Sometimes, a traditional diet isn’t enough to address health concerns — we need extra special care. Enter the GAPS diet, a gut-healing diet.
GAPS = Gut and Psychology Syndrome
(and even Gut and Physiology Syndrome)
Did you know that much of a person’s health is tied to the health of the gut? If a person’s gut is not healthy, many things happen can happen. Here are two broad but significant consequences:
- food isn’t digested properly and undigested food particles may actually be in the bloodstream, causing symptoms of food allergy
- pathogens, viruses, and otherwise undesirable organisms get a stronghold in the body, releasing toxins and preventing all sorts of good stuff from happening, like hormone production, hormone regulation, or nutrient usage — one of those toxins are histamines, putting a body in allergy mode constantly
Three members of my family, including me, have some issues that our good traditional diet isn’t addressing, so we began the GAPS diet on April 1, 2012. We started with the Intro GAPS diet, which is more restrictive, and moved through that pretty quickly to the Full GAPS diet.
I want to tell you all about it! (And hopefully, you want to hear it.)
So starting today, I’ll be writing a series on the GAPS diet — starting with my story of why I’m on it. (I shared my story during my last webinar on seasonal allergies, so for some of you this is not new information.)
Please understand that in this post and future posts in this series, I’m not giving medical advice, but rather sharing my story.
My Story: Why I’m On GAPS
I’m on GAPS to heal my seasonal allergies.
Many times you’ll hear people say, “There’s so much pollen this year.” I’ve even said that — until I knew better. If my immune system is healthy, it shouldn’t matter how much pollen is around — either I can handle it or I can’t, right?
As Sarah from The Healthy Home Economist put it, “Pollen is not the problem. The truth is that seasonal allergies are much more than a nuisance. They are one of the mildest forms of autoimmune disease and a gentle warning by the body that more autoimmunity problems are on the way if the gut imbalance that is causing them is not dealt with effectively.”
My Worst Allergy Seasons
As I look back on my life’s seasons of extreme allergy suffering, they seemed to be linked to times when I was not taking very good care of myself. My first really bad time was in college. I was in a low-fat, vegetarian phase and many things in my body weren’t working right — losing hair, cessation of female cycles, fatigue, coming down with mono… and my allergies were really bad then. The worst they’d ever been in my life.
I loved going for daily walks, but it was especially painful in the spring. I was in college in Salem, Oregon at Willamette University. Have you been to Oregon in the spring? Oregon boasts countless fruit trees in blossom, and it grows tons and tons (and tons) of grass seed. Pollen is everywhere! When I would walk I would literally sneeze every step, non-stop. My ears would itch, my eyes were puffy and my nose ran… I was a mess.
I took prescription allergy medication. I couldn’t function otherwise, indoors or out. The walks obviously made it worse, but even indoors I would have to take my medicine within moments of waking, otherwise the day would be shot.
That was when I was in my late teens and early twenties. This cycle continued throughout all my adult life.
The next bad time I remember was when I was married, had birthed my three children, and we were vegans. The allergies that year were so bad. It was the year we planted our first garden. The kids were little so they were tottering around outside as my husband and I worked. Well, he worked and I just sneezed. Over and over and over.
Of course he felt badly for me, but I know how annoying it was for him to work with someone who had to take breaks to blow her nose every thirty seconds. He would tell me to go inside! (And of course, all those seasons where I was constantly blowing my nose and stressing my skin brought on vicious attacks of cold sores…) I was really a mess!
I started back on allergy drugs then and kept them up seasonally for a number of years. I couldn’t function otherwise. It’s not an excuse — it’s the truth. Even though the medication made me feel bad in other ways — being so dry in my sinus passages that they would bleed or itch, and feeling mentally foggy — the alternative was worse.
Then We Found Nutrient-Dense Traditional Foods
Then about four years ago, we found traditional foods — the proper preparation of grains, the inclusion of good fats, pastured meats, fermented foods. Here’s that story. I know that marvelous things happened in our bodies because among other things, my seasonal allergies eased, along with my son’s egg allergy and my daughter’s gluten sensitivity. I’ve gone through several allergy seasons without needing medication.
But the past two years (2010 and 2011) have been busier and more stressful. I took on more farm chores, kept up with homeschooling, and also launched and kept running our online classes and menu plans. Though joyful experiences (for the most part 😉 ), my workload and stress level increased.
