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, toxic metal exposure, synthetic hormones, stress, trauma, antibiotics, antifungals, steroids, undigested food rotting in your gut, inheriting abnormal gut flora from your parents, etc, etc. These triggers inflame your intestinal lining and kill your beneficial gut bacteria. And in the absence of your beneficial flora, pathogenic microbes thrive throughout your body. They produce toxic gases, causing inflammation which ultimately opens up the walls of your intestines, making it ‘leaky.’ This mechanism causes undigested food to get into your bloodstream along with the toxic metabolites of these pathogenic microbes. Yikes! Then your immune system kicks into overdrive to clean up this undigested, toxic mess.
And your immune system is STRONG, 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 additional toxins in your environment -in the cleaning or body products you use, the food you eat, and the clothes you wear- accumulate in your body. Your liver is too busy to neutralize them. 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, you have a leaky brain lining as well. It’s just the nature of systemic inflammation. So the copious amount of toxins in your blood from your gut leak into your brain. This brain toxicity manifests into depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, 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 gut 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 complex starches. When your gut lining is healed, you can add these traditional starches back into your diet.
Meat stock, not bone broth, acts as the backbone of the GAPS diet, along with homemade probiotic vegetable brines. Meat stock seals up loose gut junctures like glue. The brines reinoculate your gut with beneficial flora and facilitate your digestive process. On the GAPS Introduction Protocol, every food is cooked in meat stock to make it the easiest to digest and the most nourishing. Probiotic brines are taken before and with every meal to support digestion and nutrient assimilation.
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 the GAPS Introduction diet 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 + probiotic brines 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.