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GAPS (Gut & Psychology) Diet??

MaineLonghornMaineLonghorn 39106 replies2146 threads Super Moderator
Does anyone have any experience with this? My husband's brother and wife swear by it. Their son was diagnosed with OCD and anxiety and had to take a break from college. They put him on this diet and say the change was amazing. He's back in school and doing well. They are practically insisting we try this on our son, who struggles with severe mental illness.

I am VERY skeptical of this kind of thing. I ordered the book at the urging of my husband. I can see myself spending lots of time and money on juicing, natural food, etc., etc. and not seeing any real benefit. But I thought I would ask about it on CC and see if anyone can change my mind!

Here is a link: http://gaps.me/preview/?page_id=20

17 replies
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Replies to: GAPS (Gut & Psychology) Diet??

  • VeryHappyVeryHappy 18618 replies326 threads Senior Member
    Never heard of it.
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  • Cardinal FangCardinal Fang 18421 replies159 threads Senior Member
    The diet is supposed to help "mental and physical problems, which our children and adults suffer from, such as autism, hyperactivity and attention deficit, dyslexia, dyspraxia, depression, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, eating disorders and more." Yeah, right.
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  • Emaheevul07Emaheevul07 5890 replies76 threads Senior Member
    I have a friend who was really into this for a while, a relative of his was in some way involved in the development of it or is writing a book about it or something. He did it for months and swore up and down it was amazing and was really pushy about getting me to try it, but eventually gave it up and said it didn't really make a difference. I researched it when he suggested it to me and I really don't believe in it at all.

    I think when people really want something to work they will believe anything and it takes a long time to develop any actual benefit.. chances are this wasn't the only thing your BIL tried to help their S with his anxiety.
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  • moonchildmoonchild 3266 replies30 threads Senior Member
    edited April 2014
    Does anyone have any experience with this? My husband's brother and wife swear by it. Their son was diagnosed with OCD and anxiety and had to take a break from college

    No experience with this particular diet, but I do think that diets heavy in sugars and starches (high glycemic foods) can alter some people's moods, if they happen to be hypersensitive to insulin. I know my oldest, even from a very young age, would get all wound up after something as simple as a lemonade drink. Blood tests showed that she has reactive hypoglycemia, which causes her blood sugar to rise and then go very low after a sugar-heavy meal. I do think that this, even now, can be seen in her behavior at times after sweets, or even alcohol, if she isn't also eating a meal. When she eats well, with plenty of fats and protein to balance out the sugars in her diet, she doesn't have the problem.

    I'm wondering if the luck your in-laws had with their son might be something as simple as modulating his blood sugar levels with a low sugar/starch diet, which is one feature of this diet. It their son were only suffering from anxiety, I can see how this could help, although not for the reasons they might think. Autism and severe mental illness? No, if only it were that simple.
    edited April 2014
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  • MaineLonghornMaineLonghorn 39106 replies2146 threads Super Moderator
    Autism and severe mental illness? No, if only it were that simple.
    I know! :( My son is really struggling. It's just heartbreaking. It's hard for me to look at old photos when he was happy, enthusiastic, and thriving. I had to call his doctor Saturday night, I was so worried about him. We got him through that crisis (if I hadn't reached the doctor, I probably would have called the crisis hotline, and I know they would have insisted we hospitalize him). Now we have to get him through the last week and a half of school (he is a college junior). We told him that it's no problem for him to take an incomplete, but he wants to keep trying.

    @moonchild, that's interesting about your daughter's sugar level. Maybe I can just take some simple steps and see if that helps.

    @Emaheevul07, that's interesting about your friend. Thanks for sharing about the results of your research. That's kind of what I figured.

    I get all sorts of well-intentioned advice from friends and family. I would never get anything else done if I followed all the bunny trails! When people ask me what they should/shouldn't do with friends going through this, I say, "Don't give them advice!! Believe me, they're already spending lots of time trying to figure out the best course of action fo their loved one. If you DO give them advice, drop it. Don't ask in the future if they followed up on what you told them."
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  • jym626jym626 56059 replies2918 threads Senior Member
    Well, the good news is, its not written up on the Quackwatch site, but it seems to be a largely gluten free, nutrient dense diet.
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  • anxiousmomanxiousmom 5814 replies105 threads Senior Member
    edited April 2014
    There is now established research that shows links between mood and the guts...turns out the guts are way way more complicated and influential than we thought. There may be something to this diet, if it helps develop healthy gut bacteria. But it's like chiropractic stuff - chiropractic yes, helps my back if it hurts. But, No, doesn't cure my allergies! Good diet, Yes to help gut bacteria, may help mood, anxiety, etc. But NO, seriously doubt if it cures autism and most mental illnessess.
    edited April 2014
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  • Singersmom07Singersmom07 4189 replies82 threads Senior Member
    S1 had a lot of prblems when he was not eating right. Never really had him tested but he has the hypoglycemic type reactions. We found that out even when he was little but it really made a difference when he was in his late teens-20s. He is much better off mentally if he gets regular protein, knocks off the juck food and exercises outside regularly. He had a roommate that would spin out of control after eating strawberry jam. Food can defintely affect mental state, but I doubt a diet can cure extreme cases. But might ease it down some. It does not hurt to try and it does not appeat to be harmful. If it is too much just try some. Another approach is an elimination diet, When he has time at home eliminate the most problematic items and then gradually add back in until reactions occur. You can figure out triggers that way http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elimination_diet
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  • bookreaderbookreader 1968 replies53 threads Senior Member
    My understanding of it is that it is a diet that you are on for a time (maybe a couple years) and then you transition off of it but by that time, you have developed better eating habits.

