What is GAPS and How Do I Know if it is Right For Me?

GAPS (Gut and Psychology/Physiology Syndrome) is a condition which establishes a connection between the functions of the digestive system and the brain. The protocol was developed by a Russian Scientist – Dr Natasha Campbell McBride.

It is based on her experience as a neuroscientist, Nutritionist and as a mother of an Autistic child some 25 years ago. She successfully treated her son with this protocol and healed his Autistic tendencies, which included both psychological and physiological symptoms.

There are three parts to the protocol; Nutrition, Detoxification and Supplemental. It is from following this practise the gut is able to repair fully over time, enabling the immune system, hormones and neurotransmitters to function optimally.

The gut is your foundation of health, therefore if your gut isn’t integral then you can expect to see imbalances and undesirable symptoms. Generally in an imbalanced eco-system of gut bugs there are foreign parasites, yeasts and heavy metal toxicity which cause inflammation and irregular gut bacteria. This irregular gut bacteria can effect; behaviour, mental health, gastro-intestinal health, food cravings, sleep cycles, skin health, hormones, allergies etc. The protocol is aimed to rebalance your gut flora, heal your leaky gut and give the body the nutrients it needs to thrive.

GAPS Nutritional Protocol:

There are two options when choosing the start the GAPS diet;

  • The Intro GAPS diet
  • The Full GAPS diet

Depending on your symptoms will depend on where you start.

It is best to consult a GAPS practitioner to assist you with this decision and help you with a road map as it is a different process for everyone.

The Intro diet is a 6 stage approach, where by you start with very little variety (stage one is meat stock) and gradually introduce different foods at each stage while you monitor your symptoms and ensure you do not have any symptom triggers from any of the foods. You can stay on a stage for anywhere from 3 days to 3 weeks depending on your symptoms and progression.

The full GAPS diet is full list of food you can and cannot have; the idea is that you are taking away all anti-nutrients. Foods which can cause inflammatory in the digestive tract and or feed pathogenic bacteria are not allowed. Foods which nourish and heal the gut are allowed and in turn incorporate the building blocks for a strong immune system and balanced gut flora.

Detoxification Protocol:

Depending on your symptoms will depend on what your practitioner recommends as detoxification practises for your protocol. Generally in a GAPS person, their detoxification system is not functioning properly and therefore stagnant toxins are poisoning the body. There is an emphasis on detoxification as without a properly functioning detoxification system you cannot expect your body to heal properly. Colon health is very important for GAPS people and home enemas and or colonics are recommended so that the body is not storing old waste matter. The colon is the dumping ground for excess toxins which the body had previously stored in tissue, joints, blood, bone and fat deposits once it begins properly eliminating.

Other detox practises include: tongue scraping, magnesium and bi-carb soda baths, skin brushing, sun bathing, breathing techniques and avoiding environmental toxins such as home cleaning products, self care products, conventional fruit and veg, tap water etc.

Supplemental Protocol:

Supplementally a GAPS person requires support as their gut is not going to be digesting food properly and therefore missing a lot of the nutrients which are required. Most commonly the supplements recommended are; a high quality probiotic, high quality fermented cod liver oil, digestive enzymes, stomach acid stimulator, pancreatic enzymes and potentially some anti-parasitic herbs if necessary. These will allow the body to break down the foods which we are eating, assist with the healing process of the mucosal lining of the gut and also help introduce good bacteria into the gut. Supplements are not for everyone initially, so these need to be prescribed by a registered GAPS practitioner and your symptoms needs to be monitored daily to see how your body is responding.

GAPS is fantastic protocol for anyone who has had long standing issues with:

  • Digestive issues; Ulcerative Colitis, Crohn’s disease, bloating, constipation, IBS, IBD, diarrhoea, smelly gas, nausea, heart burn and reflux
  • Psychological issues; Autism, depression, anxiety, OCD, ADD/ADHD, dyspraxia, dyslexia, schizophrenia, split personality disorder, anorexia, bulimia.
  • Other chronic issues with skin conditions, food intolerances, abdominal pain etc.

Written By: Nicola Johnson

Owner of pH Clinic, Certified Advanced Colon Hydrotherapist, GAPS Practitioner and Yoga Teacher

Want to Know More About GAPS?

For more information pick up a copy of Dr Natasha Campbell-McBrides book – Gut and Psychology Syndrome here at the clinic. If you would like to book in to see Nicola for a GAPS consultation please book online here.

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