The GAPS diet – for autism and more!

by | Nov 13, 2023 | mind and mood

In her book Gut and Psychology Syndrome (GAPS) Dr Natasha Campbell-McBride describes the protocol she designed to treat her own autistic child. A combination of diet and lifestyle strategies that have a remarkable affect on the symptoms of autism.  Following this success she went on to treat many other people with autism using the GAPS diet. As well as training hundreds of GAPS practitioners around the world to do the same.

At first it may seem strange that what someone eats can affect their brain. Yet we have many phrases to suggest a link between the gut and the brain.  Having a “gut feeling” about something, or getting “butterflies in the stomach” when we’re nervous, and so on.

The huge mass of nerves that connect to the gut and the digestive organs are even called the second brain. Plus, we now have research to support a two way dialogue between the gut and the brain. Explaining why factors that affect the health of the gut can affect the health of the brain.

The gut is home to trillions of bacteria. Some bacteria are beneficial and some are harmful. There are still more that are neither beneficial or harmful but can become harmful in certain circumstances. A healthy balance of all these bacteria protects and nourishes the body. When the balance of bacteria is disturbed our gut can become leaky. Allowing toxins that should be excreted to leak into the rest of the body. In fact around 90% of the toxins in the blood come from the gut.

How does the GAPS diet help?

The aim of the diet is to restore gut intestinal balance and to heal and seal the gut lining. This reduces the volume of toxins flowing from the gut which reduces symptoms.

By only allowing the foods that the body can easily digest, the GAPS diet aims to starve the harmful bacteria, reducing their number. Or, even eliminating them completely.

Whilst on the GAPS diet, avoid all grains, starchy vegetables and foods containing disaccharide sugars. These disaccharides include sucrose (table sugar), lactose (in milk) and maltose (malt sugar). As well as avoiding other foods that may inflame the gut such as modern processed vegetable oils.

This diet also emphasises fresh and unprocessed foods as well as cultured foods and meat or fish stocks. Fermented foods such as sauerkraut and home-made yoghurt provide a wide range of beneficial bacteria. Whilst meat stocks provide the nutrients for repairing the gut lining.

Can GAPS help other conditions?

Since the GAP syndrome is behind many other health problems, both mental and physical. It should be no surprise that this healing protocol may relieve many other health concerns as well as autism. In fact as more people use the GAPS protocol the more we learn about the conditions it can help. Not just the digestive conditions like irritable bowel syndrome, heartburn, SIBO or inflammatory bowel disease. But also mood and mental health issues such as hyperactivity, dyslexia, addiction and anxiety. As well as chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia and heart disease. Whats more, GAPS may also reduce immune system problems such as autoimmune conditions, and allergies such as asthma and eczema. In fact these allergies often precede a diagnosis of autism spectrum.

Do you need help with the GAPS Diet?

Many people find the GAPS diet difficult to implement. It has several stages that need to be worked through. With new foods to add at each stage. Some of which must be, or are best prepared at home. If you need help with starting on the GAPS diet contact your local GAPS practitioner.


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