The GAPS Diet: An Evidence-Based Review


The GAPS food regimen is a strict elimination diet that requires its followers to chop out grains, pasteurized dairy, starchy greens and refined carbs.

It’s promoted as a pure remedy for folks with circumstances that have an effect on the mind, reminiscent of autism.

Nevertheless, it’s a controversial remedy and has been extensively criticized by medical doctors, scientists and vitamin professionals for its restrictive routine.

This text explores the options of the GAPS dietary protocol and examines whether or not there may be any proof behind its purported well being advantages.

GAPS stands for Intestine and Psychology Syndrome. It’s a time period that was invented by Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride, who additionally designed the GAPS food regimen.

Her concept is that many circumstances that have an effect on your mind are attributable to a leaky intestine. Leaky gut syndrome is the time period used to explain a rise within the permeability of the intestine wall (1).

The GAPS concept is {that a} leaky intestine permits chemical substances and micro organism out of your meals and setting to enter your blood once they wouldn’t usually achieve this.

It claims that when these international substances enter your blood, they will have an effect on your mind’s operate and growth, inflicting “mind fog” and circumstances like autism.

The GAPS protocol is designed to heal the intestine, stopping toxins from getting into the blood stream and decreasing “toxicity” within the physique. Nevertheless, it isn’t clear if or how leaky intestine performs a task within the growth of illnesses (2, 3).

In her e-book, Dr. Campbell-McBride states that the GAPS dietary protocol cured her first baby of autism. She now extensively promotes the food regimen as a pure remedy for a lot of psychiatric and neurological circumstances, together with:

  • Autism
  • ADD and ADHD
  • Dyspraxia
  • Dyslexia
  • Despair
  • Schizophrenia
  • Tourette’s syndrome
  • Bipolar dysfunction
  • Obsessive-compulsive dysfunction (OCD)
  • Consuming issues
  • Gout
  • Childhood mattress wetting

The food regimen is most frequently used for youngsters, particularly those that have a well being situation that’s poorly understood by mainstream drugs, reminiscent of autism. The food regimen additionally claims to assist youngsters who’ve a meals intolerance or allergy.

It may be a years-long course of, and requires you to chop out all meals Dr. Campbell-McBride thinks contribute to a leaky intestine. This contains all grains, pasteurized dairy, starchy greens and refined carbs.

The GAPS protocol is made up of three principal phases: the GAPS introduction food regimen, the total GAPS food regimen and a reintroduction section for coming off of the food regimen.

Abstract: GAPS stands for Intestine and Psychology Syndrome. It’s an elimination food regimen claimed to remedy circumstances that have an effect on mind operate, together with autism and a spotlight deficit dysfunction.

The introduction section is essentially the most intense a part of the food regimen as a result of it eliminates essentially the most meals. It’s known as the “intestine therapeutic section” and might final from three weeks to 1 12 months, relying in your signs.

This section is damaged down into six phases:

  • Stage 1: Eat do-it-yourself bone broth, juices from probiotic meals and ginger, and drink mint or chamomile tea with honey between meals. People who find themselves not dairy illiberal could eat unpasteurized, do-it-yourself yogurt or kefir.
  • Stage 2: Add in uncooked natural egg yolks, ghee and stews made with greens and meat or fish.
  • Stage 3: All earlier meals plus avocado, fermented greens, GAPS-recipe pancakes and scrambled eggs made with ghee, duck fats or goose fats.
  • Stage 4: Add in grilled and roasted meats, cold-pressed olive oil, vegetable juice and GAPS-recipe bread.
  • Stage 5: Introduce cooked apple purée, uncooked greens beginning with lettuce and peeled cucumber, fruit juice and small quantities of uncooked fruit, however no citrus.
  • Stage 6: Lastly, introduce extra uncooked fruit, together with citrus.

Throughout the introduction section, the food regimen requires you to introduce meals slowly, beginning with small quantities and build up steadily.

The food regimen recommends that you simply transfer from one stage to the subsequent as soon as you might be tolerating the meals you will have launched. You might be thought-about to be tolerating a meals when you will have a standard bowel motion.

As soon as the introduction food regimen is full, you may transfer to the total GAPS food regimen.

Abstract: The introduction section is essentially the most restrictive section of the food regimen. It lasts as much as one 12 months and removes all starchy carbs out of your food regimen. As a substitute, you’ll eat principally broth, stews and probiotic meals.

