This is a summary of the book Breaking The Vicious Cycle by Elaine Gottschall. It’s a book about intestinal health through diet. I recommend everyone read this. Below are my notes from the book.

Eventually, at least 400 bacterial species live together in the human colon. Stomach and small intestines do not normally harbor more than a sparse population of microbial flora.  In healthy intestines, microbes live in a state of balance. 

*Healthy competition prevents any type from overwhelming the body with its waste products or toxins.

*Normal peristalsis (waves of involuntary muscle contractions) sweeps microbes out of intestines to feces and decreasing their number.

Bacterial growth in stomach and small intestines does occur when:

  1. Interference with acidity of stomach with continued use of antacids.
  2. Decrease in acidity of stomach that occurs with aging.
  3. Poor diet quality, which results in weakening in body’s immune system.
  4. Antibiotics, which cause all kinds of changes in our normal microbial.

When the equilibrium of microbes is disturbed, they can migrate to the small intestines and stomach hampering digestion, soaking up nutrients, and overload the area with waste products.

Of all the dietary components, carbohydrates have the major influence over intestinal microbes.  They ferment and feed microbes. What gets absorbed into the blood stream, causes gas in the intestines.  For example, 1 ounce of milk will produce 50ml of gas in a balanced intestine but when intestinal microbes have moved in, the hydrogen gas is often increased 100 fold.

* In addition to the damage to the intestinal tract, the lactic acid formed from fermentation in the intestines cause abnormal brain function and behavior.

            * Changes in equilibrium of microbes can also cause inflammatory bowel disease.

Carbohydrate = Starch and disaccharide sugar molecules.  Both require digestion before absorption. When bacterial overgrowth in the stomach and small intestines occurs, proper digestion does not occur. SCD (specific carb diet) corrects this.  (Chap. 10)

(Chapter 8) The Autism Connection:  Because the SCD’s goal is to heal the IT tract and rid bacterial and fungal overgrowth, it is proving to be a successful intervention in treating children on the autistic spectrum and leading them back to a life of normalcy.

Gut-Brain Axis = refers to the biochemical signaling taking place between the gastrointestinal tract and the nervous system, often involving intestinal microbiota, which have been shown to play an important role in healthy brain function.

            This explains the connection to child development disorders.

Dietary intervention, like SCD, often eliminates symptoms of autism, epilepsy, and ADHD.  Some examples: Pale, thin, circles under eyes, constipation, diarrhea, stomach pain, addition to things like French fries/ waffles/ pancakes, chips, crackers…, stimming (self-stimulation, is the repetition of physical movements, sounds, or repetitive movement of objects common in individuals with developmental disabilities, but most prevalent in people with autistic spectrum disorders), lack of eye contact, lack of attachment.

1985 The Journal of Developmental Disorders (Coleman & Blass) reported the first link between autism and carb metabolism (digestion.)

* The syndrome of D-lactic acidosis is found to be present in autistic children.  High amounts of D-lactic acid in bloodstream have been found to cause behavioral symptoms.

* Solution/ treatment: 1. Antibiotic therapy.  2. Reduce the amount of fermentable carbs upon which bacteria feed in order to produce D-lactic acid.

* The SCD goal is to keep disaccharide ingestion to a minimum by avoiding lactose, sucrose, maltose, and isomaltose, and to provide a healthy diet without these.

* Compounds arising in the intestinal tract can and do enter the bloodstream and cross the blood-brain barrier.

When starting the Specific Carb Diet, remember in the first 7-10 days, profound changes occur in the digestive tract:

  1. Hundreds of different families of microorganism are changing their metabolic function due to lack of nutrients.
  2. Some people go through detox.
  3. Seek support via and (Read info on this website relating to intro of dairy).  I also found a good website,