GAPS Food Diet: Benefits, How To Follow & Tips

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Last Updated on July 9, 2022

What is GAPS Food Diet? [Ultimate Guide]

a plate full of healthy vegetables and Proteins

Those following the GAP diet concept believe avoiding certain foods such as grains and sweets can aid in the treatment of illnesses that affect the brain, such as autism and dyslexia.

GAPS is an acronym that stands for gut and psychology syndrome. The GAPS diet is based on the notion that gut health is linked to general mental health and well-being.

According to this concept, enhancing gut health can have a beneficial effect on other health concerns. There are some reservations about the premise of this diet.
Throughout this article, we’ll go over the GAPs diet, how to follow it, and its benefits, as well as food lists and meal plans to get you started.

What is the GAPS diet?

GAPS diet creator Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride thinks inadequate nutrition and leaky gut syndrome, also known as increased intestinal permeability, are responsible for a variety of psychological, neurological, and behavioral disorders.

In order to maintain a healthy gut lining and gut flora, those who follow the GAPs diet avoid foods that are difficult to digest.

A variety of foods that are beneficial to the gut’s healing are replaced with nutrient-rich foods.

It’s believed a leaky gut causes harmful bacteria and toxins to enter the bloodstream, where they travel to the brain and interfere with its function. According to one concept, avoiding foods that damage the gut may be beneficial to treat conditions such as autism spectrum disorder, ADHD, and dyslexia.

A growing body of evidence suggests that the brain and gut are linked, especially in relation to conditions such as anxiety and depression. But there are conflicting opinions about food and nutrition.

What conditions does the GAPS diet target?

As an alternative therapy for psychological and behavioral conditions, the GAPS diet can treat a wide range of conditions, including:

  • Autism
  • ADHD
  • Dyslexia
  • Dyspraxia
  • Epilepsy
  • Depression
  • Schizophrenia
  • Bipolar Disorder
  • OCD
  • Disordered Eating
  • Childhood food intolerance and allergies

Initial goals of the GAPS diet set by Dr. Campbell-McBride included treating children with behavioral and mood disorders, but it is now being used to help adults with digestive issues.

Are there benefits to the GAPS diet?

Following this diet may help to improve a person’s gut health. It encourages people to eat fewer processed foods and more fruits, vegetables, and healthy fats in place of those processed foods. These simple dietary modifications have the potential to improve gut health and overall health.

The GAPS diet guidelines do not explicitly account for all nutritional requirements. It is important for people who follow this diet to ensure that they are getting enough vitamins and minerals to avoid developing nutritional deficiencies.

Improving gut health

The GAPS diet has the potential to improve gut health in a number of ways:

Eliminating Artificial Sweeteners

Because of bacterial imbalances in the gut, artificial sweeteners can increase the likelihood of developing metabolic problems.

Focusing on fruits and vegetables

According to the findings of a study involving 122 participants, eating fruits and vegetables can help prevent the growth of a harmful strain of bacteria in the gut.

Including probiotics

Numerous beneficial bacteria are present in probiotics. Yogurt contains probiotics, which may help lower blood sugar levels in people who have metabolic syndrome.

How do you follow the GAPS diet?

Grain, sugar, soy, pasteurized dairy, starchy vegetables, and processed foods must all be eliminated from the diet in order to follow the GAPS diet.

The diet is very restrictive, and it could take up to two years to complete it.

The GAPS diet is broken down into three stages:

Introduction Phase

Because it eliminates the greatest number of foods, the introduction phase is the most demanding phase of the diet. Based on your symptoms, this period is referred to as the “gut healing phase,” and it can last anywhere from three weeks to one year.

Stage 1

Drink homemade bone broth, probiotic food juices, and ginger tea between meals, as well as mint or chamomile tea with honey in the morning and evening. Those who are not lactose intolerant can consume unpasteurized, homemade yogurt without any problems.

Stage 2

Raw organic egg yolks, ghee, and stews made with vegetables and meat or fish should all be included.

Stage 3

Avocado, fermented vegetables, GAPS-recipe pancakes, and scrambled eggs made with ghee, duck fat, or goose fat are all acceptable foods.

