The GAPS Diet (GAPS stands for Gut and Psychology Syndrome) was created by Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride, who published her research about the connection between the brain and the gut in the book “Gut and Psychology Syndrome.”
In this book, which she created after her son was diagnosed with autism, Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride also represents a diet familiar as the “GAPS Nutritional Protocol,” and says that the diet has been successful natural treatment for patients with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), dyslexia, and other mental health conditions, including her own child with autism.
The theory behind GAPS diet is that a leaky gut (an increase in the permeability of the gut wall) leads to numerous conditions that may also influence your brain. In other words, a leaky gut allows bacteria, toxins and chemicals from your environment as well as from food to enter your bloodstream when they wouldn’t normally do so.
According to this theory, when these external and foreign substances go into your blood, they may influence your brain’s development and function, and therefore cause conditions like autism spectrum disorders. However, there is very little scientific evidence to support these claims that it works. In addition, this diet may increase the risk of nutrient deficiencies.
This diet removes all simple starches, grains, most dairy and sugars, and relies hugely on homemade broths as well as fermented foods to heal damage to the gut wall (leaky gut syndrome). Therefore, it might be extremely hard to follow and requires a significant, ongoing commitment with no warranty of success. The GAPS diet is based on the SCD diet (Specific Carbohydrate Diet), which is mostly used as a natural treatment for ulcerative colitis, celiac disease, inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), and Crohn’s disease (1, 2, 3, 4, 15).
Here in this profound article you will find out in which conditions GAPS diet may help, what you can eat when following GAPS diet and how to implement GAPS diet. For further information, we suggest you examine the book “Gut and Psychology Syndrome.” However, before starting with any new diet plan, we suggest you consult with your dietician or healthcare provider, particularly if you have an underlying health condition.
What is GAPS Diet and Who is GAPS Diet For?
The term GAPS, which stands for Gut and Psychology Syndrome, was invented by Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride. She is also the one who designed the GAPS diet. The theory behind GAPS diet is that a leaky gut (an increase in the permeability of the gut wall) leads to numerous conditions that may also influence your brain.
In other words, a leaky gut allows bacteria, toxins and chemicals from your environment as well as from food to enter your bloodstream when they wouldn’t normally do so.
According to this theory, when these external and foreign substances go into your blood, they may influence your brain’s development and function, and therefore cause conditions like autism spectrum disorders.
So, the GAPS protocol is therefore firstly designed to treat and heal the gut by stopping harmful toxins from entering your bloodstream and thus lowering the toxicity in your whole body. It has to be said that many children with autism often also have significant digestive problems, such as bloating, constipation, and diarrhea.
The GAPS diet is most frequently used for children, particularly those who have a health condition that mainstream medicine may not fully understand yet, such as autism.
However, Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride promotes the GAPS diet as a natural treatment also for numerous other neurological and psychiatric conditions described below (1, 2).
1. GAPS Diet for Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)
Autism spectrum disorder or autism (ASD), which affects affects an estimated 1 in 54 children in the US today, refers to a wide range of developmental disabilities characterized by:
- Repetitive behaviors such as:
- Repeating words or phrases
- Repetitive movements
- Behavioral disturbances
- Challenges with social communication such as:
- Inappropriate social interaction
- Problems with social interaction
- Social withdrawal
- Unusual reactions in social settings
- Lack of understanding social cues
- Challenges with nonverbal communication
- Not engaging in play with peers
- Problems with two-way conversation
- Abnormal facial expressions or body posturing
- Poor eye contact or avoidance of eye contact
- Challenges with speech such as:
- Abnormal tone of voice
- Deficits in language comprehension
- Delay in learning to speak
- Monotonous or flat speech
- Using odd words or phrases
- Intense focus on one topic
- Lack of empathy
- Learning difficulty or disability
- Preoccupation with specific topics
- Self-abusive behaviors
- problems with sleep (3, 5).
However, some people claim that GAPS diet may be one of the successful natural treatments for autism.
2. GAPS Diet For Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADD and ADHD)
Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a disorder characterized by a continuous pattern of the lack of attention and/or hyperactivity-impulsivity that impedes development or functioning.
