Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride is the author of the book Gut and Psychology Syndrome (GAPS). In short, GAPS is a condition that establishes a connection between gut health and the health of the brain.
As Hippocrates said over 2,000 years ago, “All disease begins in the gut.” And modern science is finding that this is indeed true. If our gut health is compromised then the health of our entire body will go into decline.
It is estimated that 80% of your immune system is located in your gut and when this gut flora is in poor condition then your entire body and mind will be affected and can be the cause of chronic illness such as diabetes.
You probably didn’t know that a human carries about 2 kg of bacteria in the gut. We are talking about 100 trillion bacteria – more than 10 times the number of cells in your entire body.
The good and bad bacteria in your gut have to be balanced out otherwise your health will be severely affected. These little guys play a huge role!
Indicators of having too many bad bacteria in your gut are sugar cravings, headaches, diarrhea, gas, fatigue and more.
Incredibly, the latest research is finding that our gut even acts like a second brain and has the remarkable ability to influence our mind, mood and behavior. It has now been determined that depression and other behavioral problems are linked to our poor gut health.
What does this have to do with diabetes? Well, more than you can imagine. Diabetes can be a symptom of grossly mismanaged gut health and by understanding the GAPS theory and then following the diet or even just parts of it, you can significantly improve your health.
First we will discuss, Dr. Campbell-McBride’s primary focus – brain impairment in children.
When your gut is not functioning properly, GAPS theory has determined that the functioning of your brain could be impaired as a result and lead to neurological and psychiatric disorders such as ADD, depression, eating disorders, allergies, digestive problems and more.
GAPS and Autism
One of the conditions that GAPS addresses is autism. Twenty years ago in the western world autism was very rare and diagnosed in one out of every 10,000 children. Now in the UK and other countries it has increased to 1 in every 66 children.
Why such a massive increase in autism rates? The reason is not because of some growing abnormalities in the children born today but because they do not develop normal gut flora from birth. Gut flora is a big deal – recent research has found that 90% of our cells and genetic material resides in our gut flora.
As a result of these children’s abnormal gut flora, toxins leak into the bloodstream and end up in the brain affecting their cognitive functions.
Growing Abnormalities In Gut Flora and The Causes
How does a baby acquire it’s gut flora? At the time when the baby goes through the birth canal of the mother – if the mother’s flora in this region is abnormal then this will be transferred to the baby.
Dr. Campbell-McBride has noticed an increasing incidence of abnormalities in the gut flora ever since antibiotics were introduced in the late 1940′s.
- Antibiotics get rid of the beneficial bacteria (the probiotics) in the gut leaving pathogens to do uncontrolled damage. The more courses of antibiotics through the generations, the worse the damage in the present day child.
- Another factor which has compromised healthy gut flora is the lack of breastfeeding that has been in use now since the 1970′s. We now know that breastfed babies develop much better gut flora than bottle-fed babies.
- A third factor in ruining the good bacteria in the gut is the widespread use of contraceptive pills.
- To this list you can add all the processed carbs and sugars that people are eating, as these foods feed the pathogens in the gut and contribute to their rampant growth.
Gut Health And The Dangers of Vaccines
It is important to note that vaccines should not be used on a GAPS child as their immune system is too weak to withstand this highly dubious practice. Children are now receiving 20-22 vaccines and there is little proof that they do anything. Don’t expect any let up soon as this practice is highly profitable for the pharmaceutical industry and the FDA just rubber stamps it.
Dr. Campbell-McBride says:
Our children are being used as a market for selling vaccines. The children are vaccinated in our Western world I’m afraid not for the sake of saving the child but for the sake of making money. I’m afraid the situation came to that. It’s an extremely sad and worrying situation.
The future outlook is poor as all the factors listed above are not in decline and appear to be increasing.
Traditional Cultures Worldwide Ate Fermented Foods
Dr. Campbell-McBride believes everyone should incorporate probiotics (beneficial bacteria) into their diet. It is something that people all over the world have been doing for as long as we have existed. And as we now know – for good reason! Before the invention of the refrigerator people had no choice but to ferment their vegetables in order to preserve them.
Traditional cultures did the same with their freshly killed meats, like in Italy where they have cured hams such as prosciutto. In fact, ancient cultures fermented almost everything they had at their disposal because it was their only way of keeping the food for more than a few days. As a result they often consumed large amounts of healthy probiotic bacteria and kept their gut health in check.
