- Diet alone was shown to bring pediatric patients with active Crohn's and Ulcerative Colitis into clinical remission.
- Specific Carbohydrate Diet is a nutritionally balanced diet that removes grains, dairy, processed foods and sugars, except for honey.
- The diet promotes only natural, nutrient-rich foods, which includes vegetables, fruits, meats and nuts.
A special diet called the specific carbohydrate diet (SCD) for 12 weeks as the sole intervention helps treat Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis (UC).
In a first-of-its-kind-study led by Dr. David Suskind, a gastroenterologist at Seattle Children's diet alone was shown to bring pediatric patients with active Crohn's and UC into clinical remission.
‘Eight out of the 10 patients who followed the specific carbohydrate diet for 12 weeks showed significant improvement and achieved remission from the dietary treatment alone.’
In the small, prospective study, patients were put on a special diet called the specific carbohydrate diet (SCD) for 12 weeks as the sole intervention to treat their Crohn's or UC. At the end of the 12 weeks, eight out of the 10 patients who finished the study showed significant improvement and achieved remission from the dietary treatment alone.
SCD is a nutritionally balanced diet that removes grains, dairy, processed foods and sugars, except for honey. The diet promotes only natural, nutrient-rich foods, which includes vegetables, fruits, meats and nuts.
Treatment for inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is limited and usually takes patients down one of two routes: steroids or medication, which can often lead to life-long side effects. Another concern is that medication and steroids only suppresses the immune system and don't treat the underlying issue of the microbiome, the bacteria that lives in the digestive tract.
IBD refers to several related illnesses that affect the digestive tract. Crohn's and UC are two forms of IBD. Doctors believe that IBD happens because something goes wrong between a child's genetic makeup, their immune system and their microbiome.
In most people, the bacteria in the digestive tract are harmless. Although in some cases, the microbiome goes awry and causes a person's immune system to attack the bowel. It's still unknown why this happens.
"For decades or longer, medicine has said diet doesn't matter, that it doesn't impact disease," said Suskind. "Now we know that diet does have an impact, a strong impact. It works, and now there's evidence."
To date, there have only been a few case reports where a whole food diet, like SCD, has been used as a potential treatment for IBD. This study is the first to show, not just anecdotally, that the diet is safe and effective.
"Each person's disease is unique, just as each person is unique," said Suskind. "SCD is another tool in our tool belt to help treat these patients. It may not be the best treatment option for everyone, but it is an effective treatment for those who wish to try a dietary therapy."
- Dr. David Suskind et al., Novel Diet Therapy Helps Children with Crohn's Disease and Ulcerative Colitis Reach Remission, Journal of Clinical Gastroenterology (2016).