Breaking the Vicious Cycle is a book that will point you towards an alternative way to help combat digestive disorders. It also tells about problems such as Ulcerative Colitis, Celiac Disease, Crohn’s Disease and Diverticulitis. Today, thousands of people are dealing with digestive health issues and this is one of many reading materials that is recommended. Is this book worth taking the time to read? Here’s what I think…
About the Author
The book was written by Elaine Gottschall, who is a cell biologist and biochemist. Apart from being a cell biologist and biochemist, she was also a mother of a child that was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis – with that in mind, she set out to find a solution that would help her child.
Who is This Book for?
This book is (supposed to be) for those individuals who are tired of dealing with painful and embarrassing digestive issues. Even if you aren’t currently going through digestive health issues, and you simply want to make sure you stay healthy, then don’t waste your time with this book (keep reading below for the reasons). Instead, look for a diet and program based on a hair mineral analysis. Only then will you know what minerals you are deficient in and any toxic heavy metals you’re body is holding onto that you’ll want to detox of.
Almost all of us are mineral deficient today, and without a hair mineral analysis properly performed by a lab, you won’t accurately be able to determine the amount and types of supplements to pair with your daily meals.
Easy to Understand
If you are looking for a book that is easy to understand and follow, this is a good book for you. This is an easy-to-read book on reversing colitis, celiac that hasn’t responded to a gluten free diet, Crohn’s disease, and diverticulitis along with other diet-related digestive problems. The book is based on the earlier work of Sidney V. and Merrill P. Hass. It described a “specific carbohydrate diet” that should be followed.
Rather Terrible Diet Recommendations
#1) Elaine takes from the Specific Carbohydrate Diet for which foods are permitted and which are not allowed. There are some alarming problems with this diet if you choose to follow it. Fish are permitted, and it also loosely allows shellfish. Most fish caught today accumulate too much mercury to be safe enough to eat, although 3-4 cans of sardines weekly is excellent. They’re much smaller fish and don’t have as much time to accumulate mercury. Remember, our goal here is to detox the gunk out of our system while intaking a mineral-rich diet.
#2) Perhaps more of an issue with the diet is the inclusion of fruits. This is not good advise for those in a yin state, and that’s practically everyone today. An exception to this is olives, particularly dried black botija olives. She also allows tomato juice in the diet, and that’s too yin as well (also technically a fruit). Better to save your appetite for a daily carrot juice, particularly 10-12 ounces (homemade) daily. It’s one of the best sources of calcium (calcium in most milk products has been pasteurized, thus not as well utilized.) I use an Omega juicer (this one), and it works great. I also throw in a nub of ginger root and a clove of garlic for a medicinal kick with added flavor.
#3) The recipes. Half of the book contains recipes and most of them are pretty easy to follow. Many of her recipes include honey as an ingredient. Really, it’s too sweet and yin to be considered a health food, and it was alarming to read “as much honey as desired may be used” (if diarrhea is not an issue). And, (dried) fruits are sometimes included (raisins, for example, pineapple, or strawberries). Recipes in the ‘vegetable’ section are some of the only worthwhile ones.
#4) When is enough, enough? There is no portion control. Of the foods she allows, there is no specification on how much one can eat of them in their daily meal plans. Rather, it seems she’s letting the individual be guided intuitively based on their appetite. This might be okay with cooked vegetables, but some of the allowed foods like eggs and dried cottage cheese can get to be too much. I tend to side with the general rules of Dr L Wilson- no more than approximately 4 ounces of dairy daily and about 8 eggs per week (for men).
#5) Lacking cooked vegetables. There are many nutritious vegetables that should be used as the basis of the diet, and none of them should be raw. She lets these pass as long as you’re not experiencing diarrhea.
Is Your Body Disagreeing with Your Diet?
There are a variety of symptoms that indicate your body is disagreeing with your diet. These symptoms include:
• Loss of Weight
• Blood Loss
• Excess Mucus
These complaints are a fine indicator that you are following the wrong diet. This is telling you that the microbial balance in your gut is off track and that sugars and starches are remaining in your intestinal tract, causing an overgrowth of bacteria and problematical yeasts. When these organisms develop, a cycle of events will take place:
• Impaired digestion of sugars and starches
• Injury to the small intestine
• Bacterial overgrowth
Most people turn to antibiotics, which in return, may not be a good idea, because it could be counterproductive. This is because it can lead to a proliferation of fungal organisms that aren’t supposed to be in the gut. Carbohydrates that are unabsorbed cause most of the gas that has been produced in the intestine.
The reason I asked if your body is disagreeing with your diet is because if you have the symptoms I just told you about, then reading this book and using the knowledge inside it will help you to an extent. But for the reasons I previously mentioned, it might also halt progress.
One supplement I wish Elaine advocated is a digestive supplement. This is not just any digestive aid, but one that has pancreatin and ox bile. These ingredients are much more yang (animal derived) than say betaine and bromelain. I personally take a pancreatin supplement (and ox bile, usually) with every meal. The gas and cramping I get is far less compared to when I don’t take them, and I also feel I’m absorbing more of what I eat.
Why is This Book Being Recommended?
This book has been around for quite some time (originally published in 1994). With some research, we find many people online that recommend Breaking the Vicious Cycle: Intestinal Health Through Diet. The majority of those people are recommending the book simply because it has helped them.
The author of this book has recommended that people who are dealing with celiac disease or diverticulitis will need a year or so to heal. However, those individuals who have ulcerative colitis or Crohns disease will need at least two years before they are fully healed.
Yes, when you first hear that it can take one or two years to heal, you’ll probably be a bit skeptical to even read the book yourself, because when you have a disease like this, you want to be healed right then and there. I admit, having to wait one or two years is a major downfall, but the more I thought about it, the more I realized that these diseases weren’t something that could be healed overnight – or even within a month. The more research I did and the more products I tried, the more I learned that there was no way to heal the body as fast as I wanted it to heal. I stumbled upon the findings of Dr. L. Wilson and nutritional balancing, and gravitated to his methods and diet plan the most. Even more so than the SCD Diet, Gaps Diet, or any other.
What Others are Saying about the Book
Looking at Amazon, at the time of writing this review, there is a total of 774 reviews (now 818), giving this book 4.6 stars out of a possible 5 stars. With words such as “I’m happy” and “amazing,” it is obvious that this book has helped people.
One reviewer that really stands out from the others stated that she read the book over five years ago and was dealing with ulcerative colitis that was bleeding her to death. Her world was continuously dilled with pain and she always had to be close to the bathroom. By turning to Ms. Gottschall’s book, the diet she recommended eliminated the symptoms of UC and restored her intestinal health. What’s really interesting is after six months of using the recommended diet, the reviewer went in for her yearly colonoscopy and her doctor stated that her colon looked like that of a healthy 18 year olds.
In conclusion, it does seem that this book has some merit based on the positive experiences of others who followed the diet outlined by the author.
Would I recommend this book to my friends?
I wouldn’t– after researching this book, reading it and reviewing the recipes, I have decided that you’re better off starting with a book based on hair mineral analysis and a diet that eliminates most fruits, particularly Dr L. Wilson’s “Nutritional Balancing and Hair Mineral Analysis”. There’s also detox procedures outlined to greatly assist and speed up the removal of heavy metals (sauna therapy, coffee enemas etc.)