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GAPS Diet: What is It and Does it Work?

by Beth Wiles on August 23, 2011 · 11 comments

One month ago, I had not yet heard of the GAPS Diet. Thanks to serendepity, or synchronicity, or actually both(!), I discovered the GAPS Diet — Gut And Psychology Syndrome Diet after twice I saw something written about it. It is now something that I am very passionate about and gearing up to start on by the end of September, 2011 — myself and my husband will start the diet together. I also have many family members who I know could benefit from the diet, but I’ll have to pave the way! :)

In this article, I will begin with an introduction to the GAPS Diet to explain what it is and then will share what others have said about how it is working for them!

“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. This term was created by Dr Natasha Campbell-McBride, MD, MMedSci (neurology), MMedSci (human nutrition) in 2004 after working with hundreds of children and adults with neurological and psychiatric conditions, such as autistic spectrum disorders, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD/ADD), schizophrenia, dyslexia, dyspraxia, depression, obsessive –compulsive disorder, bi-polar disorder and other neuro-psychological and psychiatric problems.” Source: www.gaps.me

Others who are experiencing benefits of this diet suffer from Celiac Disease, Crohn’s Disease, Ulcerative Colitis, IBS, Diverticulitis, Eczema, Asthma, Fibromyalgia, MS, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Lupus, and many more! Just how much it may benefit one person is only a guess, but the diet is definitely worth committing to if it can return your gut to a healthy state and allow you to eat some foods that you normally would not be able to tolerate.

Yogurt Making

I believe where it is imperative to not take any shortcuts is with the Introduction Diet before moving into the Full GAPS Diet. Some may not need to stay on the Introduction Diet long, moving through the stages after 2-3 days on each one. Others will need to take more time, and be ready for signs that they should wait before proceeding (reaction to certain foods when introduced) to the next stage.

For instance, here is what our typical menu for the day will be as we begin the Introduction Diet in Stage 1:

  1. Homemade Meat or Fish Stock (unlimited amounts throughout the day). Give as a drink all day with and between meals! See the instructions to follow about adding probiotic food.
  2. Soups made with meat or fish stock with added well-cooked vegetables, all fibrous ones peeled of tough fibers, etc (no cabbage or celery, or others like them). Peel broccoli, cauliflower and others needing it. May be consumed as much and as often as desired throughout the day.
  3. Introduce Probiotic foods very gradually, but these are essential to include from the very beginning of the diet. Start with just 1-2 teaspoons a day for several days, then gradually increase by 1-2 more teaspoons for several days as tolerated. You may add just the juice of the cultured veggies or sauerkraut or kefir/yogurt to the broth or soups, with the goal to be able to tolerate 1-2 teaspoons per cup of soup/broth.
  4. Ginger tea and honey for between meal beverage (yum — I LOVE ginger!!!). To make this tea, grate fresh ginger root to yield about 1 teaspoon and place in teapot. Pour boiling water over it, and cover, leaving to set and steep for 3-5 minutes. Pour through a small strainer or sieve and add honey to taste (if desired).

There are 6 Stages in the Introduction Diet before proceeding to the Full GAPS Diet. For more information about the stages, check out GAPS Diet Introduction Diet Page.

DOES IT WORK?

“Ok, let’s get real for a minute. Does the GAPS diet really work for alleviating allergies and other autoimmune disorders? Absolutely it does. My husband used to be the poster boy for allergies. He was allergic to every single prick the allergist tried on him some years ago. Today, he is allergic to nothing. Absolutely nothing. His asthma (during respiratory illness) and eczema are also gone”, says the Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist. Her website is a great resource to be sure to check out!

Join the GAPS Diet Facebook Page to see for yourself if it really works. See what results real people are getting! :)

I’ve started a Discussion on my Facebook Page and encourage you to visit there to participate in the GAPS Diet Discussion.

Also be sure to check out the photo album of Food for GAPS Diet, which will be updated as I experiment with more recipes (many of these will not be allowed until we’ve gone through the Introduction Diet. BUT, I want you to know that the food is not boring and without lots of flavor!!! :)

I encourage you to share this article with anyone you know who might benefit from this diet. I’d love to see you on my Facebook Page so we can discuss this there! I look forward to one day starting up a Support Group/Group Coaching Program to provide support for those on the GAPS Diet who need help with specific challenges.

