My name is Raquel Nieves, I am a pediatrician, and I have Crohn's disease.
My symptoms began in high school and progressed for years until I dropped down to 82 pounds, suffering from daily fevers, severe abdominal pain, fatigue, and anemia. Subsequent standard medications provided little relief and caused many side effects.
I came across Elaine Gottschall's book, Breaking the Vicious Cycle, which detailed the Specific Carbohydrate Diet (SCD)™, while in medical school in 2001.
The diet completely gave me my life back. It worked beyond my imagination and within a month, I significantly improved. Within a few months, I was completely off of all medications.
Meanwhile, excited and completely surprised over how well the SCD worked, I told my doctor about it. Unfortunately, the idea of a diet was met with a lot of resistance. He told me that I was making a mistake, and that it wasn't the diet that had helped me improve, but that it was just spontaneous remission. Knowing that Crohn's is a relapsing and remitting disease, he said my symptoms would return if I did not take the medications they were recommending. Because I was in the medical field, I was devastated that my colleagues did not believe or even want to consider dietary therapy.
This skepticism is what led me, along with Roger Jackson, M.D., to publish a medical paper entitled Specific Carbohydrate Diet in the Treatment of Inflammatory Bowel Disease in 2004. The paper discussed our Internet survey of 51 people who suffered from either Crohn's disease or ulcerative colitis84 percent of whom were in remission since beginning the SCD. Of these, 61 percent were off all of their medications.
Being a doctor, I still do not understand why an alternative therapy such as a healthy diet is so threatening. Despite this trend, some doctors have begun to understand the relevance of the SCD and are investigating it, although funding has been difficult. Because this diet has helped me so immenselyand I know that I would not be a doctor today if I didn't adhere to itI feel it is my duty to continue to advocate and press the medical community to at least investigate it further.
My hope for this diet in the future is that it becomes one of the first-line treatments for inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). If research proves it to be effective, it should be offered as a treatment option, either alone or in conjunction with medications.
The best model I can compare this to would be in the case with diabetes. Research has shown how effective diet can be in managing diabetes. Doctors recommend and teach dietary modification to all of their diabetic patients. In addition, diet is used in conjunction with other standard medications unless diet alone controls the disorder. My hope is that one day the SCD will play this type of role in the treatment of IBD. The challenge to this diet, however, is that it requires strict adherence to be effective. Thankfully, Raman Prasad's creative recipes provide tasty meals that make the diet much easier to follow. They are culturally diverse, easy to make, and delicious.
Those of us on the SCD appreciate Raman Prasad and all of his efforts to restore health, well-being, and hope to all those suffering from IBD and similar diseases.