A Turn for the Worse
I think the extra challenges of the last two years have everything to do with how my allergies came back in the summer of 2011 and lasted until recently. Whether indoors or outdoors, and even during times of the year when I would not usually have allergies, I was congested most of the time. Last winter I had a chronic cough from the constant sinus congestion and drainage.
But today I’m writing this post being virtually allergy-free and cough-free. How is that possible? For me, remember — this is my story. 😉
A Gut-Healing Diet
I’m following a diet that more intensely focuses on gut health and healing, the GAPS diet. In a nutshell, this is what I’m doing:
- Focusing on eating these nutrient-dense traditional foods — good fats, naturally raised meats, limited sweets, raw fermented dairy, enzyme-rich foods, fermented foods, healing broths, non-starchy vegetables.
- (To pull one thing out of the foods just mentioned) Consuming fermented foods — beneficial organisms to populate my gut to keep my immune system strong.
- Restricting foods with sugars that feed undesirable organisms in my gut — so those bad guys will die and therefore cease producing toxins such as histamines.
- Improving my lifestyle — less stress, more sleep, adding exercise (I’m T-Tapping), and less work.
My experience has been that even the simple step of reducing sugars from grains, starchy vegetables, and sweets made a very quick and miraculous improvement in my seasonal allergies. Within three to four days of beginning GAPS, I no longer suffered from them.
The same is true for my son. He is on the GAPS diet with me and doing much, much better with allergies. (My husband is also on GAPS but for other issues beside seasonal allergies.)
What I hope for the future is that I will be able to reintroduce traditionally prepared grains (sprouted or fermented) without recurrence of allergy symptoms, but I think I have some gut-healing ahead of me first. The last two years have been stressful, and I believe my gut health has suffered because of it.
The GAPS diet is not mean to be permanent, and each person’s experience is different. Time will tell for me. So far, I’m very, very, very happy. Hey, I’m breathing clear and I’m not coughing. That’s huge.
What’s Coming Up…
In future posts of this GAPS series, I will share more about the GAPS diet, resources, strategies, results, experiences, and recipes.
If you’re interested in learning more now, of course turn to the GAPS book, authored and developed by Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride. It is essential and mind-blowing.
Also, check out life-saving meal plans and books from my friend Cara at the blog Health, Home and Happiness. Cara wrote a guest post for me awhile back: Why You Might Consider the GAPS Diet.
You can see all articles in the series here (check back as more will be added).
Are you interested in GAPS? Do you have lingering health issues that a traditional diet doesn’t seem to help? What would you like to learn in this series? What are your favorite GAPS resources — books or blogs? Please share in the comments.
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Becky Koch via Facebook says
Very cool. I am in the process of revising my own diet. I was not far off, but having just been diagnosed with MS, I am working to eliminate things that were still in my life. I am doing it my own way, but find much motivation in your commitment. Giving up certain foods was always something I would not do because I LOVE FOOD and freedom, but I would rather make the changes now then be disabled later. Good news for me that is that I had all ready started a food blog and the conversion to all scratch foods, mostly from what I can grow in my Portland yard. But I still see a long road ahead. I am looking forward to your future GAPS series posts 🙂
Abi Haddad via Facebook says
I’m SO thankful to my friend Kelly Smith of The Nourishing Home who pointed me to GAPS! It has been a huge blessing to me with my Crohn’s disease & a host of other auto-immune symptoms!
Rachel Hoffman says
I am just learning about this diet. I was diagnosed with crohn’s disease in 2005 and since then have been diagnosed with imflammatory arthritis which is slowly becoming debilitating. I’m 27 years old and feel like I’m running out of options. I am to the point that I will try anything. Would you mind sharing how this diet has helped you and your crohn’s disease?? I would greatly appreciate any imput. Thank you for your time.
I can’t tell you how many people with Crohn’s have found incredible relief just by cutting gluten (or all grains, but especially gluten). I think it’s really closely linked. My husband is one of them…believe me, it’s worth giving grain-free, at least, a few days’ trial, and then considering GAPS. I wish you the best of luck and good health in the future! 🙂 Katie
I am happy you are doing GAPS! I did it for just 6 months and it helped enormously! I can now eat dairy (including cream) without any problems. What a world of difference.
I love the ladies at the Wellfedhomestead.com and Cara at HealthHomeHappiness.com
Thanks for speaking to the link between stress and health. I think we can be so focused on eating nutrient dense foods that we forget health isn’t “just” about diet, although it’s obviously super crucial. I think stress would compromise your health even with 100% adherence to a “perfect” diet.
