The Official Website for The Specific Carbohydrate Diet

Breaking the Vicious Cycle

The Official Website for The Specific Carbohydrate Diet The Official Website for The Specific Carbohydrate Diet


Accessible reading, practical recipes, impressive testimonials

Reviewed by Samuel Chell
April 20th, 2008

Not especially comprehensive or news-breaking (much of the advice is similar to the fashionable South Beach Diet, though this book's emphasis is not on losing weight). What it comes down to is the wear and tear on the gut due to the ingestion of complex, hard-to-digest sugars, grains and starches. The more you indulge in them, the more they harm the intestine (the vicious cycle), producing nasty mucous that leads to poor malabsorption of critical nutrients. So ban the sugars, breads, pasta and stick with selective meats and vegetables.

The testimonials certainly suggest that the book has helped many--not weight problems but numerous digestive and related, serious illnesses. And $20 is a lot less to spend than the exorbitant prices for herbal "cures" for malabsorption being advertised on the internet (face it, chronic pain is "physical work," and some of us are willing to shill out any amount for a pill that promises relief as opposed to adding to our labors and fatigue). And you can get gouged even more by subscribing to one of the internet "courses" that few consumers are able to adhere to. (All the same, several sites dedicated to the diet and this book will give you all of the info of the book and more.)

Gottschalk's prescriptions overlap with numerous other diets (with perhaps the exception of the low-glycemic diet, which stresses complex rather than simple carbs). Still, the disagreements force the reader to make certain choices--she recommends honey as a form of pure glucose requiring little work on the part of stomach to digest. But look in a book even more popular than this one--"The Master Cleanse" by Burroughs--and you'll find honey condemned as a "toxic" food. Certainly an overstatement, but the scientific evidence that I've seen would suggest that honey contains at least as much fructose as it does glucose (perhaps the 50/50 balance is what makes it "legal"), so I'd be hesitant, despite my grandparents' advice and practice, to substitute honey whenever sugar is called for. In fact, the author may be overly generous in the amount of sweetness she allows (sucrose is out but, with the exception of high fructose corn syrup, fructose and honey, and even saccharine, are permitted). Finally, if you intend to follow the book's regimen, be prepared to make your own yogurt--absolutely nothing of the store-bought variety meets the author's stringent requirements. (Another conundrum, because she says avoid bifida and casei. Not only is it hard to find such bacterial cultures, but the manufacturer of the machine and starter culture (Yogourmet) she recommends loudly proclaims the inclusion of both ingredients in their product!).

I've tried the regimen, but have yet to be able to contribute to the impressive number of positive testimonials. (Reading the reviews encourages you to check out the SCD site which, in turn, steers you back to Amazon's reviews and testimonials for "proof" of the diet's success. Now there's a troubling cycle for you.) No doubt for every person who experiences success on the diet and announces same to the world, there are many who fail and simply move on to the next diet. And as the old saw goes, each of us is different--the human species can be maddeningly disparate. My stomach isn't your stomach any more than yours is Gottschalk's. Why are the other mammals not subject to the same genetic aberrations that haunt the destinies (let alone guts) of each one of us?

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I believe, from my own experience, that this book saves lives. I am very grateful that I found this book.
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- Tomicus
Amazon customer

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