Attention-deficit (inattention) means a person:
- Lacks persistence
- Is disorganized
- Wanders off task
- Has difficulty sustaining focus (these issues are not because of defiance or lack of comprehension).
Hyperactivity means a person:
- Seems to move about constantly,
- Including seems to move constantly in situations in which it is not appropriate
- Excessively fidgets, taps, or talks
- In adults, it may be extreme restlessness or wearing others out with constant activity.
Impulsivity means a person:
- Makes hasty actions that occur in the moment without first thinking about them and that may have a high potential for harm
- Has a desire for immediate rewards or inability to delay gratification.
- May be socially intrusive and excessively interrupt others
- Make important decisions without considering the long-term consequences (4).
However, some believe that GAPS diet may be a successful natural treatment for ADD and ADHD.
3. GAPS Diet For Food Intolerance or Allergy
Food intolerance (or food sensitivity) happens when your body has a chemical reaction to eating a specific food or drink. A food allergy happens when your immune system reacts to a harmless food.
The most common foods that may often cause intolerance include:
- Dairy products (lactose)
- Shellfish such as:
- Gluten found in:
- Some animal meats such as:
- Salicylates, which are natural chemicals that may be found in medications, cosmetics and are frequently used as a food preservative. Wide range of foods contain salicylate also naturally, including fruits (for example raisins and oranges), vegetables, spices, teas, coffee, honey and nuts.
- Amines. Although there are numerous types of amines, histamine is most often linked with food-related sensitivities. Amines are substances produced by bacteria during food fermentation and storage and fermentation. Histamine are found in foods such as:
- Dried fruits
- Cured meats
- Citrus fruits
- Aged cheeses
- Smoked fish
- Soured foods like buttermilk
- Fermented alcoholic beverages (wine and beer)
- Sulfites. These chemicals are generally used as preservatives in some medications, foods and drinks. Some foods such as grapes and aged cheeses contain sulfites naturally, but these are also added to certain foods to delay browning or to prevent spoilage caused by bacteria. Foods that contain sulfites include:
- Apple cider
- Dried fruit
- Canned vegetables
- Pickled foods
- Potato chips
- Baked foods
- High FODMAP Foods (6).
- Fructose. Fructose is a type of FODMAP that is naturally found in some fruits and vegetables, as well as sweeteners like high-fructose corn syrup, honey, and agave (6, 7).
The most common foods and other allergens that may often cause allergy include:
- Fish and crustacean shellfish
- Eggs (particularly egg whites)
- Milk and milk products
- Peanuts and tree nuts
- Pet fur, pet saliva, pet dander, or pet skin flakes
- Insect stings and bites
- Plant pollens
- Mold and mildew
- Medications, like penicillin
- Cockroaches, caddisflies, midges, and moths
- Household chemicals
- Some metals, such as cobalt, nickel, zinc and chromium (8).
However, some believe that GAPS diet may be helpful in treating food intolerances and allergies.
4. GAPS Diet For Dyslexia
Dyslexia (also called reading disability) is described as a learning disorder that affects areas of the brain that process language and generally involves the skills involved in fluent and accurate word reading and spelling.
People with dyslexia have difficulties with reading because they have problems identifying speech sounds and learning decoding (how the speech sounds relate to letters and words). However, some believe that GAPS diet may help in the treatment of dyslexia.
5. GAPS Diet For Depression
Depression (also called major depressive disorder) is a common and serious medical mood disorder that negatively affects the way you think, how you feel, how you act and can therefore interfere with your daily functioning. Common depression symptoms include:
- Persistent feeling of sadness or hopelessness
- Loss of interest
- Feelings of worthlessness, helplessness, or guilt
- Lack of concentration or lack of judgment
- Trouble focusing, making decisions, or remembering things
- Thoughts of death or suicide or suicide attempts
- Functional impairment of daily social and work activities
- Persistent sad, anxious, or “empty” mood
- Loss of interest or pleasure in hobbies, daily activities and relationships.
