Have you ever heard about the GAPS diet? Do you know what this diet is good for? The GAPS diet is a kind of diet that aims to help improve the composition of your gut microbiome. It is a therapeutic diet that you would probably want to try out. No one can deny the fact that there is a strong impact that your gut microbiome makes on your overall health. Your gut flora contains trillions of microorganisms. These microorganisms have a huge impact on how healthy or ill you become. Furthermore, your diet plays a major role in the composition of your gut flora. The GAPS diet is beneficial for healthy gut flora.
The GAPS diet was designed in 2004 by Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride. The abbreviation ‘GAPS’ means Gut and Psychology Syndrome. It was originally inspired by another diet developed about 100 years ago by Dr. S.V Haas. This other diet is known as the Specific Carbohydrate Diet (SCD diet). It was being used to treat disorders of the digestive system. Dr. Campbell refined the SCD diet and came up with this groundbreaking diet, which she called the Gut and Psychology Syndrome (GAPS) diet.
What Is This Special Diet All About?
The focus of the GAPS diet is on healing gut syndromes, especially leaky gut syndrome. So if you have been wondering how to heal leaky gut syndrome, the GAPS diet is your go-to option.
It will not only heal your leaky gut, but it will also give a health boost to your digestive system. It is indeed an innovative diet that will do you a lot of good.
This innovative diet would eliminate refined carbs, grains, and starchy veggies from your meals. You will replace these foods with foods that are nutrient-dense and are easy to digest. It is a highly restrictive diet.
There are three phases of the GAPS meal plan. There are the introduction phase, the maintenance phase, and the reintroduction phase.
The introduction phase is done in six stages. It is also called the gut healing phase. This is the phase where you will eliminate most foods from your diet. This phase could take anywhere between a few weeks to a year depending on your symptoms.
The first stage of the introduction phase is the most restrictive. However, as you progress with the diet, more and more foods would be added back to your food list.
The maintenance phase starts after you have done all the eliminations. During this phase, your meals are fully made up of the GAPS food menu. The majority of what you eat would be fresh meat, fish, organic eggs, animal fats, vegetables, shellfish, and probiotics.
The maintenance phase usually lasts for about 2 years. The following are some of the recommendations for this phase:
- Avoid eating meat and fruit together
- If possible, stick with organic foods only
- Eat animal fats and bone broth with every meal. You can consume coconut oil or cold-pressed olive oil in place of animal fats.
- Consume a lot of probiotics if you can tolerate them. Examples include homemade yogurt, kefir, and sauerkraut.
- Stay away from all packaged and canned foods
The final phase, the reintroduction phase, is where you come off GAPS and start reintroducing other foods. It could be a long process because you will need to take things slowly. It would probably take a few months to do this.
What is the GAPS Diet Good For?
The GAPS diet comes with a lot of health benefits. The following are some of the major benefits of GAPS
1. It promotes gut health and enhanced immunity
The GAPS meal plan encourages you to eat large amounts of probiotics and fermented foods. These foods can encourage the growth of beneficial gut bacteria. The beneficial gut bacteria, in turn, have a positive effect on the cells that make up your immune system.
Since the health of your gut flora has a huge impact on your immune system, GAPS could be of help in boosting your immune health. This would improve how effectively your body reacts in response to infection and disease.
2. It helps to reduce inflammation
Inflammation is a normal response of your immune system to infection. However, certain diseases can cause chronic inflammation. When this happens in the gut, you are more likely to have some digestive disorders like leaky gut syndrome, Crohn’s disease, and IBD.
GAPS meal protocol encourages you to eat a lot of foods that have anti-inflammatory properties. Fats that are good for heart health, vegetables that are rich in antioxidants, and fish are good examples of anti-inflammatory foods on the GAPs list. Probiotics also have some anti-inflammatory effects on the body.
3. It could help in maintaining normal blood sugar
When you switch your diet to GAPS, you will be required to eliminate refined carbs, grains, and starchy veggies. All of these foods contribute significantly to a high blood sugar level.
When you eliminate grains, refined carbs, and starchy veggies from your diet, you are indirectly moderating your intake of carbohydrates. This can have a huge impact when it comes to keeping your blood sugar levels within normal limits. Those who have type II diabetes will surely benefit from this.
4. It helps in controlling the symptoms of autism
Autism is not easy to deal with. It is an early childhood disorder that affects development. An autistic child may not be able to communicate and interact well with others. The GAPS meal plan can help to improve these symptoms. It is an effective way to control the behavioral challenges associated with autism and symptoms of the gastrointestinal system.
5. It could prevent depression or decrease its symptoms
Medical experts have found out that gut health can greatly impact your mental health. Do you know that refined grains are associated with an increased risk of depression? Since this food is eliminated from GAPS, the diet can significantly reduce your risk of depression.
Furthermore, they have also found out that probiotics can help in reducing the symptoms of depression. The dietary recommendation of GAPS is for you to take as many probiotics as you can tolerate.
A Few Precautions for You
Not everybody can successfully do the GAPS diet plan. For instance, most of the foods on the GAPS list are animal products. Therefore, it may be impossible for you to meet your nutrient needs with GAPS if you are a vegetarian or vegan.
You should also understand that the diet is not a replacement for medical treatment. You should seek proper medical treatment for conditions like autism, digestive disorders, depression, etc. GAPS would help support your treatment, and help you get the best out of it.
Take things very slowly during the introduction and reintroduction phases. Introduce new foods one at a time. As you do this, assess how your body tolerates each of them.
In conclusion, ensure that you complement the GAPS diet with a healthy lifestyle. Do regular physical activities, avoid stress, and get enough quality sleep. These will help to optimize your results.