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The Specific Carbohydrate Diet (SCD) is a restrictive diet created by Sidney V. Haas (1870-1964) and later popularized by Elaine Gottschall, the mother of one of Haas's patients. The diet is claimed to treat inflammatory bowel disease and various other gastrointestinal and systemic diseases. However, scientific evidence of the diet's effectiveness is lacking, and the diet may pose a health risk due to reduced nutritional quality.
The Specific Carbohydrate Diet limits the use of complex carbohydrates (disaccharides and polysaccharides). Monosaccharides are allowed, and various foods including fish, aged cheese and honey are included. Prohibited foods include cereal grains, potatoes and lactose-containing dairy products.
The diet is described in Gottschall's 1987 lay book Breaking the Vicious Cycle: Intestinal Health Through Diet and in supporting websites, in which it is claimed to treat Crohn's disease, ulcerative colitis, diverticulitis, celiac disease, cystic fibrosis, chronic diarrhea and autism. Support for the diet's effectiveness comes from users' testimonials. According to WebMD the diet has not been proven by scientific evidence, may pose a health risk because of its low nutritional quality, and should not be adopted without first consulting a physician. The Crohn's & Colitis Foundation of America say that "there is no evidence to suggest that any particular food or diet causes, prevents or cures inflammatory bowel disease" and that there have been only limited studies of the SCD in relation to Crohn's Disease and ulcerative colitis.