    It is certainly a very healthy diet as it contains no premade/processed foods. Eating such healthy foods on a daily basis has to benefit a person if they eat too many unhealthy foods (bad fats, too many simple sugars...).

    I would encourage you to look more fully into this diet.
    I thinkk that the challenge would be for him to remain on it at college, but if he sees an improvement while on it over the summer, then he may be motivated to figure out how to stay on it while at college.
    My 2 cents.
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  • colorado_momcolorado_mom 9045 replies79 threads Senior Member
    Well...eating more healthy food and less junk food never hurts. But I'm skeptical that it could be a miracle cure. It could be worth a try, if your son is excited about it.
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  • Emaheevul07Emaheevul07 5890 replies76 threads Senior Member
    What immediately puts my guard up about the healthy gut thing is that I have met so many people like my dad who are convinced they have leaky gut syndrome who have colonoscopies and sigmoidoscopies and see gastroenterologists and they have perfectly healthy intestines, and they rely on these kinds of things instead of actual medicine to solve problems that likely have nothing to do with their intestines.

    I also see no way for a college student to do this diet unless he is living at home and you do all his food prep. Look at the stages and see what the diet actually entails. http://www.gapsinfo.com/gaps-introduction-diet/ The FULL diet is a little bit more manageable, but you are strongly encouraged not to skip the introduction stage and that is really where all the healing takes place and where you learn which foods damage your gut and which you can tolerate, skipping the intro diet and going straight into the main diet is missing the point. They suggest something like 3-5 days at each of the stages, but my friend was doing this for several months and never managed to get through all of the stages because he was not tolerating the food as is necessary to move on to the next stage. Would your S stick to this? Frankly I am skeptical your nephew is even doing the GAPS diet correctly.. the introduction diet is EXTREMELY high maintainence and not very tasty.

    My friend was all over me about this for weeks since his sister or whatever was writing the book, and I had IBS and weight control issues. He was convinced this was going to solve all my problems but eventually gave it up because it was not doing anything for him but giving him intestinal discomfort he DIDN'T have before he tried the diet.
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  • HarvestMoon1HarvestMoon1 6200 replies28 threads Senior Member
    The diet does seem a bit complicated and I agree that your son would have to be at home to get the whole thing rolling. I do believe that diet can influence mental health. Our food is chock full of preservatives, pesticides and other chemicals that some people do not process well. The ability to eliminate those toxins from the body differs from person to person. If the toxins and chemicals are not eliminated perhaps this aggravates an existing condition. Think about starting with getting rid of all processed foods and aim for a clean diet (organic where possible) of healthy proteins with plenty of fresh vegetables and fruit.
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  • emeraldkity4emeraldkity4 34785 replies1076 threads Senior Member
    edited April 2014
    I took my daughter off wheat in middle school ( she is on the spectrum) and it made a HUGE difference in behavior. Unfortunately at that age, it is difficult to keep up.
    I also am sensitive to wheat and while I do not test positive for celiac, I feel that digestive issues contributed to both daughter & I having bone loss, despite no other risk factors.
    I removed wheat from my diet long enough to heal my gut & now can eat it periodically, without pain.( I also have regained some bone)
    I am also dairy sensitive, (& have been from birth), & since learned that the milk in US is different than elsewhere, which possibly explains why my Columbian sister in law can't drink it.
    http://www.motherjones.com/environment/2014/03/a1-milk-a2-milk-america
    http://www.glutenfreedietitian.com/newsletter/autism-gluten-free-casein-free-diet/
    http://www.livingwithout.com/issues/2_2/special_child_special_diet-1314-1.html
    It probably can't hurt to do an elimination diet to see what he is sensitive to.
    edited April 2014
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  • bookreaderbookreader 1968 replies53 threads Senior Member
    Fascinating articles EK. Thanks for posting.
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  • coureurcoureur 11196 replies190 threads Senior Member
    Here's are two easy equations to help you distinguish the largely-bogus fad diets from the real science:

    Extravagant cure-all claims + selling a book = Bogus fad diet

    Realistic claims tempered with caution + published in peer-reviewed journals = Real science.
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  • emeraldkity4emeraldkity4 34785 replies1076 threads Senior Member
    Lots more journals than JAMA though.
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