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GAPS Diet–6 Month Update

Friends, it’s hard for me to believe that my six month GAPS experiment has come to an end. Back in April, I began this GAPS Diet with the highest of hopes. There have been successes and failures, and I find myself in the position of having to decide whether or not to go on with the experiment. Before I get to that, allow me to tell you what month 6 looked like.

Diet

Since adding in egg whites last month, I’ve been going a little crazy with the eggs. I started making omelets for breakfast, two eggs with jarred tuna and mushrooms inside and a dollop of creme fraiche on top.

This was delicious, but a little time consuming to make every morning. I decided to streamline the process with a frittata. I don’t really have a “recipe” for this. I saute a bunch of seasonal veg (lately it’s been zucchini, leeks, and mushrooms) and put it into an oiled 9″x12″ baking dish. I spread two jars of tuna fillets on top of the veg. Then I whisk up a dozen eggs with a pinch of salt and pepper and pour it over the top. Sprinkle on some fresh herbs (lots of basil and cilantro lately) and bake it for about an hour at 400. This gives me 6 ready-to-go breakfast servings that also include a good serving of fatty fish. Delicious and convenient.

Two weeks ago I began baking with almond flour again. I wouldn’t say that has been going well, but my body’s objections haven’t been severe enough to make me give it up. Maybe I’m just desperate for something I can slather with butter and eat out of my hand. In any case, I’ve been having a muffin every morning with my frittata and it is the highlight of my day.

I still eat a bowl of chicken and vegetable soup every day. And dinner is typically a turkey burger, or some baked chicken with some veggies on the side. I make a large batch of everything at the beginning of the week, and then for the rest of the week I just reheat portions. It’s boring to eat the same thing every day, but it cuts down on my cooking time.

Every week I try to cook up a treat to have on hand. Otherwise I find myself eating too much fruit or (worse) being tempted by something completely GAPS-illegal. I’ve made this fabulous Chocomole recipe several times now. I also like this Butternut Squash Pudding, though I sweeten it up with additional honey and some cinnamon.

Our fruit trees were generous this year, so I’ve also been treating myself to the bounty of peaches and pears from the garden. This a great compromise, because the fruit usually puts me in at least a small amount of pain. But my naturopath and I agreed that the mental and emotional benefits far exceed the physical consequences, and so I’ve decided to eat and enjoy the fruit from our trees.

Supplements

The other part of GAPS that changes month to month is my supplements. It seems there is always something new to add in or something causing symptoms to take out. Last month was fairly steady and there wasn’t anything to remove. There is one important thing that I added, and because I want to be completely honest about this journey, I’d like you to know about it. I started taking an anti-depressant last month. I wrote about those emotional and mental struggles in detail on my own blog, but there is one point I’d like to make here that I didn’t there. Did you know that approximately 90% of your body’s serotonin (that little chemical that, when lacking, causes depression) is located in your gut? Yeah, me neither. You probably thought it was in your brain, like I always did until I began this whole GAPS journey. Anyway, I think anyone with a compromised GI tract should be aware that a possible consequence of your GI problems could be depression. And the stress and isolation of such a difficult diet only compounds the issue.

In addition to the anti-depressant, my naturopath gave me a supplement that is an amino acid which is the precursor to serotonin. So while I’m artificially replacing the serotonin with my prescription, I’m also giving my body what it needs to start manufacturing the serotonin on its own.

So my supplements are the same as last month, plus the anti-depressant and the amino acid from my naturopath.

Detox

My detox routines have stayed exactly the same. I drink a glass of fresh pressed veggie juice in the morning (usually beets, beet greens, celery, and carrot). About every other night I take a detox bath with epsom salt or Redmond Clay bath salts.

How I Felt

It’s been 6 months, and in all honesty, I don’t feel significantly better than I did before GAPS. I still spend a week to ten days out of the month in pain or extreme discomfort. The rest of the days are not painful, but still uncomfortable. I still have days where I choose to skip meals, because the pain from not eating is less than the pain from eating. I’m still extremely tired and fatigued. I’m not able to eat anything significant that I couldn’t eat pre-GAPS (though the eggs are a triumph, to be sure). I struggle daily with preparing the food and staying motivated to actually eat it. In short, the meager benefits I’m getting from GAPS do not justify the extreme costs, at least not for me.

So I decided to quit GAPS.

And then I did some thinking. What exactly am I supposed to quit to? It’s not like I can quit and just go eat a bowl of pasta and a loaf of focaccia. I have to eat something. And while these foods cause me pain, they certainly cause me less pain than all the other foods that I’m not eating. It’s all well and good to say that I quit GAPS, but in actuality I really can’t.

I have some appointments lined up, with my GI doctor and with my naturopath. I have a small handful (okay, actually only two) of treatment options that I haven’t tried yet. Neither of them are pretty. In the meantime, I plan to maintain a mostly GAPS-legal diet. But I plan to use some convenience foods (canned coconut milk and canned pumpkin chief among them). If I decide I’d really like a bowl of gluten-free granola with coconut milk on it, by golly I’m going to allow myself that. And my favorite part of quitting GAPS? Hail Merry tarts. Oh, I’ve missed you.

