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The GAPS Diet: Its Design and Protocols

by skytales | July 25, 2019

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In Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride’s  book entitled Gut and Psychology Syndrome, she explains the details of the GAPS diet. This special diet is normally used to treat many health problems including autism, ADHD, anxiety, depression, inflammatory bowel disease or IBS, leaky gut syndrome, and autoimmune disorders.

This diet was inspired by the Specific Carbohydrate Diet (SCD), which was studied and described by Dr. Sidney Valentine Haas in the 1920s. This specific diet was used to treat several digestive disorders. In recent years, the GAPS diet has created a big buzz in the realm of natural health, and many people are curious about its protocols and effects.

The GAPS Diet is a unique meal plan which aims to achieve the following:

  • Fix leaky gut syndrome by repair the gastrointestinal wall
  • Halt overload of toxins from unhealthy bacterial strains prevalent in the gut environment
  • Hinder toxins from getting into the blood circulation, to prevent autoimmune diseases
  • Reestablish balance by introducing probiotics to the microbiome
  • Introduce easily digestible foods for the body and the gut to rest and restore itself

Advantages of the GAPS Diet

Just by looking at it, you would know that the GAPS Diet offers a complete variety of health benefits by simply being a smart eater and employing common sense when it comes to what you eat.

Take for instance a person whose diet avoided grains altogether. Without realizing it, he or she is already following the protocols of GAPS Diet. When you observe the food consumption of our ancestors, as well as look at the results of much scientific research, it just makes a lot of sense to reduce one’s intake of grains, add foods rich and probiotics to meals, and start taking bone broth.

The fantastic results many people immediately experience once they switch to the GAPS diet is they start having a normal, healthy digestive process. It has been discovered in individual case studies that people who followed the GAPS diet enjoyed the following:

  • Decrease in food sensitivity
  • Improved immune system
  • Resolution of their inflammatory bowel disease
  • Improvement in their lactose digestion
  • Reversal of their diabetes mellitus type 2
  • Improvement in their neurological performance
  • Death of candida cells
  • Detoxification
  • Decrease in anxiety and depression
  • Improvement from autism

The GAPS Diet also recommends consuming fermented foods, which research has discovered to be able to kill certain types of cancer growth in studies conducted on animals. It has been published in the Journal of Dairy Science how breast cancer cells in mice that consumed kefir regularly stopped growing and multiplying.

We can do a scientific study of the individual components of GAPS Diet, and how these can improve a person’s health and fight off diseases, and we will be able to see the variety of illnesses the diet can reverse. We can also see how the individual components of the diet come into synergy, adding to the already numerous benefits it already offers.  

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What to Foods to Avoid in GAPS Diet

When you are following the GAPS Diet, these are the foods you need to avoid:

  • All types of Grains
  • Potatoes and starchy carbohydrates
  • Processed Sugar
  • All processed food
  • Conventional meat and dairy products
  • Synthetic preservatives and chemicals

In the words of Dr. Campbell-McBride, she says, “Try to purchased natural foods and as fresh as possible.

Recommended Foods in GAPS Diet

To summary the recommendations in Dr. Campbell-McBride’s book, the following are the foods recommended when you try GAPS Diet:

  • Bone broth
  • Organic, wild meats
  • Fishes caught in the wild
  • Egg yolks
  • Steamed (starch-free) vegetables
  • Fruits, including Avocados
  • Healthy fats: coconut oil, olive oil, and ghee (a type of butter)
  • Sprouted nut butter
  • Foods rich in probiotics
  • Sea salt

The following are the important things to remember about the GAPS Diet:

  • Make sure that you take one tablespoon of raw fermented vegetable juice, such as sauerkraut juice, during each meal. Fermented vegetable juice possesses important enzymes that can help your stomach digest the meat you eat.
  • Fruit should be consumed on their own, and not taken with meals. Because fruit and our meals have different patterns of digestion, consuming them together can put a strain on our digestive system
  • Coconut oil and ghee are the best oils to be used for cooking
  • Slowly introduce foods rich in probiotics to your diet. This should include kefir, sauerkraut, yogurt. It is necessary to remember that when consuming yogurt, make sure that these are the raw dairy types, fermented for 24 hours or more, and not the types that are commercially available in groceries and supermarkets.
  • It is highly suggested that one should consume a cup of warm fish or meat stock during every meal as a drink. Also, adding meat and fish stock to soups and stews is highly recommended.

Recipes for GAPS Diet

You can find many GAPS Diet recipes on the internet. There are also GAPS Diet shopping lists available online.

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Some Contentions About the GAPS Diet

There are no clinical studies completed which have evaluated the efficacy of the GAPS Diet. Because of this, some experts have voiced their opinion targeting GAPS Diet, claiming that it is “unfounded on science” and is just “experimental.”

However, just because there are no double-blind studies to back the practice, it does not mean the GAPS Diet is not scientific and ineffective.

Other scientific studies can be associated with GAPS Diet. After all, it has been well established that 80 percent of a person’s immune system is found in the gut, and any unhealthy balance of gut flora and presence of harmful pathogens are linked to many of the chronic illnesses prevalent in the present. There might be no direct study to support GAPS Diet, but there is a myriad of evidence-based conclusions that can be used to support the premises of this special diet indirectly. Therefore, we can say, in essence, the diet has been proven and is backed by solid research data, together with a lot of personal testimonies.

Moreover, Assistant Professor of Special Education and Disability Policy at Virginia Commonwealth University Austin M. Mulloy, Ph.D., is currently leading a study assessing GAPS Diet’s performance in a clinical setting. Even though this is just one study, it is a forerunner of many other studies that may be done in the future to evaluate how following GAPS Diet, or something similar to it, can have a positive effect on a person’s overall health condition.

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