- Lack of energy. Feeling fatigued, sluggish, physically drained or being “slowed down”
- Insomnia (sleep problems) or hypersomnia (excessive sleepiness during the day)
- Appetite and/or weight changes
- Restlessness or irritability
- Unexplained aches or pains.
- The mood of depression lasts for most of the day
- Anger or irritability
- Reckless behavior (8).
Some people believe that GAPS diet may also be helpful in the treatment of depression.
6. GAPS Diet For Schizophrenia
Schizophrenia is a serious chronic brain disorder (mental illness) in which people may seem like they have lost touch with reality. This mental disorder affects how a person feels, thinks, and behaves. Common symptoms of schizophrenia include:
- Psychotic symptoms such as:
- Hallucinations (hearing voices or seeing things that aren’t there) and altered perceptions (changes in hearing, vision, taste, smell, and touch)
- Abnormal thinking
- Odd behaviors
- Delusions (paranoia – irrational fears that others are “out to get you” or believing that the television, radio, or internet are broadcasting special messages that require some response)
- Thought disorder (unusual thinking or disorganized speech)
- Negative symptoms such as:
- Loss of motivation
- Difficulty planning, beginning, and sustaining activities
- Disinterest or lack of enjoyment in daily activities
- Social withdrawal
- Difficulty showing emotions
- Difficulty functioning normally
- Decreased feelings of pleasure in everyday life
- Lessened expression of emotions via facial expression or voice tone
- Reduced speaking
- Cognitive symptoms such as:
- Problems in attention, concentration, and memory
- Difficulties in following conversations,
- Problems in learning new things, or using information immediately after learning it
- Remembering appointments
- Difficulty processing information to make decisions (9).
However, according to people who believe in GAPS diet, this protocol may help treat even the symptoms of schizophrenia.
7. GAPS Diet For Tourette’s Syndrome
Tourette syndrome (also known as Tourette’s disorder) is a disorder caused by the nervous system. This condition involves making sudden repetitive movements or unwanted sounds (called tics) that people themselves can’t easily control. For example, individuals with Tourette syndrome might experience:
- Simple motor and vocal (phonic) tics, which are brief, sudden, and repetitive movements that affect only a limited amount of muscle groups such as:
- Repeated eye blinking and other eye movements
- Facial grimacing
- Shoulder shrugging
- Head or shoulder jerking
- Repetitive sniffing, barking, throat clearing or grunting sounds
- Complex motor and vocal (phonic) tics which are distinct, coordinated patterns of movement affecting various muscle groups such as:
- Facial grimacing combined with a head twist and a shoulder shrug
- Sniffing or touching objects
- Hopping, jumping, bending, or twisting
- Repeating one’s own words or phrases, repeating others’ words or phrases (called echolalia)
- More rarely, using or blurting obscene, offensive, vulgar or swear words (called coprolalia) (10).
Some people believe that GAPS diet may also be successful in the treatment of Tourette syndrome.
8. GAPS Diet Bipolar Disorder
Bipolar disorder (previously called manic depression or manic-depressive illness) is a mental health disorder that causes extreme and unusual shifts in mood that include emotional lows (depression) and highs (mania or hypomania). These kinds of mood swings affect activity levels, energy, concentration, and the ability to carry out daily tasks.
- If people have a manic episode, they may:
- Feel very elated, “up,” “high,” or irritable or touchy
- Feel “wired” or “jumpy”
- Believe they can do a lot of things at once
- Experience a loss of appetite
- Have a lessened need for sleep
- Talk extremely fast about many different things
- Have a feeling like their thoughts are racing
- Believe like they are unusually talented, powerful or important
- Do risky things that show poor judgment (for example spend or give away a lot of money, have reckless sex or drink and eat too much)
- If people have a depressive episode, they may:
- Feel extremely sad, empty, worried or “down,”
- Feel hopeless or worthless
- Think about death or suicide
- Feel slowed down or restless
- Have problems falling asleep, wake up too early, or sleep too much
- Have increased appetite and weight gain
- Talk very slowly
- Forget a lot and feel like they have nothing to say
- Have difficulties concentrating or making decisions
- Feel unable to do even simple things
- A decreased or absent sex drive
- Lose interest in most activities
- Inability to experience pleasure (“anhedonia”) in most activities (11).
