What is the GAPS Diet?
Loaded question. GAPS stands for Gut and Psychology Syndrome, or Gut and Physiology Syndrome. Because when modern life damages your gut, your mind and your body is at stake.
The Link Between Your Gut and Your Overall Health
You can have a damaged gut lining from: pharmaceuticals, pesticides, synthetic hormones fed to animals, stress, trauma, antibiotics, maldigested food rotting in your gut, overgrowth of pathogenic bacteria, etc. These triggers inflame your intestinal lining and kill your beneficial gut bacteria, causing the walls of your intestines to open up. This mechanism causes undigested food to get through, into your bloodstream. However, your body interprets these undigested food particles as toxic. Your blood says ‘No Thank You!’ And your immune system, your liver, and your stress hormones take on the gigantic brunt of clearing up this toxic, undigested food.
But the reality is, when this mechanism happens every single time you eat, your defenses wear down. These undigested, harmful constituents overburden every single one of your detox pathways. Then, the toxins that reside in your environment -in the cleaning or body products you use, the food you eat, and the clothes you wear- accumulate in your body. If you are healthy, your body can protect itself against this onslaught of daily chemicals, but if your body is overburdened, it cannot.
So you become more toxic, more ill. And when you have a leaky gut lining, this structural damage indicates an leaky brain lining as well. And all of the ubiquitous toxins in your blood leak through your blood brain barrier. This toxic brain burden produces depression, anxiety, bipolar, schizophrenia, OCD, ADD, ADHD, seizures, Aspergers, Autism, and/or developmental delays. This mechanism also exacerbates PTSD symptoms.
You can read my post on how your damaged small intestine produces autoimmune disease, pain, food sensitivities, and allergies here. The writing is on the wall. Modern day life is not easy on our bodies.
So the Modern World Damaged My Gut, Now What?
On the GAPS Nutritional Protocol, you eat in a way that restores the integrity of your intestinal lining. You mimic the traditional ways that your ancestors ate. However, this protocol also takes out some complicated-to-digest foods due to their molecular structure, such as starch. When the gut lining is healed, you can add traditional starches back in.
Meat stock, not bone broth, acts as the backbone of the GAPS diet. It seals up loose gut junctures like glue. On the GAPS Introduction Protocol, every food is cooked in meat stock to make it the easiest to digest and the most nourishing.
However, people usually start out on Full GAPS, which mainly consists of eating like your ancestors did without complex starches. You can move on to GAPS Intro later if you feel like you need to. On all GAPS protocols, you clear your home of toxic cleaners, hygiene, and beauty products and drink meat stock every day.
Who Created the GAPS Diet?
Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride, a neurologist and neurosurgeon, developed the GAPS protocol by adapting the Specific Carbohydrate Diet to what her autistic son and patients needed. As a result, GAPS became famously known for making children lose their autism diagnosis. Dr. Natasha’s protocol focuses on healing and sealing the gut-lining and reinforcing natural detox pathways. And due to its guiding factor, you can use the GAPS diet to support virtually any chronic illness.
By healing and sealing your gut, you eliminate autoimmunity, inflammation, and brain toxicity. Your newfound bodily strength handles inevitable pollution and stress. However, this diet is not an end-all-be-all. Anything that guarantees to ‘cure’ anybody is empty because nobody can promise that. What GAPS does give you is the capacity to deal with your life: more energy, a clearer mind, and a body that feels welcoming to be in. It inspires mental, emotional, and physical resilience that gives you the ability to live the life you have always dreamed of.
If are experiencing chronic health issues and you think the GAPS diet may be right for you, buy The Gut and Psychology Syndrome book by Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride, or check it out from your local library.