The total GAPS food regimen can final 1.5–2 years. Throughout this a part of the food regimen, individuals are suggested to base the vast majority of their food regimen on the next meals:

  • Contemporary meat, ideally hormone-free and grass-fed
  • Animal fat, reminiscent of lard, tallow, lamb fats, duck fats, uncooked butter and ghee
  • Fish
  • Shellfish
  • Natural eggs
  • Fermented meals, reminiscent of kefir, do-it-yourself yogurt and sauerkraut
  • Greens

Followers of the food regimen may also eat average quantities of nuts and GAPS-recipe baked items made with nut flours.

There are additionally quite a lot of further suggestions that associate with the total GAPS food regimen. These embrace:

  • Don’t eat meat and fruit collectively.
  • Use natural meals at any time when potential.
  • Eat animal fat, coconut oil or cold-pressed olive oil at each meal.
  • Eat bone broth with each meal.
  • Eat massive quantities of fermented meals, when you can tolerate them.
  • Keep away from packaged and canned meals.

Whereas on this section of the food regimen, it is best to keep away from all different meals, notably refined carbs, preservatives and synthetic colorings.

Abstract: The total GAPS food regimen is taken into account the upkeep section of the food regimen, and lasts between 1.5–2 years. It’s based mostly on animal fat, meat, fish, eggs and greens. It additionally contains probiotic meals.

In case you’re following the GAPS food regimen to the letter, you’ll be on the total food regimen for no less than 1.5–2 years earlier than you begin reintroducing different meals.

The food regimen suggests that you simply begin the reintroduction section after you will have skilled regular digestion and bowel actions for no less than six months.

Like the opposite phases of this food regimen, the ultimate stage will also be an extended course of as you reintroduce meals slowly over quite a lot of months.

The food regimen suggests introducing every meals individually in a small quantity. In case you don’t observe any digestive points over 2–Three days, you could steadily improve your parts.

The food regimen doesn’t element the order or the precise meals it is best to introduce. Nevertheless, it states that it is best to begin with new potatoes and fermented, gluten-free grains.

Even when you’re off the food regimen, you’re suggested to proceed avoiding all extremely processed and refined high-sugar meals, retaining the whole-foods rules of the protocol.

Abstract: This stage reintroduces meals that aren’t included within the full GAPS food regimen. You might be suggested to nonetheless keep away from meals excessive in refined carbs.

The food regimen’s founder states that a very powerful side of the GAPS protocol is the food regimen.

Nevertheless, the GAPS protocol additionally recommends varied dietary supplements. These embrace probiotics, important fatty acids, digestive enzymes and cod liver oil.


Probiotic supplements are added to the food regimen to assist restore the steadiness of helpful micro organism in your intestine.

It’s advisable that you simply select a probiotic containing strains from a variety of micro organism, together with Lactobacilli, Bifidobacteria and Bacillus subtilis varieties.

You’re suggested to search for a product that comprises no less than eight billion bacterial cells per gram and to introduce the probiotic slowly into your food regimen.

Important Fatty Acids and Cod Liver Oil

Folks on the GAPS food regimen are suggested to take day by day dietary supplements of each fish oil and cod liver oil to make sure they’re getting sufficient.

The food regimen additionally suggests you are taking small quantities of a cold-pressed nut and seed oil mix that has a 2:1 ratio of omega-Three to omega-6 fatty acids.

Digestive Enzymes

The food regimen’s founder claims that individuals with GAPS circumstances even have low abdomen acid manufacturing. To treatment this, she suggests followers of the food regimen take a complement of betaine HCl with added pepsin earlier than every meal.

This complement is a manufactured type of hydrochloric acid, one of many principal acids produced in your abdomen. Pepsin is an enzyme additionally produced within the abdomen, which works to interrupt down and digest proteins.

Some folks could wish to take further digestive enzymes to assist digestion.

Abstract: The GAPS food regimen recommends that its followers take probiotics, important fatty acids, cod liver oil and digestive enzymes.

The 2 key elements of the GAPS dietary protocol are an elimination food regimen and dietary dietary supplements.

The Elimination Food plan

As but, no research have examined the consequences of the GAPS dietary protocol on the signs and behaviors related to autism.

Due to this, it’s not possible to know the way it may assist folks with autism and whether or not it’s an efficient remedy.

Different diets which were examined in folks with autism, like ketogenic diets and gluten-free, casein-free diets, have proven potential for serving to enhance a few of the behaviors related to autism (4, 5).