Best wishes for you and your family! May you find abundant health.
Boy do I hear you. We followed the GAPS diet 3 years ago. It made a dramatic difference in our lives. I have also been TTapping that long too. Wish I could get the hubster to TTapp.
We used the book by Dr McBride, two yahoo groups that I can no longer remember the names of. Also the autism group had a ton of good GAPS and SCD info. Also some of the paleo recipes adapted well for us as we progressed through the GAPS year. Now we eat much more variety, but still very few grains & dried beans. Hubs still can’t do beans. We now have gluten free sourdough pizzas, tortillas and english muffins, but only a few times a month. ( like 3 or 4) We still eat a TON of bone broths, using it in various ways each day ( lots of soups and stews). We might have sprouted rice twice a month or gluten free sourdough fettuchini once a month and those items are cooked in bone broth as well.
Our family does so much better with lots of fermented foods & beverages, clean meats & veggies, lots of good fats, clean eggs, raw dairy with very limited soured gluten free grains.
Hopefully you won’t meet the oposition in your family that we met with ours. They thought we were a few bubbles off plumb. Actually they still do as they are deeply entrenched in the SAD diet. In fact, over the weekend my mom tried to tell me that HFCS is just the same as sugar. No way is that true, but that is another topic.
Kristi Massa Wagner via Facebook says
I think we are on the cusp of starting GAPS, too!! A little nervous…. I have a kiddo on the autism spectrum and one with OCD, and I know they’re linked b/c of GAPS! So excited to glean your wisdom and experience when you’re in town with Sonya!
I also have a son who is potentially on the spectrum. I tried GF and noticed a difference in the first 3 days but then the rest of the month went back to normal. We are also completely dairy free because he gets a horrible runny nose (that then leads to other things like ear infections, etc.) when he eats too much. I understand being nervous. GF was TOUGH!! I can’t wait to hear more about this GAPS series and see if it’s for us too.
I have a son who is borderline ASD as well. we started Yeast Free, but went GAPS within 6 months. We couldn’t do the Intro (I didn’t have time to stand in the kitchen making broth and soups 24/7 because everyone was starving all the time), but went almost straight to the full GAPS. We have seen tremendous steps forward and out of ASD territory and always know when we’ve cheated. We’ve learned that most of us are gluten sensitive and my oldest (the ASD child) son and I are also yeast sensitive. We did have to start adding grains back a couple months ago due to mineral imbalances, but by staying mostly on GAPS with once a day grains, and about once a day soups or broth cooked foods we have maintained a great balance and I believe continued healing. I would really encourage you to strongly consider this for your son! It is hard, but there are a ton of recipes out there using nut or coconut flours to make ‘bread” products and they really aren’t very hard and sometimes less time consuming than traditional grains. It has been an enormous blessing for our family to have a clear thinking child who can problem solve and isn’t having a ton of panic attacks too.
I agree with your Sarah, Meredfith- you should totally give the GAPS a try. Its really not that bad. Its a little tough at first till you get into the swing of things.
My son was also on the autism spectrum and after a year on the GAPS diet he is free of almost all autism symptoms, his anxiety levels are way lower, he can think more clearly and has good attention. This year in school he was on honor role and maintained a A average with a 3.95 GPA (he’s in 8th grade)!!! He still has a long way to go- maybe another year because he just finally started the bone broths about 4 months ago but his progress so far is unbeleievable. Up until we started the GAPS diet I thought he would be dependant on me for the rest of his life, no hope for him to drive a car, have a career or a family of his own. Now, all doors are open for him- his future is limitless and he will be an independant person. What a world of difference GAPS has been for our family!! If you are interested you can read my our story on my site, http://ournourishingjourney.com/
Sarah Schatz via Facebook says
So glad your allergies are already getting better!
Jessica B. says
It’s so nice to see that this is working for you. Also…I’ve been looking at the T-Tapp program, but just haven’t been able to get myself to invest in it yet. I’m so glad to see that someone I trust is doing it. How’s it working for you?
Thanks for sharing! 🙂
Jessica — I am really happy with T-Tapp! Of course I’m not having the dramatic results the book promises. 😉 But I am stronger, look better, feel better. I have lost some inches, too. I’m sticking with it. I am just about done doing the 60-day challenge (unofficially). Though I started out with a “boot camp” doing it every day for a two weeks (taking off Sundays), since then I’ve done it every other day. Just the Basic Workout, which takes 15 minutes per day. Pretty easy to fit in.
