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Activism GAPS Healthy Living Real Food

GAPS Diet Basics & Getting Started

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Looking for GAPS resources as a way to improve your health?

started the GAPS diet in May of 2011 as a way to eliminate symptoms of panic, anxiety, and insomnia. I’ve read and heard many, many testimonials from people who have healed on GAPS.

I’ve been health coaching for almost 3 years with an emphasis in GAPS by Dr. Natasha Campbell McBride and related protocols. I have also provided GAPS workshops in my local community and educating people about how beneficial the basic foods that are used in GAPS are for lifetime health.

For these reasons, I thought it would be a good idea to put together a basic reference page for GAPS fundamentals and resources.

It’s been profound to learn about the healing power of traditional foods – the very same foods that Dr. Weston A. Price discovered in his world travels to isolated cultures who were consuming nutrient-rich foods that contained up to TEN times the amount of fat-soluble vitamins that we currently consume in our modern diets – A, D, E, and K2.

My health problems were chronic and spanned for over 2 decades of time. Things only got worse the older I got, with panic and anxiety like symptoms that I was told were connected to gallbladder problems (I had my gallbladder removed in 2001), and also thyroid (hormonal issues).

It wasn’t until I started GAPS that I saw an abrupt ending come to these symptoms I’d suffered through for at least half my life: racing heart, jitteryness, chronic fatigue, digestive problems of varying kinds, general feelings of doom and negativity, muscle weakness, nausea, and general malaise. I also experienced frequent colds and flus – especially in the winter time.

What is the GAPS diet?

Dr. McBride developed the protocol out of a lack of resources and need to resolve her own son’s issues who was diagnosed with autism at the age of three. Through both trial and error and diligent research, she discovered that many diseases including autism happen due to digestive breakdown which leads to nutritional deficiencies throughout the body.

Starches, grains, and sugar all contribute to breaking down lining in the gut and generate pathogenic bacteria. The gut lining becomes permeable due to poor dietary and lifestyle habits – processed foods, stress, use of antibiotics, steroids, NSAIDs, and birth control, lack of adequate rest, exposure to environmental toxins, etc.

When undigested foods and other substances penetrate the intestinal lining and go into the bloodstream. This causes an auto-immune response. Undigested substances that reach the blood-brain barrier cause additional issues:

These deficiencies are responsible for a variety of health issues including autism, hyperactivity, ADD, eczema, depression, dyspraxia, and many others that may be seemingly unrelated.

The common link in all of these disorders is breakdown of the mucosal lining in the intestinal tract from poor lifestyle and dietary choices – stress, environmental toxins, processed foods, and a lack of essential nutrients which are necessary to maintaining overall health and well-being.

Not only do nutritional deficiencies cause a wide array of symptoms which point to various health problems, many of these problems are the same in many people yet manifest themselves in unique ways.

Symptoms include:

  • Asthma
  • Eczema
  • Thyroid and hormonal problems
  • Depression
  • Schizophrenia
  • ADD/ADHD
  • Dyspraxia (motor movement issues)
  • Autism
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Diabetes and insulin- resistance
  • Digestive disorders such a colitis, Crohn’s Disease, IBS
  • Chronic diarrhea or constipation (or both)
  • Fatigue
  • Frequent infections
  • Joint stiffness or pain
  • Muscle weakness
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Chemical sensitivities
  • Food sensitivities

For example, a child with autism or hyperactivity could have the same basic physiological problems and experience symptoms of autism or hyperactivity, while an adult with similar issues might exhibit symptoms of chronic panic or anxiety. An elderly person could experience symptoms of Alzheimer’s Disease – a condition that is linked to the presence of heavy metals in the body and nutritional deficiencies – especially of minerals since heavy metals displace minerals in the body. All conditions are exacerbated by heavy metal toxicity and not enough minerals in the body.

Although GAPS is an extremely beneficial and healing protocol that can help a variety of health issues, it is not a cure-all or guaranteed way to improve your health. If you have tried GAPS and aren’t healing or improving the way you need, check out these resources:

If GAPS hasn’t worked for you or yours, read this – Nourishing Our Children.

The GAP in GAPS? What you need to know – Nourishing Hope, Julie Matthews

General resource links

GAPS is based on the Specific Carbohydrate Diet (SCD) created by Elaine Gottschall. Here is her book, Breaking the Vicious Cycle: Intestinal Health Through Diet.

