We’ve been hearing a lot about our gut health, good bacteria and the gut-brain connection as of late. Against the backdrop of this emerging area, the GAPS diet is making waves, claiming to utilize the gut-brain connection to treat myriad conditions — both physical and psychological.
We dug into the GAPS diet and its claims. Here’s what you need to know.
The Gut and Psychology Syndrome diet aka GAPS diet was developed by Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride, a United Kingdom-based doctor who specializes in nutrition for digestive and immune system disorders, as well as behavioral and learning disabilities.
The diet focuses on the connection between our GI tract and the brain.
There is a two-way communication pathway between our gut and our brain, by both an anatomical connection called the vagus nerve and a biological or “wireless” connection that is carried through our bloodstream via hormones, per an March 2019 paper published in Neuron. Both of these modes of communication are influenced by the bacteria in our gut. The food we eat plays an important role in our overall gut environment and health.
The GAPS diet believes that a plethora of conditions from autism to depression and even schizophrenia can be treated by using this gut-brain connection, with our diets being the driving force.
What Do You Eat on the GAPS Diet?
The purpose of the GAPS diet is to “detoxify the person, to lift the toxic fog off the brain to allow it to develop and function properly. In order to achieve that, we need to clean up and heal the digestive tract so it stops being the major source of toxicity in the body and becomes the source of nourishment, as it is supposed to be.”
The GAPS diet is broken into three protocols:
This protocol is further broken down into three parts: the Introduction Diet, the Full GAPS diet and a final stage that helps you wean off the GAPS diet. Where you start — the Introduction versus Full GAPS diet phase — depends on your condition and current diet.
The Introduction Diet is divided into six stages and it can take three to six weeks to complete all of the stages. Once you’ve completed all of the stages, you move to the Full GAPS diet, which lasts for a minimum of 18 to 24 months.
The final phase of the nutrition protocol is called Coming Off the GAPS Diet, which is detailed in the book Gut and Healthy Psychology Syndrome.
The foods you can eat depend on which part of the diet you’re following and which stage you’re in.
During the Introduction Diet, which lasts for three to six weeks, you’ll drink a cup of room temperature, filtered water every morning. Then, you’ll eat the following foods during each of its six stages.
- Homemade meat or fish stock
- Soup made with stock
- Juice from probiotic foods
- Boiled meat or other soft tissues
- Ginger tea between meals with a little honey
Continue with stage one and add: