The Juggling Act that is GAPS (Gut and Psychology Syndrome™) or, "Keep these three balls in the air"
As many of you know, I have been teaching how to cook nourishing, traditional foods a la Weston A. Price and Sally Fallon's Nourishing Traditions Cookbook for more than 11 years now, since 2006. I started teaching how to cook for the Gut and Psychology Syndrome™ (GAPS) Diet in 2010, and have so far published two of my four part series on Cooking Techniques for the GAPS Diet--Meat Stock and Bone Broth, and Culturing Dairy. (Lacto-fermentation is due out by the end of this year...to be followed by Nuts and Seeds). I wrote the books with the aim to help clear up confusion about the diet and make the cooking "GAPS-style" easy. I took the training to become a Certified GAPS Practitioner in 2015, and have been working with people to heal their guts for years--young, old, and in between.
(I would like to say one thing clearly here, before I continue with this article on juggling: The GAPS diet is about the FOOD, folks. The food. Before you try all sorts of supplements and vitamins and healing modalities for your or your child's symptoms, try the diet first. Give it time to work. Hang in there. Ask for help if you need it. It took time to get this far out of balance in your body, it is going to take time to bring it back on line. And we have seen tremendous healing happen by following the diet, by the food alone.)
Okay, back to the Juggling Act that is GAPS!
While implementing the GAPS diet, I have found that there are 3 things that you must juggle at once as you go through it---it is a balancing act, and all three parts must be maintained (kept in the air, if you will), if you are going to succeed. I am writing this article to bring this to your attention...because I know it will help in implementing the nutritional protocol, and ultimately, bring relief and speed healing.
First, Stop Injury. That means to remove all of the foods and ingredients and toxins that could further damage the lining of the small intestine. These are gluten, casein, and complex carbohydrates (aka starches), fibrous vegetables, as well as dyes, preservatives, soy, GMOs, and other food fractions that could be problematic. (For a full list, see Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride's book.)
Second, Heal and Seal. Healing and sealing is the role of Meat Stock, that delicious, nutritious "one pot meal that heals™". Put very simply, the amino acids provide the building blocks for healing, and the gelatin does the sealing. (In my classes, I have often used the loose analogy of a brick wall: the amino acids are the bricks and the gelatin is the mortar. You get the idea. If there are holes in the mortar, things are going to get through--in this case, into the bloodstream. Need to Heal it and Seal it!) For more information about the role of meat stock, how to make it, and why it is the only stock used during the Intro of the GAPS Diet, see my article here. (Heck, it's so important that I wrote a whole book about it!) In order to work its healing magic, it is a good idea to drink what I call " a therapeutic dose" of meat stock every day--at least three, but better 4-6 eight ounce cups per day. (You will drink less when you have Healed and Sealed...that is, once you graduate to the Full GAPS diet.)
Thirdly,Repopulate the Gut with Healthy Microbes. One must turn the tide of dysbiosis, a situation where pathogenic bacteria reign supreme in the intestine. In the GAPS diet, one repopulates the gut with beneficial bacteria with FOOD. It is the role of lacto-ferments (beet kvass, cabbage tonic, sauerkraut, fruit kvass) and cultured dairy in all of its forms (yogurt, cultured cream, sour(ed) cream-raw only- and kefir). People also use probiotic supplements, to increase the number of microbes in the system quickly. (It is very easy to add another 10, 20, or even hundreds of billion lacto-bacilli when taking a pill or a powder. There is only so much kraut one can eat in a day!)
I have no problem with probiotic supplements, in fact, often the addition of a good quality probiotic can help to clear tenacious symptoms when used in concert with the food. There are even a few that I recommend (see below), specifically because they are "clean" (contain no fillers and are "GAPS compliant"). Remember that when on GAPS, a probiotic may not contain FOS, inulin, or other prebiotics. They are starches or fiber, and will either "feed the bad guys" (pathogenic bacteria or opportunistic bacteria) or they will damage the gut. (See step one above: Stop Injury. Fiber can be like sandpaper to the gut wall. Since food travels down our alimentary canal, it will hit the damaged area first--the duodenum of the small intestine--before it gets to where it can be used, the colon.) So once you have found a probiotic without prebiotics in it, be sure that it has multiple strains (more than 12 is a good place to start).
I encourage you to keep these three things in mind--in balance, actually--as you travel along the road of healing your leaky gut with the GAPS nutritional protocol. One more time with feeling, here are those three things: 1. Stop Injury. 2. Heal and Seal. 3. Repopulate the Gut with Beneficial Microbes. These three things are all equally important. For example, if you are taking hundreds of billions of probiotics every day (which I don't recommend--more on that later), but not drinking a therapeutic dose of meat stock EVERY day, you may be winning the battle of dysbiosis, but you won't be Healing and Sealing. If you drink your meat stock every day, but don't cut out all the foods that are damaging, (potatoes, or grains, or sugar, for example), you are continuing to blow holes in the small intestine, and continuing to feed pathogens. The gut will never seal, (like a wound that keeps getting the band-aid ripped off) and the bad guys-pathogens-will win. Makes sense? So GAPS is a juggling act, my friends. Keep all three balls in the air, and you win. It has been my experience, as I work with all sorts of individuals wanting to heal all sorts of symptoms with this diet, that if you can keep all the balls in the air, mindful of all the pieces at once, you will have a much better chance at moving through the protocol with ease and with better returns, faster.
Until next time, keep those balls in the air, folks!
Probiotics that are "GAPS legal":
More information on the GAPS Diet: www.gaps.me
To work with me on implementing the GAPS Diet, schedule a free consultation here: http://simplybeingwell.com/Consultations.html