What Is The GAPS Diet?

Hey, have you heard of the GAPS diet and wondered what it is or if it would be right for you? Kathy took a close look at it to see if it applies to people with IBS. Here’s what she found out:

GAPS stands for Gut and Psychology Syndrome. Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride MD, author of the book by the same name, has created this term to describe what she believes is the underlying condition originating in the gut and manifesting as any combination of conditions from the following list:

•    Autism
•    Asthma
•    Allergies
•    Eczema
•    Dyspraxia (extreme clumsiness)
•    Dyslexia
•    ADD, ADHD
•    Depression
•    Schizophrenia
•    Irritable Bowel Syndrome
•    Crohn’s and Colitis

In most cases when a person has GAP Syndrome they suffer from several of these conditions. If you are an IBS sufferer who also suffers from one or more of these other conditions you might benefit from the GAPS diet with some important cautions with respect to the fat component.

So what is going on in GAP Syndrome?

The gut is FULL of micro-organisms; some healthy and desirable, some unhealthy and opportunistic and some transitional.

The underlying condition in GAP Syndrome is an unhealthy, unbalanced gut flora where the ‘bad’ flora out-numbers the ‘good’ flora. The by-products produced by the ‘bad flora’ are extremely toxic and end up crossing into the brain where they cause the neurological conditions above.

The healthy desirable ‘good’ flora protects the gut wall from toxins and is responsible for the production of many different immune cells. In fact 80 to 85% of the immune system is created or resides in the gut. In addition to the toxic affect on the brain, when the ‘good’ flora is crowded out by the ‘bad’ flora immunity is severely compromised.

Other functions of ‘friendly’ or ‘good’ gut bacteria:

•    Produce antibiotic, anti-viral and anti-fungal substances that destroy invading viruses and bacteria by dissolving their cell walls
•    Lower the pH near the gut wall creating a hostile environment that discourages the growth of pathogens
•    Absorb carcinogenic substances
•    Suppress certain activities in the gut that can lead to cancer

The GAPS Diet

In last week’s blog post about the Paleo Diet, we spoke briefly about the GAPS Diet. The GAPS Diet focuses on healing the gut and rebalancing the micro-flora in the gut. There is an emphasis on consuming broths made from meat, bones or fish (these home-made broths are considered highly nutritious and very healing), and eating fermented foods and plenty of natural fats.

For an IBS sufferer it would be wise to start with very low fat broths from meats that are well tolerated such as chicken or turkey. Many of the beneficial healing properties will still be present in the broth.

According to Dr. Campbell-McBride, all GAPS patients have digestive problems to one degree or another.

However, it is not necessarily true that all IBS sufferers have GAP Syndrome. Many sufferers of IBS have experienced negative life events or traumatic incidences that are at the root of their symptoms.

Factors that suggest GAP Syndrome:

•    Caesarean birth
•    Early or repeated use of antibiotics
•    Use of anti-fungals
•    Yeast infections
•    Contraceptives
•    Any of the neurological conditions above
•    Asthma/allergies

Factors that suggest Trauma:

•    Anxiety
•    Phobias
•    Sensitivity to light or noise
•    Early childhood negative events
•    Need for certainty
•    Chronic fatigue
•    Fibromyalgia
•    Multiple chemical sensitivities
•    TMJ

For more information about how trauma relates to IBS see our ebook – Treatment of Irritable Bowel Syndrome IBS – 3 Crucial Secrets to Getting Better.

For more information about GAP Syndrome, the book is called: Gut and Psychology Syndrome.  Natural treatment for Autism, Dyspraxia, A.D.D., Dyslexia, A.D.H.D., Depression and Schizophrenia by Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride MD.

Please leave a comment and let us know whether you have tried the GAPS diet, or, the most useful piece of information you learned form this post.

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18 thoughts on “What Is The GAPS Diet?”

  1. I have never tried GAPS diet and your article is too vague for me to know if I have GAPS. Which sufferers of IBS have GAPS?