People who promote GAPS diet, believe that this protocol may also help treat bipolar disorder.
9. GAPS Diet Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is a common and chronic disorder in which people have uncontrollable, recurring and unwanted thoughts, sensations, or ideas (obsessions) and/or behaviors (compulsions) that make them feel driven to do something repeatedly. However, not all habits are obsessions or compulsions. Individuals with OCD may experience symptoms of obsessions or compulsions, or both.
- Obsessions include repeated urges, thoughts, sensations, ideas, or mental images that cause anxiety such as:
- Need to have things in a perfect or symmetrical order
- Fear of contamination and/or germs
- Unwanted disallowed or taboo thoughts involving religion, sex, or harm
- Aggressive thoughts towards self and others
- Compulsions include repeated behaviors that a person with OCD does in response to an obsessive thought such as:
- Too much hand washing and/or cleaning
- Arranging and ordering things in a specific, precise way
- Compulsive counting
- Repeatedly checking on things (for example, repeatedly checking to see if the ironer is off or if the door is locked) (12).
However, some people believe that GAPS diet may help in the treatment of OCD.
10. GAPS Diet For Eating Disorders
An eating disorder is a mental condition characterized by disturbed or abnormal eating habits that negatively affect a person’s mental or physical health. Common eating disorders include:
- Binge eating disorder (BED) – eating a large amount of food in a short period of time
- Anorexia nervosa (AN) – extreme fear of gaining weight and therefore restricting food or exercising too much to manage this fear
- Bulimia nervosa (BN) – eating too much and then trying to rid themselves of the food by vomiting
- Pica – eating items that are non-food such as for example paper, soap, hair, chalk, paint, and clay
- Rumination syndrome – regurgitating food
- Avoidant/restrictive food intake disorder (ARFID) – having a decreased or selective food intake due to some psychological reasons
- Other specified feeding or eating disorders (OSFED) such as:
- Atypical anorexia nervosa – meeting all criteria for anorexia nervosa, but not being underweight despite substantial weight loss
- Atypical bulimia nervosa – meeting all criteria for bulimia nervosa, but bulimic behaviors are less frequent or have not been ongoing for long enough
- Purging disorder
- Night eating syndrome
- Unspecified Feeding or Eating Disorder (USFED) – eating or feeding disturbances that cause noticeable distress and impairment in important areas of functioning but that do not meet the full criteria for any of the other diagnoses.
- Other eating disorders that are not specified in standard medical manuals include eating disturbances such as:
- Compulsive overeating
- Food maintenance
- Night eating syndrome
- Nocturnal sleep-related eating disorder (parasomnia)
- Gourmand syndrome
- Orthorexia nervosa
- Klüver-Bucy syndrome
- Prader-Willi syndrome
- Muscle dysmorphia
- Purging disorder (13).
People who promote GAPS diet, believe that GAPS protocol may help treat eating disorders.
11. GAPS Diet For Gout
Gout is a complex and common form of inflammatory arthritis described by recurrent, severe, and sudden attacks of pain, swelling, redness, hotness and tenderness in one or more joints, most frequently in the big toe.
12. GAPS Diet For Childhood Bedwetting (Enuresis)
Bedwetting (also called nocturnal enuresis) is when an older child (age 5 or older) wets the bed at night while sleeping. This is a very common condition among children, which may happen a few times a week or every night.
However, some people believe that GAPS diet may also help treat gout as well as childhood bedwetting.
The Gaps Diet Phases – How to Follow The GAPS Diet and What to Eat on GAPS Diet?
Following the GAPS diet can be extremely hard for some, as it is a years-long process and requires you to eliminate from your diet all foods Dr. Campbell-McBride thinks may promote a leaky gut. These foods to cut out include pasteurized dairy, all grains, refined carbs and starchy vegetables.
