The simple carb, or carbohydrate, diet is for individuals with specific immune or digestive conditions. Though the diet emphasizes consuming a variety of nutritious unprocessed foods, it is also quite rigid. The diet has become rather well-known since the publication of “Breaking the Vicious Cycle - Intestinal Health Through Diet” by Elaine Gottschall. Gottschall wrote the book about the simple carb diet after her daughter followed it and recovered from severe ulcerative colitis.
The simple carb diet, also called specific carbohydrate diet, is based on the premise that complex carbohydrates provide a source of energy for certain intestinal microbes. Undigested and partially digested carbohydrates promote the growth of harmful microorganisms that may produce toxins and cause damage to the intestinal lining. This damage results in improper nutrient absorption and impaired immunity. Some simple carbohydrates are permitted because they are completely absorbed in the upper part of your small intestine, leaving no opportunity for microorganisms in lower parts of your small intestine and in your large intestine to feed on them. Individuals with Crohn’s disease, celiac disease, ulcerative colitis, irritable bowel syndrome, candidiasis, cystic fibrosis and autism may benefit from a simple carbohydrate diet.
Following the simple carbohydrate diet eliminates the consumption of grains and disaccharide sugars such as sucrose and lactose. Foods with no carbohydrates are permitted, as are monosaccharide sugars, including glucose and fructose. Recommended foods for this simple carb diet include meat, poultry, fish, eggs, homemade yogurt and most fruits and vegetables. However, canned vegetables and starchy vegetables such as some legumes, potatoes, parsnips and yams are not allowed. Almond flour serves as a substitute for grain flours. Honey and stevia are the only permitted sweeteners.
Individuals should follow the simple carb diet for six months to a year to restore the proper balance of microorganisms in the intestine. Dieters then gradually reintroduce the prohibited foods and monitor their body’s reaction.
The simple carb diet can be expensive due to the increased cost of purchasing special foods. Food preparation may require more time, and eating at a restaurant is almost impossible. Some people may find the severe restrictions of the diet stressful. This diet can be difficult to stick to for the recommended amount of time and may require a good deal of determination on the dieter’s part.
The simple carb diet is not a low-carb diet and is not intended as a method for losing weight. In fact, if you follow the diet, you are likely to gain weight. The diet is designed for individuals with specific health conditions who often have a problem maintaining their weight because of nutrient malabsorption.
Though some have experienced success with the simple carb diet, others have not. Additional research is needed to confirm the effectiveness of this diet.
- Jupiterimages/Brand X Pictures/Getty Images
This article reflects the views of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views of Jillian Michaels or JillianMichaels.com.