What Is The GAPS Diet, Exactly? A Thorough Examination

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What is the GAPS diet, exactly? A thorough examination

According to the GAPS diet theory, eliminating certain foods, such as grains and sugars, can help people treat brain conditions such as autism and dyslexia. GAPS is an acronym that stands for "gut and psychology syndrome." The GAPS diet is based on the idea that gut health is related to overall physical and mental health. According to this theory, improving gut health can help with other health issues. Researchers have not yet thoroughly investigated this diet, and there are some reservations about its premise.


What is the GAPS diet?

The GAPS diet was developed by Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride, who believes that poor nutrition and a leaky gut, or increased intestinal permeability, are to blame for many psychological, neurological, and behavioral issues.

The GAPS diet focuses on avoiding foods that are difficult to digest and may harm the gut flora or gut lining. They replace them with nutrient-dense foods that aid in gut healing.

According to the GAPS theory, a leaky gut releases harmful bacteria and toxins into the bloodstream, where they travel to the brain and disrupt brain function. According to the theory, avoiding foods that harm the gut could aid in the treatment of conditions such as autism spectrum disorder (ASD), attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and dyslexia.

Although current research suggests that there is a link between the brain and the gut, particularly for conditions such as anxiety and depression, research on specific aspects of the diet is mixed. While there are numerous testimonials of improvement, there is limited published evidence to suggest that adhering to the GAPS diet in its entirety is required to improve psychological or behavioral conditions.

What medical conditions is the GAPS diet intended to treat?

Dr. Campbell-McBride created the GAPS diet in order to treat her son's autism. Some people use the GAPS diet as an alternative therapy for a variety of psychological and behavioral issues, such as:

  • autism
  • ADHD
  • dyslexia
  • dyspraxia
  • epilepsy
  • depression
  • schizophrenia
  • bipolar illness
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) (OCD)
  • Eating disorders
  • Food allergies and intolerances in children

Dr. Campbell-initial McBride's goal with the GAPS diet was to aid children suffering from behavioral and mood disorders. However, some adults are now using it to help with digestive issues.


Autism and the GAPS diet

Dr. Campbell-McBride believes that poor nutrition and leaky gut syndrome cause autism in children. She claims that the GAPS diet can "cure" or "improve" autism symptoms.

ASD causes a variety of symptoms that affect how a person perceives the world and interacts with others. Scientists believe that ASD is caused by a combination of genetic and environmental factors.

The vast majority of experts agree that there is no cure for ASD. However, it is possible to improve health conditions associated with ASD, such as gastrointestinal (GI) issues.

According to a 2014 systematic review, children with ASD had significantly higher rates of GI symptoms than those who did not. According to the authors, children with ASD are more prone to abdominal pain, constipation, and diarrhea. According to some research, these symptoms are caused by an unbalanced gut microbiota, also known as dysbiosis.


A single case study

A 12-year-old boy with ASD and celiac disease showed significant reductions in GI symptoms and core autism symptoms after 4 weeks of probiotic treatment, according to Trusted Source.

A 2014 study Trusted Source that tested 133 children discovered no link between intestinal permeability and the presence of ASD symptoms. On the contrary, a 2010 pediatric studyTrusted Source discovered a different set of findings.


Are there benefits to the GAPS diet?

There is no evidence that all of the GAPS diet's components can help treat the conditions it claims to treat.

This diet, on the other hand, has the potential to improve a person's gut health. It promotes the consumption of fewer processed foods and more fruits, vegetables, and natural fats. These simple dietary changes have the potential to improve gut health and overall health.

GAPS diet guidelines, on the other hand, do not explicitly account for all nutritional needs. People who follow this diet should make sure they get enough vitamins and minerals to avoid nutritional deficiencies.

The sections that follow go over the evidence for the GAPS diet's potential benefits.


Boosting gut health

The GAPS diet has the potential to improve gut health in three ways:

  • Artificial sweeteners should be avoided, according to animal studies.
  • According to a reliable source, artificial sweeteners can disrupt gut bacteria and increase the risk of metabolic problems.
  • Focusing on fruits and vegetables: A 2016 study of 122 people found that eating fruits and vegetables can prevent the growth of a potentially harmful strain of bacteria in the gut.

