What is GAPS diet?

Various digestive disorders are becoming very common across all age groups these days. This area has been of particular clinical interest in my natural medicine practice for many years, and I found the GAPS diet protocol to be a very effective and safe method of dealing with the vast majority of digestive disorders, among other conditions also covered by the GAPS protocol (see more on this below).

If you never heard of GAPS before or would like to find out more, I’d like to introduce you to the GAPS concept and also briefly explain how and why it works for my patients and myself.

GAPS is an abbreviation for Gut And Psychology Syndrome and Gut And Physiology Syndrome. This concept has been created by Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride in 2004, when she published her first book Gut And Psychology Syndrome. Dr Natasha trained as a medical doctor in Russia and also has two postgraduate degrees from the UK: in neurology and nutrition. She is based in the UK.

Fundamentally, GAPS established a connection between the state of the gut and the health of the rest of the body. It was of course Hippocrates who first said a long time ago that “all diseases begin in the gut” and it turned out to be the case!

The current extensive research into our microbiome is bringing a better understanding of the importance of gut health for all of us.

GAPS is essentially a digestive disorder as many digestive symptoms are universally present. The typical digestive symptoms GAPS people suffer include colic, feeding difficulties in childhood, bloating and flatulence, diarrhoea, constipation, food allergies/ intolerances, faecal compaction, reflux (heartburn), inflammatory bowel conditions (colitis, Crohn’s disease), and many others.

All digestive symptoms are considered to be a clear indication that the person has abnormal gut flora, which is damaging the gut wall, causing inflammation and irritation there, and interfering with proper digestion and absorption of food.

Important note: in some cases GAPS people may not have pronounced digestive symptoms. However, if I look at their health history, I find that they had them on-and-off most of their lives.

For example, Dr Natasha had a few cases in her clinic where people with psychiatric conditions never had digestive symptoms, but when put on the GAPS diet they had great improvements in their mental functioning. This happens because our bodies have a great ability to compensate for problems. Therefore a person can have quite extensive damage in the gut but has no pain, diarrhoea or any other gut-related symptoms, as the body compensates for the damage.

Only when the damage gets to a certain point, we start getting digestive symptoms. Therefore, those people may not have digestive symptoms, but have enough damage in their gut wall to allow toxins produced by the abnormal gut flora through. The toxins then get into the blood stream and into the brain of the person, causing mental or other problems.

So, in any person with abnormal gut flora the gut becomes a