  2. Hi Susan,
    Look at the list of conditions at the top of the article. If you have any of these in addition to IBS, you are a candidate for the GAPS diet. Don’t see yourself on that list? Look at the list under the heading “Factors that suggest GAP Syndrome.” Again, if you have any of those, you are a candidate for the GAP diet.

    For more details, go to Dr Campbell-McBride’s gapsdiet.com website and take advantage of her extensive free information about this diet.

  3. Audrey

    I see some things on the second list that may apply to me. I will spend some time on the website. I have focused on the FODmaps lists.

  4. I found this article very interesting. I especially like the difference between trauma and gap syndrome suggestive factors. I did not know that TMJ was a suggestive factor for trauma, because I have TMJ, but never thought it might be a source of some of my anxiety and stress.

  5. Hi Danielle,
    Thanks for the kind words!

    TMJ is definitely stressful but it is not the cause of your anxiety and stress. There is some kind of underlying trauma or stress that causes the TMJ. (Or perhaps that’s what you were saying in your last sentence.)

  6. Grateful for all the info although I’m having discomfort often I’m learning hopefully I apply a little of everything to see which best work for me

  7. Hi Gary,Yes, finding out what works for your own body often involves some “detective work.” I had to do the same thing – try a bit of this and that. After all, every body is different and not all things work for all people. Although, in my experience, I’ve noticed the one thing that does seem to help everyone is working on changing your thoughts to positive ones and neutralizing old trauma or negative experiences with EFT tapping. When you focus on optimistic, healing thoughts, it makes the process of becoming physically healthier much easier.Science has now shown that our thoughts and feelings do affect our cells!

  8. Fascinating and motivating to read! My cousin recently mentioned the healing benefits of homemade broths for gut problems, so this second encounter with the info is all the more empowering. What’s so neat is that it’s so easy to cook these poultry meats. Just put a whole chicken, for example, into a crock pot, cook it until the meat falls off the bones, and save the broth for soups, an addition to casseroles, or just a soothing snack. Tasty meat and broth. Mmmmmmm…

  9. Hi Em,And the great thing about those meat/poultry and bone broths is that you get so many nutrients from them and they are easy to digest. Thanks for the good words!

  10. Since probiotics and fermented foods trigger migraines for me, do you have any suggestions? I have quite a few of the GAPS indicators.

  11. Hi Kristi,”Since probiotics and fermented foods trigger migraines for me, do you have any suggestions?”I’m wondering which cultured foods you’ve tried – sauerkraut? Kefir? Kombucha? Do they all give you migraines? If so, it’s possible that your gut microbes are quite pathogenic and need a slower introduction of probiotic foods. You might start with eating more prebiotics (most vegetables, some fruits) and making bone broths – soups made from meat, fish or poultry with the bones and a spoonful of vinegar to help leach out the minerals into the soup. Sometimes people have to start with a teaspoon of sauerkraut juice and work up from there. I’ve had the experience of drinking too much kombucha at one time and feeling nauseated. The key is not to overdo it. Also, if you have a dairy allergy or sensitivity and have been trying to eat yogurt, that could be triggering migraines. Yogurt is actually a poor source of probiotics for two reasons: 1) most commercial yogurts are not fermented long enough to give you the level of bacteria you need, and 2) yogurt only contains about 7 – 10 strains of bacteria, whereas kefir contains something like 56!You might want to look at Donna Schwenk’s site and, of course, Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride’s, for more ideas.

  12. Hi again, Kristi,One more thing. If you have many of the GAPs indicators, it’s quite possible you are gluten-sensitive, in which case, you might want to consider going gluten-free. Gluten is implicated in many of the conditions in the first list in the above article.We also have an article called “Wheat’s Nasty Little Secret – Why it’s so hard to go gluten-free” which explains the challenge that often blocks people from succeeding with giving up gluten. However, I know from my own experience that, once I stopped eating it, my health changed significantly for the better.

  13. KarenI’ve completely forgotten about making bone broths…silly when there are local lambs in the fields and butchers galore in our town. No excuses… so thank you for the reminder..

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