- GAPS diet is an acronym for "Gut and Psychology Syndrome".
- According to its protocol, a person has to eat easily digestible food that comes with adequate amounts of nutrients.
- A GAPS diet plan starts with an introductory diet, which involves six stages before heading to the full GAPS diet.
Phases of the GAPS Diet
Introductory diet plan
The introductory phase of the recommended GAPS diet acts as an excellent tool to perform a process of detoxification. This diet plan is effective for all patients dealing with severe digestive problems, which include gastritis, chronic diarrhea, and ulcerative colitis, as well as severe neurological conditions in the form of schizophrenia, autism, bipolar disorder, and depression.
According to its protocol, a person has to eat easily digestible food that comes with adequate amounts of nutrients. The stages involved in the GAPS diet are as follows:
The first stage or the beginning stage of the GAPS introductory diet comprises of the following important foods:
- Fish, chicken, or meat boiled in water or broth
- Cauliflower, broccoli, onions, carrots, and leeks in properly boiled forms
- Summer and winter squash
- Boiled meat combined with sea salt
- 1-2 teaspoons of sauerkraut juice added to your food
In the second stage, you have to consume each food from the first stage and should simultaneously add the following:
- Fermented veggies such as like pickles, kimchi, and sauerkraut
- Fermented fish
- Egg yolk
- Homemade ghee
- Casseroles and stews comprised of vegetables, meat, and fresh and stock herbs
- Soft-boiled eggs for those who do not have egg allergies
Stage 3 involves all foods from the first and second stage with a few additional items such as:
- Ripe avocado
- Pancakes made from nut butter, squash, and eggs cooked in ghee
- Scrambled eggs
- Fermented vegetables
The fourth stage of the introductory GAPS diet plan involves the addition of the following important items into the already existing diet plan (stages 1-3):
- A few tablespoons of carrot juice on an empty stomach
- Bread made of eggs, almond flour, salt, and ghee or coconut oil
- Cold pressed olive oil drizzled on foods
Stage 5 requires all the foods mentioned from the first to fourth stages and the addition of the following food items:
- Peeled, deseeded, and raw vegetables
- Applesauce obtained from both pureed and cooked apples
- 2 tablespoons of raw honey
- Grilled, roasted, or boiled meat
- Juicy apples, mangoes, and pineapples, while avoiding of every fruit that contains citric acid
The sixth stage is the last stage of the introductory GAPS diet plan, where individuals have to include the following:
- Foods from stages 1-5
- Raw and peeled apples
- Introduction of various raw fruits except for citrus fruits
- Baked goods with dried fruits as their sweeteners
Although a few people do not face any problems while following this dietary plan, others may require months or weeks to adjust. If you are reasonably healthy and want to undergo stages of detoxification, you should step ahead at the fastest possible rate. Once you have succeeded in passing all the six stages, you can head into the full GAPS diet plan.
Full diet plan
Once you have succeeded the different stages in the introduction diet, you become fully prepared to move ahead to the full GAPS diet plan. During the full GAPS diet plan, ensure that you include fresh meat, fish, animal fats, organic farm eggs, shellfish, veggies, and fermented food items into your regular diet.
In addition, avoid overindulging in a variety of baked items that are made from nut flour. Always remember to consume foods in moderation for a better detox process. Some people may deal with yeast overgrowth problems while under the GAPS diet plan. For this reason, they should opt for a temporary elimination of nuts and fruits to achieve beneficial results.
Typical menu to follow the diet plan
Individuals moving forward for the full GAPS diet plan should begin their day by taking a glass of mineral or filtered water in combination with a slice of lemon (water may be cold or warm based on your preference). Moreover, if you have a juicer at home, you can easily start your day by taking a glass of freshly pressed vegetable or fruit juice diluted using water. Ideally, you may opt for a juice that consists of raw fruits with the following percentages:
- 40 percent of apple
- 10 percent of beetroot
- 50 percent of carrot
Although you can choose the type of juice mixtures you prefer, you should try having about 50 percent of the following therapeutic ingredients:
- 5 to 10 percent beetroot
- Beet greens
- Fresh nettle leaves
- Carrot greens
You could also try including 50 percent of a few tasty fruits to mask the taste of the therapeutic ingredients. They include apples, pineapples, grapes, grapefruits, and mango. You may opt to have other forms of juices by combining and diluting them with yogurt or water.
