The GAPS diet has been growing in popularity recently and for good reason.
Originally developed by Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride, a medical doctor with postgraduate degrees in both neurology and human nutrition, the GAPS diet has become an integral tool in my practice, as well as for functional medicine practitioners all over the globe. The diet is described in detail in Dr. Campbell-McBride’s book Gut and Psychology Syndrome.
I use a modified version of the GAPS diet, and it’s become my “go to” starting point for many chronic conditions including: inflammatory bowel disease (IBS), leaky gut syndrome, autism, ADHD, depression, arthritis, anxiety and autoimmune disease.
The primary reason why this diet is so effective is because of its tremendous ability to rapidly heal the gut. As Hippocrates noted over 2,000 years ago, “all disease begins in the gut”. This statement was true then, and research is showing it’s even more true today. There is an ever-growing body of evidence reviling the connection between poor gut health and the multitude of chronic diseases that are currently wrecking havoc on our health. Conditions like chronic pain, arthritis, obesity, mood disorders, behavioral disorders, hormone imbalances, autoimmune disease and diabetes have been linked to gut disorders.
Following the “GAPS Diet” will help to:
- Remove common food allergies
- Reduce the number of pathogenic microorganisms like yeast, candida and bacteria
- Repair damage to the gut wall
- Improve nutrient absorption
- Increase the beneficial bacteria that keep us healthy
- Lower the toxic burden from the gut
- Prevent toxins from entering the bloodstream, which causes an array of autoimmune disorders
Some of the benefits patients commonly experience while following the GAPS Diet are:
- Less Gas and Bloating
- Elimination of Heart Burn (GERD)
- Rapid Fat Loss
- Improved Mental Clarity/Concentration
- Decreased Pain and Inflammation
- Stabilizing of Blood Sugar
- Better Skin Appearance (Acne, Eczema and Psoriasis)
- Reduce Anxiety and Depression
GAPS Diet Basics
While following the GAPS diet, you should eliminate these from you diet avoid:
- All Processed foods
- All Grains and Cereals
- Starchy carbs and potatoes
- Artificial chemicals and preservatives
- Conventional meat and dairy
Foods approved in the GAPSDiet:
- Bone Broth (multiple cups each day)
- Steamed (non-starchy) vegetables
- Organic, Grass Feed meats
- Wild Caught Fish
- Pastured Egg yolks
- Fruit and Avocados
- Healthy Fats: coconut oil, ghee and olive oil
- Sprouted nut butter
- Fermented Foods/Probiotics
- Sea Salt
There are a few caveats to be aware of before going gangbusters with GAPS. As with any significant change in diet or lifestyle, there can be an adjustment period. Some people can complain of fatigue, headaches, joint pains or brain fog within a day or two of starting. These symptoms generally last for one to three days and are a result of liberating stored toxins and/or the “die-off” of pathogenic microorganisms. Although it can be uncomfortable, it’s an important part of regaining your health.
I don’t recommend that my patients stay on GAPS indefinitely. In my experience, both personally and with my patients, there is a therapeutic window where the GAPS diet yields the best results. This time frame varies from 3-6 months. The reason why longterm adherence to the GAPS diet gives diminishing results is likely due to “pruning back” of the healthy bacteria in the gut. The GAPS approved foods are very effective at starving out the unfriendly bugs and from the gut, but this can also affect the longterm health of the good guys.
For specific guidelines I would highly recommend reading Gut and Psychology Syndrome and working with a functional medicine practitioner with experience in using “GAPS” protocols.
Let me know if you’ve tried the GAPS diet and if it’s been helpful. Your feedback is greatly valued