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After medications failed to treat my autoimmune disease, I turned to nutrition to address my symptoms naturally. I want to empower your health with the same steps I used to heal with food.

Reader Interactions

46 Comments

  1. I tried the GAPS diet last year for 3 months i n an attempt to help with my constipation and food in tolerances. My digestion somewhat improved, but I really exacerbated my adrenal fatigue and the constipation never went away until I started digestive enzymes. Now I’m over 3 weeks into the Autoimmune Protocol and hoping to heal my leaky gut! It is so hard to know which healing diet to use, as there are so many out there. I really hope this works out! How do you counsel your clients on which diet to pursue?

    • I understand, it is a challenge to determine which healing protocol to try. GAPS helped me a lot, then I moved to Autoimmune Paleo, but I’m still having some health challenges. I usually recommend GAPS, to start, when there is Chron’s or Colitis because of the absence of starches. I also do tailored supplement protocols for them, which are usually needed as a band-aid during healing.

  2. Ugh, I’ve been dreading going on the GAPS diet. I did a big candida cleanse, and have switched to a real food, homemade diet. All of my other issues/symptoms have cleared up except candida and brain fog. The yeast infections come and go with my menstrual cycle. I knew about GAPS on my own, but now my naturopath feels it would really help. Last night I decided I’d do another round of the cleanse and get real serious again about what I eat. But, then I see this post. Darn it! I know this may be the solution to my problems. As you know, it’s hard when you feel like you’re already restricting so much. I have also reread your post many times about candida and how the diet is wrong, and I agree with you I just feel so good on it. Well, except, of course that it didn’t cure the thing I intended it too. 🙂

  3. I have been wanting so badly to go on the gaps diet but there has been one thing holding me back… I have been diagnosed with IBS and if I even look at cruciferous veggies I bloat up like a balloon, but they seem to be the foundation of the intro diet 🙁 any suggestions? I just really would love to heal my gut once and for all..

    • Jordan,

      You don’t need crucifers! You might be able to do kraut. If not, you can buy probiotic pills.

      I have similar issues. I didn’t eat any broccoli, cabbage or cauliflower in my GAPS soups. Nor kale / greens. I noticed that while I can’t eat raw or cooked cabbage, I can eat (and digest without problems) unpasteurized kraut made from cabbage. If you can’t find unpasteurized (meaning it’s alive and predigested via fermentation) in your store, it’s easy to make at home, but time consuming.

      My GAPS diet was soups with butternut squash, carrots, onions and sometimes green beans. And then meat on the side, or sometimes cooked in the soup. Plenty of salt and pepper, and I preferred dill and thyme spices in there too. Sometimes I added fat like coconut oil or tallow. I did get tired of it. I don’t eat perfectly like Lauren does; I mess up a lot. When I ate something that hurt my stomach or just left me off-kilter, my body would crave a bowl of bone broth veggie soup, which would be so balancing and make me go ahhh.

      So I decided I would still eat like crap and indulge my major sugar addiction, but just eat bone broth veggie soup as often as possible (I’m slow at big changes). I found over time that my digestion improved. Not perfect, but better.

      I started taking glutamine thrice daily recently because it helps tremendously with cravings (which I never got rid of on the boring-but-healing GAPS diet). Now, 18 months after I started, I’m doing a modified paleo diet so that I’m off all gluten and most grains and I average 1 bone broth per week mixed in with foods. I use stevia for sweetening things because all the studies my naturopath read say stevia resets blood sugar and over time reduces sugar cravings.

      Good luck. You can still do GAPS.

      • I also used BEETS and celery in my GAPS soups now that I think about it. Note I used three sweet foods: butternut, carrot and beet. It was one of the ways to keep me interested because I have major sugar issues (couldn’t seem to let go).

  4. I’m doing GAPs at the moment to try and heal from an autoimmune disease called Interstitial cystitis which is linked to SIBO/IBS. I have only been doing it for three months and am already seeing changes. I have put myself on to GAPs intro in an attempt to heal and seal my gut lining and hope to progress to full GAPs as I heal. Paleo AIP was a good start for me, but my gut is very damaged after years of IBS and oral contraceptives (given to me for acne caused by the hormone imbalances from a leaky gut!) Your website always gives me such a boost, seeing your transformation makes me believe that I can heal also 🙂

  5. This is pseudoscience at best. I think it is really irresponsible to be asserting causal links between diet and disease. You are making these assertions without robust research evidence (a Paleo website or Campbell McBride’s book are not appropriate references).