So, after giving GAPS 6 months of every bit of my effort and attention, I’m officially quitting (but not really). How is that for a highly ambiguous conclusion to this highly un-scientific experiment??


 
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  • I have left side neck and face pain, which seems to be connected to acid reflux episodes, but then takes days to go away. Have just started the GAPS diet…Does anyone else have this combination of symptoms?

    Reply
    Phil April 13, 2014 AT 2:29 pm
     
  • You’re not supposed to eat chocolate on GAPS. Nuts, seeds, and fruit are supposed to be limited. Main foods to eat are soups, meats, veggies, eggs. Maybe that’s why you had so many problems.

    Reply
    Emily March 10, 2014 AT 11:56 am
     
  • Yes! You have summed up my feelings exactly!!! There are so many times I’ve been on the verge of “quitting” GAPS for similar reasons. And then I think the same thing…pre-made, processed foods are going to cause even more problems. So I’m pretty much on GAPS due to default! I will tell you this, I have been on GAPS now for 14 months and am starting to feel better, finally. However, I don’t know if that is from GAPS specifically or other things I’ve been doing along side of GAPS. Like supplements. Lots and lots of supplements to bring various nutrient levels back up to a normal range. Also, mb12 injections due to MTHFR mutation (which has to do with the body being able to use b vitamins, which are necessary in the process for a lot of other things, iron being chief among that). I also went on prescription strength VSL3 probiotic (for the colitis). And unfortunately, after 6 months of being on GAPS and only tolerating boiled meat, broth, butter, ghee, sour cream, yogurt, eggs, I capitulated and wound up going on the colitis medication as well. Granted, I should (I guess) count myself as lucky as the forums are filled with people on more than just 1 prescription medication and prescription probiotic in order to keep their colitis symptoms under control. I do not think that any one thing on it’s own got me to the point of feeling better most days. I think it was a combination.

    Reply
    Nancy December 24, 2013 AT 11:10 am
     
  • Hi Erin,
    I read your story and felt compelled to give you some knowledge on what I’ve learned through hours and hours of countless internet research on digestion and how I helped to restore my own bowel through the use of diet, proper pharmaceutical drugs, and supplements.

    FACT #1: Unfortunately DIET will NOT work alone! As diet did NOT get us in this mess, diet alone does not have the power to clear infections and replenish the necessary bacteria that have been lost due to antibiotics, pharmaceuticals, hormones, or were never there since birth (formula-fed, Caesarean section).

    Think of a beautiful rose garden that is riddled with weeds and undesirable vegetation. Now eating a healthier diet, by limiting sugars and processed foods is the same as adding in an organic fertilizer and hoping that only the roses will be feed, but of course this is not true. The weeds will be equally feed, and there will be no real change in the balance of roses and weeds. That’s why as soon as we return to eating “normal” we feel the symptoms return. THE INFECTION WAS NEVER CLEARED, AND THE GOOD BACTERIA WERE NOT REINSTATED!

    1st Step: Reduce the Pathogenic Bacteria and Viruses in the Gut
    To do this we must employ PHARMACEUTICAL agents that have the strength to work throughout the entire colon, not simply the stomach and the small intestine. While natural products are very safe, and tolerable, they often get absorbed by the body before they can work throughout a very long digestive tract. The body does not know to not absorb these natural agents for your benefit, it just digests them and absorbs them before they can clean the colon. (The colon is what harbors trillions of bacteria and yeasts, not the small intestine.) Another problem with natural agents, such as GSE, Pau d’Arco, Goldenseal, Coconut Oil, Garlic, Ginger, etc, they do not have the power to clear chronic deep seated infections. If you ever had strep throat you’ll know what I mean, you can try all the natural products in the world but nothing comes close to the effectiveness of antibiotics. I have also been against using pharmaceuticals in my recovery but we can harness their power and focus them to make profound changes in our health when eating healthy is not enough.

    First, I would HIGHLY recommend using Nystatin to clear fungal/yeast/Candida overgrowth of the intestinal tract. I would recommend Nystatin 1 million units taken 3x daily for at least 30 days. Nystatin is very safe, even for babies as it is NOT absorbed into the body and stays exclusively in the gut where the problem lies. It is used to clean the intestinal tract of these fungal organisms which notoriously overgrow if you have ever taken antibiotics or lack the beneficial bacteria that keep them in check . You will not see any benefit however if you do not eliminate sugars, starches, nuts/seeds, and dairy in your diet. I would highly, highly recommend Healing by Bee’s Anti-Candida. She was able to cure years of multiple symptoms by adhereing to her strict diet and using Nystatin. (Unfortunately, she no longer recommends Nystatin even tho she admits it was used in her recovery so please, please use Nystatin. It can at least be used as an effective diagnostic tool for hidden fungal/yeast overgrowth in your gut. Start slow, and build up to 3 million units per day. Most physicians do not study Mycology in medical school and disregard the real threat fungal/yeast organisms play in the body. Do not do the same if your physician is not knowledgable on this issue, stay persistent and find the right doctor that will give you a prescription.)