Every day, our bodies pass a 24-hour cycle of rest and activity, feeding, as well as a cleaning up procedure or detoxification process. Starting from 4 am up to 10 am, the body performs a process of detoxification. In this period, if you opt to have freshly pressed juices and water, you will expect to get benefits after the process has been completed.
In this case, any food intake in between the time mentioned causes an interference with the detox process. That is why most people do not feel hungry in the morning. Hence, experts recommend having breakfast at about 10 am in the morning when our body has undergone a complete detoxification process and becomes fully prepared to consume food.
Experts’ opinion about the GAPS diet
Experienced doctors and pediatricians have highlighted an important fact, which they have traced from a variety of medical problems. This fact involves a single main cause, and that is the imbalance of gut microbes. Doctors said that people nowadays are at high risk of diseases associated with the gut flora. Moreover, once there is an imbalance of the normal flora in the gut, our health suffers and our body becomes more vulnerable to inflammatory diseases.
Based on this fact, doctors said that attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), autism, and other neurological problems or ailments are also categorized under digestive disorders. To avoid gut flora problems, it would be beneficial for individuals to choose the highly recommended GAPS diet.
The GAPS diet plan acts as a healing diet plan. The main objective of this diet is to exclude starches and sugars in the form of rice, potatoes, pasta, flour, wheat, bread, and refined sugar, but excluding fruits. In addition, it allows the consumption of a few selected veggies and fruits, nuts, fatty products, meat, and broths.
The GAPS diet plan particularly involves the consumption of homemade broths and foods in lacto-fermented forms to cause quick healing of the digestive system. The most significant part of this diet is that it eliminates the food items that usually break down in the form of disaccharides such as yams, potatoes, and grains of all types.
A complete diet involves a combination of digestive stress removal and the consumption of homemade broths to allow easy healing, usage of supplements, and incorporating specific food items for the restoration of the entire digestive system and rebuilding of healthy flora.
Key benefits explained by doctors and dietitians
GAPS diet is responsible for providing a wide array of health benefits to individuals based on its common sense approach to food consumption. Research studies have highlighted that almost every individual who consumed a GAPS diet obtained benefits in the form of regular and healthy digestion. If this is not enough, the diet has also proven the following benefits:
- Reduce food sensitivity
- Boosts one's immunity
- Improves neurological functions
- Provides healing to inflammatory bowel diseases
- Helps control blood sugar levels of people with type 2 diabetes
- Improves the digestion of lactose
- Provides support to the body's detoxification process
- Reduces depression and anxiety
- Improves the condition of patients with autism
Furthermore, the diet plan has a major role in killing various forms of cancerous tumors in animals and humans.
As parents and caregivers of children with autism, we should go for the GAPS diet. This diet plan would help a lot in curing various autoimmune problems in the family.
The GAPS diet plan is particularly helpful in treating problems that are related to poor immune system function, joint pain, allergies, and eczema, along with neurological issues. The main purpose of the diet is to cure various health conditions based on healing the gut through nourishment diet formed by the combination of healthy fats, fruits, meat, veggies, fermented food, and broth. Moreover, if you want to get enhanced health benefits from this diet plan, ensure that you adhere to the following important tips:
- Combine cooked, fermented, or raw vegetables in your diet with fish and meat at every meal you take to balance your body's pH level. Fish and meat are acid-forming foods in the human body, while vegetables give strong alkaline effects.
- Patients and other individuals who follow the GAPS diet should make sure that they eat some fruits in between different meals to avoid interference with meat digestion.
- It is essential for individuals to prepare organic veggies, fruits, and fresh meat.
- You should consume natural fats from butter, meat, ghee, coconut, and cold-pressed olive oil.
It is recommended to consume a cup of bone broth or meat stock with every meal. Many patients have difficult digesting fats in the beginning of the diet and may only be able to tolerate a few tablespoons while the body is healing.
Fermented foods are a focal point in the protocol, which includes fermented vegetables, yogurt, kefir, and sour cream. Fermented beverages include kvass, kombucha, and water kefir are also allowed. Please note that some patients are unable to tolerate these products in the beginning and may need to be temporarily avoided. Listen to your body and gradually introduce foods, observing for any negative reactions.
Avoid all processed foods in packages and tins. They include all refined carbohydrates and foods that contain preservatives, artificial colorants, and chemicals. They are extremely detrimental to the digestive system and its healing process.