With the advent of the processed food industry, this practice of eating fermented foods has been largely forgotten. The food industry’s main concern is shelf life and profit and health is just not part of the equation.
We need to get back to our roots and start eating like our ancestors. Our bodies need the probiotic bacteria in fermented foods on a daily basis. Start incorporating fermented foods, like sauerkraut, into your daily eating routine.
Make Fermented Dairy At Home For Better Gut Health
With fermented dairy you must make it at home. Store bought ‘probiotic yogurt’, for example, is not sufficient for two reasons: it is made from pasteurized milk and it is not fermented long enough for all the lactose to be eaten by the fermenting bacteria.
The lactose in milk is a kind of sugar and this is what the pathogens in your gut feed off of and thus proliferate by. This action contributes to the discomfort you may feel.
However, when you ferment dairy at home, the fermenting bacteria(kefir culture) is introduced into the milk, and eats all of the lactose. Now you have this fermented dairy drink with no lactose. This is called kefir. Get Body Ecology Kefir Starter here.
You must make sure to ferment for at least 24 hours in a warm place. The bacteria will not only consume the lactose but also break other things down so that the milk will be very easy for your digestive system to handle.
Raw milk is best for fermentation but if you can’t find that then you can use organic, pasteurized milk. Fermentation will bring back some of the life to pasteurized milk, pre-digest it and make it easier for your gut to handle.
You can also make yogurt by using yogurt cultures, which is milder version of the kefir. And you can also use cream instead of milk using the kefir culture.
All these products will keep for months in the fridge and you can use them as you like to maintain your gut health.
Obesity and Fats
There is this idea that fat especially animal fat is bad for us and makes us fat. This is completely false and in the GAPS diet animal fats play a big role. The composition of human fat and human breast milk is very similar to that of animal fatty acids especially lamb fat. Animal fats are the best fats for us to consume.
Polyunsaturated fats, omega 3, 6 and 9 are important but we need only a tiny bit of these.
Vegetable and cooking oils must be avoided at all cost, like corn, soy, sunflower, etc. These plant oils are very fragile and vulnerable. After the heavy processing to extract the oil from the plant they are damaged and chemically mutilated and the result is great harm for humans.
On top of this, when these oils are heated during cooking they are damaged even further. Ideally, human intake of fats should be 50% from saturated fats, 30-40% from monounsaturated fats and only a small percentage from polyunsaturated fats.
As is the case today, people are overdosing on polyunsaturated fats and this is severely upsetting the metabolic balance of the body. There isn’t a shadow of a doubt (hundreds of papers testify) that these oils cause cancer, diabetes, heart disease et al.
Any malady or degenerative disease today has been caused by the consumption of these vegetable and cooking oils. With the GAPS diet, all cooking, frying and roasting is done with animal fats.
Coconut oil is a saturated fat and can also be used. It’s best eaten raw and can be used to stabilize blood sugar. For folks with blood sugar problems it can be mixed with a bit of raw honey and put in a small jar that you carry around with you.
Whenever you feel the need you can chomp some of this mixture down and it will stabilize things quickly. It will also wean you off of the carb and sugar cravings. You can do the same using raw butter.
GAPS Nutritional Protocol – 3 Parts
The GAPS Nutritional Protocol consists of 3 parts – GAPS diet, probiotic supplementation and detoxification.
Part 1 – GAPS Diet
The first and most important part is the diet. This gets at the root of the problem – the digestive disorder.
The GAPS diet removes all the foods that are difficult to digest and replaces it with foods that are easy to digest and nutritionally dense. GAPS patients cannot digest and absorb food properly so their bodies and brains are starving for nutrients.
The diet works by pushing out the pathogenic flora in the gut, reestablishing healthy flora and healing and sealing the damaged gut lining. Once this starts to occur and your gut health improves you can introduce a wider variety of foods.
Part 2 – Probiotic Supplementation
The second part consists of supplements, the first of which is a probiotic that introduces healthy bacteria into the gut, kills the parasites and replaces them with healthy flora. Get your potent Body Ecology Probiotic Drinks today!
The next supplements are vitamin A and vitamin D; the former can be obtained from the food in the diet and the latter from sunlight.