The GAPS protocol includes three main phases:
- The GAPS introduction diet
- The full GAPS
- A reintroduction phase for coming off of the diet
1. The GAPS Diet Protocol Phase 1 – Introduction Phase: Elimination (3 Weeks – 1 Year)
During the most restrictive introduction phase (also called the “gut healing phase”) you eliminate most foods (all starchy carbs) from your diet and introduce foods slowly (broth, stews, and probiotic foods), beginning with tiny amounts and building little by little. This can be extremely intense, as depending on your symptoms, the introduction phase can last from three weeks to one year.
You can move from one stage to the next once you are tolerating (meaning, you have a normal bowel movement) the foods you have introduced. After completing the introduction phase, you can move to the full GAPS diet. However, according to Dr. Campbell-McBride – those whose conditions are extremely severe may need to stay in the introductory phase for longer.
Introduction phase includes 6 stages:
- Stage 1: In this stage you can eat and drink:
- Juices made from ginger and probiotic foods
- Chamomile or mint tea with honey between meals
- Homemade bone broth (homemade meat, chicken, or fish stock)
- Unpasteurized, homemade yogurt or kefir (only if you are not dairy intolerant)
- Stage 2: In this stage you can add in to your diet:
- Ghee and stews made with vegetables and meat or fish
- Raw organic egg yolks
- Stage 3: In this stage you can eat all previous foods and add in:
- Fermented vegetables
- GAPS-recipe pancakes
- Scrambled eggs made with ghee, goose fat, or duck fat
- Stage 4: In this stage you can add in:
- Vegetable juice
- Cold-pressed olive oil
- Grilled and roasted meats
- GAPS-recipe bread (bread made with almond flour)
- Stage 5: In this stage you can add in:
- Fruit juice
- Cooked apple purée
- Small amounts of raw fruit (but not citrus)
- Raw vegetables beginning with peeled cucumber and lettuce
- Stage 6: In this stage you can:
2. The GAPS Diet Protocol Phase 2 – Maintenance Phase: The full GAPS Diet (1.5–2 Years)
During the maintenance phase, it is advised to base the majority of the diet on vegetables, eggs, animal fats, fish, meat, fish, and probiotic foods.
But firstly, here are some important recommendations that go along with the full GAPS diet:
- During this phase, avoid all other foods, especially preservatives, artificial colorings and refined carbs
- Avoid also canned and packaged foods
- Do not eat fruit and meat together at the same time
- Consume organic foods at any moment if possible
- Consume bone broth with every meal
- At every meal, eat also animal fats, cold-pressed olive or coconut oil
- If you can tolerate, eat large amounts of fermented foods
What to Eat During The Full GAPS Diet
- Non-starchy vegetables. Certain vegetables, such as non-starchy vegetables like onions, asparagus, carrots, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, kale, Swiss chard, lettuce, and beets are allowed in the GAPS diet, but not all vegetables. It is also suggested to ferment vegetables using recipes and cultures that are “GAPS-approved.”
- Most fruit. Almost all fruits are allowed. However, if you eat bananas, they must be very ripe.
- Eggs (preferably organic)
- Fresh meat and poultry (preferably grass-fed and hormone-free). All types of cooked animal meats are allowed in the GAPS diet. However, not all spices and sauces are allowed. Therefore you should cook all proteins at home for the most part.
- Animal fats and oils such as:
- Lamb fat
- Duck fat
- Olive oil
- Coconut oil
- Raw butter
- Fermented dairy, probiotic beverages and vegetables (Dr. Campbell-McBride’s book includes recipes for these kind of foods that are suggested as a source of beneficial bacteria) such as:
- Homemade yogurt
- Other fermented beverages
- Other fermented vegetables
- Fermented fish (using GAPS recipe)
- Moderate amounts of nuts (nuts, nut butters, and nut flour)
- Moderate amounts of GAPS-recipe baked foods made with nut flours
What Not to Eat and Drink During GAPS Diet
- All grains (such as wheat, rice, barley, oats, and corn) and grain products (such as bread, crackers, cookies, breakfast cereal, pasta and all other conventional baked goods). According to Dr. Campbell-McBride these foods irritate the gut lining and finally damage it, which influences the absorption of nutrients.
