THE GAPS DIET
By Dr. Lawrence Wilson
© February 2018, LD Wilson Consultants, inc.
All information in this article is for educational purposes only. It is not for the diagnosis, treatment, prescription or cure of any disease or health condition.
A popular diet today is the GAPS diet. The letters G-A-P-S stand for Gut And Psychology Syndrome. I am delighted that the author of this diet figured out and is sharing the intimate connection between diet and one’s psychology and behavior.
To compare GAPS with nutritional balancing (or NB) is difficult because they are so different. Here are some differences:
1.The GAPS diet is primarily a diet, whereas nutritional balancing is a program specifically designed to cause development of a human being. Development is the growth of the subtle human energy fields and the Merkaba. For details, read Introduction To Development.
2. GAPS is designed primarily as a therapeutic system for people with gut problems such as leaky gut syndrome, irritable bowel syndrome, intestinal yeast, colitis and others. Nutritional balancing and development are not mainly for the intestinal system, but rather for all body systems.
3. GAPS has a goal to return a person to a “regular” diet and lifestyle, as much as possible, perhaps with the exception of eating grains. This is not true of development programs.
4. GAPS is much easier for people, as there is less to do. Nutritional balancing asks much more of its participants, and offers more, as well.
There is no question that the GAPS protocol works to help many children with autism and others with digestive problems to feel better. We view it as a good starter program to help rebuild and heal a leaky gut, but then one should move on to a diet much higher in cooked vegetables.
Otherwise, a diet that is too high in fat, for example, can lead to cancer because all fats and oils contain some female hormones that can lead to the development of cancers, especially female cancers. This is unfortunate, but true, in our experience. The high-cooked-vegetable diet is more of a detoxification regimen that also provides many more alkaline reserve minerals, which all people need today at all ages.
Is the GAPS diet necessary? We have been asked whether the GAPS diet is necessary if a person has a leaky gut, or can a person just begin a nutritional balancing program? In our experience, a GAPS diet is not needed.
The slow or fast oxidizer diets, which are somewhat similar to GAPS, will work even for severe gut problems. One may have to modify these diets for a while to eliminate all grains and all dairy, perhaps, until the gut heals. This usually occurs enough within a few weeks to a few months if one follows the fast or slow oxidizer diets faithfully (which most people do not do. They do not eat enough cooked vegetables, in most cases.) Then the standard fast or slow oxidizer diets work excellently in almost all cases.
PROBLEMS WITH THE GAPS DIET FROM THE PERSPECTIVE OF DEVELOPMENT SCIENCE
1. ALLOWING FISH AND ESPECIALLY SHELLFISH. Sadly, most fish and all shellfish are contaminated with mercury, and often with other toxic metal, as well. Wild caught fish are just as bad as farmed fish in this regard. Shellfish are particularly bad, as they are usually caught in coastal waters where toxins are dumped directly into the oceans and streams. Fish imported from Asia are often the worst.
We do not agree with claims that the selenium content of tunafish, for example, protects one against the mercury in the tuna. We do not recommend any fish or shellfish, with the exception of 3-4 cans only of sardines weekly, or other tiny fish such as occasionally some smelt, anchovies, or perhaps a little herring. For more on this topic, please read Mercury and Fish-Eating on this site.
2. ALLOWING FRUIT. We find fruit to be too yin in Chinese medical terms, and not healthful for other reasons, as well. Almost all fruit is hybridized, and fertilized with NPK superphosphate fertilizers that impart a toxic form of potassium to the fruit. Eating fruit often upsets digestion and blood sugar. For more, read Fruit-Eating on this website.
3. ALLOWING TOO MUCH JUICE. Juices, we find, are very yin. We allow 10 ounces of carrot juice for adults, and less for children – but that is all. Fruit juices are especially sugary and can disturb blood sugar and upset digestion. The same goes for most green drinks and smoothies. For more, read Carrot Juice And Other Juices on this site.
4. ALLOWING NUTS AND SEEDS. These are also quite yin, somewhat difficult to digest, and slightly toxic in our experience. They may contribute to impaired digestion as they are not that easy to digest.
An exception is some toasted almond butter, which is an excellent food for development. A little tahini or hummus is also excellent and needed. The butters are much easier to digest than the nuts or seeds themselves.
5. ALLOWING FERMENTED FOODS. A little fermented food is fine for a few months to help re-establish the gut flora, as the introductory GAPS program allows. However, after this, fermented foods have the following problems: they are quite yin and raw, and most contribute to aldehyde poisoning except for yogurt and kefir. For more, read Fermented Foods on this website.
Interestingly, the GAPS diet does not allow commercial yogurt. However, we find it is usually fine, especially live culture yogurt made with goat milk or organic cows milk. The only reason to avoid it is if one is sensitive to dairy products. This sensitivity usually goes away on a nutritional balancing program after a number of months.
6. ALLOWING SOME RAW VEGETABLES. While a little salad is okay, we find that most people cannot extract enough minerals from raw vegetables. Also, the raw vegetable fiber is also rather irritating for many people. As a result, eating salads mainly fills up the stomach and reduces the amount of cooked vegetables that a person can eat, which is not helpful.
The nutrient loss from cooking is negligible, compared to the benefits of cooking the vegetables. Benefits of cooking vegetables include better mineral absorption, gentler on the digestive tract, which in most people is diseased, cleaner, more concentrated so you can eat more, and other benefits. For more, read Raw Foods on this site.
