Gut and Psychology Syndrome (GAP Syndrome or GAPS) is a condition which establishes a connection between the functions of the digestive system and the brain in a two way system: gut to the brain and brain to the gut. The term was created by Dr Natasha Campbell-McBride, MD, MMedSci (neurology), MMedSci (human nutrition) after working with hundreds of children and adults with neurological and psychiatric conditions, such as autistic spectrum disorders, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD/ADD), schizophrenia, dyslexia, dyspraxia, depression, obsessive –compulsive disorder, bi-polar disorder, eating disorders, other neuro-psychological and psychiatric problems.
Gut and Physiology Syndrome includes various chronic physical conditions which stem from the unhealthy gut, such as autoimmune conditions (celiac disease, rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes type one, multiple sclerosis, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, systemic lupus erythematosus, osteoarthritis, Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, psoriasis, etc.), atopic conditions (asthma, eczema, various allergies), food allergy/intolerance, chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia, ME, multiple chemical sensitivity, arthritis, PMS and other menstrual problems, endocrine disorders (thyroid, adrenal and other) and all digestive issues (such as irritable bowel syndrome, gastritis and various colitis).
Many conditions do not fit into any diagnostic box and can present as a combination of symptoms: digestive problems, fatigue, muscular weakness, cramps and abnormal muscle tone, pain and aches in joints and muscles, skin problems, hormonal abnormalities.
In almost all cases the symptoms from both GAP Syndromes overlap: people with mental problems suffer physical symptoms (painful joints and muscles, fatigue, skin problems, asthma, hormonal problems, autoimmunity), while people with physical conditions have mental symptoms (such as depression, ‘brain fog’, inability to concentrate, mood swings, sleep abnormalities, memory problems, anxiety, tremors, tics, fits, etc.). When the digestive system is unwell, instead of being a source of nourishment it becomes a major source of toxicity in the body, preventing it from functioning well. Any organ, any system, any cell can show symptoms of distress.
GAPS Nutritional Protocol has evolved from the Specific Carbohydrate Diet developed by Sydney Valentine Haas in the 1920s. It supports the recovery from any health condition by addressing the root cause of all illnesses: the river of toxicity that comes from the leaky gut and affects all body systems. The protocol consists of 2 stages:
- the introduction diet (6 stages)
- the full GAPS diet
Both perform a different role in the healing process.
In the heart of GAPS philosophy lies a belief that the human body is a “shell” for the bugs that live inside us, and which dictate our health, both mental and physical. In order to restore balance, good conditions have to be created for the beneficial microbes to thrive, and uninviting for the pathogenic organisms to get under control. This, as a result, will reduce systemic toxicity which is believed to be the culprit of all disease. In brief, this is done by:
- improving digestion on all levels: in the mouth, stomach, small and large intestine with parallel brain support
- improving nutrient profile by implementing a nutrient-dense foods
- removing problematic foods
- increasing microbial diversity
- healing and sealing the gut wall to prevent toxins from entering the blood stream and to calm down the immune system
- supplements: ideally only as a temporary crutch and not in the presence of digestive upsets
The GAPS nutritional protocol is therapeutic, meaning it’s a temporary yet intense dietary shift that can bring tremendous results.
by Maya Flynn