What can I eat on the GAPS diet?  Printable sheet reference guide showing what you can eat on the GAPS diet to hang in your kitchen or keep in a place where you have easy access

FAQ GAPS diet questions - from the Gut and Psychology Syndrome site

GAPS Diet Journey – testimonials, interviews, resources, and links

Gut and Psychology Syndrome/GAPS Diet Facebook page – great resource and forum for those getting started and for those looking for a place to interact and ask questions.

Explanation of GAPS dietary protocol including the Intro stages – additional information to supplement the book, Gut and Psychology Syndrome, for the Intro part of the GAPS diet, 6 stages

5 most common mistakes made on GAPS – Healthy Home Economist

10 reasons GAPS is better than gluten-free – Well Fed Homestead

Pregnancy and breastfeeding

Is GAPS safe during breastfeeding? - Health, Home, Happiness

Recipes

Internal Bliss - GAPS Cookbook

9 reasons to make bone broth  - health benefits and recipe for broth

GAPS-friendly recipes – The Liberated Kitchen

GAPS-friendly recipes – GAPS Diet Journey

GAPS recipes – MyGutsy

Recipes and ideas for what to eat on the GAPS Introduction Diet – Keeper of the Home

GAPS-friendly, grain-free pancakes w/vanilla, cinnamon, and raw honey

Cookbooks, guides, & cooking e-courses

Grain-free meal plans (menu mailers) – Health, Home, Happiness

GAPS Freezer Cooking Guide – Health, Home, Happiness

What Can I Eat Now? 30 Days on the GAPS Diet – Cara Comini, Health, Home, Happiness

Beyond Grain & Dairy Cookbook - Starlene Stewart, GAPS Diet Journey

Go Grain-Free Online Class – Real Food Forager

Guide to Grain-Free, Dairy Free Baking, Sweets and Treats – Nourished Kitchen

Get Cultured Cooking Class – Nourished Kitchen (How to create fermented foods)

Interviews and related

Dr. Mercola interviews Dr. Natasha Campbell McBride

My GAPS experience for panic disorder and GAPS radio interview

My interview on GAPS Diet Journey – Empowered Sustenance

GAPS Diet Journey Radio Interview – Loving Our Guts

 

GAPS Healthy Fats Real Food

Why a High-Protein Diet Won’t Make You Healthier

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Due to the insistence of conventional health communities that fats and cholesterol should be avoided, high-protein diets have been all the rage for a number of years.

The Atkins Diet was popular for many years and received much press and attention since it came out in the late 1950s. Many people claimed to lose a lot of weight on this diet. Depending on who you asked, this diet was heralded by some as a low-fat diet, high-protein diet and by others as a high fat diet.

This quote by Dr. Atkins himself describes the diet:

“Those of you who read my first book, Dr. Atkins’ Diet Revolution, know what diet to follow — there was only one. Millions of dieters simply called it the Atkins Diet. It was a very low carbohydrate reducing diet (not a high-fat diet, as many of my nonreading critics asserted).”

The South Beach Diet came out during the 2000s and it affected more dieters than just about any diet during that decade. The major flaw with most of these types of diets was they didn’t emphasize something of great importance: healthy fats – which are so critical for health. As a result, many people who followed the Atkins Diet gained the weight back after losing it.

It may seem counter-intuitive that eating fat and cholesterol can be good for health, but this myth about fat and cholesterol being bad for us has no grounded science behind it.

You can see clear evidence of bad science being used everywhere. A good example is the USDA Dietary Guideline recommendations such as MyPlate, featuring a diagram of 5 food groups: fruits, vegetables, grains, protein, and dairy. But fat is nowhere to be found.

And yet, fat is one of the most critical foods we could eat for health since it’s one of our best sources of Vitamins A, D, E, and K2 – essential fat soluble vitamins, Omega 3s, CLA (conjugated linoleic acid), and other important nutrients like folate, B12, iron, and zinc.

Fat and cholesterol are essential for a wide range of bodily functions:

  • Necessary for the production of hormones in the body.
  • Brain and nervous system function (a majority of our brains are composed of fat)
  • The foundation of cell integrity
  • Digestion and normalization of blood sugar levels
  • Regulation of body temperature
  • Protecting internal organs from damage
  • Providing energy
  • Maintaining proper weight and metabolism levels

Dr. Weston A. Price learned in his world travels by visiting 14 various countries that all healthy populations who were free of disease consumed much more of these nutrients from animal foods – sometimes up to TEN times the amount we currently consume in our modern culture.

