Breaking the Vicious Cycle……..

by lydia on August 5, 2010

For the past year I have been working on my intestinal health through dietary measures. I recently picked up the book, ‘Breaking the Vicious Cycle’ by Elaine Gottschall from the library. I have read it cover to cover and several of the chapters more than once. I am excited to learn, at an even deeper level, some of the things I have already learned through other sources. Such as Nourishing Traditions and the Weston A. Price Foundation, along with Nora Gedgaudas book, ‘Primal Body Primal Mind‘ and some of her podcasts. As well as having listened to many Blog Talk Radio Shows on Underground Wellness.(this one in particular.)  Not to mention the countless other amazing Real Food Bloggers out there, that are all on the same quest for gut health. (see links below.) 

What I have learned from Elaine just verifies what I have learned already,but she explains the carb breakdown in a way I hadn’t heard prior. Basically, a starch is actually chains of sugar molecules, thousands of them and if they aren’t broken down in the gut properly they cannot be absorbed. If it is not digested and absorbed it will then go to the lower gastrointestinal tract or the colon, and that food is attacked by the microflora (or bacteria and yeast) that are down there. This can cause carbon dioxide which in turn produces gas and bloating. There are different types of starches or carbohydrates found in foods. First there are monosaccharides, these sugars require no further splitting in order to be transported from the intestine into the bloodstream. They are glucose, fructose and galactose. Glucose and fructose are found in honey, fruits and some vegetables. Which could be why some say it’s best to eat fruit alone rather than combined with other foods. 

Secondly, there are disaccharides. These sugars require splitting by the intestinal cell enzymes. There are four main disaccharides: lactose, sucrose, maltose and isomaltose. So basically, foods like fluid milk, commercial yogurt, processed cheeses, ice creams and many milk products that have added milk solids or whey, along with table sugar and  corn syrup. Raw honey has virtually no sucrose in it, because there is an enzyme in the honey that splits whatever sucrose might be present. 

Lastly, there are polysaccharides, which contain two types of starch called amylose and amylopectin. Amylose starches are single chains of glucose molecules, making them much easier to digest. Amylopectic starches contain glucose units that are formed in branches, making them much more difficult to digest. The fragments that remain after the molecules have been partially digested by pancreatic enzymes are now both maltose and isomaltose. The way these molecules are formed can make it so that they escape digestion altogether and remain in the intestine and increase microbial fermentation. Amylose and amylopectin starches can both be present in many types of grains and other starchy foods. 

So in summary, starchy and sugary foods are hard to digest as it is for a healthy gut. Now think about how difficult it would be for someone with a compromised gut. Which is altogether too common anymore. This is one of the reasons why there is such a demand for low carb diets these days. More and more we are intolerant of starches including any grain altogether, not just gluten. Evenly properly prepared grains, via the soaking method will still be difficult for a damaged gut to handle. 

In light of all of this information and the info. I have gathered in other posts as well, it is clear for anyone with any kind of gut trouble to really try and steer clear of carbs/sugars for awhile to heal their gut lining. If you have allergies, eczema, constipation, gas, bloating, asthma, heartburn, ulcerative colitis, crohn’s disease or any type of brain disorder even as extreme as autism, you may want to check out this book. Healing your gut isn’t just about what to avoid, it’s also about what foods to include to really ensure your are nourishing your damaged gut lining. I will address that in another upcoming post. 

If you liked this post, check out these posts as well; 

Healthy Guts

Healthy Guts and the Immune Connection

Being Gluten Free Isn’t Just About Being Gluten Free

Also, here are further links from other bloggers on Gut Health; 

It’s a Gut Feeling: The Benefits of Gut Flora and Probiotics

The Specific Carbohydrate Diet

Your Gut: Understanding the Keys to Health

10 Ways to Improve Digestive Health

Is Your Gut Leaking? 

I am contributing this post as a part of ‘Fight Back Fridays‘ over at Food Renegade. 

Note: If you click on some of the links they will lead you to my Amazon Store. I do earn a small commission with no extra cost to the buyer for any purchase made through my store. 



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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Kat August 5, 2010 at 10:59 pm

I like that you point out it’s not just what to avoid but how to nourish yourself to heal the gut lining. I think my first year on SCD I was focused on avoiding. My second year I was focused on getting as many nutrients as possible, especially Vitamin A, which seemed to help so much more than just cutting out the carbs. Great post!


Lydia August 6, 2010 at 8:32 am

Wow Kat!! Two years on SCD – you go!! I would love to hear more about why Vitamin A helped you!!


Barb @ My Daily Round August 6, 2010 at 1:44 pm

That is a really great explanation. I’m so glad that I clicked over from the Food Renegade Carnival to read your post! My mil and my mom both have wheat intolerance issues, plus my mil is a diabetic. I’m anxious to read the other posts and see what I can learn to help them.

I’m also going to pass your post along to my readers via my Tumblr blog. Good stuff!


Lydia August 6, 2010 at 2:04 pm

Hi Barb!! Glad you stopped by too! I noticed you live in the Philly area – so do I!! Very cool ~ I am glad this post was helpful to you!!


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