SEATTLE — There's good news for kids suffering from inflammatory bowel disease, ulcerative colitis or Crohn's. Seattle Children's has discovered a diet that puts some patients into remission without the use of drugs.
The Specific Carbohydrate Diet (SCD) removes things like grains, simple sugars, and most dairy products, encouraging patients to eat nutrient-rich foods like fruits and vegetables.
"What diet does to the body in terms of inflammatory bowel disease and many other conditions is remarkable," explains Seattle Children's Dr. Suskind, "But there is something that triggers the immune system, and that is the microbiome, the hundred trillion bacteria within our GI tract."
The bacteria, according to Dr. Suskind, does a huge amount of work for the body.
"They break down foods, they make vitamins for us. We need them. But over the last century, they've changed, and they've changed because our environment has changed. Our diet environment has changed, as well as the use of medications like antibiotics, which change the type of bacteria within our microbiome, within our GI tract. And because of that, conditions like inflammatory bowel disease have increased over time."
Dr. Suskind said problems such as IBD are not uncommon in children.
"Over the last 50 years, the rate of inflammatory bowel disease, Crohn's and ulcerative colitis have risen dramatically. We see over 900 children at Seattle Children's with inflammatory bowel disease."
Many patients, according to Dr. Suskind, have seen incredible results by altering the food they eat using the Specific Carbohydrate Diet, "It changes the microbiome in a positive way. It makes the immune system not attack the bowels. And so using this diet, we've actually made people feel better and gotten the inflammation down."
While this diet is currently tailored specifically to patients suffering from IBD, Dr. Suskind said it may be able to aid those with other inflammatory diseases as well as more research is conducted.
"When we think of diets, we think of restrictions," he said. "We have a phenomenal cookie [recipe]. And these cookies are delicious, and they're just adjusted so they are legal on the SCD. And instead of using processed sugar, it uses honey as a sweetener."
Dr. Suskind explained why these alterations make all the difference for those with IBD.
"It changes the microbiome, it changes those bacteria in the GI tract to positive, or good, bacteria that don't elicit an immune response. They don't have the immune system attack the bowels."
Regardless of whether or not you have a medical issue, eating healthy and focusing on whole foods is always a good idea, said Dr. Suskind.
Another food on the SCD diet that is easy to make is cheesy crackers (recipe below).
"It uses cheese and almond flour. And the substitution here is the almond flour," Dr. Suskind said. "With the SCD, it removes all grains. And again, by removing all the grains, it changes that bacteria in the GI tract, and instead, the SCD uses almond flour and coconut flour to make delicious cheesy crackers as well as the bread that is eaten."
While Dr. Suskind said that the fats used on the SCD are not a huge focus, but vegetable oils, such as olive oil, is a good choice.
"The SCD is a whole foods diet," Dr. Suskind said. "So fruits and vegetables, but there are other important components as well. Nuts can be used to make bread through flours, and when this diet first came about in the 1920s and 30s, it was called the banana diet because it really focused on bananas."
"I think it's important when we talk about diets to really not restrict and really to make sure that you're enjoying the foods you eat, and salt is an important component of that," Dr. Suskind said.
The SCD has a focus on fiber from fruit and vegetable sources, according to Dr. Suskind. He said the best candidates are individuals who have mild to moderate inflammatory bowel disease, ulcerative colitis or Crohn's.
"For those individuals who are having issues with weight or those who have a very complicated disease, the diet itself may not be the best thing for them."
SCD Peanut Butter Cookies
- 2 cups peanut butter
- 4 eggs
- ⅔ cup honey
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- ⅓ cup coconut flour
- Preheat an oven to 325°F
- Combine all ingredients in a bowl and mix until evenly mixed.
- Place large spoonfuls of dough onto a baking pan and form into 2½-inch cookie shapes.
- Bake for 7 to 10 minutes. Turn the pan in the oven and continue to bake for 5 minutes until the cookies are set but still soft to the touch.
- Let cool before serving. Makes about 2 dozen, 2½-inch cookies.
SCD Cheesy Crackers
- 1 cup, cheddar cheese, fresh grated
- 1 cup, almond flour (try Lucy’s brand)
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- ½ cup, grated parmesan cheese
- ½ cup water
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- Preheat your oven to 350°F.
- Combine all the ingredients except water.
- Add water until it is mixed in thoroughly. Add more if needed to bring the dough together into a single mass.
- Place the dough on a non-stick surface (a Teflon mat preferably) that you can transfer to a cookie sheet.
- Flatten the dough with your hand and then place a piece of parchment paper on top (or other non-stick surfaces). Use a roller to flatten the dough until it is very thin, about ⅛ inch.
- Place on a baking pan and bake for 3 to 4 minutes until cheese is starting to melt and the dough is slightly drier.
- Remove pan from the oven and slice into desired shapes with a pizza cutter. Place back in the oven and bake for another 7 to10 minutes.
- Turn crackers and bake for another 7 to 10 minutes until deep golden brown.
- Remove from the oven and let cool before releasing the crackers from the Teflon mat.