You’re likely familiar with fad diets like Atkins, South Beach, Paleo and the Zone, but have you heard of a lesser-known one called GAPS?
The GAPS diet is designed to improve your health from the inside out – specifically starting at your gut. Based on a book called “Gut and Psychology Syndrome,” by Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride, the GAPS diet is based on the idea that most people are unhealthy, sick, ill or otherwise unwell because of damage they’ve done to their gut.
Most of this damage, McBridge says, comes from the food we eat.
So the GAPS diet aims to reverse gut health and, subsequently, improve the health and wellness of the person’s body as whole.
Think the GAPS diet could be a good option for you? Let’s look into it a little further.
Benefits of the GAPS Diet
The overall goal of the GAPS diet is simple: to improve gut and digestive health, and therefore improve the body’s health as a whole. It is based on the premise that many of us have what’s called “leaky gut syndrome,” during which your intestines become porous. This allows undigested food molecules and toxins to invade your body and bloodstream, and it keeps you from absorbing the vitamins and minerals you need.
The GAPS diet does this in a number of ways:
- It helps promote a healthy balance of bacteria in the gut – particularly the good kinds of bacteria that your body needs.
- It reverses any toxicity that may be in your gut or digestive system. This toxicity is typically caused by harmful bacteria from foods ingested.
- It heals your gut and gastrointestinal system, rebuilds the gut wall, and ensures your body is able to properly absorb the nutrient is needs from the food you consume.
Studies have shown the GAPS diet has other benefits, too. It can boost your immune system, alleviate bowel issues, improve bone health and bone density, kill off yeast, detox your body and even reverses ailments like allergies, heart disease, diabetes and more.
Is the GAPS Diet Right for You?
Gut problems and leaky gut syndrome can be caused by a number of underlying issues. Overuse of antibiotics is a big one, as it changes the levels of bacteria in your system. Stress, chronic inflammation, overconsumption of processed and refined foods, and high levels of vegetable oils, grains and other irritating foods are all contributing factors, too.
To tell if you have a gut issues, there are a number of symptoms you can be on the lookout for. Here are just a few:
- Chronic gas, bloating diarrhea or bowel problems
- Hormonal imbalances
- Chronic fatigue
- Seasonal allergies or asthma
- Acnes, eczema or other skin issues
- Anxiety, depression, ADD or ADHD
- Food allergies and intolerances
- Immune problems, like lupus, thyroiditis, celiac disease or rheumatoid arthritis
If you suffer from a number of these, there’s a high chance you have a problem with your gut health. The GAPS diet may offer you a great way to heal your gut and, subsequently, feel better and healthier on the whole.
Guide to the GAPS Diet
Now that you know what the GAPS diet is all about, let’s delve into what the diet actually calls for – what you can eat, what you can’t and more.
The best foods on the GAPS diet are:
- Fresh meats
- Olive oil
- Natural fats like butter, ghee, coconut oil, etc.
You should also work lots of stocks, broths and soups into your meals, as well as fermented foods, as these restore your stomach acid and thus improve digestion.
You’ll want to avoid these foods when on GAPS:
- Anything processed, pre-made, canned, boxed or tinned
- Foods with preservatives, colorings and artificial chemicals
- Sweeteners, like agave, fructose, saccharin, sugar, etc.
- Most grains, including amaranth, barley, bulgur, buckwheat, quinoa, rice, rye, etc.
- Flour (grain flours, not nut flour)
- Alcohol, beer and soft drinks
- Corn and corn starch
- Potatoes, including sweet potatoes
- Beans, including bean flour, cannellini beans, black-eyed peas, garbanzo beans, fava beans, etc.
The main goal is to eat food in its natural form, so that it’s easier on your gut to digest and it provides the nutrients and minerals your body needs to heal. Try to avoid anything that’s been processed too much, and if possible, cook most of your meals and snacks at home – so you know exactly what’s been put in them.
Give the GAPS Diet a Try
Think you have a gut issue? The GAPS diet could help. Before starting the diet however, be sure to check in with your physician. You’ll want to make sure the diet is safe for any health conditions you may have, as well as get their opinion on the state of your gut and intestinal tract.
Have you tried the GAPS diet? If so, what was the result? Let me know in the comments.