- Starchy vegetables (such as potatoes, sweet potatoes, parsnips, yams, beans and legumes).
- Quinoa, buckwheat, sorghum, millet, and other gluten-free grains.
- Sugar and added sugar. As, sugar is believed to be harmful to the gut lining, all natural and artificial sweeteners such as maple syrup, corn syrup, molasses, aspartame (in any form and any food that contains it) and any other syrup are banned in GAPS diet.
- Candy, cookies, cakes, and ice cream.
- Milk and dairy (unless it’s fermented). According to Dr. Campbell-McBride’s theory, milk (especially cow’s milk, but except butter) can irritate and damage the intestinal lining almost in the same way as grains do. Therefore, in most cases, only fermented dairy products such as yogurt, kefir, ghee, and whey are allowed, as these do not have the same effect.
- All processed foods. All processed foods contain substances that are not allowed on the diet. The only exceptions are processed foods that are specially labeled “GAPS-compliant”.
- All alcoholic beverages (1, 14).
3. The GAPS Diet Protocol Phase 3 – Reintroduction Phase: Coming Off GAPS
According to the GAPS diet protocol, you can begin the final reintroduction phase after you have sustained normal digestion as well as bowel movements for at least 6 months.
In this phase you reintroduce foods back into your daily diet slowly over a number of months. Therefore, like the other stages of this diet, the reintroduction phase can be a long process too.
Here are some important suggestions that go along with the reintroduction phase:
- Introduce each food back into your daily diet in a small amount and individually.
- You may little by little increase your portions only if you don’t notice any digestive problems over 2–3 days.
- The first foods to introduce in the reintroduction phase include new potatoes and fermented, gluten-free grains.
- It is advised to carry on with avoiding all:
- foods high in refined carbs
- refined high-sugar foods
- highly processed foods
- It is also suggested to retain the whole-foods concept of the GAPS diet protocol (1, 14).
Suggested GAPS Supplements
Although, according to the GAPS diet founder the most important side of the GAPS diet protocol is the diet – the protocol also recommends numerous supplements such as:
Probiotics: These are added to the diet to help restore the balance of beneficial bacteria in your gut. It is advisable to introduce probiotics slowly into your diet and look for a probiotic containing:
- Strains from a variety of bacteria, including Bifidobacteria, Lactobacilli, and Bacillus subtilis varieties.
- At least 8 billion bacterial cells per gram and to introduce the probiotic slowly into your diet.
Essential fatty acids, cod liver oil and fish oil: It is suggested that people on the GAPS diet take:
Digestive enzymes: According to the GAPS diet founder, people with GAPS conditions (Gut and Psychology Syndrome) also have low stomach acid production. Therefore, she recommends followers of the GAPS diet to take:
- A supplement of betaine HCl (manufactured form of hydrochloric acid, one of the main acids produced in your stomach) with added pepsin (this is an enzyme also produced in the stomach, which works to break down and digest proteins) before each meal.
- In addition, to support digestion, some people may need to take additional digestive enzymes.
What You Need to Know – Additional Tips and Suggestions For GAPS Diet
Here are some additional suggestions, tips and notes from Dr. Campbell-McBride:
- People who hope to accomplish results from the GAPS diet should begin with the introductory phase and not rush with this step. Meaning, they should stay on it (working through all its six stages) for as long as it takes for their digestive symptoms to subside. Only when digestive symptoms have abated, you can move on to the full GAPS diet and add more foods.
- Follow the GAPS diet strictly according to the blueprint in the book.
- For vegetarians this diet may be tricky to follow, as the diet relies on animal-based protein.
- Those with a tree nut allergy can avoid certain recipes, but shouldn’t otherwise have much problems with finding foods they can eat on the diet.
- In this diet you cook almost all your own food from scratch, as homemade stock has a “soothing effect” on areas of inflammation within the intestinal tract which commercial stock products don’t have.
