GAPS: Gut and Psychology Syndrome/Gut and Physiology Syndrome
GAPS diet is a diet that is applied to treat many diseases in the body by improving gut health. Losing weight is not the primary goal. It was developed based on the studies that suggest that many diseases are caused by toxins in the gut, and it is a treatment based on the relationship between gut health and mental health. Therefore, it is actively used today to eliminate problems that affect many neurological, psychological, and musculoskeletal systems.
With GAPS nutrition, it is predicted that we can get rid of our diseases by removing certain foods such as cereals, sugars, carbohydrate-containing foods, pre-packaged foods from our body and repairing the intestinal flora.
The GAPS diet is a dietary treatment that has been shown to be effective in treating a variety of diseases that affect the body. Many diseases are caused by a toxic condition that occurs when undigested or partially digested food passes through a damaged intestinal wall into the bloodstream. This occurs because the body’s immune system attacks undigested food as if it were a foreign invader.
The GAPS diet was developed by Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride, who used the brain-gut connection to help her autistic son recover. The term GAPS stands for “Gut and Psychology Syndrome/Gut and Physiology Syndrome” and is based on the idea that improving gut health can also improve diagnosed and undiagnosed health conditions.
The main principle of GAPS treatment is that increased intestinal permeability can lead to neurological, psychological, and behavioral problems. Therefore, the GAPS diet focuses on eating foods that are easy to digest and support gut flora.
Gut health is linked to the physical and mental health of the entire body. Harmful bacteria and toxins that settle in a leaky gut can enter the bloodstream and accumulate in the brain, joints, skin, internal organs, and many other places, causing various diseases. Leaky gut and increased intestinal permeability, which can be caused by poor diet, are responsible for many psychological, neurological, autoimmune diseases, and behavioral problems. Some of these diseases include autism, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, dyslexia, arthritis, inflammatory bowel diseases, irritable bowel syndrome, fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, multiple sclerosis, epilepsy, depression, allergies, asthma, and eating disorders.
The GAPS diet basically aims to remove foods from the diet that the person has difficulty digesting. This prevents damage to the intestinal flora and allows time for repair. The diet is switched to nutrient-rich foods that are necessary for the intestine to regenerate itself.
Research in this field is still ongoing and studies have shown that there is a relationship between the brain and the intestine. Especially in cases such as anxiety and depression, the relationship between the intestine and the brain is known, and this issue will be further elucidated with new studies in the coming years.
How To Make A GAPS Nutrition Plan?
In GAPS nutrition, all findings of the person are evaluated and a personalised nutrition plan is created.
GAPS nutrition has three stages: GAPS entry, full GAPS diet, GAPS exit. The stage from which the person will start is planned by evaluating the anamnesis, physical examination and the physiological, social and mental conditions of the person.
GAPS nutrition can be started with GAPS introduction or full GAPS. This is determined after the examination. The person’s complaints, physical examination findings and compliance are evaluated and a plan is created. How long to stay at which stage varies from person to person. The implementation period of GAPS nutrition lasts for 1.5-2 years and it is aimed to maintain the patient’s acquired healthy status by gradually introducing nutrients in GAPS exit.
There are 6 different stages in the GAPS entry diet. Compliance with the nutrition plan accelerates the healing process and shortens the transition time to the next stage. Even a small amount of elimination of nutrients taken with the disruption of nutrition can seriously damage the intestinal flora. Each of the phases of the introductory diet is applied for a period of time, the patient’s complaints are monitored and the next phase can be started as soon as improvement is observed, and in this way, a gradual improvement is observed in the patient. If the patient cannot tolerate a newly added food, one or two previous phases are continued for a while and then the new food is tried again.
In general, the foods added to the diet at these stages are as follows;
- In the first stage; home-made meat, bone, fish broth, soups and vegetables made with meat broth, milk or vegetable-based microbiotic foods, foods such as chamomile tea, ginger honey tea, mint tea and natural teas
- at this stage, increasing the amount of fermented foods already started, such as raw egg yolk, then hard-boiled eggs, stewed meat and vegetable dishes, ghee oil and fermented fish
- stage; increase the daily intake of fermented foods, ripe avocado, eggs, nut butter, pancakes with pumpkin, scrambled eggs/omlet, animal fats
- at this stage; Baked/grilled meats, cold pressed extra virgin olive oil is added to the list, freshly squeezed fruit and vegetable juices, homemade bread made from nut flour
- in stages: freshly squeezed fruit juices, cooked applesauce, raw vegetables and greens
- in stages: raw fruits, starting with peeled apples, pastries (cakes made with nut flour, eggs, dried fruit and oil, etc.).
In the introductory phases of GAPS, the portions of newly added foods are increased slightly, aiming to improve the digestive system gradually. By introducing new foods in small portions, the variety of nutrients in the diet is gradually increased. The interval between phases is planned according to bowel movements, symptom control and the absence of intolerances. Since the duration of need for the introduction phase is variable, the length of stay in this phase varies from person to person.
During full GAPS, the second stage of the general GAPS diet plan, none of the prohibited foods are consumed. Food diversity is more than the previous stage. It is recommended to follow for at least 2 years. Fruit-vegetable juice twice a day, eggs, meat, fish, chicken, vegetables, plenty of animal fat, broth and soups, hazelnut bread, pancakes, cakes
During the full GAPS process, meat and fruit should generally not be consumed together, especially organic food should be eaten. It is important that each meal is made with animal fats, cold pressed olive oil or coconut oil. In addition, bone broth should be consumed at every meal. If there is no tolerance problem during the diet, in which especially packaged and canned food consumption is prohibited, the same nutrition plan should be maintained until complete recovery is observed.
In the GAPS exit diet, which is the last stage of the diet, nutrition is normalised step by step and the body is prepared for a standard diet. All foods are added to the plan one by one and gradually, not at the same time, while the symptoms of the added foods in the body are observed and if there is no intolerance, the phase is continued. Firstly, fresh potatoes are introduced. Then fermented wheat and quinoa are introduced. Only one food is introduced at a time and gradually increased. Even immediately after the completion of the GAPS diet, it is not recommended to return to refined sugar or packaged foods containing carbohydrates, as these types of foods may cause symptoms to recur.
In addition to dietary modification, various nutritional supplements (probiotics, digestive enzymes, vitamins, iodine applications, cod liver oil, specific supplements, vegetable oils, etc.) and detoxification recommendations, lifestyle changes are also part of the GAPS diet.
GAPS nutrition is very beneficial for the general health and intestinal health of the person, and also helps to gain awareness about portion control and healthy eating. Simple eating habits cleanse the body of toxins, regulate brain function and trigger the proper functioning of other tissues and organs in the body. In the GAPS diet, whose main purpose is adequate and balanced nutrition, a plan is created to make the intestinal flora stronger. In this way, a treatment plan is developed to help autism and other behavioural and psychological problems.