The GAPS Diet

This diet is based on what Dr Natacha Campbell suggests is needed to clean up the digestive system so it can heal and become a source of nourishment instead of one of toxicity. I have altered it to cut out the high saturated fat content, as people with MS need to be careful with saturated fats. If you are not sure if you have a leaky gut or not, click here.

The GAPS Diet for people with MS

Preparation for the Diet

Take a probiotic so that there is good bacteria present and the healing may commence! Use a trustworthy brand such as Biocare or True Foods (Higher Nature). Take before eating – and once you have brushed your teeth, at night before sleeping if you suffer from ear infections. (This will reestablish good bacteria in the ear, nose and throat areas, to fight off infection.)

Avoid foods containing Acrylamides always, not just whilst on this diet.

The anti-candida diet combined with a gluten and casein free diet. This is because Candida is never alone in the digestive system, it lives with many other bacteria which damage the gut wall.

The GAPS Diet

Once you have gotten rid of any Candida as well as gluten and casein, you can start the introduction to the GAPS diet which will provide a rapid fix for a leaky gut. I have just started a Kidney Flush so I am off animal proteins for 20 days, and I am in the middle of liver flushing  which involves avoiding animal protein for a week each month but once I have completed this, I plan to follow the GAPS diet in order to heal my gut! I have started the anti-candida and GFCF diet in the meantime.

As aforementioned, the full GAPS diet is tricky for people with MS due to its high concentration of saturated fats, but the introduction diet, meant to heal the gut is fine and recommended by Dr Campbell for anyone with serious digestive symptoms. These symptoms include abdominal pain, bloating, diarrhoea, reflux, severe constipation, etc. These symptoms should soon clear allowing the healing process to begin in the digestive system. The purpose of the Introduction Diet is to heal and seal the gut lining quickly.

The Introduction diet is also a good idea for people with food allergies and intolerances, who are more than likely to have a leaky gut. Allergy testing is difficult if you have a leaky gut, as with a damaged gut wall a person is not able to digest their food correctly. This means that partially digested food is forever being absorbed that way, causing allergic reactions. You might find you are allergic to everything! Before following the diet, for foods you think you have a real allergy to; there is a sensitivity test you can do. This involves putting a drop of the food (mix with water and mash if it is solid) on the inside of the wrist. It is best to do this before bed, allowing it to dry first; so that in the morning you can see if you’ve had an allergic reaction to it. If the area is itchy or red, it is a good idea to avoid that food for several weeks. It is important to test the foods as you would eat them – so cook them or use them raw accordingly. once the gut is healed, mal-absorbed food and toxins will no longer be able to cross the gut wall into the blood, so these allergic reactions will no longer occur.

Stick to the foods listed. If on the introduction of new foods you suffer from abdominal pain, diarrhea or any other digestive symptoms which were improving in the previous stage, go back a stage.

The GAPs diet controls pathogens and heals the gut, so that partly digested food stops crossing into the blood – stopping allergies and lowering toxicity, giving the brain a chance to work normally. At the same time the nutritional content of the diet is high, remedying the existing deficiencies. Fruit and vegetables are easy carbohydrates to digest, and so should replace other carbohydrates while you are on the gaps diet.

The easiest proteins to digest are eggs, fish and meat, so these should be eaten to give the digestive system as little work to do as possible while we are fixing it. Boiling, stewing and poaching will make these easier to digest, avoid frying, roasting and grilling at first.

Baking and fruit should be avoided for the first few weeks, introduce fermented foods gradually.

To assist with detoxing, wash with natural soaps every evening and use epsom salts in your bath every two days. Click here for more washing detox tips.

Stage One of the GAPS diet:

Drink a warm cup of still mineral or filtered water first thing in the morning, followed by a probiotic.

If you are constipated, introduce sauerkraut or fermented vegetables immediately to the diet.

Have home-made meat or fish stock everyday, this will provide building blocks for rapidly growing cells lining the gut, and sooth inflammation in the area. Chicken stock in is particularly gentle on the stomach and so is a good starting option. Meats which have been cooked in water are much easier to digest if the digestive system is sensitive.

Keep drinking warm meat stock with and between meals -do not use a microwave to warm it up as this denatures food. The fat in the stock and on the bones is important to eat as they aid the healing process, but obviously people with MS need to make sure they do not consume too much saturated fat. Click here for a good guide to saturated fat per oz of fish, meat and poultry. Remember that saturated fat needs to strictly limited to a maximum of 15g a day, click here for more information on the importance of balancing your fats. Add probiotic food into each cup such as sauerkraut.

