According to Hippocrates, the father of modern medicine, all disease begins in the gut. And, modern medical science has proven him right time and time again. One of the ways people are healing their gut, and by extension, their entire body system is by using the GAPS Diet.
The GAPS (Gut and Psychology Syndrome) Diet has been a phenomenal success for so many people, but it can feel a bit overwhelming to comprehend. The good news is: It only seems that way because 1) we’ve gotten so far away from eating naturally and 2) because it’s a progressive diet set up in six stages.
My goal here is to break it down so you can get started without all the reluctance because it can make a huge difference in the life of you and your family.
What is the GAPS Diet?
This diet focuses on easy-to-digest foods that enable your body, specifically your gut, to heal itself! Healing your gut improves not only digestion but also increases detoxification, boosts immunity, and relieves nutrient deficiencies. It’s a back-to-basics food regimen that relies on whole, unprocessed foods to help the body work to its highest capacity.
The GAPS Diet was created by Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride, a neurologist and nutritionist, for treating symptoms of neurological disorders in her patience. The diet is most often used to treat:
- Inflammatory Bowel Disease
- Leaky Gut Syndrome
- Autoimmune Diseases
- Depression and Anxiety Disorders
- Behavioral Issues and Learning Disabilities
The Nuts and Bolts of the GAPS Diet
The GAP Diet:
- Provides nutrient-dense foods that restore nutrient deficiencies
- Removes complex carbohydrates that continually “feed” pathogenic bacteria in the body
- Focuses on fermented foods and probiotic supplements to restore a healthy gut flora balance
Scientific studies prove that 80% of our immune system is in our gut and that every kind of autoimmune disease has a connection with leaky gut—a permeable intestinal lining. A leaky gut allows bacterial toxins and undigested food elements to seep into the bloodstream instead of being detoxified or digested. This creates an inflammatory response in the body, causing antibodies to be released where they surround your healthy tissue. The end result is that your entire body becomes inflamed.
The GAPS Diet allows your gut to repair itself by removing the foods that perpetuate leaky gut and rebuild body tissue through dense nutrition. Once the gut is “resealed,” the removed foods can slowly be reintroduced back into your diet.
How to Know if You Need the GAPS Diet
It’s not only those with poor digestion who should consider the GAPS Diet. If you’d like to see one or more of these health improvements, then this diet just might be for you:
- Reduced food allergies or sensitivities
- Cured candida yeast
- Improved neurological/cognitive functions
- Reversed Type II Diabetes
- Lose resistant extra weight
- Improved detoxification process
- Improved symptoms of autism
- Reduced anxiety and depression
- Cleared up skin conditions such as eczema, acne, dermatitis or psoriasis
- Reduced chronic constipation or diarrhea
- Improved asthma or chronic sinus infections
- Cured acid reflux
- Reduced seasonal allergy symptoms
The GAPS Diet
As I mentioned earlier, the GAPS Diet is a six stage progressive diet that reintroduces foods, one at a time, back over a period of usually weeks or months, depending on how your body responds.
In her book, Gut and Psychology Syndrome, Dr. Campbell-McBride recommends a person stay on each stage of the Introduction Diet for at least 3-5 days. However, since each of our systems is different, you may find you can move through the protocol faster or want to move more slowly depending on how your body responds to newly-introduced foods and how severe your illness.
That’s actually one of the great things about this diet—it allows each of our bodies to determine if we are healing completely. If we notice a return of symptoms when moving into a new stage of the diet, we simply move back down to the previous one for a while longer. Symptoms to watch for include bloating, severe gas, constipation, diarrhea, abdominal pain, or a rash.
Foods that are eliminated on the diet include:
- All grains
- Starchy vegetables
- Processed sugar
- Processed foods
- Conventional meat and dairy
- Artificial chemicals and preservatives
These foods comprise the Introduction phase of the diet:
- Wild-caught fish
- Organic wild meats
- Steamed non-starchy vegetables
- Bone broth
- Egg yolks
- Coconut oil, ghee, and olive oil
- Sea salt
- Probiotic-rich foods (miso, kefir, kombucha, kimchi, sauerkraut, etc.)
As you can see, the diet reduces or eliminates the foods we know we shouldn’t be eating anyway. The diet encourages us to eat food as close to its natural state and as fresh as possible, which is exactly what we should strive for to maintain health.
If you think you just couldn’t make yourself stick with this regiment, consider the fact that it’s temporary. Once your leaky gut is healed and your body has regained its balance of healthy tissue and complete nutrition, you can add back in the healthy foods you enjoy. If you still aren’t convinced, review the list of diseases and conditions this simple diet can cure and then decide.