- To make homemade meat or poultry stock, you’ll need to:
- Start with joints and bones with a little meat on them.
- Place bones and/or joints in a large pan and fill the pan up with water.
- Add a bit of sea salt and a few herbs to taste.
- Bring it to a boil, and then cover and simmer it on low heat for 2, 5 to 3, 5 hours.
- You can also use a slow cooker and simmer the mixture on low overnight.
- To make homemade fish stock, use the entire fish or fish fins and let it simmer for up to 1,5 hours (1).
GAPS Diet Sample Shopping List
The GAPS emphasizes homemade bone broth, animal protein, fermented foods and non-starchy vegetables, but eliminates all grains and legumes. As this may be firstly difficult to adapt, we hereby provide you a sample shopping with recommendations for getting started with this diet plan. However, every person is unique and there may be other foods that work better for you.
- Non-starchy vegetables such as broccoli, asparagus, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, zucchini, avocados, cucumbers, green beans, and okra
- Fruits such as pineapple, ripe banana, pineapple, grapefruit, berries, oranges, and raisins
- Leafy greens such as kale, bok choy, spinach, collard greens, and green leaf lettuce
- Meat and poultry such as ground beef, lean cuts of beef, whole chicken, chicken breast, and turkey breast
- Fish such as tuna, salmon, sea bass, halibut, cod, and mackerel
- Fermented dairy products such as kefir, yogurt, and ghee
- Fermented vegetables such as kimchi and sauerkraut
- Nuts such as walnuts, almonds, cashews, hazelnuts, and pistachios, walnuts
- Nut butters such as almond butter, cashew butter, and hazelnut butter
- Nut flours such as meals made with almond flour and hazelnut flour
- Oils such as olive oil and coconut oil
- Fresh herbs such as rosemary and thyme, rosemary (1)
- Supplements such as probiotics, cod oil or fish oil (or both) and enzymes
Pros and Cons of GAPS Diet
Pros of GAPS Diet
- Encourages home cooking and healthy meals. As restaurant food is not allowed, following a GAPS diet means you will be healthier.
- May be helpful for some people and help treat some gut and mental health symptoms. According to Dr. Campbell-McBride, the GAPS diet can help improve symptoms of ADHD, autism, and other mental health disorders in children as well as in adults by healing the gut.
- Although this diet is not for weight loss, you may lose weight when implementing the GAPS diet. However, remember that this might be not the healthiest way to lose weight, and there are better alternatives for healthy weight loss.
- Strong and supportive online community. In this community parents and others who have followed the GAPS diet may help you begin and maintain the GAPS diet, answer your questions, provide support, and also act as cheerleaders for those just starting the diet (1).
Cons of GAPS Diet
- Extremely difficult to maintain as it is time-consuming and restrictive. In addition, you will need to spend more time in the kitchen and cook most foods from scratch.
- Eliminates too many common foods and may therefore cause nutritional deficiencies. Dietary guidelines (The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)) recommend that about one-quarter of daily calories come from grain-based foods (ideally whole grains) including bread, rice, cereal, pasta, grits, and tortillas, and grits. However, as in the GAPS diet any grains are not allowed, in this part, it does not adhere to federal guidelines. The diet may also lead to unwanted weight loss. In addition, some research has warned against the consumption of bone broths, because bones may contain heavy metals and present a risk for lead contamination.
- Little research on its effectiveness. Similarly to other diet plans for autism, the GAPS diet does not have any correct medical studies to confirm its effectiveness (1).
NB! The information provided here is for informational purposes only, so do not consider it as health care or medical diagnosis and treatment. Do not consider this information as a guarantee of the results you want to achieve. In addition, this information is not intended to replace the advice of your physician or other healthcare professional.
Even more, you should not use it to diagnose or treat a health problem. Before changing or discontinuing your existing medication, treatment, or care, or taking any dietary supplements, be sure to consult with your healthcare professional or doctor before starting any diet or program, or if you suspect you may have a medical condition.
Written by Maria-Helena Loik
Pictures: Pexels.com, Pixabay.com, Shutterstock.com
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