GAPS (Gut and Psychology Syndrome) program

A delicious GAPS meal

The GAPS (Gut and Psychology Syndrome) programis a healing regime based on change of diet to allow the digestive system in particular to detoxify and heal. It was originally designed for, and works successfully healing autistic children, but since that initial research, it has also been found to heal numerous other (especially chronic) health problems.

The GAPS “diet” was developed by Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride, a practicing neurologist and nutritionist working in London, when one of her children showed signs of autism. As so often happens when mothers are faced with such a situation, Dr. Campbell-McBride devoted much research time to learn how to help her autistic child. In her research she discovered an earlier, highly-successful “celiac” diet, which she augmented with her knowledge of nutrition and gut-healing. After her child fully recovered, other parents of autistic children flocked to her clinic, and finally she wrote a book to explain the basics of the program (available through Eugene WAPF). Since then, numerous articles have been written explaining that there is a linkage between a healthy digestive system and proper brain development, for example:

More studies prove your gut bacteria control your brain functioning


Fermented vegetables are easy to make at home.

Basics of the GAPS program

The GAPS eating program follows all the suggestions made by Weston A. Price, but it excludes all foods that have been found to irritate the digestive system, adding them back in very slowly and experimentally until the body has healed enough to cope with them. It is very difficult to describe the GAPS diet in a general article like this because it is extremely individualized. Some of the modern environmental problems which lead to digestive problems include: exposure to heavy metals such as lead, aluminum, and mercury (widely-used in amalgam dental fillings); use of antibiotics without replenishing the stomach’s healthy microbes; use of birth-control pills; thyroid disfunction; parasites; and many more challenges. Depending on the level of problems, you may be able to modify your diet just slightly beyond the Weston A. Price diet, or you may have to limit your diet severely (“GAPS introduction diet”) to give your body the time it needs to heal itself. A number of the members of the Eugene WAPF have done this successfully, even in the face of severe challenges.

In the case of the biggest challenges, here are the basics of the “GAPS Introduction Diet”. Working with a nutritionist (some of whom are Eugene WAPF members), you may discover you do not need this level of change, or you may be able to graduate off of it quickly. But often people discover that it is good to go back to just the basic introduction diet from time to time. So here are the basics:

– Removal of ALL sugar and just about all complex carbohydrates, both of which are difficult for the body to digest (a moderate amount of raw honey is allowed on the full GAPS diet);

– Meat and/or fish-based stews and soups with lots of broth and healthy fats;

– Fermented vegetables (especially cabbage), fermented with the use of only natural salt and whey if you’re not allergic to it or other probiotic; therefore probably home-made because most of what is sold in markets is made with vinegar. Sauerkraut and other fermented vegetables are extremely important because they provide the stomach with lactobacillus bacteria, which should be one of the main digestive microbes in a healthy digestive system. This should be eaten with all meals because the body cannot make its own lactobacillus bacteria. Amounts should be limited to very small at first, in order to reduce a possible detoxification reaction;

– Additional probiotics;

– Eggs if you can eat them without problems, especially the yolk and especially raw, but also cooked;

– Dairy products from animals raised on green grass and only non-pasteurized, if you don’t have an allergy to dairy. Includes butter, cheese, properly-made yogurt, as well as full-fat milk. Difficult to find in mainstream markets, but Eugene WAPF has more information on availability;

– Vegetables may be able to be added to the stews and soups depending on your level of health; raw vegetables and all fruit are not eaten on the GAPS diet until the body has healed properly. (They may be eaten on the full GAPS diet if well tolerated.);

– Nuts are slowly introduced during the Introductory Diet, but they should ALWAYS be pre-soaked, and should be eaten in very small amounts until you’re sure they do not cause any problems.(These may be also be eaten on the full GAPS diet if tolerated).

This sounds to most beginners like an extremely limited diet, but you’ll discover that, unlike most “diets”, you will not feel hungry, and symptoms such as diarrhea or constipation will disappear rapidly, so the trade-off for less variety is a feeling of great well-being and usually rapid recovery from the most disabling symptoms.

Soups and stews recipes come from all around the world.

As always, it is best to be working with a trained and knowledgeable nutritionist when you start the GAPS diet, who can watch for signs of any unforeseen problems. The GAPS book written by Dr. Campbell-McBride is meant for practitioners especially, and gives excellent background for the diet, but not always the simplest explanation of what to do. Thankfully there are now a number of other books which give a simple introduction, often with recipes.


Dr. Campbell-McBride has recently been interviewed by Dr. Mercola for his well-known health website, if you’d like to hear more about her discoveries in her own words.

Audio Interviews:

You can find more information on Dr. McBride’s website:, and on her blog at

Find local GAPS Certified Practitioners:

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