was ready for the nut flours. We didn't do the yoghurt described in the book at first-as Colin gets asthma when he drinks milk. Then, we started using goat's milk yoghurt instead so he could get the good bacteria he needed to heal. If you truly want to get well, there is always a way. But you have to have faith and be patient.
Today, my son is the picture of health. He has gained 8 pounds and five inches in less than a year! He has a healthy glow. He has normal bowel movements. He has a wonderful appetite too. And now-he has caught up in almost all areas. He has friends! Next year he will be going to a regular preschool. Some doctors and others ask us now if we have "switched" children.
All this through food.
The other day I told my son that I was going to help a friend of his start this diet. I was explaining about the yoghurt, almond flour, etc. He said, "Mom, thank you," and threw his arms around me. I said, "For what?"
"For me Mom. Thank you for me. Thank you for making my tummy better."
Even Colin knows the power of this diet.
God bless Elaine for fighting for us all and for helping me save my son!
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160 of 166 people found the following review helpful
on June 25, 2005
Format: Paperback
I picked up this book 3 years ago. I had also bought a LOT of other books - this book had what I considered to be the "hardest" diet to follow. It required me to change my life. I had racked up 20,000 in medical debt, had been hospitalized several times, had fistula drained, was on prednisone, asacol, flagyl, cipro. My wife was a wreck worrying over me while I wasted away.

I finally had an attack that put me in the hospital for a week. It was all the incentive I needed. At the time I started, I was 5'6", 97 pounds, and could barely scrap together the energy to stand for 15 minutes. The first two weeks were the hardest, but I went from diarrhea 8 to 10 times a day down to 2 or 3. A month in, perhaps once or twice. Two months in - diarrhea had stopped. Three months in - no more meds. Six months in - felt better than I had before college(eight years prior), my weight was back to 135 pounds. I'm now three years in. I had a colonoscopy three months ago - all the massive damage to my large and small intestine were 98% gone - only minor scarring remains.

God willing, in another three I'll have completely cured this "incurable" disease. Your results will be better than mine, give the book a try. By word of mouth alone, three friends have turned their problems around too.
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255 of 270 people found the following review helpful
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
A year ago and two weeks ago, I was admitted to the ER with an acute case of Crohn's colitis. I weighed 90 lbs., was running multiple fevers in excess of 104 degrees F, had diarrhea to the tune of 32x/day, had lost two pints of blood and could barely walk.

After eleven days in the hospital, they gave me a choice: I could stay and receive more aggressive drug therapies (the 60mg of IV prednisone they had me on wasn't making a dent); or I could go home and "see what happened".

I went home. The next day, I talked my friend through Whole Foods on his cell phone, making him read me every label on the items I needed to begin the Specific Carbohydrate Diet as outlined by Elaine Gottschall in her book, Breaking the Vicious Cycle. With the last of my strength, I made the soup and some homemade gelatin that form the mainstay of the 2-5 day "starter diet". And each subsequent day, I built on the little ground I had already gained until two weeks later, I was able to go to my doctor without lining my pockets with weights to cover the weight loss.

Within one month, I was able to do my laundry by myself again. Within three months, I was able to get back to work. Within five months, I was off all of my medications.

In the past year, I have had one flare, brought on by hormonal birth control. I went on all my meds again, but this time I was able to wean myself off of them in a mere four weeks--I was now that healthy.

I fought my doctor all the way on this diet. Even with proof of my healing in the form of loss of symptoms, weight normalization and a clean colonoscopy (no pun intended), he, like many practioners of Western medicine, refuse to believe that diet has anything to do with illness or health.

The diet is simple in theory, if somewhat difficult in practice. The idea behind it is to exclude the foods that disease-creating bacteria feed on in the gut so that these bacteria die off and allow the gut to heal itself.

Unfortunately for those of us accustomed to the Standard American Diet (or S.A.D.) of highly processed, starchy and sugary foods, this means an exclusion of all di- and polysaccharides: in other words, no refined sugar and no starch of any kind. No pasta, no bread, no chocolate, no potatoes, no sugar. And that includes "hidden" sugar that shows up in virtually all processed foods, even if it's not listed on the label. Bye-bye, convenience foods. So long, thank-you-drive-thru. The list of unacceptable foods is daunting and seems unmanageable at first (and eating out remains a challenge), but it gets easier with time.

So now, a year later, I still can't eat raw fruit with abandon but I can travel and not get sick. I haven't had bread or pasta or any other "illegal" but I can work, socialize and sleep through the night. My world of acceptable restaurants has shrunk even as my ability to be out and about with seemingly boundless energy has increased.

I've accomplished things I never dreamed I could twelve months ago. I've helped friends, acquaintances and total strangers find this diet and changed their lives, too. (If you have ulcerative colitis or Crohn's and write me, I'll most likely help you, too.) I've learned patience (oh, boy, have I learned patience) and as a result, am more tolerant of quirks in myself and others. This diet didn't just give me back my life; it gave me a totally new one, richer than I ever could have imagined.

So when people tell me how hard it must be to be on this diet with all of its restrictions, I smile and think to myself, "What restrictions?"

