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Posted by Dina-Marie Oswald on

In the following, I have linked to the Gut and Psychology Syndrome book  from my affiliate partner which I personally use and recommend.

The GAPS book – Gut and Psychology Syndrome has been truly life changing for me!

As Don Knotts said in the Ghost and Mr. Chicken, “Let me clarify this.”  

At age 17, I was found to be allergic to fowl, pork and red meat! This may sound awful but after my teen years full of stomach/bowel problems and surgery – it was great to have relief. At 19, I was further diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis but no relief was given. Hence I was content to live a life without meat (except fish) and looked for no other answers. My arthritis would flare periodically but after a few months would subside and life would go on. That is until last winter after some female surgery, my arthritis flared and wouldn’t stop but grew increasingly worse. So bad was it that my husband had to cut my food for me! I was desperate – even prescription medications didn’t provide much help. Then my daughter-in-law, Jessica, went to a Weston-Price conference and among other things found the following book. So if you, or some family member or friend is suffering with or has been diagnosed with a long term medical condition, PLEASE read on!

The GAPS book – Gut and Psychology Syndrome –  is written by a British physician, Dr. Natasha Campbell – McBride MD. She primarily uses the information and diet presented in the book to treat children with autism and learning disabilities. The results of her work supports her position on the link between physical and mental health, the food and drink we take in and the condition of our digestive system.

GAPS is broken up into four parts. The first part explains how all diseases begin in the gut. Dealing with many psychological issues, such as, schizophrenia and depression, she explains how these patients are often malnourished and suffer from vitamin deficiencies.

In the late 1970s it was discovered that gluten from grains and casein from milk can be turned into opiates in the digestive system which absorb into the blood, cross the blood-brain barrier and affect the brain. These opiates were found in the urine of schizophrenic patients and those with depression and autoimmune conditions. Later on Dr. Reichelt … found the same compounds in the urine of autistic children.                                      – GAPS  pg. 72

Simply put, our digestion begins in the stomach with stomach acids, continues with pancreatic juices and is completed as the food moves through the intestines. The gut is lined with a bacterial layer which provides a barrier of protection. This layer contains the beneficial bacteria necessary for proper and timely digestion of food.

In the gut, the absorptive surface of the intestines has finger-like protrusions called villi and deep crypts between them (like hills and valleys) The villi are coated with specialized cells called enterocytes. These cells complete digestion and absorb the nutrients from ingested food. They are continually born in the depths of the crypts and slowly travel to the top of the villi. They digest and absorb becoming more mature as they move upward. At the top of the villi they are shed off. So, the lining of the intestines is constantly being renewed.

When beneficial bacteria of the gut are removed the renewal process is disrupted – there are fewer enterocytes (absorptive cells) and the existing cells no longer function properly. The villi degenerate and are not able to digest and absorb food properly. This leads to mal-absorbption and nutritional deficiencies.

An example is given on page 21 of the GAPS book using the digestion of milk and wheat proteins. In the first stage of digestion, the digestive juices of the stomach split the proteins into less complex amino acid chains (peptides), some of which include casomorphines and gluteomorphines. These peptides move to the small intestines where the second stage of digestion occurs. At the intestinal walls, assisted by the pancreatic juices, they are broken down by enzymes. In people with abnormal gut flora (and resulting poorly functioning enterocytes), the undigested complex proteins (casomorphines and glutemorpines) are absorbed into the bloodstream unchanged and cause problems.

These problems include interference with brain function and immune system function. According to Dr. Campbell-McBride’s experience, when the gut flora is restored, many GAPS patients can digest casein and gluten, at least, in moderate amounts without a return of symptoms. So, the treatment focuses on returning the good gut flora and allowing the digestive tract time to heal.

Part two of the GAPS book focuses on treatment which is an Introduction Diet consisting of six stages. Moving through the stages, food is added in an orderly way from what is easily digested to what is more difficult to digest. After the Introduction Diet, the Full GAPS Diet is followed for a period of time to be determined by the patient’s symptoms. Instructions are given for coming off the GAPS Diet along with recipes and supplementation recommendations.

Part three covers different issues including ear infections, influences which boost and those which damage immunity, constipation and genetics.

Part four deals with having a baby in the GAPS family.

GAPS –  Gut and Psychology Syndrome – has for many been life changing – from parents of children with learning disabilities to those (like me) with autoimmune diseases. Having already benefited from dietary changes made as a result of this book, I admit that I have a biased opinion. However, if you or anyone you know suffers from any of  the mentioned illnesses (and I did not cover them all!) I would recommend purchasing this book or check with your local library.

* For further reading you may also be interested in GAPS – My Experience