I am a GAPS groupie.
It’s no secret.
I have been writing about our family’s journey with GAPS for two years now, working hard to spread the hope it gives, and sharing our story in a variety of ways. GAPS has been pivotal in healing all of us.
So what is it? And why would I spend so much time spreading the GAPS love? Here’s a little GAPS 101.
Who: Mamas on a Mission
The Gut and Psychology Syndrome (GAPS) diet was designed by Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride. She was a Neurologist and practicing Neurosurgeon when her son was diagnosed with autism. She refused to accept the no hope answers she received from the medical community. Instead she did her own research, earned an additional doctorate in Human Nutrition, and then went on to fully recover her son of autism.
During this time she gleaned information and experience from another mama who had refused to accept the no hope answer for her daughter. Elaine Gottschall used a well established medical healing diet called the Specific Carbohydrate Diet to recover her daughter of incurable ulcerative colitis and neurological problems. GAPS is largely based on this on this diet.
Over time Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride modified and changed the Specific Carbohydrate Diet to include emerging science as well as her own personal clinical experience, and the intestinal healing program that evolved was coined GAPS by her patients. Now mamas around the world are ditching the no hope prognosis for their kiddos, and finding foundational healing and a real food education through GAPS.
What: GAPS Summary
GAPS is a medical diet designed to repair the healing and detoxification systems already present in the body. The health of the immune system begins in the gut, so GAPS begins there. It is centered on real food, and structured into stages. It uses food as medicine, and establishes a very specific nutrient dense diet, allowing the body to heal from the inside out. Hold on to ‘yer britches, though. It is no exaggeration that GAPS will provide you with a complete education on how genetics, environment, and food relate to illness and healing.
When: Is It For You?
The real food principles established by the GAPS diet will benefit anyone. There is not a person on the planet that would not find more health from a nutrient dense diet. Period.
Still, that does not mean everyone should make a running leap into the GAPS diet.
Instead, I might suggest you consider if you or your child has ever had any of these symptoms: allergies, asthma, eczema, migraines, depression, ear infections, eating disorders, chronic constipation, irritable bowel syndrome, bladder infections, reflux, narcolepsy, Crohn’s disease, seizures, failure to thrive, arthritis, OCD, ADD, SPD, celiac, anemia, diabetes, chronic fatigue, or any defined immune system deficiency. (note: This is the short list. I could not possible list all of the defined diseases connected to the immune system, and therefore also connected to the gut.)
So? Got leaky gut?
Where: The Science
There are quite a few places you can get information on leaky gut (or intestinal permeability or gut dysbiosis) and how it effects the entire body. A quick google search should bring you more reading than you could ever imagine. For information on the GAPS diet and the science behind it, be sure to start with Dr. Natasha’s site located at gaps.me. Or you could do just what my geeky self did. I researched and read every single medical article and referenced paper quoted in the back of the actual GAPS book. Yeah. Really. I did. There are 24 page of selected references listed that should keep you busy for some time.
Breaking the Vicious Cycle by Elaine Gottschall gives the story of the Specific Carbohydrate Diet. It includes the history of treating Celiac, and information on carbohydrate digestion. It also has an additional 14 pages of quoted references for your investigation and reading pleasure.
Why: To Leave A Legacy of Health
I will forever hang on to the words of wisdom passed to me by another GAPS mama. A few months into our whole family GAPS transition I was feeling particularly sad about the adjustments affecting my first born. The guilt was creeping in, as was the exhaustion, and I was pondering the point of the entire adventure. Why in the world was I making my oldest endure GAPS when her symptoms seemed so minor compared to Ellie’s? The answer I received from my mama friend is one I have hung on to for 2 years now – Because you are helping her to have healthy babies.
That’s some legacy. It’s not just for the here and now. It’s not just for her dairy allergy (which is pretty important). It’s to help your babies have healthy babies. That’s worth it all.
How: Getting Started
–Buy the book. No, you can’t do it without the book. Yes, there is a lot of the information on line. Yes, you could get started without it.
Here is the deal: the responsible way to implement any type of medical diet is to give it a good study and investigation. What if regardless of the digging you do, page 42 says to drink 1/2 cup of bleach 3 times a day? Or page 116 says that no improvement will be seen without a daily jig on the right foot? Regardless of what you are persuing, you owe it to yourself and to your child to treat health and healing seriously and with effort. Research it properly. For GAPS, you will need more than the GAPS Cliff Notes in order to ensure success. Chances are the book costs less than one co-payment. Do yourself (and your child) a favor. Just buy (and read!) the book.
-Find support. This is a really important step, especially if there may be some resistance to change within your home. Your local Weston A. Price chapter can be a place to find a connection, as can any local Holistic Mom’s group. Online you can find a long time yahoo support group called GAPSdiet. And there is also the community I manage, GAPS Kids, where we focus on helping entire families thrive. Come join us!
So what do you think? Do you need some intestinal healing? Know someone who might? Looking for hope?
Hope is contagious. Pass it on.