I learned about the GAPS diet about ten years ago. This is not the first time that I have tried it and I should mention that I have yet to do the GAPS introductory diet just yet. I do plan on doing that in January.
GAPS stands for the Gut and Psychology Diet. It was created by Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride, a neurologist who created the diet after her son was diagnosed with autism. She based the bulk of the dietary recommendations on the Specific Carbohydrate Diet. She adjusted it to target healing and sealing the gut. The goal is to reduce intestinal permeability and the toxins from herbicides and pesticides from wreaking havoc on our bodies.
There is anecdotal evidence that the GAPS diet has helped individuals with autism, epilepsy, autoimmune disorders, allergies and more. As someone who has epilepsy and autoimmune conditions, I decided to give it a whirl.
My GAPS Diet Results
I must admit that my seizures were pretty much under control when I started the GAPS diet this time around. I had fallen off the bandwagon around July when I traveled and went out to Independence Day parties and indulged on pizza and cake. That brought on a seizure and the realization that I needed to clean up the diet again. I had been eating the Standard American Diet for a few months and my teeth sensitivity had come back along with some allergies.
From past diets, I knew that it would take a few weeks of discipline to eliminate the carbohydrate addiction to the gluten and casein that had been in my diet. The first month was mainly and adjustment phase. I took all the grains, nuts and legumes out of my diet. I focused in on eating vegetables, meat and one serving of fruit per day.
While bacon from the grocery store is technically off the GAPS diet, it has lots of dietary fat which helps to keep me full. I created a somewhat ketogenic version of the GAPS diet with a focus on animal fats. This helped me look forward to breakfast every morning and gave me a food that I enjoyed so much that I looked forward to it. In a few weeks, I didn’t mind being on the diet.
I’m trying to grow my hair back. I have alopecia universalis. I have heard of people with alopecia universalis getting some fine hairs after a month on the introduction diet. However, in the past when I have altered my diet so quickly I have triggered seizures. For that reason, I chose to do a few months of the full GAPS diet and then transition into the introductory diet at the beginning of the New Year.
I really haven’t seen any hair growth. This is discouraging to admit. However, you have to take into consideration that for hair to grow to the top of the skin, it takes about a month. Before hair can appear, you have to reduce or eliminate the inflammation within the follicle that is preventing it from growing. I would imagine that I may start seeing some hairs emerge within another month or two.
Alopecia universalis also impacts the fingernails and mine are awful. I have the vertical ridges and weakened nails that are associated with severe forms of alopecia universalis. The nails seem slightly stronger than they were in the summer. In the summer they would break all the time. It was so painful. So, I may be on the right track with the diet, but it is a SLOW process of healing.
I started out with a bit of psoriasis between my butt cheeks. I would post a photo if it were in a different location. Within the first month, I was pretty excited that the redness had decreased. This is something that I don’t see and neither does anyone else, but it can cause some discomfort. At 5 months on the GAPS diet, the skin is almost to its normal color. There is no itchiness. I did notice this morning after eating more fruit on Christmas eve that there was a tiny bit of inflammation.
I am optimistic that this will go away within a few months.
The first couple months on the GAPS diet, I did experience a slight increase in auras. I noticed that the GAPS protocol also included Epsom salt baths. Incorporating Epsom salt foot baths while I showered and taking a magnesium supplement helped to reduce the auras.
I did have a seizure at 4 months into the diet, but I felt like this was probably a detoxification type of seizure. I read other testimonials of people who used the GAPS diet for seizures and they had their final seizure at 5 months into the diet. My cognitive function felt much better after the last seizure, so I’m not terribly concerned about it.
Going Forward with GAPS
My plan is to do the GAPS intro diet after the New Year. So far, I made it though Thanksgiving and Christmas and mainly stuck to GAPS foods. There were a few instances where I had a piece of cheese or ate out at a restaurant where I wasn’t 100% sure what oils they used in the vinegrette, but other than that I was pretty strict with it.
At this point, I feel confident that I can complete an Intro diet with good planning. I am planning on doing broth and meat for the first week and then add in eggs and a butternut squash. I will slowly test out other vegetables and keep a dietary record of what I react to and what seems fine.
One of the things that seems to cause me trouble is too much fruit. My mother and I bought a batch of seconds from the local orchard and made some wonderful applesauce. After a few days of eating a few servings that would equate to 2 apples per day, I started getting cracks in the corners of my mouth (angular cheilitis). It tends to go away in a week and it did after I got back to my normal diet. However, a few days ago, I increased my fruit consumption with tangerines and berries to celebrate Christmas. I notice some cracking this morning, so I backed off the fruit.