Kelly Smith via Facebook says
great post, Wardee! <3
I know a little about GAPs. What I’m interested in learning is what you ate at the beginning of the diet. I just came down with horrible ringworm (fungus) on my leg, and my chiro wants me to go back on a Candida diet which is similar to GAPs, but is basically restrict everything by meat and veges.
Thanks for sharing.
Lori — On intro we ate well cooked meats and veggies, broth and sauerkraut. That’s pretty typical Intro, from what I know.
Thanks for sharing your story and experience, Wardee. Although I have not formally gone on GAPS, I decided a few months back to cut out all gluten from my diet because I was having rashes, breathing issues and pain in my hands. It was interesting to have my kinesiologist confirm that I had a gluten sensitivity. After these many years eating a traditional real food diet, it was strange to think that now all of a sudden my body wasn’t tolerating gluten. But maybe all this time has allowed me to heal enough for my body to give me more info as to what bothers it. Since I’ve stopped eating gluten, all of my symptoms have disappeared. Praising God for this! Who knows, maybe a full GAPS diet is in my future! I know how much it has helped many friends I know! It’s always the first course of action I advise for friends with chronic health issues. But I had never thought about it for less serious health issues like seasonal allergies! Wow! So amazing what healing the gut can do for one’s health! Thanks again for sharing! Blessings, Kelly
My mom and I are on GAPS, we just started a couple weeks ago. For me, it’s a matter of looking at myself and knowing that, like you, there are some things that a traditional diet hasn’t been able to correct.
I’ve been eating grain-free for about a year now (according to the Primal Blueprint), and I’m still overweight and I still have digestive problems. It all stems back to when I was 14 and I went on a missions trip to Mexico – came back with an intestinal parasite called Giardia.
It really did a number on my system and ever since then I’ve had major digestive problems, always need to have a toilet nearby. I realized that while Primal helped alleviate the symptoms, I was positive that I need to fully HEAL the gut in order to correct that.
Not only that, but with my weight… it won’t change, whether I eat really fantastically or not. I recently went on a 2-week trip to visit family and I pretty much gave up on eating well and I ate all kinds of “junk”… didn’t gain a pound. But I can’t lose, either. So that tells me there’s something else wrong, and I think it’s my gut.
So I guess in my case I’m kinda clinging to straws and I hope this will be it. I know I’m on the right path (what with rejecting the USDA food recs and all) but it’s been a somewhat frustrating journey.
My biggest obstacle is that my family is not GAPS with me – my dear husband who thinks all this grain-free business is hokey agreed to go wheat-free (bless him for that!) but it’s hard because I now have to make a lot of my own individual meals as I learn, and that’s difficult.
I went to Willamette too! And allergies are awful in that area – my eyes used to swell shut. We did GAPS last year for a bit and saw some improvement but not much and it was a LOT of hard work. I’m heading back into it to see if I can heal my ‘uncurable’ diseases. I’m excited to hear your ideas and try your recipes.
i have a request… in this series would you mind doing a post or two by people for whom GAPS has not worked and/or signs that you should stop GAPS? its easy for me to think that such a diet is a perfect fix for everyone, but its important to hear some of the possible pitfalls/drawbacks.
Just to clarify, I agree that GAPS is a great healer for many (great to hear what its done for you already!) but I like to hear balance in stuff like this as well.
Thank you! I love the blog 🙂
Sarah — That’s a great idea. 🙂
Carol Oliver Sharp via Facebook says
A relative and I have been reading the GAPS book and we are considering this. I’ve been reading about others who have done this and have had sucess like yourself. She and I both are on the traditional diet but still have other issues. Many are spoken about in the book. I’m excited about how this has helped you. Keep us updated, you are ahead of us and we would appreciate any insight that you may have.
Thats so great to hear that you’ve seen such great results so quickly! I’ve been on GAPS for a little over 10 months now. I’ve definitely seen lots of great progress, but still have a ways to go. I was just thinking that it was a guest post on your blog where I first heard about GAPS. That was probably at least a year and a half ago. The post was about reversing food allergies. So thanks for helping me find it! It’s made. Huge difference for me.
I’m also a T-Tapper! I’ve been doing it about the same length of time as GAPS. It’s also been a wonderful exercise program to find. I love it!
