Quack Treatments: GAPS diet

The GAPS diet is a restrictive diet used to try to cure autism, dyspraxia, dyslexia, ADD, ADHD, depression and schizophrenia. It is promoted as a natural treatment for the named conditions.  It stands for Gut and Psychology Syndrome. It requires its followers to stop ingesting grains pasteurized dairy, starchy vegetables and refined carbohydrates.

It was created by Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride.She earned her MD in Russia. She practiced as a neurologist and neurosurgeon. When she moved to the UK, she earned a degree in Human Nutrition. She practices as a nutritional consultant in a clinic in Cambridge, England. She never had been in contact with an autistic child until her own child was diagnosed when he was three.

She also invented the term GAPS. She theorized that many conditions affect the brain are caused by a leaky gut. Leaky gut syndrome is a term to describe an increase in the permeability of the gut wall.

She created this protocol because of the “autism epidemic.”She says breastfeeding and vaccines are to blame too.

GAPS claims that once these foreign substances enter the blood stream, they can affect brain function and development. According to them, it can cause “brain fog” and conditions like autism.

This protocol is designed to heal the gut. It claims to prevent toxins from entering the blood stream by lowering the toxicity of the boy. There is no evidence that a leaky gut causes any of these neurological conditions.

In her book, Gut and Psychology Syndrome, she claims that her first child was cured. After she released the protocol, she claims that it is a cure for autism, ADHD, ADD dyspraxia, dyslexia, depression, schizophrenia, Tourette’s syndrome, bi-polar disorder obsessive-compulsive disorder, eating disorders, gout and bed wetting.

This protocol is mostly used for children who have a condition that is not understood. GAPS is used as a cure all. GAPS claims to help children with a food intolerance or allergy.

They claim it is a long process. The participant has to eliminate all foods that can contribute to a leaky gut. These are grains, pasteurized dairy, starchy vegetables and carbohydrates.

Introduction Phase: Elimination:

Stage 1: Only consume homemade bone broth, juices from probiotic foods and ginger, and drink mint or chamomile tea with honey between meals. People who can handle dairy may eat upasteurized, homemade yogur of kefir.
Stage 2: Add raw organic egg yokes, ghee and stews made with vegetables and meat or fish
Stage 3: All previous foods plus avocado fermented vegetables GAPS friendly pancakes and scrambled eggs made with ghee, duck fat or goose fat.
Stage 4: Add in grilled or roasted meats, cold-pressed olive oil, vegetable uice and GAPS friendly bread.
Stage 5: Introduce cooked apple puree, raw vegtables starting with lettuce and peeled cucumber, fruit juice and small amounts of raw fruit, but no citrus
Stage 6: Introduce more raw fruit, including citrus.
During this phase, GAPS requires introduction of foods to be done slowly, starting with small quantities and gradually increase the amount.
GAPS recommends moving between the stages when food is tolerated. Tolerating food means when a normal bowel movement is observed.  After the introduction phase, moving on to the full GAPS diet can be done.

Maintenance Phase: The Full GAPS DIET

This phase can last 1.5-2 years. During this phase, people are recommended to base the majority of the diet on these foods:
fresh meat (hormone free and grass fed)
Animal fats (Lard, tallow, lamb fat, duck fat, raw butter and ghee)
organic eggs
fermented foods (kefir, homemade yogurt and sauerkraut)
Participants can choose to eat moderate quantities of nuts and GAPS friendly baked goods with nut flours.
Other GAPS rules:
Do not eat meat and fruit together
use organic foods whenever possible
eat animal fats, coconut oil or cold-pressed olive oil at every meal
consume bone broth with every meal
consume large amounts of fermented foods, if they can be tolerated
avoid packaged and canned foods
avoid all other foods, especially refined carbohydrates, preservatives and artificial colorings

Reintroduction Phase: Coming off GAPS

GAPS must be followed with every detail. When you do this, they claim the participant can be off it in two years or less. At this time, other foods can be introduced.
GAPS suggests introducing other foods when there is normal digestion for six months.
The final stage can be a long process. Could take months.
Introduce each food individually in small quantities. If there are no issues in 2-3 days, portions can be increased.
GAPS does not say the order to reintroduce foods. It does say to start with new potatoes and fermented, gluten free grains.
Even when off GAPS, it is recommended to avoid highly processed and refined high sugar foods. The participant should stay on the whole foods principle of this protocol.

GAPS Supplements

The creator says the most important part of the protocol is the diet. GAPS protocol also recommends numerous supplements. These are probiotics, essential fatty acids, digestive enzymes and cod liver oil.

Does GAPS Work?

No it does not. No studies have been done to measure the effectiveness of this. It is very restrictive and can cause malnutrition. Children need carbs. Science is not known to support GAPS theories or claims of psychological benefits. Science has not tested this at all. There are no studies on this quackery. Campbell-McBride is not a researcher and has not published any peer reviewed studies.

Questionable claims:

  • If you listen to your desires for food, you will be able to digest that food and it will only do you good because you ate it at the right time, when your body asked for it.
  • Avoid perfumes and scented products because they destroy your sense of smell.
  • Processed foods alter your sense of taste.
  • Brush your teeth with olive oil instead of toothpaste: this Ayurvedic procedure detoxifies the mouth. (No fluoride?)
  • Avoid processed salt and use natural unprocessed salt such as Himalayan or Celtic salt that contains more than 90 minerals. (How much of each? Surely not enough to matter.)
  • The autonomic nervous system shifts back and forth from sympathetic to parasympathetic dominance, which require different foods. One likes meat and fat, the other needs more plant foods. Your body will tell you which you need more of.
  • There are daily and seasonal cleansing cycles and building cycles, each requiring different nutrients: animal foods build, plant foods cleanse.
  • Our needs depend on our heredity. If your ancestors were Vikings or Eskimos, you will need to eat lots of fish.
  • Avoid vegetable and cooking oils. Polyunsaturated fats are bad because they are chemically mutilated. 50% of the fat in our diet should be saturated.
  • Don’t test your blood cholesterol. Testing is pointless and potentially harmful. Old people with high cholesterol are healthier and live longer.
  • Eating cholesterol-rich foods is essential to produce enough vitamin D.
  • Vitamin D deficiency causes cancer, diabetes, heart disease, mental illness, autoimmune illness, obesity, bone and muscle disease, high blood pressure, chronic pain, poor immunity and susceptibility to infections.
  • Instead of cholesterol, test CRP and insulin levels.
  • Our soils are worn out. We would have to eat 2 kilos of apples today to provide the nutrition one apple used to give us.
  • Using volcanic rock dust in organic gardening improves nutrition, and if used on a global scale, it would enable the soil to absorb enough excess atmospheric carbon to stabilize global climate change.
  • The alarming growth of degenerative disease in our modern populations to a large degree is due to relentlessly decreasing levels of minerals in our food.
  • Black elderberry is one of the most powerful anti-viral remedies known to man.
  • Meat, fish, nuts, oily seeds are easier to digest than other foods.

Things to cause alarm:

There are a plethora of thing that raise alarms. This would be the cure all or there is one cause to most conditions. The need to wait and try again keep most patients on the diet for a long time and make them sick. The worst claim is the total reversal of autism. Reversal from what?
This protocol demonstrates the Campbell-McBride’s lack of understanding of science. There is no evidence and it does not provide adequate nutrition. This is abuse and experimentation on children.


2 thoughts on “Quack Treatments: GAPS diet

  1. Pingback: Quack Exposed: Kathleen DiChiara, FDN FDN - Fierce Autie

  2. Pingback: Quackery Exposed: CEASE Therapy → Fierce Autie

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