The acronym GAPS stands for Gut and Psychology Syndrome and Gut and Physiology Syndrome. The GAPS Diet was created by Dr. Natasha Campbell McBride from years of clinical experience working and healing her son from autism and many other children patients with autism and other mental illnesses. Even though the GAPS Diet originally focused to help individuals with mental illnesses it has a profound impact in healing patients with physical chronic diseases.
The GAPS diet is more of a nutritional protocol which consists of the following:
The diet itself is the most important component of the GAPS Nutritional Protocol. Don’t forget, the GAPS diet is designed to treat individuals with digestive tract disorders which is the root cause of mental and physical chronic illnesses.
The GAPS diet has many details and branches out to different diet modifications depending on the individual and what they can and can’t tolerate. However the two general options, in the beginning, are:
The Introduction GAPS Diet: less food variety and more challenging to follow for many individuals since it requires preparing and cooking whole food from scratch. However, it is more potent in healing the gut (digestive tract).
The introduction diet consists of six stages. Stage one has the most healing effect due to what you will eat and equally important is what you will not eat (removed food). Therefore, stage one is limited in food choices until you establish a good amount of gut-healing by fixing the leaky gut and rebalancing the gut flora. The second stage of the intro diet will provide few more food choices and as more healing takes place in your digestive tract you slowly and gradually move to the next stage until you reach stage six with of course more food choices and more ways of cooking the meat and vegetables.
The moving pace from one stage to another can take two to three days or longer depending on how fast your gut is healing and if the body can tolerate the added new foods as you progress through the six stages. I have seen clients stay for ten days in stage one of the introduction diet and others stay only three days so it is very individual.
The Full GAPS Diet: this phase of the GAPS diet is at the end of the spectrum of the GAPS diet where a lot of the gut-healing has occurred during the introduction diet. When you reach this phase you have more options of foods to eat and can go out to eat outside in restaurants (as long as you are following the Full GAPS diet guidelines) therefore it is easier to follow.
What I appreciate about the GAPS protocol is an evolving process and not as dogmatic as other diets, therefore, other GAPS diets have arisen simply because we are all unique individuals with different constitutions and various life experiences we had and still go through. Here is a chart to explain it in plain simple language.