I am obsessed with gut health. As Hippocrates famously said over 2,000 years ago: “All disease begins in the gut.” We know that our overall health is intimately tied to the health of our gut, or digestive tract. But does our gut health also affect our brain? You bet! The scientific literature clearly shows a gut-brain connection.
Arguably the most popular natural dietary strategy for restoring gut health is the Gut and Psychology Syndrome (GAPS) nutritional program developed by Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride. GAPS is a nutrition-based gut-healing protocol originally designed to treat learning disabilities and mental disorders. GAPS also benefits children and adults with digestive and autoimmune disorders including Crohn’s disease, IBS, fibromyalgia, multiple sclerosis, lupus, allergies, eczema, etc. Dr. Campbell-McBride details the GAPS program in her book of the same name. I am fortunate to be attending a conference in New York City this weekend to become a certified GAPS practitioner!
Using the Specific Carbohydrate Diet (SCD) as her template (more on SCD in a future post), Dr. Campbell-McBride created the GAPS diet to specifically target children and adults with autism, ADD, ADHD depression, dyslexia, dyspraxia and schizophrenia. She offers scientific evidence and numerous anecdotes linking neurological disorders to nutrition and gut health. Dr. Campbell-McBride, a neurologist and neurosurgeon, created the GAPS diet to treat her own son who was diagnosed with autism at a young age. Through her research she was able to establish a link between autism and leaky gut. Campbell-McBride was years ahead of her time. She went on to complete a second postgraduate degree in Human Nutrition and today runs a clinical practice in the UK. Dr. Campbell-McBride is considered to be a leading expert in the natural treatment of children and adults with neurological disorders, digestive issues and immune conditions.
While the GAPS diet is considered a temporary therapeutic protocol, it generally requires a two year commitment. This is typically the amount of time it takes for the gut wall to heal and seal and for the body to rebalance itself. When followed properly, the GAPS diet is restrictive as compared to the Standard American Diet (SAD). However, anecdotal observations have shown its effectiveness for thousands of people with neurological, digestive and immune disorders. Many of these patients have exhausted their conventional medical options without seeing any improvements in their symptoms so they are willing to invest time and money in a time-tested natural approach in order to improve their chronic condition or that of a loved one.
The GAPS diet includes two main phases: The Introduction Diet and the Full GAPS Diet (there are several incremental stages to master when moving from the Introduction Diet to the Full GAPS Diet. It is recommended that most people follow the Introduction Diet for at least a few days, although people with more severe digestive symptoms (i.e. diarrhea, abdominal pain, bloating, constipation, leaky gut, etc.) may spend several months in this phase.
Check back often for more information on GAPS and other gut-healing protocols. Until next time, make every bite count!