The last batch of supplements are cod liver oil, fish oils, omega 6 oils from plants and digestive enzymes. Body Ecology Digestive Enzymes available here.
If you were to just go to the store and buy a supplemental probiotic, this would not be much use, as these products are for preventative use only and are not strong enough to make much improvement to your gut health.
Poor gut health can cause mental illness. (Tweet Me)
GAPS patients need a therapeutic dose. Only with a potent probiotic will you get a strong enough die off reaction. It is possible to buy therapeutic supplemental probiotics which you could use in conjunction with the fermented foods. The use of both is sometimes required if the patient has a severe condition.
A word of caution about ‘die off’. If one were new to fermented foods and all a sudden ate a big plate of sauerkraut, the large amount of beneficial bacteria would have a field day attacking the pathogens and would cause a high rate of die off. When this happens a large amount of toxins are released into your system and the result is you feel poorly temporarily.
These are the toxins that make you autistic or depressed or overly emotional or make you arthritic or have celiac disease or, yes, diabetic or something else. So your symptoms will get worse for a bit.
To minimize this effect, it is suggested that you monitor your reactions and if need be take baby steps and introduce fermented foods in small doses at first.
Part 3 – Detoxification
The third part of the GAPS Nutritional Protocol is detoxification. In GAPS patients there is a boatload of toxicity coming from the gut to the liver and all this garbage clogs up the system and toxins build up. By continuing to eat the proper foods the naturally ability of the body to eliminate toxins will come back. Take a peek at these Body Ecology Cleanse Aids.
Recommended for detox:
- Vegetable juicing
- Baths with Epson salt
- Fermented foods
- Supplemented probiotics
GAPS Diet – 3 Phases
There are 3 phases to the GAPS diet: the introduction diet, the whole diet and the coming off diet.
Phase 1 – Introduction
This phase has 6 stages that you graduate into as your gut health improves. A person could stay in this phase, anywhere from a few weeks to a year or two depending on the severity of their illness.
In this phase the emphasis is on healing and sealing the damaged gut lining as quickly as possible. This phase is for people with severely damaged gut linings, like IBS sufferers and therefore they must avoid foods which are irritative.
This would include avoiding fibrous foods like raw fruit, raw vegetables, nuts and baked goods.
They must eat foods that will allow the gut lining to restore and rebuild itself. Foods like meat stock, bone broth, soups, stews and gelatinous meats which produce collagen and gelatin are excellent for gut health.
The vegetables should be well cooked.
This phase of the diet is very wholesome and nutritious and works wonders in preventing many chronic illnesses including cancer, diabetes and more.
Fermented foods, of course, play a large role. You can eat fermented dairy, like yogurt with added cultures and then once this is well tolerated you can introduce kefir also with added cultures. Kefir has a more powerful cleansing action. More on kefir below.
If there is any problem with dairy then you can use fermented vegetables instead.
The go-to fermented vegetable is cabbage, then you can add carrot, onion, beetroot, garlic and others. Organic vegetables have natural bacteria already living on them so you don’t need to add cultures. You can get Body Ecology Culture Starter here for your veggies but again it is not mandatory.
Phase 2 – Whole Diet
This phase is less restrictive than introduction but the fundamentals remain.
Foods that remain off limits:
- All starches and sugars, including lactose of course.
- All starchy beans which includes the majority of dried beans.
Foods to include – nutrient dense foods that are easy to digest:
- All meats – fresh or frozen.
- All fish and shellfish – fresh or frozen.
- All non-starchy vegetables, ripe fruit, nuts and oily seeds.
In phase 2 it is possible to enjoy baked goods, just as long as you make the flour out of ground up nuts and oily seeds, like sunflower. You can throw an egg in there and a bit of salt and fat and voila – you’ve got bread or pancakes or whatever. To sweeten it or to make it moister you could put in a bit of fruit but do not add yeast. Enjoy tasty food and improve your gut health!
Phase 3 – Coming Off GAPS Diet
The GAPS diet should be followed for around 2 years depending on improvement for each case after which you can add a few foods that were previously forbidden. Foods such as potatoes and fermented grains can be eaten in moderation but you will never want to return to the SAD (Standard American Diet).
The GAPS diet covers a lot of terrain but if you were just to implement the fermented foods part and made this a daily habit then you WOULD see results not just to your gut health but to your overall health for years to come.