Carol Oliver Sharp via Facebook says
Wardee…also, if you don’t mind, I have two questions to ask you. How did your blood sugar do during the intro stage? How much bone broth/soup did you drink?
What an amazing story Wardee! I’ve been learning about this as part of my work in a health food shop and it’s brilliant to actually read of how your health radically improved! Good food the way God intended. Very encouraging. Will be sharing this with friends 🙂
God bless you!
Can you drink water kefir and kombucha on gaps?
Teresa — I definitely need to look that up. Right now, we are drinking Kombucha — but I make it with honey and not much sweetness is left when we drink it. I’m not sure what the “official” answer is.
Katherine Collings says
Dr. Natasha said kombucha is ok on the Full GAPS. I think I read that on the GAPS website under FAQ, or perhaps I read it on Baden Lashkov’s blog Gapsguide.com.
Which TTapp program do you do? I’d love to get started…but there are so many to choose from!! Also, just wanted to tell you that years ago I found your Such Treasures Website when I was researching ‘household notebooks’ and it’s been so fun to watch your ‘food journey’ since those vegan days… 🙂 can’t wait to read more about your GAPS journey…
courtney — I am doing the Basic Workout Plus (BWO+). It is the 15-minute workout plus hoedowns. I actually have that and also BWO+ Tempo which is like level 2 of the basic (slowed down with additional cues to get more out of it). And I’m also skin brushing (though not as regularly). The skin brushing DVD has two great spot workouts on it — one for the derriere and one for the legs. I want to start doing them but they’re killer. 😉
P.S. I’m tickled we’ve known each other so long… from Such Treasures days! 🙂
I’m very interested in starting the GAPS diet.
I’ve had a chronic cough since Dec. I am also wheat, corn and casseinate (cow milk only) intolerant. BUT, I was eating a lot of wheat, esp the past few months. A few weeks ago, my coughing was so bad I dislocated a rib. I knew I had a lot of post nasal drip from allergies, which I always have at this time of year.
Anyway, off to the chiro I went (bless her, she took me in that day), and being a kinesiologist (and the one who first diagnosed my food intolerances), she told me to stay away from all dairy, including goat and sheep, b/c they are mucus inducing. And feeling so cruddy, I also really worked on staying off the wheat.
Lo and behold, the coughing almost ceased within a week. And now if I want to cough, just have a sandwich for lunch.
I’m looking forward to reading more about it and seeing if it helps me and my family. I think both of my kids have issues, too.
I hadn’t thought about GAPS healing allergies, but it makes sense. I have chronic hayfever. There’s never a box of tissues far from me. I wonder if GAPS could heal that too.
I have a great idea! Could you possibly do a food journal while you are doing gaps? I get so confused when I start reading about this program. I don’t have allergies like you but I have stamina problems, headaches a lot and a strange sympton of itching deep in both my ears. I am a little afraid to try such a drastic change without guidance. I am doing your ecourse now and at the present experiencing with the sourdough. I really appreciate all the hard work you put into this course- well worth “more” than what you charge. My downfall is I like coffee and sweets! Do you have any thoughts on how to give them up esp the coffee?
Teresa — I will think about doing a food journal. Good idea!
Treats are hard. I have found I don’t have cravings anymore, though, which is a good sign. But there are treats you can have on GAPS. Our almond flour muffins and these honey candies are wonderful:
GNOWFGLINS via Facebook says
Carol — My blood sugars were fine. I think because I ate lots of veggies for energy! Broth with each meal throughout intro. Either in a cup or in the meal itself. Now it is once a day. I would like to get back to having more. I really like it but got out of the habit!
Carol Oliver Sharp via Facebook says
Thank you ;o)
Carol Oliver Sharp via Facebook says
Wardee…can I ask one more question? I remember when reading the book (GAPS)..Doc McBride mentioned we should be drinking a glass of mineral water daily. Our family is on bottle water because of our water situation. Do you think the minerals we feed the keifer would work regarding this?
Aimee Durham says
I got your fermenting book and love it! I love the fact that you talk about fermenting anything, so really there is no excuse why you can’t have some fermented food at every meal. My boys love ketchup and I am going to ferment some so that they get probiotic ketchup! Also I am interested in your results with the brushing with the T-Tapp. I would love my cellulite to be gone! Good work on the book and thank you for all that you do!
Jan Posch via Facebook says
May I say for those with the MS and autism diagnosis to check into Lyme.