Stage 4

Grilled and roasted meats, cold-pressed olive oil, vegetable juice, and GAPS-approved bread are all good additions.

Stage 5

Begin by introducing cooked apple purée, raw vegetables (starting with lettuce and peeled cucumber) and small amounts of raw fruit, but refrain from including citrus fruits.

Stage 6

Introduce more raw fruit

During the introduction phase, the diet requires you to introduce foods, beginning with small amounts and gradually increasing the amount of food you consume.

It’s recommended that you move from one stage to another once you have become accustomed to the foods that you have introduced into your diet. When you have a normal bowel movement after eating something, it’s considered that you tolerate that food.

Once you’ve finished with the introduction diet, you can move on to the full GAPS diet.

The full GAPS diet

Healthy vegetables and a glass of carrot juice

All grains, sugars, starchy vegetables, refined carbohydrates, and processed foods should be avoided while following the GAPS diet. This stage lasts 18–24 months, but it is tailored to each individual and may take less time for some.

Acceptable GAPS foods include:

  • Eggs
  • Meat, fish, and shellfish (fresh or frozen only)
  • Fresh Vegetables and Fruit
  • Garlic
  • Natural fats, such as olive oil and coconut oil
  • A moderate amount of nuts
  • GAPS baked goods made using nut flour

Also other recommendations:

  • Use organic food as often as possible
  • Avoid all processed and packaged foods
  • Eat fermented food with every meal
  • Drink bone broth with every meal
  • Avoid eating fruit with meals
  • Combine all protein with vegetables

The reintroduction phase

People can choose to move on to the reintroduction phase after at least six months of normal digestion have been achieved.

The final stage of the GAPS diet entails reintroducing food items over a period of several months, which is spread out over several months.

Potatoes and fermented grains are recommended as a starting point in the diet. Start with small portions and gradually increase the amount of food you consume, as long as you are not experiencing any digestive issues. Add starchy vegetables, grains, and beans to the mix to finish the meal!

Many people continue to avoid refined and processed foods even after they have completed the GAPS diet. All grains, sugars, starchy vegetables, refined carbohydrates, and processed foods should be avoided while following the GAPS diet. This stage lasts 18–24 months, but it is tailored to each individual and may take less time for some.

The GAPS diet food list

  • meat stock (cooked shorter than broth and contains fewer glutamates)
  • meats, preferably hormone-free or grass-fed
  • fish
  • shellfish
  • animal fats
  • eggs
  • fresh fruits and non-starchy vegetables
  • fermented foods and beverages
  • hard, natural cheeses
  • kefir
  • coconuts, coconut milk, and coconut oil
  • nuts
  • dry wine
  • white navy beans

Foods to avoid on the GAPS diet:

  • Sugar and artificial sweeteners
  • Syrups
  • Alcohol, but adults can have a glass of dry wine occasionally
  • Processed and packaged foods
  • Grains such as rice, corn, wheat, and oats
  • Starchy vegetables, such as potatoes and yams
  • Milk
  • Beans, except white and greens beans
  • Coffee
  • Strong tea
  • Soy

Sample GAPS diet meal plan

Start the day off with:

  • A glass of filtered lemon water and kefir
  • A glass of fresh, pressed fruit and vegetable juice

For Breakfast:

  • GAPS approved pancakes with butter or honey
  • One cup of lemon or ginger tea

For Lunch:

  • Meat or fish with vegetables
  • One cup of homemade meat stock
  • One service of probiotics
  • – Kimchi
  • – Sauerkraut
  • – Yogurt
  • – Kefir

For Dinner:

  • Homemade vegetable soup made with meat stock
  • One serving of probiotics
  • – Kimchi
  • – Sauerkraut
  • – Yogurt
  • – Kefir

Final Thoughts

The GAPS diet is regarded as a treatment for autism and other behavioral and psychological disorders. While some aspects of the GAPS diet have shown promising results, more research is needed to confirm that all of the components of the GAPS diet are required for the health benefits claimed by advocates of the protocol.

As a result, caution should be exercised when deciding. A licensed GAPS practitioner can provide additional information to those who are interested in trying the diet. People should, however, seek the advice of a registered dietitian or other healthcare providers before deciding.

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