        • I would say that it is unfair to be so harsh. While there is much controversy regarding the GAPS diet there is NO controversy regarding gut disease and the connection to our overall general ill health. The Western Diet (which is highly researched and documented) is killing the Western Nations population. Go to NIH and google scholar, put in Western Diet and health and read about it.

          I am a student of Holistic Nutrition. I am getting a Masters of Science. Look, the broken, leaky gut is where healing must begin. We have more neurotransmitters in our gut than our brains. Do the research. Maybe GAPS is not for you but I bet a million to one that just looking at the intro GAPS diet, eliminating processed foods, and eating REAL food, one will become 100% better than where they are right now!!

          • Good response. Anyone who eats in the conventionally haphazard manner that most have grown accustomed to in this country is simply digging their graves with a knife and fork…

    • @ Allie. I have similar scepticism, being a nurse I’m trained to stick to the hard science studies published in medical journals, of which you won’t find any of this. I vacillate, is this possible or just mumbo jumbo. I do trust WebMD, and found a quote regarding Leaky Gut Syndrome….“We don’t know a lot but we know that it exists,” says Linda A. Lee, MD, a gastroenterologist and director of the Johns Hopkins Integrative Medicine and Digestive Center. “In the absence of evidence, we don’t know what it means or what therapies can directly address it.”

      I like this quote because its medicine admitting humbly, we don’t know much about gut flora. Whichever pharmaceutical companies that fund our research haven’t put this as a priority or doesn’t see it as a money maker 🙂 So as a nurse, in the instance when we DON”T know something, we use evidence-based practice, and I’m willing to hunt for answers within my reach from people who’ve found relief outside the realm of proven therapies.

      Thanks for the website, I’ve been suffering from just general stiff, inflamed joints for a few years and I did a temporary GAPS juice type cleanse for 2 weeks and felt amazing,. I’m hoping to make it a lifestyle change soon.

    • This is sort of funny. Because what might be seen as irresponsible here, is trying to suggest that there may be no link what so ever between what we eat, and the chemicals we produce that affect our mental and over all health based on the fact that you simply haven’t ventured out in search of supporting or negating evidence yourself. You cold say that the claim you have just made here which was made in the absence of knowledge about research conducted regarding these dieta practices belongs in the realm of pseudoscience itself-a statement presented as fact, that does not adhere to the scientific method. Just because you haven’t gone out yourself to find the articles with supporting evidence doesn’t mean most people on this forum haven’t already consulted mountains of trial results and reports for and against these health practices before they came here with the interest of starting these practices. What might be a more scientifically accurate statement to make in this instance is ‘based on what I know ‘thus far’ in my research of this practice I see no reason to implement it in my daily life until such a time that I find ample evidence to convince me otherwise.’ 🙂

  6. You’ve brought up some great points in this post! I would caution you in your wording around causation vs. correlation. There is not adequate research to make the statement that arthritis, autism, T1DM or any other autoimmune disease is CAUSED from a leaky gut. Research does show that people with these diseases have a leaky gut (even before symptoms show up) but that doesn’t mean the leaky gut caused the disease. I’m not saying research proves that it doesn’t cause it, but there isn’t adequate research to make the leap that there is a causal relationship at this point.

    This diet may be a great option for people with these diseases since it diminishes the gut’s permeability which prevents them from developing all sorts of issues. Thanks for sharing some of the benefits around that.

  7. This list claims to be able to ‘fix’ or ‘heal’ irreversible damage… Irreversible means it can not be reversed or fixed.
    Is there any real science behind this from medical journals or peer reviewed scientific studies?

  8. It’s really good that there are things out there to help people and their health issues, but why does that come with an extra cost to find out what is healthy for you? I have hashimotos disease and there is so much information on what to eat and not to eat, I still get confused on what i should and shouldn’t be doing but I see good information on the internet and a lot of it i question when i see one website saying i should do this and another contradicting what I just read, regardless there is good information out there or a miracle pill that claims to heal your ailments and then, there is always a catch, it costs money to get the information that is valuable ,and I think its horrible if you are trying to get healthy and do not have the money to do so. I also think it takes advantage of people who are really sick and in need of good advice that they don’t get from lazy doctors. I would like to be healthy but it’s going to cost me a lot to get the information I need, and I don’t think it should be that way if people claim to help someone they should do it, it shouldn’t have a price tag….