Homemade soup can be made using your stock and well cooked vegetables – steaming works well – use non-starchy vegetables but avoid fibrous ones such as celery and cabbage. Remove fibrous parts of vegetables like marrow, pumpkin and squash seeds and skin, the stalks from broccoli and cauliflower, as well as any fibrous-looking parts. Once the vegetables are soft, add 1 to 2 tbsp of chopped garlic, bring to the boil and then blend or have it as it is. According to the GAPS diet this soup can be eaten with bone marrow and meats/fish however those of us with MS need to be careful not to eat more than 15g of saturated fat a day, so make sure you use the saturated fat guidelines to insure you do not over-do it!

Probiotic foods must be introduced right from the start. Introduce them gradually from 1-2 tsps a day of sauerkraut juice or fermented vegetables for five days then 3-4 tsps for the next five days, until you are adding a few tsps to each cup of stock and soup. The fermented vegetable juice is to help restore normal stomach acid. Do not add probiotic foods to food which is too hot so as to not destroy the probiotic bacteria.

For chronic severe constipation, introduce juices of sauerkraut and other fermented vegetables, increasing the amount every day. Dr Campbell suggests introducing kefir, sour cream yoghurt and whey at this stage, but people with MS need to think about this because of the saturated fat content of these foods and the level of saturated fat they will also be consuming from meat broths. If you want more information about these dairy products, read Dr Campbell’s book.

Natural ginger, mint and camomile tea with a little honey between meals is helpful (not from commercially available tea bags, make these freshly, chop some ginger and boil to make tea etc.

Remember that detoxifying can cause symptoms itself, while toxins are floating in the blood, before elimination. This is temporary and as the body detoxes, this uncomfortable reaction will die down. I have already started following the anti-candida diet and GFCF diet with no negative effects, but I have been on the MS diet for years, and have already done 5 liver flushes, so I have already done a great deal of detoxing. If this is not the case for you, it can be a good idea to have a homeopath or nutritionist oversee your dietary changes, and help you deal with any detox symptoms that may occur.

Second Stage

Take the soups with bone marrow, boiled meat or fish and other soft tissues off the bones (obviously, counting the saturated fat content of meals)

Keep drinking meat stocks and ginger tea

add raw organic egg yolk to the soup (1 a day/4 a week)

Keep increasing the amount of sauerkraut juice

introduce fermented fish or Swedish gravalax start with a small piece per day, and increase gradually.

Third Stage

continue with previous foods

add ripe avocado, mash into soups 1-3 tsps/day gradually increasing

eggs can now be introduced (remember that they are high in saturated fat and so no more tha 1/day, 4/week should be eaten.

introduce sauerkraut and fermented vegetables, start small gradually increasing to 1-4 tsps in every meal.

Fourth Stage

continue with previous foods

add roasted/grilled meats gradually (not bbq or fried) No burnt or overly brown bits though. Eat meat with cooked vegetables/ fermented veg/sauerkraut.

add cold pressed olive oil to meals – few drops, to 1 or 2tbs

Introduce freshly pressed juice – begin with a few spoons of carrot juice. Use clear, well filtered juice. Consume slowly, ‘chewing’ each mouthful. If well tolerated, increase to a cup a day. When this is fine, add celery, cabbage, lettuce and fresh mint leaves. Drink juice on an empty stomach, first thing in the morning, or mid afternoon.

Crackers can be made with seeds and vegetables (only seeds will be too high in saturated fat)

Fifth Stage

If all has been tolerated:

Try adding cooked apple as puree.

Raw vegetables can now be added, start with softer parts of lettuce, and peeled cucumber.Gradually increase if well tolerated. Other raw veg can then be introduced, tomato (unless nightshade sensitivity -after completing the introduction diet you may find you are no longer sensitive to these), carrots, onion, cabbage etc, concentrate on chewing the vegetables well – as long as evacuation continues to be fine, you are ready for this step, if not – backtrack…If you suffer from diarrhea, all vegetables used need to be peeled, de-seeded and cooked until it has cleared, so you need to take your time with each step and not move on too quickly.

