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Breaking the Vicious Cycle

Breaking the Vicious Cycle

A gluten-free diet that may relieve digestive disorders.

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Breaking the Vicious Cycle: Intestinal Health Through Diet is a book written by biochemist Elaine Gottschall. It was first published in 1994 and supports the Specific Carbohydrate Diet as created by Dr. Sidney V. Haas for the treatment of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), Crohn's disease, ulcerative colitis and celiac disease. Some also argue that the diet can lessen the effects of autism.

The theory behind the specific carbohydrate diet is that certain individuals cannot break down complex carbohydrates such as disaccharides or polysaccharides. For these people, the undigested material allow harmful bacteria to flourish and there is an increase of waste and other irritants in the digestive tract. This irritation leads to the over production of mucus and other symptoms. The goal of the diet is to rid the body of these complex carbohydrates and starve off the bacteria. This diet is much more restive than a gluten-free diet.

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  • There is anecdotal evidence supporting this diet
  • A number of doctors and nutritionists have recommended this diet in published works
  • Although it eliminates many foods, still allows for many healthy options
  • Diets that element many food groups can be challenging to follow
  • No scientific studies have proven the effectiveness of this diet

This diet cuts out all refined sugars, canned vegetables, starchy vegetables (including yam and parsnips), all grains, soybeans and chickpeas. People following this diet are allowed to consume fruits, fresh greens, unprocessed meats, nuts, honey, olive oil, tea, coffee and beans.


There are no exercise recommendations associated with this diet.


This diet is generally considered an alternative medical approach, but if you want to try this diet, we still recommend consulting with your doctor before starting. Although there are currently no studies proving that this diet is an effective treatment, there is one study underway and much anecdotal evidence. This is not a weight-loss diet and is designed to help relieve specific digestive conditions such as IBS, Crohn's disease, ulcerative colitis and celiac disease. However, improving your diet and eliminating many processed foods may have the additional benefit of weight loss.

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