    If you suffer IBS like symptoms, Abdominal bloating, Belching, Excess Flatulence, Abdominal pain, Cramps, Constipation or Diarrhea then there is a great probability you are also suffering from SIBO (small intestinal bacterial overgrowth). It has been found in over 70% of those diagnosed as having IBS. SIBO is an overgrowth of pathogenic microbes in the small bowel that consume your food before you eat it, produce toxic by-products that are directly absorbed into your system causing premature aging, skin conditions, acne, eczema, sores, rashes, brain fog, toxic liver, food allergies/intolerances, hormonal imbalances, especially estrogen dominance, and worst of all massive nutritional deficiencies. It is highly overlooked in the medical community but fortunately can be easily treated with a 10 day course of Rifaximin. Two 200mg tablets taken 3 times a day according to clinical studies. Rifaximin is also extremely safe as it is also not absorbed into the body and stays ONLY in the intestinal tract. It made an extremely profound impact in my life, clearing chronic cystic acne, undesirable weight loss, estrogen dominance, high eos blood count, food intolerances, adrenal fatigue, lack of energy. Why? Because it cleared a chronic hidden infection that was directly at the site of absorption! Please if you have not looked into SIBO go to this website for more information: http://www.siboinfo.com/symptoms.html. You can rely on a hydrogen breath test for an accurate assessment of this condition. Again, go to the site for more information, the doctor who composed the site is well informed and compassionate about your health.

    One thing I want to you to make note of, pathogenic organisms create an environment in your gut that makes it suitable for other pathogenic organisms to flourish. You will rarely find somebody who suffers from only one type of infection, such as bacterial overgrowth or fungal overgrowth. That is why treatment needs to be comprehensive and thorough. Always use an anti-fungal when using an antibiotic to prevent an overgrowth of fungal organisms in the bowel. They are both partners in crime in diseases of the bowel!

    Step#2: ReSeed the Gut

    To do this you need to add in an ENTERIC-COATED probiotic that can effectively reach the small intestine, if not the stomach acid will likely kill a majority of the bacteria in your probiotic capsules before they have a chance to add any benefit. I RECOMMEND Enzymatic Therapy Pearls Elite taken 1-2 morning and night on an empty stomach with a glass of filtered water. These probiotics will help restore balance in the small intestine, but will do very little to restore balance in the lower bowel, colon.

    The best way to restore balance in the lower part of the bowel known as the colon is a controversial, but highly effective procedure known as FECAL TRANSPLANT or Fecal Microbiota Transplantation. Quite simply, it involves the use of collecting and infusing stool from a healthy, disease free donor. Preferably somebody who hasn’t taken antibiotics in the last couple of years, does not suffer from skin, mental, immune system, hormonal, and of course digestive disorders. Teenagers and some young adults fit this bill very well, but not all. If would also be nice if the donor was breast-fed and born naturally but its not necessary. There are over 100 trillion bacteria, and 500 different species in the lower part of the colon, and many of these species can not be put into a pill and mass produced. Even if they could, they would have been created in a lab and would not have the traits to effectively adhere to the intestinal lining, and promote a positive change in the bowel. Why rely on the abilities of laboratories and manufacturers when you can get bacteria from a healthy colon and use them as an “ultimate probiotic” to restore balance to the lower part of the bowel. Just to give you an idea, it is found to be over 90-95% effective in treating C. Difficle infection that is non responsive to the strongest antibiotics known to man. This procedure is literally saving lives, and when it produces a high clinical cure rate in such an invasive life threatening infection, you know it holds great power. The great news is that the procedure can be administered at home through the use of retention enemas. Do your research on this procedure, it is the most effective protocol in restoring the lower part of the bowel, colon. I recommend 3-5 consecutive days of retention enemas, directly after using Rifaximin to treat SIBO.

    Summary:

    Start with Healing by Bee’s Anti-Candida Diet for at least a week to reduce unwanted organisms in the bowel. I would recommend at least 60 days.
    then use both…
    Rifaximin 400mg 3x daily for 10 days
    &
    Nystatin 2 pills(1 mil units) 3x daily for 30 days

    after 10 days of Rifaximin add…

    Fecal Therapy 3-5 days in a row
    &
    Enteric-Coated Acidophilus Pearls Elite 2x daily for 60 days

    then after 30 days of Nystatin add….

    Diflucan 200mg 1x daily 30 days if Candida/Yeast issues still pursue.

    This procedure changed my life, and gave me back the normalcy I was searching for. They key is removing infections and restoring balance back to the gut.

    Hope this message reaches you in a place of meekness, and that I was able to convince you on how compassionate I am about health. Feel free to message me any questions you may have.

    – Brian C.

    Reply
    Brian C. June 6, 2013 AT 12:33 am
     


 

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