My first year on SCD involved a lot of trial and error and cutting out certain foods. I discovered nuts didn’t agree with me in large amounts. Too many vegetables, even if cooked, would aggravate digestive issues. Too much fruit or honey and I was a raving lunatic craving carbs (even dreaming about them!). So I spent a lot of time cutting out food and narrowing down to a base ‘safe diet’.
The second year on SCD, after reading articles from a number of sources like the Weston A. Price Foundation, I started to change my thinking. Rather than focusing on cutting out food, I realized I needed to add more nutrient-dense food to my diet. I could cut out all the food that irritated my already damaged gut, but until I got enough nutrients to repair and heal that damaged gut, I would not be able to truly be healthy. SCD alone is a very nourishing diet, but focusing on a few key foods can really bring about a lot of healing.
I was surprised when I had been on SCD for over a year and stopped taking B vitamins that I still showed a deficiency on blood tests. I plugged in a decent SCD day’s worth of food into Fitday.com and it was obvious that I didn’t meet all the RDA for vitamins and minerals. For those nutrients I did get a lot of, it was still only a bit above the RDA value. When recovering from illness it’s important to get more of each vitamin and mineral than the RDA minimums. These are levels that are required to not have any illnesses that are associated with low nutrient status. Meeting these levels in your daily diet probably won’t help fix a deficiency brought on by years of eating the Standard American Diet coupled with digestive illness.
I never did well with multivitamins but my doctor and naturopath were always telling me to take them. A multi-mineral supplement my naturopath had me on for a while seemed to be ok and even helped with symptoms of panic attacks. But every multi-vitamin and B-complex vitamins I tried I ended up with urinary urgency and stomach cramping. I have no idea why and my naturopath was a bit perplexed too, but I just didn’t tolerate them. The best I could do was get a liquid supplement and have small amounts of it spread throughout the day. For nutrients I knew I was lacking in often, I got individual supplements and took those most days.
Once I started looking into the nutrient profile of different foods, I quickly found my answer. I looked up liver, kidney, bone marrow, heart, butter, egg yolks, and various fish and seafood. I always thought of animal foods as just ‘protein’. I was surprised at the high levels of vitamins and minerals in these foods. I knew liver was high in iron so I had been trying to eat that often, but I realized that getting a variety of nutrient dense foods would be better than focusing on one in particular.
Please note that I’m not encouraging anyone to stop taking supplements. I just did a lot better once I started eating these foods. If you have a known deficiency or your doctor wants you on a certain supplement, then you probably need to be taking it. I still take a few small doses of vitamins at the advice of my naturopath but I try not to rely on these as the only source of that nutrient. There are so many other nutrients in whole foods that I can’t help but believe they are meant to be eaten as a package. If you’re deficient in something, getting some from a pill and lots from food is probably a good idea!
Incorporating all these nutrient dense foods into my diet has started to pay off at least in how I’m feeling. I have a lot more energy and more steady (lack of) digestive symptoms. Even though lately I have had to tweak my diet again and cut out dairy, I still feel like I’m moving forward and healing more. I will be writing up some profiles of SCD-legal nutrient dense foods that have helped me with healing. I like to believe that if we give our bodies all the nutrients it needs, it might just work properly. I’ll also give plenty of links to recipes featuring these foods, so there’s no excuse not to eat them.