A friend of mine and I were misdiagnosed with MS, but then got the proper diag. of Lyme. That isn’t uncommon, either. Lyme is known to cause autism, also. A good site to look up info is http://www.canlyme.com and you would need to see a LLMD (Lyme Literate MD), you can get a referral at lymediseaseassociation.org ….I wish our library carried the GAPS book.
Katherine Collings says
Am I seeing the beginnings of a GAPS eCourse? This diet is so life-giving and so healing. I read the book one and half years ago, and proceeded to buy a box of them with tithe money to give them away. The books are long gone and I wish I had another box. This diet has gotten my Mom out of bed, moving around, with mental stability and clarity that she hadn’t had for half my life.
For when you are healed and not stressed out, in the days to come, I’m putting a seed in your brain that may grow: GAPS eCourse. It would be awesome.
Katie Hanacek Overbye via Facebook says
Wardee – Do you have a GAPS ebook or something all on the GAPS diet? I read the book and am feeling a little overwhelmed with it all.
Jayne Gautreau via Facebook says
I am so interested esp. for my son who has Autism, but right now it seems overwhelming.
GNOWFGLINS via Facebook says
Katie — No, I don’t. But I recommend Cara @ Health Home and Happiness 30-Day Intro eBook. It is wonderful to help you get through Intro without being overwhelmed. She really lays it all out with meal plans and everything. https://traditionalcookingschool.com/gapsintro
GNOWFGLINS via Facebook says
Jayne — I think you’d really be encouraged by checking out Cara’s eBook too. https://traditionalcookingschool.com/gapsintro Her daughter has autism, and her recipes are wonderful!
Jayne Gautreau via Facebook says
thanks so much 🙂 I am going to pray about it.
GNOWFGLINS via Facebook says
Jayne — I will pray, too. 🙂
Jayne Gautreau via Facebook says
I wonder how other children with Autism do with the change? I am just not sure my son would eat the broth and soups??
While I can’t speak about children with autism, my picky eater actually accepted the new way of eating much better than I ever imagined. Once the breads and such were no longer an option, the GAPS foods became much more appetizing to her. She even started eating vegetables she wouldn’t touch before starting the diet. She even loves eating cooked onions now. So, be encouraged. It may take time, but then again, maybe not as long as you think!
GNOWFGLINS via Facebook says
I would contact Health Home and Happiness and ask if she’s written anything about that. I’m sure she’s dealt with it somehow, either with her daughter or her readers.
Jayne Gautreau via Facebook says
ok thank you 🙂
GNOWFGLINS via Facebook says
I’m sorry I can’t help with that…
Jayne Gautreau via Facebook says
no worries 🙂
Erika Burnett says
For almost a year, I have really wanted to try GAPS, especially for my 4yo son. He has multiple food allergies, as well as chronic stuffy nose from, who knows?! So many things fit him, from reading the book and other blogs, etc.
One thing I would like to hear your input on would be the cost. That is what has been holding me back, truthfully, since I already make bone broth, yogurt, crispy nuts – most of the more intimidating things about starting! We are living in Europe, and meat is really, really expensive, even though grass fed is much easier to find than in most of the US. So our current traditional foods diets really stretches the budget, and the thought of taking out the grains and beans that make it work it is pretty inconceivable to me right now.
The other reason I haven’t started is that my son hates soup, so that is a different story, ha! It is a good suggestion to search Cara’s site, though. I seem to remember her talking about that.
So glad to hear it is working for you, and hope God blesses others through you in this way!
I’m so glad you are on this journey too! My family has been on the full GAPS diet for about 4 months now, and once we finally get moved (our house finally sold, praise the Lord), we will do the intro. My eldest daughter and especially my son both have severe eczema. The diet is definitely doing something (die-off, I suppose), but we’re not seeing real improvement yet in my son. I suppose the stress of the transition our family has been in these past months has contributed, but there’s not much I can do about that. I hope you’ll have one of your guest bloggers post about GAPS and eczema. It probably seems like a small thing (compared to autism, etc.), but it’s affecting his life in such a way that he can’t sleep, and while the other kids are playing, he’s sitting on the floor digging at his legs and crying. I’ve tried everything. HELP!
Wardee, thanks for the mention! I’m so excited to hear that your seasonal allergies are no longer a problem! This has also been my experience and I was even able to get off of my steroid asthma medication which I’d been on for several years. Everyone around me at work is snuffling, coughing and sneezing, and reporting clogged sinuses, but this no longer plagues me. So thankful for GAPS and the difference it has made in my life.
