Today I’m beginning a new series here at Whole Natural Life: GAPS for Beginners. I know how overwhelming GAPS is at first glance. Like me, you may wonder whether GAPS might be the answer to your health struggles but initially rule it out because GAPS seems too intimidating. I thought it would be helpful to do a series of posts on the various elements of GAPS. If you think you might need GAPS, I hope this series inspires you to give it a try. For those of you who may not need GAPS, I hope you will enjoy learning about the various health-promoting habits that comprise the GAPS program. Although the practices are specifically designed for those of us who require GAPS to heal, most of them are highly nourishing habits that would surely enhance your own health were you to incorporate them into your daily life.
First I want to give a little bit of background information, for those of you who are completely new to GAPS. Developed by Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride, GAPS is a nutritional program that seeks to restore proper gut flora, the population of microorganisms that live in your digestive system. Proper gut flora is hugely important for optimal health. When gut flora becomes imbalanced, your body can no longer perform as well as it should. Over time, health problems will develop. Some issues that are related to improper gut flora include:
- Digestive disorders, such as IBS, colitis or Crohn’s disease
- Digestive problems like constipation and diarrhea
- Bipolar disorder
- Food intolerances and allergies
- Eating disorders
- Learning disabilities
- Failure to thrive
- Chronic cystitis
- Autoimmune diseases
GAPS heals these issues by restoring normal gut flora. If you are suffering from any of these issues, I would strongly suggest that you consider the GAPS diet. I would particularly urge you to look at GAPS if you’ve tried other approaches but haven’t seen results. (That’s how I came to GAPS – I’d tried many things for my acne but nothing less drastic helped.) There’s no denying that GAPS is hard. It’s also not a quick fix. Depending on your particular issues, you can expect to follow the diet for at least a year or two. However, I believe that GAPS is an infinitely worthwhile endeavor because it cures the root cause of your health problems rather than just treating the symptoms.
I need to make one more point. If you are a woman planning on having children, your gut flora does not just impact you. Babies get most of their gut flora from their mother, by passing through the birth canal and then by breastfeeding. If you are suffering any symptoms of imbalanced gut flora right now, there’s a good chance that these symptoms will be magnified in your future children. Unless we take steps to correct improper gut flora, the condition tends to get worse with each generation. So if you think you may be a “GAPS person,” even only minorly so, I would suggest that you try to take steps to improve your gut flora now, rather than later. This is one of my own reasons for being on GAPS. I am sure that fixing my gut flora now will be much easier than having to fix it in my children later.
I hope you feel like you have a little more information on whether GAPS might help you. Please feel free to ask any questions you might have. There’s a lot more to this topic – including a lot of information on why GAPS conditions develop in the first place – but I really only wanted to give some general info here. If you want to learn more, I’d highly recommend reading the GAPS book. In addition, here are several helpful online resources:
Overview of GAPS by Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride (or NCM, as I affectionately refer to her)
Kelly the Kitchen Kop’s notes on GAPS
Keeper of the Home on why her family started GAPS
Health, Home & Happiness on the GAPS family
This post is part of Monday Mania at the Healthy Home Economist.
Do you think GAPS might help you? Are you intrigued or have you ruled it out? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!
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