Truth be told, avoiding fat and cholesterol is disastrous for health.  A number of medical doctors are now admitting this openly to the public.

When you stop and think about our modern health guidelines which recommend avoiding fat – have these really helped our population become healthier or lose weight? Not at all. According to recent reports, in fact, we are continuing to get fatter and sicker with each passing year.

What’s wrong with lean meats?

Lean meats are very hard-to-digest. Since they lack fat-soluble vitamins such as A and D, they end up becoming putrified in our digestive systems and cause chronic pathogenic bacteria in our guts which spreads to all parts of our bodies. This leads to many other health issues including weight problems, auto-immune disease, food allergies, bone and joint issues, and others.

Even a lot of grassfed meats tend to be short on fat.  If you are coming off a low-fat diet you will probably need some help getting your digestion back in order to be able to handle fats. Starting out slowly with well-cooked meats, poultry, fish, and other animal fats in broths and soups, with vegetables and plenty of healthy fats like butter or ghee, lard, or tallow. These are very healing and can help you to be able to to properly digest your food.

So eat your meats with plenty of fat:

  • olive oil
  • butter
  • ghee
  • coconut oil
  • fat drippings from lard (pork fat), schmaltz (chicken fat) or tallow (beef fat or suet)

and also with gelatin-rich broths or cooked in broth made from the bones of animals and birds on pasture.

The GAPS protocol by Dr. Natasha Campbell McBride may be a good healing and detox if you have digestive issues and want to heal so you can properly digest foods again. You may also need digestive enzymes or hydrochloric acid. The best brand of enzymes I’ve found is Enzyme Formulations, and you need a practitioner to obtain them. Houston Enzymes are also a quality product that I’ve heard many good things about from clients and others. They have customer support to help you determine which are right for you.

What’s wrong with protein powders?

Protein powders are a popular food product that many people buy because they don’t have time to prepare something real. Slick marketing and labeling has convinced consumers these are healthy products to consume. But, these powders are processed through high heat temperatures which denatures the protein. Processing actually turns those substances into something harmful – a free-glutamate (think MSG).

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Plus, protein powders almost always contain a bunch of synthetic nutrients, stabilizers, preservatives, and other things you can’t even pronounce or comprehend what they are. Even the supposedly high-quality whey protein powders that are healthy, containing organic grassfed whey from healthy cows, like this one – Whole Whey Natural from Metaorganics

  • Whey protein concentrate from grassfed cows’ raw milk (pesticide free, no added hormones)
  • Fibersol (what?)
  • Arabinogalactin extract (what?)
  • Nonfat milk powder (no thanks, I’ll take real full fats that aren’t oxidized)
  • Lecithin (soy, no thanks)
  • Medium chain triglycerides (which you can get from real coconut oil)
  • Natural flavors (MSG)
  • Guar gum (MSG)
  • Lohan (what the heck is that?)

Okay, whole whey protein from grass fed cows’ milk, that’s the only thing I’d even consider consuming on this list.    But I could get that from having a smoothie with yogurt and kefir in it, or drinking a glass of milk, or eating some cheese.

Even if you knew what the other ingredients were, do you need to be consuming them? Probably not. So everything else? I’d avoid like the plague and just eat real food.

This product is a great example of how just because something is labeled organic or even grassfed, does not make it healthy to consume.

But aren’t plant protein powders better?

There are other protein powder products not sourced from animals using proteins from plants, grains, and seeds. No matter how the labels might describe them as being low-temperature processed or non-denatured, these products are still as unnatural as can be, and we should not rely on grains or plants in those amounts as a good source of protein. Our ancestors never did this. Again, there is no fat present in these products as the proteins are isolated and compounded many times above what would occur in nature.

Vegetables, grains, seeds, and legumes contain phytic acid – an anti-nutrient that can leach minerals from the stores in your body – usually the bones. To neutralize these components, sprouting/soaking, fermentation, cooking, and serving with healthy fats is required. When those techniques are applied, your body can use the nutrients in those foods. But eating in raw form, or in the case of grains simply cooked, or highly processed and compounded many times as protein powders is not a smart way to consume these foods.

