The GAPS Diet

The GAPS Diet

 

Have you heard of The GAPS (Gut and Psychology/Physiology Syndrome) Diet?

 

A client, whose name I will keep to myself, called me today.  She was very excited.  I don’t even think she said ‘hello.’
 
She screamed, ‘I pooped today!!’

And we both laughed with joy and excitement.  You see, we’ve been working for that poop for about two months now.

I often joke about poop with my clients.  It’s an unavoidable, scary subject for folks to delve into, even with a health practitioner.  It’s just ‘not ok’ to talk about our bowel movements, but it’s my job.  My client had been constipated for over 10 years – poop was cause for a celebration!

The result of what we eat and how we live is our health.  To me, this is a very apparent correlation that needs no explanation.  It is obvious in so many aspects of our experiences on this planet that what goes in to something is what it is made of – basically, what goes in is what comes out.  For example, if you combine equal proportions of sodium and chloride you will get halite, or common table salt.  So, it makes since to me that what goes into our body is what comes out, no poop pun intended.

I know that my health is related to how I eat, and how I care for my body.  From a young age I was forced to find the answers to my own puzzling health questions, and this early experience has allowed me a lifetime of both personal, and now clinical experience with the healing possibilities of proper diet.

Early in my life I was hospitalized with an unresponsive high fever, flu like symtoms, and wide spread rash. Initially my parents were told I had Rocky Mountain Spotted fever, a sometimes fatal tick born illness.  My diagnosis then changed to Systemic Lupus Erythematosus, and in the end I was treated for Mononucleosis, a viral infection commonly associated with the Epstein-Bar virus.  After a little over a week in the hospital I was released, and I begged my mom to take me to my favorite restaurant – Taco Johns, a fast food Mexican place close to the hospital.  I remember eating Super Nachos in the front seat of her car.

Victoria LaFont, age 8

Victoria, age 8

I was a typical case study of autoimmunity, almost an exact replica of the cases I review today – a C-section baby vaccinated at birth with multiple mixed vaccinesfrequent ear and tonsil infections (with tonsillectomy at age 10), hospitalization for undiagnosable symptoms, frequent antibiotic use, and hyperactivity, anxiety, and social awkwardness.  My kindergarten teacher walked me out of school one day and recommended to my waiting mom that she put me on Ritalin.

I often joke with clients, or while teaching classes, that I was raised on Bunny Bread, Crisco, and white sugar.  While this does create a funny image, and these ‘foods’ actually were staples in my house, it also drives home the point that I understand the direct correlation between a bad diet and bad health.  I was living proof.  While there are other factors that contribute to poor health (and we will discuss those in future blogs in this series) I am absolutely, 100 percent convinced that misinformed, improper diet and lifestyle choices are what create illness, and optimal diet and lifestyle choices are what create vibrant, lifelong health.  I have been fortunate in my life to both experience and study the way back to health.

In 2012 I studied with Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride, a neurosurgeon with master’s degrees in neurology and human nutrition, to become a Certified GAPS Practitioner.  GAPS, or Gut and Psychology/Physiology Syndrome, is the name her patients gave to the diet and lifestyle protocol she uses to help them heal, and reverse diagnosis, from autoimmune and developmental illnesses.  This protocol heals damage done to the digestive system, and inversely the immune system, and has the ability to reverse the cause of ‘incurable’ illnesses, such as autoimmune diagnosis.

Victoria today, working with a client in Nevada City, CA

Victoria today, working with a client in Nevada City, CA

I have studied nutrition, personally and formally, for over 10 years – Dr. Natasha’s protocol is the most logical, well researched, and clinically proven method I have studied to heal the underlying cause of disease in the body.  And, my testimony does not stand alone – she has the testimony of thousands of patients who no longer have the diagnosis of Crohn’s disease, Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, type 1 diabetes, or Lupus, along with many other autoimmune disorders.

I, too, am a perfect example of the health that is possible when the root of disease is healed, and the body is given the nutrients it needs to thrive.  While it seems outlandish that one protocol can address many ailments, it begins to make perfect sense once we view the body as one organism, and not many divided systems.  The health of our entire body is connected to the health of the gut/immune system – once the gut is healed, the rest of the body soon follows.

The GAPS protocol is four part.

 

First, the offending foods are taken out of the diet.  For many people these are the common allergens of gluten and casein.  However, clients I see who have a diagnosis of autoimmunity must also eliminate all grains and complex sugars, as well as most starch.  We must go beyond gluten free/casein free, or GF/CF, in order to fully heal the underlying cause of chronic illness.

Second, the gut must be given the nutrients it needs to ‘heal and seal.’  These nutrients come in the form of meat and bone broths, healthy fats, and pastured, grass fed meat.  Old fashioned stock!  Remember when you were sick as a kid and your mom would make chicken soup?  There is a REASON WHY.  The nutrients available in homemade broth – saturated fats, amino acids, full spectrum B vitamins, biotin, vitamin A, D, E, and K2, folic acid – have the ability to heal a very damaged digestive tract.  Broth is the mainstay of the GAPS protocol.

Third, the gut flora must be rebalanced.  Use of truly fermented foods such as sauerkraut, kimchee, kvass, etc., as well as probiotic supplementation, aid in the rebalancing of opportunistic gut flora to beneficial gut flora, i.e. the bad guys get pushed out by the good guys.  Our body’s internal eco-system, dominated by beneficial bacteria and other flora, largely determines our overall immunity.

Fourth, our lifestyle must change to support optimal health and healing.  We cannot continue to introduce toxic substances into our bodies and expect them to heal.  Daily lifestyle changes, such as using truly non-toxic body and cleaning products, avoiding exposure to environmental toxins, finding a clean water source, or avoiding commonly inhaled toxins such as paint or car fumes, will allow our body to fully recover from long term illness.  One of Dr. Natasha’s most important lifestyle recommendations is to get full body sun as often as possible – a challenging, but highly beneficial, recommendation!

My next blog will outline the details of the GAPS Protocol, and focus on ASD, or autism spectrum disorder, as well as other developmental illnesses. GAPS is a wonderful, healing solution for children and adults that live with ASD, and can be a huge step toward full health.