What do you think? Do you think you could commit to a diet such as this for 18 months to 3 years? What would hold you back from trying this diet? What would you want to accomplish by starting on this diet? I look forward to hearing from you!

Your Partner in Health,

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{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

John Paul Dauber from Rancho Cucamonga real estate September 13, 2011

Beth,

This is the first time I read about this diet. It really interests me but I don’t think I can handle it for 2-3 years. That’s too long. What you think? I am a person who loves to eat anything I crave but on enough amount of course :)

Thanks for sharing,
John
John Paul Dauber@Rancho Cucamonga real estate recently posted..Loan modification negotiation can be very frustrating

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Beth Wiles September 13, 2011

Hello John,

Thank you for feedback on your first impression of the GAPS Diet. Yes, it is a challenging protocol to follow — really a lifestyle to change over to. But well worth the challenge for those who have dealt with chronic health issues. Autoimmune disease is on the rise, and my belief is this will continue. Autism has been on the increase with no signs of slowing down in prevalence. Who doesn’t know someone who suffers from either Celiac Disease, Crohn’s Disease or Ulcerative Colitis? Who doesn’t know someone who suffers from depression, bipolar disorder, ADD/ADHD, or autism? In fact, many people see multiples of these health issues within their very own family!

I love the way that a new friend of mine describes the GAPS Introduction Diet protocol: “The GAPS intro is an intensive healing protocol to repair the gut. The gut is an amazingly important part of our body- it directly influences digestion, the immune system, allergies, mental conditions, and many other health problems. The GAPS intro is like pushing the ‘reset’ button on our bodies after years and/or generations of toxin buildup, poor nutrition, and antibiotic use. Because so many of us in our modern culture could really use this reset, I’m starting a free 30 day challenge in the month of October to encourage those of you who want to complete the GAPS Intro.” ~ Cara, Health, Home, & Happiness

After the Intro, the Full GAPS Diet is much easier to incorporate and not be deprived at all. The danger, though, is that many go over-board on the baked goods with the nut flours, and here is where there must be a balance! I have always loved to bake, and my family loves bread! This will be the most challenging part for me and would be for anyone else in my family. I look forward to experiencing this first-hand myself so I can enjoy embracing the new lifestyle, experimenting in the kitchen and sharing the wonderfully delicious foods! Not to mention the health benefits, some of which will likely be surprises to me!

I’ll be posting more here very soon as we near the start of the Intro Diet on October 1st. Thank you for stopping by!

Blessings,
Beth

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daisy September 26, 2011

I’m glad you’ve found something that works for you. I had considered using it for my son with autism, but he is not much of a meat eater. I don’t eat meat at all and it just seemed so difficult at the beginning. I give you a lot of credit for being able to stick with it. Continued blessings…
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Beth Wiles September 27, 2011

Hi Daisy,

Thank you for stopping by! Have you tried the SCD for your son? I realize the GAPS Diet would be difficult for non-meat-eaters. We’ve not yet started — due to start on October 1st, so just a few more days! I’ll keep you posted. By the way, I love your blog and look forward to connecting with you, Daisy! :)

Blessings,
Beth

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Vicky September 27, 2011

What an interesting article! My son has been “cured” if Crohn’s following the Specific Carbohydrate Diet for 5 years which is very similar to the GAPS Diet! Diet does work, it’s all about the will power! Good luck!
Vicky recently posted..Stuffed Courgettes GF SCD

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Beth Wiles September 27, 2011

Hi Vicky,

Thank you for stopping by and checking out my article. I have a friend who has healed his Crohn’s fairly well on the SCD. Many find they get to a better place of healing when going from SCD to GAPS. I’ve checked out your blog and will be following — great recipes there!! I’m looking forward to our start on the GAPS Introduction Diet in just a few days on Oct. 1st and will post updates here, so check back soon!

Blessings,
Beth

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