You’re better off eating a nice pile of chopped up broccoli and carrots, cooked in a pan with butter, salt, garlic, and some seasoning than you are to consume plant protein powders. You’ll absorb the nutrients in the plants better since you’ll be eating it with a wonderful, healthy fat with fat-soluble vitamins (A&D), and it will actually taste good.

Protein and fat work together

There’s absolutely nothing wrong with protein – provided it’s a natural source of protein and it’s also accompanied by some type of natural fat such as in meats or animal products. Even some other foods such as grains, vegetables, legumes, and nuts contain a small amount of protein (although not much except for in the case of nuts). But the point is, those foods with small amounts of protein don’t have much naturally-occurring fat.

That’s why it’s important to traditionally prepare grains, seeds, legumes, and vegetables – either through fermentation or soaking/sprouting and/or cooking to neutralize phytic acid, and eat with healthy animal fats. Those fat-soluble nutrients help us to absorb the nutrients in those foods.

The lack of fat in high-protein foods like industrially-produced lean meats and processed foods like protein powders is a problem because they lack vital, fat-soluble nutrients. In this case, Vitamin A.  The body stores Vitamin A in the liver. If you keep eating high-protein foods with no fat, you will soon deplete Vitamin A stores in the body.  This leads to many chronic issues including:

  • bone issues and osteoporosis from loss of calcium
  • Heart or kidney disease
  • Thyroid and hormonal imbalances
  • Auto-immune disease such as fibroymyalgia (chronic fatigue) or more serious issues including diabetes

All of these issues sum up much of what is wrong with our population’s modern health profile – some of the most common diseases people have, and they are on the increase. As a coincidence, many people avoid fat, count calories, and cling to nutrient-deficient diets.  Quite an interesting connection, isn’t it?

What’s wrong with modern diets?

The Standard American Diet is sorely depleted of nutrient-dense foods. Besides chemicals and toxins in our diets from processed foods that make up so much of what we eat, three ingredients that have remained a constant in our everyday eating habits are white flour, sugar, and vegetable oils.

Dr. Weston A. Price discovered that fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K2 were present in the diets of healthy populations he studied all over the world. Modern diets are lacking in these nutrients, including Vitamin A, a nutrient we can get from foods such as cod liver oil, liver, butter, cream, fish, and fish eggs.

We have an abundance of lean protein foods in our diets because conventional medical information tells us to eliminate fat and cholesterol. Lean meats are NOT natural in any sense of the word, and the majority of them are produced on CAFOs (concentrated animal feeding operations) where animals do not receive a natural diet nor live in a natural environment. This makes the meat and fat content of these foods off-balance and not healthy for our bodies. For example, due to the way they are produced, CAFO meats are too high in Omega 6s, and the ratio of Omega 6 to Omega 3s is about 15:1 or wider. Grassfed meats are the correct balance at approximately 3:1.

For thousands and thousands of years, healthy meat and poultry was eaten by people around the world with fat, skin, bones, and everything else that goes with animal foods. Those were not separated out, they were considered essential and necessary for maintaining good health.

Instead of processed foods or protein powders that have isolated, high amounts of denatured protein and lack other important co-factors and nutrients, eat healthy foods with saturated fats and real nutrients like egg yolks from pastured hens, raw yogurt, milk, or other dairy food, coconut oil, mashed up avocadoes to soups, broths, stews, and or smoothies. Eat fatty cuts of grassfed meats, pork, lamb, poultry and game meats with plenty of butter, olive oil, or other animal fat and with or cooked in bone broths. Cook your vegetables and braise your meats in butter, lard, tallow, or ghee. For desert, have a big bowl of home-made full-fat raw yogurt with fruit, nuts, and cinnamon.

Here’s a recipe for home-made whey on the Radiant Life site, which is an excellent natural source of real protein. You can also easily make a home-made protein powder such as the recipe featured in Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon.

These foods are delicious and good for you, and will bring back flavor to the bland, boring processed foods you’ve been eating that aren’t healthy. Instead of high-protein and low-fat, make your meals high-protein and high fat too.

Want more information?

The importance of dietary fats

What’s the real scoop on red meat and higher mortality rates?

Which is better for your health – polyunsaturated or saturated fats?

Dr. Sinatra and others speaking out – cholesterol is not the cause of heart disease