Christina Mathewson says
Hi Wardee, Thanks so much for sharing your story and journey on GAPS. My husband and I have been doing it for two months, and have seen many positive results. We have shared our journey on my blog, http://thejoyofthehome.blogspot.com.au/ Look forward to hearing more from you on thise subject and the recipes that you will no doubt share.
I am so thankful to find your series! I am just trying to figure out the GAPS diet and need all the help and encouragement I can get. I can’t wait to read more of what you have and will write on this subject.
Hi, Wardeh! I come to your blog every few months, but it has been a long time since I’ve commented. I followed the GAPS diet for a year. I followed it perfectly (it took me a couple months to really get everything down, but I NEVER cheated. I am well-versed in GAPS having poured over the web and NCM’s FAQ’s page, and everything else). When we did intro, I had the strangest things happen to me. The dark circles I’d had forever cleared up, basically overnight, and have stayed away. But I got major digestive problems. I spouted it off as die off, and continued on and on, and ON. We did full GAPS for 4 months before Intro, so after my digestive problems occurred (which shortly turned into eczema and reflux), it was EIGHT MONTHS!!! before I thought perhaps it wasn’t die off at all, and I dropped the diet. (BTW, the reflux kept getting worse and worse throughout that 8 months)
We still do traditional foods. But we’re doing grains again. I’m very confused as to what happened to me. It’s very very complicated. But I believe it actually caused a fungal infection in my body. My eczema does better when I put antifungal cream on it. My tummy is always bloated-looking, whereas before it was completely flat. It is very frustrating. But intro did some good things. But the bad outnumber the good for me.
After I went off GAPS, I got a couple yeast infections. I’d had a couple when I was pregnant before, but never when I wasn’t pregnant. I’m still not doing very well. I just think this: If it were really healing the microvilli in my gut, they should be *almost* healed after an entire year on the diet, to the point where I wouldn’t be WORSE off afterword. I wasn’t even very sickly before, honestly. I know NCM will say that if you wonder if the GAPS diet is working, then go off for a few days, and see what happens. When people do this, and symptoms return, it is their proof that the diet is actually healing them.
But a month or so before I came off the diet, I was introduced to a different concept. I realize you probably won’t agree, but it makes sense for my situation. Even NCM says something sort of similar, though has not come to these conclusions. She says that meats are “nourishing” and that plant foods are “cleansing.” Well, what does this mean? So this viewpoint said:
Proteins push acids into your organs where they do not cause symptoms, but they cause disease. But carbohydrates take acids from your organs and flush them into your bloodstream where they cause symptoms, weight gain, addiction etc… IF YOUR BOWEL IS TOO UNHEALTHY TO POOP THEM OUT and they circulate there. Acids in the bloodstream cause symptoms because your body is pulling from all sorts of resources (oxygen, water, calcium, etc… to neutralize those acids, because your blood has to stay a perfect pH). This is tricky concept to get, so re-read that paragraph a couple times.
I am aware that WAPF and others say the acid-alkaline balance doesn’t make sense because traditional people never ate an alkaline diet. But traditional people were healthy. They had survival of the fittest, and they did not have antibiotics. Their bowels were healthy enough to poop out those acids by themselves.
Now, I’m no vegetarian, and when I did GAPS we ate PLENTY of vegetables (massive amounts, actually). Nevertheless, I am worse off. It could be due to a third unknown variable, I have to realize that, but I can’t help but wonder if in fact people feel better on the GAPS diet because the acids are being shoved into their organs, therefore making symptoms disappear. I can only speak for myself and my family. After we came off the diet, all of my husband’s aches and pains came back and weight gain. We did it for a whole year! We should be better off. Do our microvilli take a negative turn for a year before they start to get better? This makes no sense to me. We have been off the diet for 3 months and still the same story. We spent about $6000 doing this diet, and oh the TIME! What a dedication it takes!!! It makes me sick to think I made a wrong choice. It took me a while to admit that that may actually be the case, because I had totally gone into it with a full heart, and every ounce of energy. I have been on the yahoo group, and I know I am not the only one to take a turn for the worse (some people after several years on the diet are WORSE OFF). I tried several “cherries on top” and all sorts of things. But a healing diet should not make me worse. (I know many GAPSTERS say otherwise). I have been pretty darn healthy for 29 years, and all of the sudden I take a major turn for the worse really 2 days into intro – I can’t call it coincidence – or die off.