    • I love Lauren and all the information she provides. I am grateful for everything I have learned from her and continue to look for her as a source of reliable information. That being said, I hope I am not stepping on any toes and if I am I do apologize, but I know what it’s like to need free help. http://www.whole30.com is a free program, that is similar to paleo but more restrictive. No dairy, no soy, no legumes, no alcohol, no grains and no sugar. I have a thyroid disease and it has done wonders for me. It’s also helped my asthma, migraines and a myriad of other health problems. I feel fantastic and I am so thankful for the path that led me to Lauren and to the whole30. There are even some success stories regarding Hashimoto’s so I wanted to share with you. Good luck to you in your journey!

  9. Loving your site and this post Lauren! I’ve been on the intro diet for almost three months now, and enjoying this time of healing. I’m based in the UK, and GAPS isn’t widely known over here, I’m constantly singing it’s praises and trying to spread the word. I write a parenting blog, and set up another blog specifically about my GAPS journey. I’ll be sharing some of your posts if that’s ok?

  10. I am enjoying reading your newsletter & all the information you have. I have a question which is rather embarrassing but here goes. While undergoing chemotherapy for several months, I developed ABL (accidental bowel leakage). I went to a PT & got some exercises for pelvic & rectal muscles. Trying to do those. Also seeing a naturopathic oncologist who has helped immensely. He is helping me work on digestive issues & recommends coconut kefir. What I find is the kefir makes my stool loose so then I have problems. I want so much to do fermented foods & drink but can’t figure out how to do this & not have more ABL. Do you have any suggestions? Thanks.

  11. I was looking into the gaps diet and was curious if you HAD to do the intro steps in order to gain benefits from it. Is the first step a detox step? Thanks for your time. I currently don’t have digestive issues just mood/hormone issues. My whole life I have had gluten as a staple….. Literally all I ate pasta cereal and fast food my whole life. Now that I think of it I used birth control and had eczema as a child. All signs have lead to this diet

  12. Thank you for the posts, eye opening and instructive.
    I need some assistance discerning the difference between GAPS or an autoimmune paleo diet, and deciding which to try. I have Sjogrens syndrome, severe asthma, and am allergic to a large number of foods including anything dairy, most grains, nuts, eggs, carrots, onions, etc. My symptoms decreased dramatically (down to about 10% of what they were) once I stopped consuming the listed items, but, I still suffer from brain fog, digestive discomfort and an inability to process sugar (total brain fog, confusion and clumsiness). Right now I live on root vegetables, crucifiers and meat and some fruit, but suffer from mega cravings for sugar, nuts and potato chips (weird I know), which tells me there is an imbalance.
    I would appreciate your suggestions as to which diet if any may help. Degree of difficulty is not an issue, success is worth it. — except can’t do anything that may lead to further weight loss. Thank you for your time.

    • Hi! Wow, we are almost exactly the same!

      I am currently on the AIP diet… I think it’s best to start with this protocol to get rid of the antibodies so that the gut inflammation can go down. I am trying this protocol for my brain fog as well!

      I’ve got a tip: use powdered l-glutamine to reduce your cravings! I crave nuts like crazy, but after starting the l-glutamine, I haven’t really felt the urge to eat forbidden foods;-)

  13. I was on a low fodmap GAPS intro (for 7 months) under the supervision of a GAPS practitioner from Biodynamic Wellness. Yes,I I was on into for 7 months with no cheating at all whatsoever, which was way too long to be on GAPS intro. I am disappointed that my GAPS practitioner kept advising me to stay on it for so long. The consequences of barely any carbohydrates and no sugar at all (not even honey) for seven months eating only the same few foods and adding nothing new has been hard to come back from. So for me here are the cons:

    1) Exacerbated my adrenal exhaustion and hormal imbalances
    2) I’m overweight now (my new practitioner said I was on intro WAY too long and now my body is in storage mode as if it’s trying to save itself from starvation from eating no carbs for 7 months). I still eat no sugar but have added in white potato and am still very overweight eating no sugar low carb paleo type diet. My practitioner said it can take people’s metabolism a long time to recover from staying on GAPs intro for to long.
    3) My chronic constipation got so bad during GAPS that I can no longer “go” on my own without an enema (again, my metabolism is messed up). I’ve had to resort to a prescription “lactulose” from my doc (my practitioner told me to get it) to get my body used to going again on its own.
    4) My blood sugar is very messed up from the diet. During GAPs I could not sleep at all due to being so incredibly hungry and starving no matter what “Gaps foods’ I ate. Still to this day after a few months of being off GAPS my blood sugar still off and I still have to wake to eat in the middle of the night.
    5) Insomnia (explained above)
    6) It’s hard to get enough foods when doing a low fodmap version of GAPS since GAPS includes lots of fodmaps in the diet. I think many more people would do better on the diet if they also eliminated fodmaps, but it is very hard to do with the lack of food there is to eat.
    7) I got my lowest weight that I’ve been since grade school during the first 3 months of the diet and I was starving all the time. I was so weak I could barely even get off the couch. Then I started to gain weight like crazy when I added a few new foods in (such as the homemade raw yogurt, nuts, and eggs that you’re supposed to add in during the diet). Now I can’t lose the weight no matter how much I exercise and I’m still eating a low carb paleo but trying to add in more carbs so my metabolism can get back to normal.
    8) This is very important….when doing a low fodmaps GAPS diet for too long, you will starve out your good gut bacteria leading to an overgrowth of commensal bacteria. The lack of certain carbs/sugars/prebiotics in the diet causes this because good bacteria in the gut eat these foods to stay alive. I had a stool test which has proven this. My new practitioner has explained this to me and she helps people all the time who have been on GAPS way too long and now have an overgrowth of commensal and not enough good bacteria in their gut.

    Here were the pros of the diet

    1) My gut is definitely better and able to handle more foods. At Christmas I even had a little chocolate one day and a little ice cream the next, and I was fine.

    2) I believe the diet did rid my body of parasites and bad bacteria overgrowth….I have recently done a stool test and there were no parasites or bad bacteria overgrowth. I do suspect I had parasites before the diet. HOWEVER, I do have an overgrowth of commensal bacteria that was caused by GAPS (explained above in the cons)

    3) Learning to make homemade bone stocks, homemade raw yogurt, fermented cabbage juice, ghee, and doing coffee enemas has been very beneficial and I’m so glad I have learned these things. I make and consume all of these things now that I’m off the diet (except I’m off dairy at the moment)….I also do coffee enemas 3x per week, even though I’m hoping the constipation will go away someday when my metabolism bounces back.

    Lesson to learn from this…..even though my body was screaming for me to get off GAPS intro, I kept at it because a GAPS practitioner advised me to. Listen to your body and please please please don’t stay on the diet for too long, or you will create more problems to deal with after the diet. Hope this helps some you wanting to try it 🙂 I wish I would have stopped after 3 months, but I definitely learned to listen to my own body and not a practitioner.

    • Beautifully told story. My experience mirrors yours but I luckily have never had the money to have a practitioner and have to follow my gut reaction. I did a similar protocol by a woman named Bee and was on it for about three months. It did clear up several problems but it threw me into metabolic shut down. I tried Gaps intro recently and it did the same thing. These strict diets appeal to people who want to cure every issue in life through controlling food. These sights are like porn for anorexics and obsessive eaters. Eating disorders ruin lives and the families that love us. Gaps is a band aid as Lauren testifies to by still having health problems. I have found great healing from Matt Stones work with metabolic resetting. It is true that you starve the good while starving the bad. The fact that so many of you experience cravings that you consider to be problematic is sad. Listen to your hunger and don’t fear it. Eat what you are hungry for and find other things to enjoy besides food. I have struggled with autoimmune and depression for so long and my life dwindled down to dietary experiments and surfing the web. Every diet would help in the short term but they all failed in the long term. We are part of earth and we are meant to embody her in her infinite diversity. We are not meant to punish ourselves into some heroic state of perfection. Stop starving and start loving yourself and others. Check out Diet Recovery and Matt Stones podcast about the Gaps diet.

      • Danielle and Katie,

        Thank you so much for posting. I really agree with both of you and anyone who is considering making these kinds of dietary changes needs to really consider these possibilities. I (stupidly) didn’t listen to my body for several months, always putting up with feeling awful and getting weaker and weaker because I was sustaining a fantasy that in 3 weeks every single health problem would be gone and I would be happy.

        The main problem I have with GAPS (but extends to all other “healing diets) is the way that it leaves people to assume that all of their emotional and psychological problems can be fixed through diet. On the contrary, stress is such a huge factor in causing “gut” (read: whole system) issues in the first place. WAITING until you are not “depressed” or “anxious” to stop these diets and to break an obsessive relationship with food is a downward spiral into isolation, dissociation, etc. It’s cliche to say this, but health is subjective. While it’s important to eat real foods and do what you can to heal your body from the damaging effects of industrial food, its far more important to not to – no matter what – sacrifice your OWN body, energy, emotional health, and relationships in the process.

