What is GAPS?
GAPS is an acronym for ‘Gut And Psychology Syndrome’ that was derived from Dr. Natasha Campbell- McBride. When Dr. Natasha’s son was diagnosed with autism, she used her back ground in neurology to discover answers to her sons condition. Originally she read the book ‘Breaking the Vicious Cycle’ by Elaine Gottschall. This book demonstrated that by removing specific carbohydrates from the diet; inflammation in your gut is reduced considerably and conditions such as Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, diverticulitis, celiac disease, chronic diarrhoea and cystic fibrosis are given full recovery to those that have been putting up with these chronic conditions for years. The Specific Carbohydrate diet (SCD) is today followed by thousands of people.
Dr. Natasha understood the concept of the diet, but still felt there was something missing. This is when she established the GAPS diet and broke the diet down into ‘stages’, so the sufferer has time to heal and seal the gut and move onto the next stage. Each stage, a new food will be added and any reactions will be noted and the person can move onto the next stage. The process is a lot slower and once the first initial six stages are completed, the person can commence on the FULL GAPS diet.
There has been a great raise of awareness on how the brain-gut connection influences our behaviour, mental state and mood. The importance of having a healthy microbiome has been on the increase in journals and public newspapers. In todays society there are more people being diagnosed with chronic digestive conditions, autism, schizophrenia, bipolar, anxiety and depression, that we all either know someone that is suffering from any of the above conditions (if not all).
So where did all go wrong?
With the global agriculture boom, GMO and foods that are being readily available to any country all over the world could play a big part. What we put into our bodies and what we absorb from that food will and has taken its toll. It could have started with your grandparents- packaged foods would have just started to become more available to them. Your grandparents probably did not notice any difference in their own behaviour, but they passed away with bowel cancer.
Then you have the next generation- fast food chains, more processed foods, soft drink, the list goes on. This generation may have experienced depression and more tummy upset (but no link has been made yet).
Next generation- More of the above, technology boom, decreased physical activity, less natural sunlight, more consumption of processed foods. And even when they do eat real food it lacks nutrients because it was a GMO apple that was grown in America and flown to Singapore. This generation- celiac disease, ADHD, autism, chronic bowel conditions. Do you see a pattern forming?
I know it’s depressing just reading it. But you can see how our own microbiome has been influenced by generations of poor food consumption (and other external factors). And it’s going to get worse. When you hear of people saying ‘We have depression in our family’, this is because of genetics AND we also inherit our parents microbiome (mostly our mothers) and don’t forget we have a ratio of 10:1 of more species in our gut than we are person!
So what else happens in our gut other than just eating and digesting food? Our trusty immune system is mostly residing in out digestive tract. So if we have any inflammation in our gut it is also going to impact our immune system.
90% of serotonin is made in the gut. So if your gut’s not happy-neither are you! Dopamine our ‘go getter’ hormone is also mostly produced in the gut. There are 2 types of ADHD- the lazy/sleepy type (low dopamine) and the hyper/active type (high dopamine). Many kids have had great success by treating their ADHD symptoms by changing their diet. Mostly by removing processed foods (additives and preservatives) and removing gluten.
So GAPS is about healing and sealing your gut through stages and re-introducing all foods back into your life once again. Mind you, there are many people out there that say they benefit mostly by being at Stage 5 of the INTRO diet or people that live the rest of their lives on the FULL GAPS diet because that’s where they feel the best. It’s your body and your journey and everyone IS different. You go at your own pace. Remember the length of time that you have had your condition for; you aren’t going to heal overnight. These things take time and patience!