7. NO GRAINS. The GAPS diet suggests avoiding all grains. We agree that if you cannot tolerate them, avoid them. However, we find that blue corn, usually in the form of blue corn tortilla chips, is excellent for development.
Wheat and spelt are not as healthful foods today for anyone. They are hybridized, genetically modified in most cases, and generally irritating to the intestinal tract.
8. ALLOWING COCONUT PRODUCTS, PALM OIL AND AVOCADOS. These are tropical fruits, and therefore extremely yin. They contain a toxin that builds up in the liver if one eats a lot of them.
9. ALLOWING PIG PRODUCTS. We find that all pork, ham, bacon, lard and other products from pigs can be contaminated with trichina worm cysts and perhaps other parasites, even though the meat is well-cooked. Other problems exist with pig products as well, perhaps due to their diets of practically anything including feces and worse.
We suggest avoiding all pig products. The only exception that I use is porcine pancreatin and a porcine thyroid glandular product, which work very well and are free of parasites, so far.
10. ALLOWING NIGHTSHADE VEGETABLES. The GAPS diet permits foods such as tomatoes, peppers and eggplant. We do not recommend these for at least two reasons. They all contain solanin, an irritating toxin that upsets digestion. Also, tomato, peppers and eggplant are actually fruits because they contain seeds. As such, they are more yin and less desirable foods.
Also, the GAPS diet does not permit canned vegetables, and I am not sure if frozen vegetables are allowed. While perhaps not as good as fresh vegetables, we find that if a person will not eat fresh vegetables, then canned ones are much better than no vegetables at all. Canned are often better than frozen ones.
11. ALLOWING ZUCCINI AND OTHER SUMMER SQUASHES. Squashes are actually fruits (they contain seeds). This means they are more yin and thus, less desirable foods today. The summer squashes are very yin foods, and, for this reason, we do not recommend them. They include zuccini, sunburst and summer squashes. The winter squashes are much better, such as butternut, acorn and spaghetti squash. They are more yang, and may be eaten once or twice weekly.
12. NO MILK. The GAPS diet forbids any milk at all because milk is high in sugar. This prohibition is helpful for some people for a time. However, if one eats properly, and takes a digestive aid that we suggest, some people can tolerate up to 4 ounces of raw or organic cow or goat milk daily, but not more, when the gut heals sufficiently.
13. ALLOWING SEAWEED. The GAPS diet allows all sea vegetables. However, all of them are high in mercury today, so we do not suggest eating most seaweeds, except rarely.
An exception is kelp, which is recommended on every nutritional balancing program. It is not only rich in minerals, including iodine, that everyone needs. It is also high in alginates that bind to toxic metals and prevent their entrance into the body. Other seaweeds do not have as much or as powerful alginates or similar compounds, and for this reason are not recommended.
14. ALLOWING PEANUT BUTTER. Peanuts and peanut butter are very nutritious foods. However, most peanut butter is somewhat infected with aflatoxin, a mold that is a potent liver poison. For this reason, we do not recommend peanut butter, even natural peanut butter.
15. PLENTY OF FATS WITH EACH MEAL. The GAPS diet recommends this for everyone. We find that about 15% fat or oil are excellent for those in fast oxidation, but less is best for slow oxidizers, who have much more trouble digesting and utilizing fats and oils.
We prefer that people eat more cooked vegetables, and not as much fat. As explained above, too much fat in the diet may feel good for a while, but later often leads to cancers, particularly breast and other female cancers.
16. ALLOWING MEAT STOCK AND FISH STOCK. GAPS uses this to help rebuild the intestine. We find that meat broths are somewhat toxic and not helpful for development.
Bone broth, which is recommended on the GAPS diet as well, may contain lead, in our experience. We only recommend beef bone broth at this time (February 2018). For details about how to make it, read Bone Broth. We suggest cooking it for only 3-4 hours, or about 25 minutes if you pressure cook it.
17. ALLOWING SCOTCH AND VODKA. We are not sure why the GAPS diet allows some alcohol. Alcohol is very irritating to the digestive tract, can inflame yeast in the body, depletes magnesium, zinc and B-complex vitamins, damages the brain and the liver, and has many other horrible effects on the body. We suggest avoiding all alcohol-containing beverages.
18. ALLOWING HONEY. We are surprised that the GAPS diet allows raw honey. Although it is better than perhaps other sugars, honey is very yin and sweet.
We suggest avoiding all honey. You may use some cooked carrots, onions, or celery to sweeten dishes. Carrot juice is also quite sweet. Stevia is another sweetener that can be used, but only on occasion. Try not to use any sweeteners with your cooking, and to train children not to need sweeteners.
In summary, an introductory GAPS diet will help many cases of leaky gut, and is excellent for this purpose. However, staying on the diet for more than a few months is not good, in my view, as it is too low in cooked vegetables, includes foods that are not ideal, does not include the proper supplements with it, and does not include the wonderful procedures suggested on nutritional balancing programs.
We do not think the GAPS diet is necessary for those with leaky gut syndrome or those with symptoms of autism. Nutritional balancing works well, in almost all cases. However, GAPS can be tried for a few weeks or months, and often works well to stabilize the digestion. Just do not stay on it longer than a few months.