  14. Thank you Lauren for this post!
    It is the perfect summation for me to share with family and friends, while also reminding me why I am making all these worthwhile changes on the GAPS protocol — to help reverse multiple disease manifestations of a gut/brain/autoimmunity complex. I love your blog and appreciate all you do to share the “wealth” of your healing manna.
    Aloha and mahalo!

  15. Can anyone point me to someone who has had success with facial skin issues (acne, redness/inflammation, constant flakiness…possible rosacea-I don’t know, but it’s awful!!) with the Gaps diet? I’m tired of trying elimination diets that have worked for others, but won’t work for me. I’ve tried avoiding the common culprits such as wheat/grains/sugar/dairy with absolutely no change. My skin is only getting worse. I’m willing to try Gaps if I knew that I had a good chance of it helping. There’s no way I can spend that much $ on the course (at first I thought it was $50, then saw that it was over $400! that’s insane!) but I am familiar with the diet as my mom has been on it for a couple of years. My hesitation is that it hasn’t helped her problem, and of course that it’s so restrictive/possibly expensive.

  16. I have a food sensitivity to dairy. Can I have hemp protein on the GAPS protocol? I know I can’t have it on the intro diet but I am looking for a way to have a smoothie for breakfast once I move into the regular GAPS diet. I also have a sensitivity to eggs so breakfast is rough for me and I don’t really care for meat. Hoping I can make this work. Thanks!!

  17. I have a 9 year old with UC, we’ve been doing GF vegan since she was 5, but felt that she wasn’t achieving the healing that she needed. We started GAPS as a family 3 days ago… I’ve read Paleo Approach, and I feel really nervous about introducing eggs… In your experience and opinion, do I just skip over that when I need to cross that bridge and move on to the other introductions?

  18. Hi Lauren!

    Thanks for all you do! Just wondering…I think I’m battling a pretty bad case of candidiasis and I’m thinking about doing the GAPS diet. Is it enough to just do the GAPS diet, or do you think it is absolutely crucial to begin with the Intro Diet?

    Thank you!

  19. Hi there! I know of your website from coming across it after being diagnosed with Hashimoto’s. I have also most recently been diagnosed with SIBO and have been taking herbal supplements prescribed by my naturopath, for the past five weeks now. Prior to the SIBO diagnosis I was following the AIP diet (for about 3 months), and then switched to the SCD diet after the sibo diagnosis (so have been on that for 5 weeks now). My bloating and cramping issues have pretty well disappeared but the hives I was getting have still continued. There are no words to describe the frustration I feel about this situation. I am at the point of taking benedryl pretty well daily. I really dislike taking it but it gets to the point that I have no choice to get relief. I am suspecting a histamine issue so am staying away from foods that contain high histamines,,,,,but this means limiting myself even more with my food choices. Not to mention that many of the foods high in histamines are very nutrient dense! I am wondering if you think that the GAPS diet would be a good choice at this point in time? Or any advice at all would be appreciated!

    Thank you 🙂

  20. Hi! Thankyou for your website, it is really helpful. I am about to start the gaps diet stage 1; i have chronic myofascial pain, depression, fatigue, and severe anxiety/ ptsd. I am currently taking escitalopram an ssri, and several herbal tinctures for anxiety (motherwort, valerian, scullcap, hawthorn, milky oat seed) and i drink tulsi tea almost constantly! I also take acetaminophen/tylenol most days. I can’t find the info in the book or on the web as to whether its ok to keep taking these during the intro diet. If its necessary to go off the pills, that could be a problem 🙁
    Id really appreciate if you have any ideas

  21. I have been struggling with bloating and gas for 3 years now. The bloating happens aroun2-5 everyday and is gone by the morning only to repeat the vicious cycle again. I have been under a restrictive diet for 7 months and nothing has changed. (No dairy, no soy, no gluten, no corn, nothing processed, grass-fed meat, wild caught fish). I have been tested for everything you could throw at me and they are all negative. No ideas what is wrong. All the Western medical doctors always come back to stress when they come up empty handed. I don’t think I present with a majority of the symptoms I read to start a Gaps diet, but it was suggested to me. What can you tell me that would help me make the decision to start.

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I’m Lauren Geertsen, an author and Nutritional Therapy Practitioner. When doctors told me that surgery and medication were the only answers to my chronic health issues, I decided to use the power of nutrition and a natural lifestyle instead.
My mission at Empowered Sustenance? To show you the simple steps on your path to vibrant health.

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