GAPS diet could be the poster boy for the adage: “You are what you eat.” Indeed, this amazing diet plan is making a lot of health buffs turn their heads. But what is it really? And how did it come about? It may not be the top priority for you to wrap your head on this diet. You may not have the interest nor the need to deepen your knowledge. However, know that for many who are suffering from celiac disease and other autoimmune diseases, it’s a must.
Getting to be at the top of your game is a complex matter. True. And it could be deceiving too. There are many instances when muscular bodybuilders with washboard abs succumbed to heart disease. To everyone’s surprise. The same things happen with celiac disease. Characterized by an adverse reaction to gluten, you need to be cautious with what you put in your mouth. For everywhere you go, there is a sprinkle of wheat, barley, and rye in almost every food you see – from bread to pizza to beer. This is how GAPS came to be. It’s a solution to a problem. And one you shouldn’t dare to know about. Read on.
How GAPS Came to Be
Before you get to understand GAPS, you have to know where it came from. The idea of a restrictive diet isn’t new. In fact, before GAPS there was SCD or Specific Carbohydrate Diet. When you say restrictive it means you are instructed to do away with certain foods. And the reason is simple. It’s for your own good.
SCD is formulated to rein in celiac disease. It works by limiting your use of complex carbohydrates. We’re talking about disaccharides and polysaccharides. In this diet, you can take monosaccharides which means you can eat fish and even honey. But of course, absolutely no grains as it’s entirely gluten-free and lactose-free.
Way back in 1924, it was Sidney V. Haas who first used SCD for young ones with the celiac disease. Then he made use of bananas – aptly calling his version of SCD as ‘banana” diet. But of the 10 children-patients who applied the banana diet, only 8 survived. The two young children died.
Then it was theorized that SCD can be used in treating children with autism. Though this has not been actually been supported with scientific evidence, the notion stuck.
Then, an expert named Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride came out with the GAPS diet, improving and becoming even more restrictive compared to SCD. McBride coined the word GAPS after Gut and Psychology Syndrome. She based her formula on the theory that a host of brain conditions are actually the result of leaky gut. GAPS, therefore, is designed to improve gut conditions.
The Benefits of GAPS Diet
Dr. McBride need not look far to put evidence of her diet’s overwhelming healing prowess. She detailed how GAPS cured her firstborn of the torments of autism. As harsh as the critiques of many experts, both from the academe and from the medical community, McBride’s child provided the proof. Making it even more justified to broadcast and spread the good news.
GAPS is based on the theory that on its own toxins in the form of chemicals and bacteria enter your bloodstream via your food. It’s important therefore that you take matters into your hands to put them away. If you don’t take action, these toxic substances could affect negatively your brains normal function and eventual development.
Autism is one of the results of such ‘brain toxicity’, aptly dubbed as ‘brain fog’. It is worth noting though that how a leaky gut translates into the formation of disease isn’t clearly established.
Writing it all down, Dr. McBride expressly states it was GAPS and its strict protocol that got her firstborn cured of autism. As a result, she is extensively promoting the practice to help cure both neurological and psychiatric conditions. This includes the following:
- Eating disorders
- OCD or obsessive-compulsive disorder
- Bipolar disorder
- Tourette’s syndrome
- ADHD (ADD)
- Bedwetting in children
How It’s Done
GAPS is mostly applied for children with conditions stipulated above. And looking at that list will tell you these are conditions which are rather poorly understood by today’s mainstream medicine. To be effective, the diet could take years.
It’s severe as it requires doing away with foods that are classified as toxic, contributing to leaky gut. That should include all grains, refined carbs, and starchy vegetables.
Overall, there are 3 main stages to undergo GAPS. First, the introduction. Second, the main GAPS diet. And lastly, the reintroduction wherein your diet returns back to normal.
The 3 Phases of GAPS
Below are the key phases when undergoing GAPS.
1. The Introduction Phase
For the most part, this is considered to be the most punishing part of the diet. Simply because here, you’re pulling away from what you’re usually eating. For many getting over this phase is a struggle. Reason enough why this is called the Elimination Phase. Depending on your response, this one could last from a week or if it comes to it, a year.
There are six stages to this phase. Each stage is with specific instruction on what to eat. What you’ll notice is it’s a gradual addition of foods starting with homemade bone broth and juices from such probiotic foods as ginger in Stage 1. Stage 2 is to add organic egg yolks and various stews from vegetables with meat or with fish. The last stage gets you to introduce more raw fruit and citrus into the diet.
It is recommended that you introduce foods in a gradual manner – starting with small amounts and growing.
2. The FULL GAPS Phase
At this point, you should be ready to take on a full GAPS diet. This means basing most of what you eat only on the following:
- Strictly fresh meat: grass-fed and as much as possible hormone-free
- Useful animal fats: duck fat, ghee, lard, lamb fat, tallow
- Organic eggs
- Foods that are fermented (kefir, sauerkraut)
You may also take some nuts – in moderation. Also, there are GAPS recipes you can follow to taste baked goods.
3. Reintroduction Phase
At this stage, you are to reintroduce foods you were accustomed to making sure you do it gradually. And that you watch over your bowel movements to make the GAPS diet work.