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GAPS and SCD: Eating for Gut Health

February 17, 2010

I did a long guest post for Kelly the Kitchen Kop on the pluses and minuses of juicing. The big surprise for me in researching that was learning that the Gut and Psychology Syndrome Diet, a grain-free, lactose-free, and sucrose-free regimen, recommended consuming freshly pressed juices.

The diet, developed by Natasha Campbell-McBride to treat her son’s autism, is often recommended for treating severe digestive disorders including ulcerative colitis, celiac disease, food allergies and intolerances, and IBS. The emphasis is on fresh, unprocessed, whole foods including meat, fish, eggs, natural fats, homemade bone stock, cooked and raw vegetables, and daily consumption of fermented foods, including lacto-fermented vegetables, and homemade yogurt or kefir as tolerated. Some foods such as fresh fruit, raw honey, and gluten-free baked goods are introduced in stages as tolerated. Grains, complex carbohydrates, and commercial processed foods are excluded.

It other words, the GAPS diet is very harmonious with the principles advocated by the Weston A. Price Foundation. Dr. Campbell-McBride introduced the diet to WAPF members in the Wise Traditions journal a year ago. Dr. Campbell-McBride’s books, Gut and Psychology Syndrome and GAPS Guide Book, are available on her site. Please see http://www.gapsdiet.com for more details.

Why juices? The answer goes back to the phrase attributed to Hippocrates, “All diseases begin in the gut.” Digestive disorders, and other conditions as seemingly disparate as autism, ADHD and multiple sclerosis, are thought to all have their roots in candida yeast overgrowth and abnormal gut flora and consequent malabsorption of nutrients and leaking of toxins into the bloodstream. As well, the immune system is intimately connected to a functioning gut—in fact, the majority of the human immune system is located in the intestines.

The GAPS diet is similar to the Specific Carbohydrate Diet, which provides another clue about the use of juices and raw honey. The website for the SCD diet, also recommended for digestive conditions including Crohn’s Disease, says certain carbohydrates requiring minimal digestion can be handled by a damaged digestive system, leaving nothing for harmful intestinal microbes to feed upon, allowing them to die off and the gut to heal.

“As the microbes decrease due to lack of food, their harmful by-products also diminish. No longer needing protection, the mucus-producing cells stop producing excessive mucus and carbohydrate digestion is improved,” according to  http://www.scdiet.org/. “The SCD corrects mal-absorption, allowing nutrients to enter the bloodstream and be made available to the cells of the body, thereby strengthening the immune system’s ability to fight. Further debilitation is prevented, weight can return to normal, and ultimately there is a return to health.”

Elaine Gottschall, whose daughter was saved by the SCD, wrote the book, “Breaking The Vicious Cycle: Intestinal Health Through Diet.” I found skepticism on the SCD site about the whole idea of the glycemic index and that we are supposed to avoid quickly digested sugars. That was a surprise to me, given my personal history with candida. The SCD’s emphasis seems to be on whether a sugar can be digested and absorbed, and not how quickly. For more information check the above links as well as those here: http://www.scdiet.org/5community/websites.html.

I’ll be writing about my own long ordeal with candida overgrowth in the (hopefully near)  future.

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