The Specific Carbohydrate Diet (SCD) | Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation

The Specific Carbohydrate Diet (SCD)

There is no evidence to suggest that any particular food or diet causes, prevents or cures inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).  Since each person affected by IBD is unique, there is no specific diet that fits everyone.

One IBD diet that has received attention is the Specific Carbohydrate Diet.  This diet limits poorly digestible carbohydrates to lessen symptoms of gas, cramps, and diarrhea.  The diet consists mainly of meats, fruits, vegetables, oils, nuts and honey, and excludes grains and most dairy products. 

To date, there have been limited scientific studies on the use of the Specific Carbohydrate Diet in relation to Crohn’s disease and/or ulcerative colitis.  Those interested in following the Specific Carbohydrate Diet should consult with their physician.

Researchers are continuing to study the interaction between diet and IBD.  For now, dietary recommendations are generally aimed at easing symptoms during flares and ensuring an overall adequate intake and absorption of nutrients, vitamins and minerals.

The following factors should be taken into consideration when selecting a diet:
• Symptoms (diarrhea, constipation, abdominal pain, etc.)
• Whether the person is in remission or experiencing a flare
• Location of the disease
• Presence of strictures
• Prior surgeries
• Whether the person is experiencing specific nutritional deficiencies

For more information on diet and nutrition, view or download CCFA’s brochures and fact sheets.  CCFA also supports various IBD research studies and initiatives.  One of these initiatives resulted in a manuscript entitled, “Dietary Patterns and Self Reported Associations of Diet with Symptoms of Inflammatory Bowel Disease.”  View or download the manuscript

For a sample of some of the current and previous studies involving the SCD Diet, follow the links below.  Please note that this is not an exhaustive list

Seattle Children's Hospital and University of Washington

Rush University Medical Center

Stanford University

Journal of Pediatric Gastroenterology and Nutrition




For further information, call Crohn's & Colitis Foundation's IBD Help Center: 888.MY.GUT.PAIN (888.694.8872).

The Crohn's & Colitis Foundation provides information for educational purposes only. We encourage you to review this educational material with your health care professional. The Foundation does not provide medical or other health care opinions or services. The inclusion of another organization's resources or referral to another organization does not represent an endorsement of a particular individual, group, company or product.

About this resource

Published: June 1, 2012

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