Incorporating probiotics: Probiotics contain a variety of beneficial bacteria. According to one study, eating probiotic yogurt may help people with metabolic syndrome lower their blood sugar levels.


How do you stick to the GAPS diet?

To adhere to the GAPS diet, avoid grains, sugar, soy, pasteurized dairy, starchy vegetables, and processed foods.The diet is strict and could take up to two years to complete.

The GAPS diet is divided into three stages:

1. The introduction diet

Many people, according to Dr. Campbell-McBride, should start with the introduction diet before moving on to the full GAPS diet.

While extremely restrictive, this phase aims to quickly heal the gut and reduce digestive symptoms. It can last from a few weeks to a year.

The introduction diet is divided into six stages. Each stage introduces new foods, but the foods within each stage are tailored to each individual based on tolerance.

People should not proceed to the next stage if they have digestive symptoms such as:

Stage 1

In stage 1, the diet consists of:

  • homemade meat stock
  • boiled meat or fish
  • well-cooked vegetables
  • probiotics, such as fermented vegetable juices, yogurt or kefir, and homemade fermented whey
  • ginger or chamomile tea with raw honey
  • purified water


Stage 2

In stage 2, add the following foods:

  • raw, organic egg yolks
  • casseroles made with meats and vegetables
  • fermented fish
  • homemade ghee


Stage 3

In stage 3, add the following foods:

  • avocado
  • sauerkraut and fermented vegetables
  • GAPS pancakes
  • scrambled eggs made with ghee, goose fat, or duck fat
  • probiotic supplements

Stage 4

In stage 4, add the following foods:

  • roasted or grilled meats
  • cold-pressed olive oil
  • freshly pressed carrot juice
  • GAPS milkshake
  • GAPS bread


5 stage

In stage 5, incorporate the following foods:

  • puréed cooked apples
  • lettuce and peeled cucumber are examples of raw vegetables.
  • juice made from pressed fruits

6 stage

In stage 6, incorporate the following foods:

  • apple, unpeeled
  • ripe fruit
  • Boost the honey
  • baked goods with dried fruit as a sweetener
  • Many people progress to the full GAPS diet after completing the introduction diet.

Avoid all grains, sugars, starchy vegetables, refined carbohydrates, and processed foods while on the GAPS diet. This stage lasts 18–24 months, but it varies by individual and may take less time for some.


GAPS-acceptable foods include:

  • meat, eggs, fish, and shellfish (fresh or frozen only)
  • fresh fruits and vegetables
  • natural fats from garlic, such as olive oil, coconut oil, and ghee
  • a reasonable amount of nuts
  • GAPS baked goods with nut flour

The GAPS diet also advises people to:

  • As much as possible, eat organic food and avoid all processed and packaged foods.
  • Consume fermented foods with each meal.
  • Every meal should include bone broth.
  • Eat no fruit with your meals.
  • Combine all protein foods with vegetables, according to the theory, to maintain normal body acidity levels.

3. The phase of reintroduction

People can choose to enter the reintroduction phase after at least 6 months of normal digestion.

The GAPS diet's final stage entails gradually reintroducing food items over the course of several months. The diet suggests beginning with potatoes and fermented grains. Begin with small portions and gradually increase the amount of food consumed, as long as no digestive problems arise. Then add starchy vegetables, grains, and beans to the mix. Many people who have completed the GAPS diet continue to avoid refined, highly processed foods.


The GAPS diet food list

On the GAPS diet, people can consume the following foods:

  • stock made from meat (cooked shorter than broth and contains less glutamates)
  • preferably hormone-free or grass-fed meats
  • fish
  • shellfish
  • fats from animals
  • eggs
  • non-starchy vegetables and fresh fruits
  • fermented foods and drinks
  • natural, hard cheeses
  • kefir
  • Coconuts, coconut milk, and coconut oil are all examples of tropical fruits.
  • nuts
  • sour wine
  • navy white beans

The following foods should be avoided on the GAPS diet:

artificial sweeteners and sugar

  • syrups
  • alcohol, but adults may enjoy a glass of dry wine on occasion.
  • packaged and processed foods
  • Rice, corn, wheat, and oats are examples of grains.
  • potatoes and yams are examples of starchy vegetables.
  • milk
  • beans, with the exception of white and green beans
  • coffee
  • tea that is strong
  • soy



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