Start adding fruit to vegetable juice if it is well tolerated – apples, mangoes, pineapple but no citrus fruit yet. If diarrhoea is present, continue to avoid fruit and then try again with cooked apples once it has settled. When you no longer have a problem, introduce raw fruit but not with meaty meals as they can impair the digestion of meat. However lemons, avocado and sour apples do work well with meat.

Sixth Stage

If all has been tolerated well, introduce raw peeled ripe apple. Slowly introduce other raw fruit and more honey. Always use ripe fruit as unripe fruit is full of starch.  If diarrhoea is present, continue to avoid fruit and then try again with cooked apples once it has settled. Berries are good for the GAPS Diet as they are very good for detoxing full of vitamins and minerals but not if you have diarrhoea. If this is the case avoid berries like all other fruit and then slowly introduced them cooked before you try them raw. When you no longer have a problem, introduce raw fruit but not with meaty meals as they can impair the digestion of meat. However lemons, avocado and sour apples do work well with meat.

Slowly introduce bread

It can take just a few weeks or up to a year to finish the introductory stages of the diet. Monitor stool changes, and beware of abdominal pain; you can not be experiencing abdominal pain and still move to the next stage. There are also certain foods that will cause it: I find that bananas give me abdominal pain; pay attention to your body, keep a diary of its reactions and learn what yours in particular is sensitive to. If you experience diarrhoea, wait for it to clear before moving to another stage. Introduce foods later if your body is not ready for them. Continue to take the soups and meat stock at least once a day after the introductory diet is finished. Because we are removing fiber from the diet, you may experience constipation – enemas and colonic irrigation can help to manage this, but personally I have found that eating more vegetables in soups for instance works well to combat this. Juicing is also very effective.

The Full GAPS Diet

– Drink a glass of warm water first thing, followed by one with lemon in it or a tsp of apple cider vinegar.

– drink a fresh fruit/vegetable juice to aid the body with its morning detoxing activities. Click here for some juicing recipe ideas

The water and juices will aid the body to detox in the morning, fresh fruit can also help.

According to Dr Campbell it is best to have breakfast at 10am once the detoxing is finished. She explains that this is why some people feel sick earlier in the morning and are not ready for breakfast. I think this is a personal thing and also needs to work around your day (!) I am more convinced by Andreas Mortiz and traditional Chinese medicine which advises you to have breakfast before 8 so that you have enough bile to digest it, and similarly lunch at 12… you need to leave enough time between meals for digestion and for the body to do other things.

After completing the introductory diet, continue drinking Meat and Fish Stock once a day.

– Take probiotic foods with every meal

– For salads use good oils and lemon juice as salad dressings, add a tbs of pre-soaked (for 12 hours)/sprouted seeds

– Eat eggs with the yolk uncooked but the white cooked (remember not to eat more than 4/week (with no more than 1 a day) because of their saturated fat content)

– If diarrhoea is present (it shouldn’t be at this stage – you may have sped through the introductory diet to quickly) you need to eat cooked vegetables as opposed to raw, and not yet be eating seeds- meat/fish stock can help

– Eat avocado with meat, fish or shellfish,

– Eat lots of home-made soups

– Continue to drink fresh herbal teas

– Follow the MS Diet rules

– avoid the following:

starch/gluten: grains and derivatives wheat, rye, rice, oats, corn, maize, sorghum, barley, buckwheat, millet, spelt, triticale, bulgur, tapioca, quinoa, couscous

starch vegetables and derivatives: potatoes, yams, sweet potato, parsnip, Jerusalem artichoke, cassava, arrowroot and taro.

Click here for a list of non-starchy vegetables.

Sugar and anything with sugar in it

starchy beans and peas: soybeans, mung beans, beans, bean sprouts, chick peas, faba beans, click here for a list of non-starch legumes.

Avoid lactose and anything containing it: yoghurt (not home-made), buttermilk, sour cream, processed foods with added lactose

This GAPS diet must be followed for at least 1 and a half to 2 years to insure the gut is healed. Some people will need longer, it depends how long their gut has been damaged for and how severely as well as how old they are; kids heal faster. Once you have had at least 6 months normal digestion, start re-introducing gluten-free grains. Always begin with small amounts and pay attention to your body’s reaction over 2 to 3 days after a small portion of the food being re-introduced. You can try gluten-free grains such as buckwheat, millet and quinoa, first prepare them by fermenting them beforehand. thereafter the MS diet should still be followed. You can start re-introducing new potatoes and fermented grains with good quality wheat, rye flour or sourdough.

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