I don’t want to be negative. I know, this totally is negative. 🙂 I suppose GAPS could be a wonderful thing for some/most people. I guess I just want to give a possible warning to anyone doing or considering doing the diet, that just because you feel better doesn’t mean it is healing you. I know NCM stays on the diet herself after all these years – she says to prevent weight gain. If she were really healthy, I don’t think that would be necessary. It seemed a large majority of people are paleo-believers who do GAPS, at least on the yahoo group. It also seemed the people who were most successful on the diet never had any fruit or very minimal (fruit is very cleansing). NCM also says grains are not a good source of nourishment, and though you can add them in when you finish with the diet, you shouldn’t eat too many. I think if you really are healthy, you should be able to eat as many as the next Joe down the street who eats lots of them and feels great. Unless, perhaps, it’s because by eating them full-force again the acids would come pouring into your bloodstream, and you would no longer feel “healed.” (I am aware NCM would say it’s because it’s hard to heal the GAPS gut completely. Perhaps she’s right, or perhaps this acids thing is really what’s going on). I do believe that NCM fully believes in this diet. I do think her son is healed of autism, but perhaps it was actually acids in his bloodstream that caused his autism, and now they are in his organs. Just a thought. I also do believe the issue at hand really truly is the bacteria. But how to get that good bacteria – there is a lot of discrepancy. GAPS isn’t the only healing protocol out there.
I really, really respect NCM, and am grateful for the knowledge she’s given me in many areas of digestion. I just think she may be wrong about some things – major things in her diet.
Not to damper anything you are doing here. Just giving a different insight.
Thanks for sharing your experience, Erin. I don’t take it as negative. 🙂
I’m linking to your comment in today’s GAPS post, which focuses on how the GAPS diet doesn’t work for everyone. I’ll come back and add a link when it is done.
I have prayed about it many, many times and still don’t feel that the GAPS diet is right for me and my family. I believe there are aspects of it that are very good. I am adding soups made with bone broths to our diet, as well as fermented foods. I do not believe that removing grains from my family’s diet is the right thing for US. I am, however trying to use sourdough starter for all of my grains to see how that goes. I am not a big meat eater, and do not believe it is best for us. I am definitely not a vegetarian or vegan, when I crave meat I eat it. I also take iodine (lugol’s solution) which many people have said got rid of at least 95% of their digestive/gut issues. I am hopeful that all the changes I am making will add up to healed guts for all of my family members. I believe what is most important is to be informed and listen to your body, while listening to the inspiration and guidance God gives you.
For me, there seems to be truth to the belief that gut health is connected to allergies. After two years using raw milk the improvement in my seasonal allergies is nothing short of amazing. I believe the probiotics in the raw milk, as well as eating more whole, real foods and less processed junk, has done much to make my gut more healthy hence the improvement in allergies. I wasn’t expecting it, but am pleased!
Barbara Smith says
My daughter in law writes a blog and this article is the at the end of her 16 months on the GAPS diet with her family. It did help at the beginning but they developed other problems as they continued on it . She has a chart for all family members of symptoms before, after 6 months and towards the end which made her then decide it was hurting more in some instances than helping. You can read about her experiences of it as well as what she is doing now using homeopathy. Just another perspective, as GAPS is not for everyone.
Hello! We are on GAPS again, about 6 weeks in and on step 6ish of intro. My son (2) & I are on low-oxalate GAPS and my daughter (5) has been low-histamine… but I am at my wit’s end. We started this for her chronic inexplicable congestion, and she is not any better! I had taken her off all ferments except for a tiny bit, also very limiting of fruit and honey… the poor kid is still constantly blowing her nose, hoarse from all the drainage. Any ideas of what I am missing?
Wardee, it’s great to hear you address the respiratory allergies because I’ve had an almost constant post-nasal drip all my life. (People know I’m in the room because I’m clearing my throat.) I think it went away when I was in the first couple of stages of the GAPS Intro Diet, but now (Stage 4-5) it’s back big time. I’m taking more probiotics now so it’s difficult to tell if it’s die-off or allergies to something, i.e.: egg yolks, whole eggs, almond butter? It’s all such a guessing game. It’s hard to know whether to keep pushing through or stop and go back to Stage 2. Ugh. I’d love to hear your thoughts and insights. Thanks!