By Eric L. Zielinski, DC (c), MPH (c)
One of the more controversial healing diets to hit the natural health scene, the GAPS diet, is named after Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride’s book, Gut and Psychology Syndrome, which first described the idea in 2007. Suggesting that people get sick because of damage done to the gut, the book is basically a food guide designed to:
- create a healthy balance of bacteria in your gut,
- promote gastrointestinal healing and rebuild your gut wall so that toxins cannot enter your bloodstream, and
- reverse the toxicity caused by harmful bacteria that dominate the gut environment.
Inspired by the Specific Carbohydrate Diet (SCD) developed in the 1920s to heal digestive disorders, the GAPS diet has been at the heart of many scientific debates recently. Many claim that it can:
- boost immunity
- build bone density
- heal inflammatory bowel disease
- improve lactose digestion
- kill candida
- reverse allergies
- reverse heart disease
- reverse type II diabetes
- support detoxification
Why is the GAPS Diet so Controversial?
Frankly, any diet or health gimmick claiming to cure autism, ADD/ADHD, allergies and learning disabilities like dyslexia is going to be questioned. And rightfully so! As healthcare providers, we take the Hippocratic Oath, pledging to do “no harm” and to practice evidence-based medicine. Yet, the definition of “evidence” varies widely from doctor to doctor and from one healthcare approach to another.
This is why a number of researchers and physicians have condemned the GAPS diet: because no randomized clinical trials have been published yet evaluating its safety and effectiveness. If you do a search on the Internet, you’ll find many experts calling it “experimental” and even claiming that it is “unfounded on science.”
Personally, I couldn’t disagree more.
Just because Gut and Psychology Syndrome isn’t a term in the Merck Manual yet doesn’t mean that it doesn’t exist, right? Well, not according to Dr. Andrew Weil, M.D., who says, “It’s existence is unproven.” And just because researchers haven’t tested every nuance, it doesn’t mean that Gerard Mullin, M.D. (Associate Professor of Medicine and an integrative gastroenterologist at Johns Hopkins Hospital), is correct when he says that the GAPS Diet lacks a clear scientific rationale and is even challenging to follow.
When you critically investigate each individual part, the GAPS diet as a whole makes complete sense.
For example, at the core of the diet is healing the gut lining with foods like bone broth and healthy fats while balancing gut microflora with probiotics and fermented foods. Although not tested under the guise of the GAPS Diet, this approach has been thoroughly evaluated in the scientific community.
Proven Aspects of the GAPS Diet
That the immune system is primarily housed in the gut is taught in Nutrition 101. In fact, the American Journal of Physiology published a study claiming, “The gut immune system has 70-80% of the body’s immune cells”! This has led researchers to discover that most chronic diseases are linked to immune dysfunction and can be traced back to bacteria imbalance and lack of probiotics (“good” bacteria) in your gut.
We see this type of research supporting all of the other GAPS diet principles like supplementing with:
- Digestive enzymes
- Essential fatty acids
- Vitamin A
In other words, although the GAPS diet hasn’t been tested directly, countless research studies have proven its approach indirectly.
Is the GAPS Diet for You?
If you suffer from any of the conditions mentioned above, there’s really no reason not to check it out. Who knows? Maybe you’ll experience a healing “miracle” like countless people have reported on the Internet!
For more information on the GAPS diet, check out Dr. Campbell-McBride’s book, Gut and Psychology Syndrome, and her website www.gapsdiet.com.
Eric L. Zielinski and his wife Sabrina are on a mission to help YOU live the Abundant Life. Check out their website www.DrEricZ.com and follow them on Facebook.