Wardee: Please welcome Cara from the Health, Home and Happiness blog! She’s here to share with you about the GAPS diet. Ironically, she and I discussed her guest post awhile back. While she was writing her post, I read the GAPS book and was floored. Then I read her post and was amazed how she put into words my impression of its value!
Most of us here believe and experience the gut-healing benefits of transitioning from the Standard American Diet to a traditional diet. Still there are occasions when a more strict gut-healing diet would help a great deal. I’ll let Cara take over now… Be sure to comment below with any thoughts or questions!
At GNOWFGLINS you all are familiar with the healing, health-giving benefits of whole, traditionally prepared foods. I’m here today to talk about a solution for problems that might continue to persist, despite a diet full of sourdough bread, raw dairy, fermented vegetables, and even the daily spoonful of fermented cod liver oil!
If you have stubborn health issues that still aren’t clearing up, anything from mental health problems to persistent eczema to digestive upset, you may be interested in learning about this specific gut-healing diet.
What Is The GAPS Diet?
My daughter Hannah has been on the Gut and Psychology Syndrome (GAPS) diet for over a year and a half for autism.
The GAPS diet is a temporary diet (3 months to years depending on how you respond) that focuses on foods that are very easy to digest. The foods allowed on GAPS are actually so easy to digest that they are digested far up in the bowel, allowing the lower portion of the gut to rest and starve off pathogens like bad bacteria and yeast overgrowth. The diet also focuses on healing foods like bone broth, fermented vegetables, and soothing yogurt, which give the body the nutrients it needs to build up a strong gut wall, all while it introduces friendly microorganisms to keep the inner ecosystem in balance.
The GAPS protocol is a very strict diet that eliminates all grains, refined sugars, and starches. It is based on the Specific Carbohydrate Diet, with healing cultured foods and a focus on bone broth added in. The author, Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride, designed the diet to heal her own son who had autism.
Why We Started GAPS
We saw great progress… and then regression… on the gluten-free, casein-free diet for autism. I had seen such hope for my 3-year-old daughter, only to have her regress back into autism despite strict adherence to the gluten-free, casein-free diet, that I knew there must be some dietary solution out there. So we started GAPS in November of 2009. Because GAPS is more restrictive, especially the Introductory portion of the GAPS diet, I elected to go on it with her to make sure I felt okay with such a limited selection of foods.
Not only did I feel okay on the GAPS diet, but it reversed my dairy allergy in just a couple months! My skin was clear, my digestion was good, and best of all, my daughter was no longer regressing further into autism but rather was starting to learn and make progress again!
Why Wouldn’t A Traditional Diet Be Good Enough?
There are many factors in modern life that can be detrimental to gut health. And when our digestive tract is leaky and/or lined with pathogenic bacteria, health problems start to surface including:
- Poor digestion. Without a good inner ecology nutrients aren’t able to be taken from foods. With a damaged gut wall, food particles are let into the blood stream before they have had a chance to digest correctly.
- Mental health issues. Pathogenic organisms that have taken over our gut actually can give off chemicals that act like drugs to our brains
- Toxicity issues. Skin rashes are often from the body trying to eliminate toxins any way possible. Another job of the gut is to detoxify the body, when the gut is damaged the detoxification process is disrupted as well.
Though antibiotics can be fantastic lifesaving drugs, they are really disruptive to the ecosystem in our bodies. Other things have disrupted this as well, including birth control pills, environmental toxins, and the lack of cultured foods in everyone’s diet. Even if a child had been raised on the Nourishing Traditions style of eating, they may have inherited poor gut flora from their mother during the trip down the birth canal. Read more about this in my post on the Gut/Brain Connection.
What Can I Eat On GAPS?
You can eat the following foods. More specifics are in the Gut and Psychology Syndrome Book.
- Bone broth
- Ripe Fruit
- Some legumes
- Nuts and Seeds
- Cultured dairy like yogurt and kefir and cheese, which has been cultured to remove nearly all the lactose
Though I found this overwhelming at first, I knew I had to continue the diet because my daughter was making such great progress on it. But coming up with grain- and starch-free foods every day was difficult for me. After a year of learning about grain-free cooking, I created the Grain-Free Meal Plan for the GAPS Diet, and I recently made an eBook for the GAPS Introduction Diet, to give meal suggestions and recipes. I know that these would have been a great help to me as I started the GAPS diet with my family, so I hope they can help others in the same situation to find healing through food!
What is your experience with the GAPS diet? Please share! How has it helped you? What particular challenges did you face implementing it? If you’re considering following it, are you facing any obstacles?