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This is an overview of the GAPS diet. I am not an authority on this subject and I don’t know every single detail of the diet. However, I have spent a lot of time reading about this diet and implementing it for my family. If you want to know more, visit the GAPS website and read the book. I hope this at least piques your interest and will be a springboard for you doing your own research!

Our family has found a lot of health and healing from the GAPS diet (I lost 30 pounds in 6 months on the GAPS diet!) and I think it has the ability to heal a variety of health issues.

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Who is the GAPS diet for?

This diet was developed by Dr. Natasha McBride to help with a range of psychiatric, psychological, immune, and digestive problems, including:

  • Autoimmune disorders 
  • Widespread inflammation
  • Dyspraxia
  • Schizophrenia
  • ADHD and ADD
  • Autism
  • Depression
  • IBS
  • Dyslexia
  • Asthma
  • Allergies

GAPS stands for Gut And Psychology Syndrome because of the link between the gut health and brain health. Your gut wall acts as a fortress that processes everything in your gut, making sure it is in a correct form that your body can use. When your gut loses its health, your whole body begins to suffer. A damaged gut’s can’t produce enzymes that help your body break down food particles. You can begin to have what is called “leaky gut”, which means that, over time, your gut wall has been damaged with poor eating and has developed holes which allow particles to enter your bloodstream that wouldn’t be able to fit through a healthy gut wall. Your body doesn’t know what to do with these partially undigested food particles and can develop allergies to these foods. 

The way to heal the brain is to heal the gut wall. The GAPS diet does this by taking out difficult-to-digest foods and replacing them with easy to digest, nutrient dense foods that allow your gut wall to heal. By eating probiotic foods, you will also re-colonize your gut with good bacteria, which help you to get the most nutrition out of your food. 

How do I follow the GAPS diet?

There are two sections to the diet:

  • Full GAPS– This is a high fat, low carbohydrate diet consisting of mostly meat, vegetables, eggs, and nuts. It is recommended to follow the Full GAPS for 1 1/2 -2 years for full healing. 
  • Intro Diet– a short-term cleansing and healing for the gut wall that takes 3-6 weeks to complete.

Let’s look at these two parts of the diet in more detail:

 

This is how I get my kids to eat GAPS Intro soups- I blend them and serve them with a straw!

Intro Diet

This part of the diet consists of six stages and takes 3-6 weeks to complete. Fairly healthy people might be able to complete it in 2 weeks. For people with more severe digestive issues, such as IBS, Crohn’s, Autism, and depression, this diet will take more like 6 weeks. Each stage builds on the one before.

Stage 1– Homemade meat stock, boiled meat, boiled vegetables, and sauerkraut juice

Stage 2– Continue with soups, add egg yolks

Stage 3– Add scrambled eggs, avocado, and fermented veggies

Stage 4– Add baked meats, fresh juices, and nut flour bread

Stage 5– Add cooked fruits and raw veggies

Stage 6– Add raw fruit

This is a very difficult diet to follow, but It is worth every bit of work. It is hard to make broth constantly, and after a few days of soup, you get pretty ready to sink your teeth into something crunchy. But it does an amazing job cleaning your system and healing.

 

Full GAPS

You will spend the majority of your time on this part of the diet. Visit this page for the Full GAPS food list, but here are the basics of what you eat:

  • Raw dairy
  • Grass-fed meat
  • Homemade bone broth
  • Vegetables
  • Nuts and nut butter
  • Lots of oil (good fats such as animal fats or coconut oil or avocado oil)
  • Fruits
  • Honey (small amounts)
  • Fermented foods such as sauerkraut, kimchi, kefir, yogurt, kombucha, and water kefir.
  • Low starch legumes such as lima beans, white beans, and lentils
  • Eggs

 

Sauerkraut

Supplements

It is recommended that you supplement Full GAPS with: 

  • Probiotics
  • Essential Fatty Acids such as Cod Liver Oil, Nut/Seed blend oil, and Fish Oil
  • Vitamin A which is found in Cod Liver Oil
  • Digestive enzymes
  • Vitamin and mineral supplements

For us personally, we have only taken Cod Liver Oil, which supplies vitamins A and D, Omega 3 fatty acids and DHA. We also supplement with a magnesium foot soak. We also eat fermented food almost every day (sauerkraut and kombucha) instead of taking probiotics. We just don’t feel like we have the money to spend on probiotics. This is my cheap “hack” on probiotics, and although I doubt we get as many strains, it’s better than nothing.

 

Detoxifying the Home

Make sure you quit using chemical cleaners, soaps, shampoos, candles, air fresheners, laundry detergents, and lotions. Dr. McBride also suggests not getting new carpets, furniture, or paints since they off-gas chemicals. Don’t get any new mercury (amalgam) fillings and decrease your exposure to lead and other heavy metals. You are cleansing your body, so make sure you aren’t burdening your body with things that will make it difficult to completely heal.

You really can’t go wrong by trying this diet. It is full of whole, real foods that will nourish your body. 

Recommended reading

 

Explanation of the GAPS diet by Dr. Natasha McBride-

 

A GAPS cookbook with great recipes and encouragement-

 

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