Gut and Psychology Syndrome (GAPS)  is a nutritional protocol initially created to help people with autism, depression, mental illness and auto immune disorders.

GAPS is a nutritional protocol devised by Dr. Natasha Campbell McBride in the 1998 based on her clinical work with individuals with autism. She found that many of her patients with autism also had digestive disturbances. Dr. Campbell McBride found that when gut health improved in these individuals behavioral and sensory issues would also improve. Through her clinical work she found that the same protocol was also successful in improving symptoms of depression, ADHD, bipolar, schizophrenia and eating disorders.

The theory that there is a strong gut-brain connection has been mostly overlooked, but now, Dr. Campbell McBride’s work is gaining popularity with people all over the world. Now the research and medical community are considering the possibility of a gut/brain connection.

A number of lifestyle and dietary factors can promote permeability in the gut wall and an imbalanced bowel flora. When the gut wall is ‘leaky’ this allows undigested food proteins into our bloodstream where they react with our immune system and affect liver function. In susceptible individuals these toxins can cross a weakened blood/brain barrier and provoke symptoms of mental illness. Dr. Campbell McBride has coined the phrase Gut and Psychology Syndrome to describe what is happening in these individuals.

The level of toxicity created by a dysfunctional gut can have a profound effect on other body systems. There are many people who also have digestive dysfunction described above but their symptoms do not manifest in mental illness. Instead these individuals may suffer with IBS, celiac disease, allergies, eczema, chronic fatigue syndrome, arthritis and other auto-immune disorders. Other symptoms tend to include fatigue, digestive disorders, muscular weakness and hormonal imbalances. These come under the umbrella term ‘gut and physiology syndrome’. Often there is overlap between the psychology and physiology syndromes.

The Gaps Diet protocol uses a comprehensive, structured diet programme along with a few chosen supplements to restore the integrity of the digestive tract along with rebalancing the resident bacteria of the gut. It focuses on removing foods that those with compromised guts find hard to digest and on consuming foods with the capacity to heal the gut and re-balance the gut bacteria. Grains are avoided, as are sugar and starchy vegetables because these contain longer chains of carbohydrate molecules that are difficult to break down.

Fermented vegetables and fermented dairy are utilised for their ability to re-instate beneficial bacteria. The protocol needs to be followed for up to two years depending on the severity of the condition.

Dr. Campbell McBride developed this healing protocol to help her own son who has now recovered from autism. She has worked with many patients in her Cambridge clinic over the years and has now trained Certified Gaps Practitioners through Europe, USA and Australia to help many others on their Gaps journey

Our clinic specialises in individualising the GAPS Protocol to meet your specific needs. If you need advice or support do get in touch.

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Author: Sarah Hanratty

Sarah is a specialist practitioner at the Brain Food Clinic. She has a degree in Nutritional Medicine and is a certified Gut and Psychology Syndrome Practitioner. Sarah helps people to overcome physical and mental health issues using bespoke nutritional protocols.

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