I've never been freer in my life.
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88 of 90 people found the following review helpful
on July 16, 2004
Format: Paperback
I should have written this review years ago, but I guess it's not too late. Here's my experience:
After months of suffering GI problems, I was finally diagnosed with Ulcerative Colitis in the fall of 1996. The specialist wanted to put me on a couple of pharmaceuticals, but I wasn't interested in taking such toxic drugs, so I declined the pills but agreed to use Cortenema. But my condition continued to worsen and I developed other strange symptoms.
Researching on the internet, I found out about several alternative treatments and some recommended books. I bought three books including "Breaking the Vicious Cycle." In the end, I decided to go with the Specific Carbohydrate Diet and started on it in early December of 1996. When I started, I weighed 90 lbs., was extremely weak and could barely get out of bed. Amazingly, after only about three days on the diet, most of my major symptoms disappeared, and the rest went away within two to three weeks. In short, the SCD pulled me back from pain, suffering, a state of wasting away, and feeling that I was just slowly dying.
I lost some more weight at the beginning of the diet, but I continued to stick to the diet, and as my GI tract slowly healed, I began to gain back the weight and energy. By May 1997 I was back all the way. During follow ups, my doctor was surprised that I was doing so well without any medication, but he wasn't interested in hearing about the diet I was following <sigh>. Today, years since I first started, I look and feel just fine. The only times that I've had a relapse is when I have "cheated" by ingesting something that is forbidden on the diet. I have learned much in all these years and been in contact with others on this diet. It works, as long as it is followed to the letter. And contrary to what some reviewers have written here, this diet is not about what you should eat, but about *what not to eat* in order to get well. There's plenty of choice for all types of foods, for a well balanced and healthy diet.
I have given this book five stars just because the SCD diet is such a life-saver. But I have to be honest -- as far as books go, this one could have used a good editor to help with the writing style and organization of the book. And the recipes in the book are not quite ready for primetime (thank goodness for all the SCD websites and support groups on the net!). These are minor quibbles, but such things bother me. Other than that, I recommend this book and the diet to everyone who suffers from any type of digestive disorder. You have nothing to lose -- you can even read the book at the library.
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110 of 114 people found the following review helpful
on July 10, 2000
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
I have been suffering from Crohn's Disease since I was thirteen years old, that is, until two years ago. I followed the diet as detailed in the book and was amazed at the results. My only regret is that I did not try this diet sooner. It wasn't because I wasn't willing -I just wasn't informed that there was a better alternative to a life filled with semi-effective drugs with powerful side effects, bouts of agonizing pain, and bowel disfunction.
I am *very* angry at every doctor who told me diet has no effect on Crohn's Disease. Elaine's scientific approach blows this myth out of the water. The only two question remain: 1) Why don't our doctors use this treatment before prescribing dangerous medications? 2) Why has the medical community ignored decades of science supporting this diet?
Two years after folloing the diet, I am drug free, symptom free, and running 5 miles/day. Thank you Elaine, you saved my life.
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72 of 73 people found the following review helpful
on September 27, 2001
Format: Paperback
When my daughter was diagnosed with a severe case of Crohn's disease at the age of only 11, doctors told us that the only way to wrest control of this inflammatory bowel disease was to put her on large doses of steroids and immune-suppressing drugs. Knowing that steroids can cause children's bones to thin and their growth to be delayed (as well as weight gain and other unpleasant and dangerous side effects), my husband and I were determined, if possible, to find another way to help our child back to health. What we found was "Breaking the Vicious Cycle,"a wonderful, easy-to-read and to understand book whose eating plan has literally saved our daughter's health.
Using the book's informational sections as background and its recipes as marching orders, we completely changed the way our family was eating. Out went anything with sugar, grains, additives, colorings, preservatives and lactose; in came fresh and cooked fruits and vegetables, wonderful, homemade yogurt and frozen yogurt; lean fish, foul, pork and red meat; nuts; seeds; butter and honey.
Within two weeks, our daughter -- formerly too sick to attend school and bleeding internally -- began to feel better. Within a month, she was almost symptom-free. Today -- six months later -- she hardly remembers she has Crohn's.
To say that our family is grateful to Elaine Gottschall for writing this book is a vast understatement. I urge anyone suffering from Crohn's or other IBD to buy the book , to study its premise, and to put it into action. The life you save may be your own -- or your child's!
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172 of 182 people found the following review helpful
on August 12, 1999
Format: Paperback
My husband was diagnosed with an extremely severe case of colitis then Crohn's disease. All that his doctors were doing were prescribing higher and higher doses of drugs (sulfasalazine, prednisone, etc) which were making him sick and caused him to drop pounds daily. Then we heard about Elaine Gottschall's book. It has literally been a life saver!!! The author provides both an explanation for the diet and a simple guide of "do eat" and "don't eat" foods in list form. My husband felt like he had his symptoms under control within two days! He was able to stop taking his medications with no complications. At last, no more stomachaches. After two years of being on this diet, my husband has shown remarkable improvement after follow up tests. However, don't expect your doctors to support this diet, they don't want to give up their hold on prescribing expensive prescription drugs! Even more unbelievable, the specialists we've seen are completely ignorant of this book! Incredible. This diet is completely natural and relatively easy to follow, especially considering the alternatives! Buy this book for yourself or for your loved one who suffers from this disease. It can change lives. We cannot thank Elaine Gottschall enough.
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