However to date, research have been small and drop-out charges excessive, so it’s nonetheless unclear how these diets may go and which individuals they could assist (6).

There are additionally no different research analyzing the impact of the GAPS food regimen on any of the opposite circumstances it claims to deal with.

Dietary Dietary supplements

The GAPS food regimen prescribes probiotics to revive the steadiness of helpful micro organism within the intestine.

Though the affect of probiotics on the intestine is a promising line of analysis, there may be presently little proof on this space because it pertains to the neurological circumstances that the GAPS food regimen is claimed to deal with (7, 8).

Extra high-quality research are required earlier than researchers can say whether or not bacterial strains play a task within the growth of autism, and if that’s the case, who would possibly profit from probiotics (8, 9, 10).

The GAPS food regimen additionally suggests taking dietary supplements of important fat and digestive enzymes.

Nevertheless, research to this point haven’t noticed that taking important fatty acid dietary supplements has an impact on folks with autism. Equally, research on the consequences of digestive enzymes on autism have had combined outcomes (11, 12, 13).

General, it’s not clear whether or not taking dietary dietary supplements improves autistic behaviors or vitamin standing. Extra high-quality research are wanted earlier than the consequences could be identified (14, 15).

Abstract: As but, no scientific research have examined the consequences of the GAPS protocol on autism, or every other situation the food regimen claims to deal with.

The GAPS food regimen is a really restrictive protocol that requires you to chop out many nutritious meals for lengthy intervals of time.

It additionally offers little steerage on how to make sure your food regimen comprises all of the vitamins you want.

Due to this, the obvious threat of occurring this food regimen is malnutrition. That is very true for youngsters who’re rising quick and wish a variety of vitamins, because the food regimen could be very restrictive.

Moreover, these with autism could have already got a restrictive food regimen and should not readily settle for new meals or adjustments to their diets. This might result in excessive restriction (16).

Some critics have voiced the priority that consuming massive quantities of bone broth may improve your consumption of lead, which is poisonous in excessive doses (17).

Nevertheless, the dangers of lead toxicity on the GAPS food regimen haven’t been documented, so the precise threat isn’t identified.

Abstract: The GAPS food regimen is a particularly restrictive food regimen which will put you susceptible to malnutrition.

Most individuals who strive the GAPS food regimen are youngsters with autism whose mother and father want to remedy or enhance their baby’s situation.

It is because one of many principal claims made by the food regimen’s founder is that autism is attributable to a leaky intestine, and could be cured or improved by following the GAPS food regimen.

Autism is a situation that ends in adjustments to mind operate that have an effect on how the autistic particular person experiences the world. Its results can range extensively, however, normally, folks with autism have difficulties with communication and social interplay.

It’s a posh situation thought to outcome from a mixture of genetic and environmental elements (18).

Curiously, research have famous that as much as 70% of individuals with autism even have poor digestive well being, which may end up in signs together with constipation, diarrhea, stomach ache, acid reflux disease and vomiting (19).

Untreated digestive signs in folks with autism have additionally been linked with extra extreme behaviors, together with elevated irritability, tantrums, aggressive habits and sleep disturbances (19).

A small variety of research have discovered that some youngsters with autism have elevated intestinal permeability (20, 21, 22).

Nevertheless, the outcomes are combined, and different research have discovered no distinction between intestinal permeability in youngsters with and with out autism (20, 23).

There are additionally presently no research that present the presence of leaky intestine earlier than the event of autism. So even when leaky intestine is linked to autism in some youngsters, it’s not identified if it’s a trigger or a symptom (24).

General, the declare that leaky intestine is the reason for autism is controversial. Some scientists suppose this rationalization oversimplifies the causes of a posh situation.

Furthermore, the leaky intestine rationalization isn’t presently supported by scientific proof.

Abstract: Leaky intestine is typically seen in some folks with autism. Nevertheless, there may be presently little proof that leaky intestine causes it.

Some folks really feel they’ve benefited from the GAPS food regimen, although these stories are anecdotal.

Nevertheless, this elimination food regimen is extraordinarily restrictive for lengthy intervals of time, making it very tough to stay to. It might be particularly harmful for the precise inhabitants it’s meant for — susceptible younger folks.

Many well being professionals have criticized the GAPS food regimen as a result of there aren’t any scientific research that assist its claims.

In case you are curious about making an attempt it, be sure you search assist and assist from a medical skilled.

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