The Specific Carbohydrate Diet

Frequently Asked Questions

Saccharides - Good & Bad

Elaine writes:

The SCDiet

First, I'll tell you something about the different types of food we humans eat. Our meals primarily contain proteins, fats and carbohydrates. Fats and proteins cause no problems. The problem is caused by some carbohydrates. More specifically, the di-saccharides and the poly-saccharides are causing the problems.


Monosaccharides are built out of one sugar molecule. The holes in the lining of the intestines are exactly the size of these sugar molecules. The body can readily use these saccharides when they pass through the holes and enter the bloodstream. They don't even have to be digested, since they can be absorbed directly by the intestines absorptive cells. Monosaccharides are found in (ripe) fruit, honey, vegetables, nuts and meat.

Disaccharides and polysaccharides

Disaccharides consist of two sugar molecules. Disaccharides are too big to pass the filter in the intestines (only monsaccharides can pass). The body has special enzymes in the first part of the small intestines, the duodenum, where these enzymes are produced. For example, lactose is a disaccharide. The body produces lactase to digest/split the lactose into two monosaccharides. These monosaccharides can then pass the filter. Disaccharides can be found in table sugar, brown sugar and milk (lactose). Polysaccharides are even bigger molecules. These consist of many sugar molecules. These molecules are even more difficult for the digestive system to handle. First, the pancreas releases a fluid, which contains for an enzyme that can split the polysaccharides (starches) into disaccharides (maltose). Next, the enzymes (maltase), which are produced in the duodenum, must break down the disaccharides (maltose) into monosaccharides, before the body can utilize this kind of carbohydrates. Starches mainly contain polysaccharides.

The problem

In a healthy person all these processes work perfectly. However, in a small group of people, the duodenum can't produce enough enzymes to digest all the carbohydrates (di- and polysaccharides). This is what happens next: Large amounts of undigested carbohydrates remain in the intestines. This would normally be no problem, because whatever the body doesn't utilize will end up in the toilet. However, the intestines also have natural inhabitants: Bacteria. The bacteria have been waiting for a long time for such a feast ! Lots and lots of disaccharides, their favorite meal!

To thank you for the meal, they start to produce large amounts of gas (they fart) and they start to produce acids. As a result, the gas pressure in the intestines gets higher and higher. The body wants to relieve itself of the overpressure, and the host (you) starts to burp and fart. Also, the gas is giving the stomach some false signals. The stomach replies by producing more digestive acids. The result for the host: heartburn and throwing up and nausea.

I almost forgot: The bacteria are also producing acids. The acids start to degenerate the intestines lining, its absorptive cells and its enzyme producing cells.

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"We must never forget that what the patient takes beyond his ability to digest does harm."
    Dr. Samuel Gee

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