Previously I shared a little bit about the Gut and Psychology Syndrome diet and exactly how it works to heal autism and learning disabilities. Today I am going to discuss some specifics about the diet, who should go on the diet, and for how long.
If you are thinking you need a gut healing diet, I cannot recommend the GAPS diet highly enough. It is, in my experience, the most well-researched nutritional protocol and has the highest success rates.
Here are some common symptoms it addresses:
• learning: ADD, ADHD, autism, dyslexia, memory loss
• digestive: colitis, IBS, constipation, leaky gut, food allergies and intolerances, SIBO, candida overgrowth
• mental: depression, anxiety, schizophrenia, bi-polar disorder, rage, eating disorders
• physical: eczema, psoriasis, dandruff, acne, fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, epileptic seizures
I would also like to note that if you have had multiple rounds of antibiotics, been on the birth control pill, or practiced vegan/vegetarianism the GAPS diet should be seriously considered to repopulate your gut with healthy bacteria.
Also if you are thinking about having children soon, doing the GAPS diet a few months before conception can have an amazing effect on your future children’s health and immunity!
What is the diet?
The GAPS diet was modelled after the Specific Carbohydrate Diet, and thus focuses on removing disaccharide starches from the diet and relying on traditional, gelatinous foods that are soothing to the mucosa lining of the digestive system. It is however, not a low-carb diet. Many who go on the GAPS limit their carbs to try to kill off any sugar feeding pathogens that may be overgrown. I do not recommend this approach as the GAPS diet is restrictive enough. As processed foods are removed and the gut heals itself, naturally pathogens will die off. As this happens, the body needs high carb foods like fresh juices, raw fruits and vegetables to assist in the cleansing and detoxification process. If later on in the diet, there is still a fungal or parasitic overgrowth, then consider doing an anti-fungal cleanse and possibly lowering carb intake temporarily with the assistance of a practitioner.
General Foods to avoid:
- All grains- bread, wheat, rice, quinoa, amaranth, oatmeal etc.
- Starchy vegetables- potatoes, sweet potatoes, corn, tapioca
- Sugar sources- fake sugars such as aspartame and natural sugars like molasses, raw cane sugar, and maple syrup
- Food additives- MSG, natural flavours, guar gum, soy isolate
- Non-fermented dairy products- milk, cream and mild cheeses (mozzarella, feta, chèvre, cream cheese)
- Inflammatory oils- canola, soy, sunflower, safflower, vegetable oils, margarine and trans fats
General foods to include:
- High quality meats: organic, pasture raised poultry, pork, beef and fish
- Meat stock & bone broth- high in gelatine, collagen, amino acids and minerals
- Organic, non-starchy vegetables: beetroot, pumpkin, cauliflower, broccoli, celery, carrot, radish
- Ripe fruit: berries, tropical fruits, dried fruit, lemons, lime and avocado
- Natural sweeteners- dates, figs, honey
- Good quality fats- butter, coconut oil, olive oil, beef tallow and other animal fats
- Fermented dairy- homemade sour cream, kefir, yoghurt, and aged cheeses
- Fermented vegetables- sauerkraut, kimchi, pickles
How long does the diet last?
Dr. Campbell McBride recommends the GAPS diet for a minimum of two years, especially for those with autism and learning disabilities. After those two years she encourages you to slowly introduce non GAPS foods and watch for regression or old symptoms to return. If that happens, it is best to stay on the diet a while longer and retest. A small amount of people do best on the GAPS diet permanently but most do very well with just maintaining a whole food diet after!
The intro diet
One component of GAPS is the intro diet. It is not always necessary, but if you experience frequent loose stools or have severe GAPS symptoms (physical or psychological) it is best to do the intro diet before the full GAPS diet. It has six stages and is a slow, super healing time for those digestive tracts that need a little extra attention. It focuses on gelatinous meat stock, well cooked vegetables and foods that are extremely easy to digest. Many people go straight into the full GAPS diet, and later on, after adjusting to this drastically new way of eating, do the intro for more healing.
If you are interested in the GAPS diet its best to consult a certified GAPS practitioner to help modify the diet to your needs at your current stage. It’s also a good idea to get in contact with others who are doing the diet for support and encouragement. It can be a difficult journey, but the benefits to gain are literally priceless.