Why SCD Didn’t Work For Me

3 minute read

When it comes to diets for IBD, IBS and other gut issues, there are several that work wonders for many people out there. Some of these include SCD, GAPS, AIP and low FODMAP. However, not much is spoken about those people who don’t do so well on these diets. There is so much positive talk about the success people have on them, but not so much on those who find their symptoms don’t improve or even worsen over time on these diets. Back when I started my healing journey I really wanted SCD to work for me. I did everything I could and was adamant that it must work for for me because it seemed to help so many others. I went so far that eventually I was only eating the intro-diet chicken soup and eggs, because everything else seemed to just go right through me. I thought that if I just eliminated more foods then I would start seeing the success everybody else was having.

There are many reasons I can think of on the emotional side as to why after 4 months on SCD I was still feeling awful. I was undertaking my last semester at university and putting a lot of pressure on myself. I was obsessed with SCD, my symptoms and getting better, which put a lot of pressure on me to be rid of my symptoms. I was incredibly anxious about the possibility of having to go on stronger medications and how this would impact my body. But one factor that I’ve come across recently makes it a whole lot clearer as to why I just kept getting sicker on SCD.

Hydrogen Sulfide

Hydrogen sulfide is a gas that can be produced by certain gut bugs in our intestines. If levels of hydrogen sulfide become elevated we can experience digestive issues like diarrhea as well as things like brain fog and skin issues. Exposure to this gas in the air at high levels is very toxic, leading to neurological disorders, memory loss, lack of concentration and skin issues. People with ulcerative colitis have been shown to have increased production of hydrogen sulfide in their gut1.

Sulfur-Reducing Bacteria & Sulfur

Before I get into how this relates to diet, we need to understand how this gas is produced. The gut bacteria that produce hydrogen sulfide are called sulfur-reducing bacteria (SRB), which consume sulfur and produce hydrogen sulfide as a byproduct. Sulfur comes in primarily through the food we eat and it is vital that we get adequate amounts so that the body can convert this sulfur into sulphate. However, if we have an overgrowth of SRB, eating more sulfur will allow the SRB to thrive and produce more hydrogen sulfide, causing more symptoms. For the purposes of bringing the overgrowth of SRB under control, reducing the amount of sulfur in the diet can be beneficial.

Dietary Sulfur

So, what foods contain the most sulfur? Animal products like meat, eggs and dairy contain large amounts of the sulfur-containing amino acids cysteine and methionine. Garlic, onions, kale and other cruciferous vegetables are also high in sulfur. The SCD and GAPS diets are both very high in sulfur, and for many people this is beneficial and doesn’t cause them problems. However, for those dealing with an overgrowth of SRB, this could cause symptoms to worsen like they did for myself.

Morale of the Story

For people with an overgrowth of SRB, addressing it is a crucial step before doing anything else. To gain a deeper understanding of this condition and find out what I’ve been doing to address it, make sure to read my articles on hydrogen sulfide & gut issues.

Once this overgrowth has been addressed I am sure the SCD and GAPS diets could work pretty well. But it just goes to show that not everyone is the same and we all need to do our best to understand our individual bodies before jumping into diets or treatments. I know we get pretty desperate when we’re so sick, but there’s no use just following things blindly. It’s better to be an investigator into our own unique situation through looking at our past and trying to understand how we could have gotten where we are. The morale of this story for me has been to always listen to my body. If something doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t right for me.