The GAPS diet is a healing protocol that has been carefully chiseled over the years to help patients that have lost control over their gut health heal their gut and restore their immunity and sanity without medical interventions and pills.
The GAPS diet’s is based on an ancient saying, ‘let your food be your medicine,’ and its proponents claim that it can heal everything from IBS and celiac disease to depression and even autism just with the right foods.
The good news about this diet plan is that you don’t have to give up all your favorite foods while in the process of restoring your health after a lifetime of nutrient deficiency and poor nutrition. Many GAPS diet recipes are surprisingly nutritious, filling, AND delicious.
GAPS was designed as a no-fuss alternative to the Standard American Diet (SAD), which is estimated it kills more people annually than smoking. However, GAPS is not just about healthy eating. It is a complete makeover of what food we eat and how that food lands on our plates.
So, home cooks should get themselves ready to cook all their family’s meals from scratch as there’s no room for takeout, fast-food, or processed foods on this new journey toward intestinal health.
The GAPS Introduction Diet
For long-lasting results, it is best to turn GAPS diet’s principles into lifelong guidelines and even a lifestyle. If you feel that you aren’t as committed, try staying on the GAPS way of eating for at least two years if you want to see amazing results.
There’s also a GAPS intro diet, which is short phase that gets your gut accustomed to the new, healthier diet. The intro diet has four stages and lasts around 18 to 30 days, or three to five days per individual stage.
The GAPS intro diet is safe for children and there’s no harm in following it more than one month. You can even skip the intro diet and dive into the full GAPS diet, but for truly healing your gut and restoring a healthy balance between the good gut bacteria and the bad gut bacteria, the GAPS intro diet is a must.
However, if you are new to the diet and just “heard’ about its healing prowess, we recommend reading the Gut and Psychology Syndrome (GAPS) by Natasha Campbell-McBride, MD, before embarking on the GAPS journey. You’ll get a perspective on what gut health means and how it influences your mental health, a link recently confirmed by science.
So, what’s the GAPS intro diet all about. The short answer is soup, and lots of it. Healthy soup-like veggie and meat casseroles and “stews” are also allowed. In addition, yogurt, cultured cream, and other organic well-fermented dairy are allowed since the beginning of the GAPS diet as long as you can tolerate dairy.
Folk medicine has touted the benefits of bone and meat broth for the human gut for millennia. Many modern-day nutritionists and naturopaths are now ‘prescribing’ bone broth as a healing soup for various conditions when the immunity and the gut health have been compromised.
But how does bone or meat broth heal my gut, you might be asking yourself. Well, bone broth especially from beef is packed with proteins, minerals, and fats that are vital for your digestive tract’s long-term health.
Around one third of the proteins in bone broth are made of glycine, an amino acid which boosts the whole body detoxification, tackles oxidative stress, promotes stomach acid production, and reduces gut lining inflammation caused by nasty gut bacteria.
Bone broth is also rich in collagen which helps maintain a healthy gut lining, restore damaged gut lining, and even draw more fluids into the digestive tract and aid digestion. What’s more, because during the intro diet you’ll be ditching most fiber from your diet, you’ll give your gut extra time to heal and restore its lost or hampered functions.
GAPS Diet Recipes: Stage 1
GAPS Beef Soup
Serves 2 – 3
This soup is a boon for your gut health and extremely easy to make. It only requires for you to toss all the ingredients in a slow-cooker and come back 4-5 hours later for a deliciously filling meal.
- 2 cups of homemade beef stock
- 8 oz of cuts of beef that you would normally use for stew or pot roast
- 14 oz of whole peeled tomatoes (preferably organic), chopped
- ½ medium sized onion, chopped
- A handful of peas (optional)
- 1 clove of garlic, pressed
- 1 carrot, diced
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 tbsp lard or ghee
- Wash, peel, and chop the veggies. Prepare the meat (you are not allowed to brown it unless you’ve reached stage 4).
- Toss all ingredients into a slow cooker and cook the soup on low heat for 4-5 hours. You can use a Dutch oven too, but it might take a bit longer (5 to 6 hours). Also, if you’re using the Dutch oven, add the veggies around 45- 1 hour before the soup is done.
GAPS Spinach Soup
This soup needs homemade chicken broth. It is filling, packed with nutrients, creamy and delicious.
- 3 cups of homemade chicken broth
- 2 medium garlic cloves, pressed
- 1 small onion, chopped
- 2 cups of spinach leaves, chopped
- 1 cup of cauliflower florets, chopped
- Salt and pepper, to taste.
- Bring the chicken broth to a boiling in a soup pan, toss the cauliflower florets, onion, and garlic in. Let everything simmer on low heat for 15 minutes
- Add the fresh spinach and simmer for 10 more minutes.
- Remove the pot from the stove and let is cool slightly before pulsing it with a blender into a thick and creamy texture.
- Cook the soup for a few more minutes and season it before serving.
Homemade Milk Kefir
Makes 2 cups
Kefir contains more probiotics (or good bacteria) than plain yogurt, which means that kefir is great for healing your gut and restoring its balance. Kefir also acts as a natural antibiotic when ingested and can get rid of those disease-causing bad bacteria in your gut in the most natural, side-effect-free way.
- 1 tsp milk kefir grains (fortunately, you can now buy these on Amazon)
- 2 cups organic fresh whole milk
- Place the kefir grains in a clean jar (no plastic or metal containers allowed) and add the milk.
- Cover with a lid (not airtight, as the grains need air to ferment) and place the jar in a warm place.
- Stir from time to time with a wooden spoon (milk kefir grains are living organisms that don’t like metal)
- If its bubbly, stingy, and yeasty and the grains have separated, the kefir is done (it should take no longer than 1 to 2 days, depending on room temperature and quality of kefir grains)
- Strain the kefir in a mesh strainer and serve.
To Wrap It Up
Hope you have enjoyed our overview of the GAPS diet (we highly recommend reading the book) and our sample recipes for stage 1. You can find more GAPS diet recipes in Dr. Campbell-McBride’s book or design your own after you’ve understood how the diet works. You might also like: