Does anyone in your family suffer from occasional or persistent digestive ailments including bloating, diarrhea, constipation, cramps, indigestion or heartburn? Or is someone affected by eczema, asthma, dyslexia, or depression? Have your children received labels such as autism, ADD or ADHD? Do you wonder if there is a common link between any of these things?
Kelly from “The Kitchen Kop” has put together quite a few fantastic posts on GAPS, one of which has a detailed list of conditions and/or symptoms that are related to a dysfunctional gut. I would really recommend checking it out.
The hope of the GAPS diet is to provide a way to cure these common ailments without the use of long-term pharmaceutical use. It is essentially a “reset” button for the digestive system after years of antibiotics and toxins.
Gut and Psychology Syndrome (GAP Syndrome or GAPS) is a condition, which establishes a connection between the functions of the digestive system and the brain. Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride, a medical physician with post-doctorate degrees in human nutrition and neurology, claims that nutrition plays a pivotal role in healing mental impairments, and created the GAPS Diet to treat her own child’s learning disorder. She currently operates the Cambridge Nutrition Clinic in Cambridge, England. Her clinic provides nutritional therapy for children and adults with learning disabilities and behavioral disorders. She then released the book “Gut and Psychology Syndrome: Natural Treatment for Autism, ADD, ADHD, Depression, Dyslexia, Dyspraxia and Schizophrenia” in 2004 to share her findings.
The GAPS Diet not only treats learning disabilities and behavioral disorders, however. Other conditions affected by GAPS can be autoimmune issues, infertility, food allergies, colds, allergies and compromised immune systems, leaky gut syndrome, overall toxicity in the body, obesity and other common maladies. By addressing the health of the gut, we address the health of the entire body.
The purpose of following the GAPS Diet is not to limit your food choices and make your life more difficult, although it may seem that way to those who are new to researching the diet. The goal is to detoxify the body, which will in turn allow the brain to develop and function the way it was meant to. 90% of everything toxic floating in our blood and getting to the brain comes from the gut. Cleaning up the digestive tract will dramatically drop the level of toxicity in the body and begin to heal the symptoms of all the disorders addressed above.
The GAPS Diet is more than just a diet however and requires three steps to successfully follow the protocol.
- The Diet. The diet consists of two parts, an Introduction Diet and the Full GAPS diet. The Intro Diet is an intensive healing diet that limits food to mostly boiled meats, homemade bone broths, and boiled veggies until digestive symptoms clear. Once your body begins to regulate, and the “die-off” period has ended, you will introduce more foods in several stages, while making sure that they are not having a negative effect on the digestive tract. Full GAPS is much less restricted and includes plenty of healthy proteins and fats, along with fruits and vegetables, and also some forms of fermented dairy. Things that are more difficult to digest, like starches, grains, and sugars are still avoided to allow the gut to completely heal itself.
- Supplementation. Probiotics, essential fatty acids, fermented cod liver oil and digestive support are generally recommended.
- Detoxification and Lifestyle Changes. Reducing stress, making sure to get proper sleep and reducing toxic load in the home and personal care products is also important.
In a nutshell, “Through her research, [Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride] has determined a distinct correlation between unhealthy intestinal flora, poor digestion and toxicity from chemicals created by undigested foods, which can severely affect brain chemistry.”
(Source- Weston A. Price Foundation book review).
Sounds great, right?! However, this is NOT a quick fix diet. This diet commonly takes a year of use before symptoms are completely eliminated and it takes stamina, determination, and preparation to continue.
There is so much more to this diet that I haven’t covered here and really warrants more research. For more information, and the full diet plan, visit www.GAPSdiet.com.
Do you think that someone in your family has these common symptoms and could benefit from the GAPS Diet? Have you tried the GAPS Diet? What would hold you back from following the program?
*Disclaimer: I am not a medical professional and cannot personally recommend any of the above information. If you are interested in beginning this diet, please speak to a qualified health professional to determine if this would be beneficial to your circumstances.