I get a lot of emails from people asking if GAPS is right for them or if it’s even feasible for them to begin the GAPS diet protocol.
I’ve been doing research into real food nutrition and metabolic health for three years now, and everything I’ve learned has taught me that balance is one of the most important keys we can implement for our health.
I don’t ever recommend strict diets like GAPS lightly. Keeping things simple and doable is extremely important to me.
However, many of us are coming from a place where our bodies need healing. In this case, the GAPS protocol can be highly beneficial. But common mistakes may be holding you back from your full healing potential on the GAPS diet.
GAPS Diet Mistake #1: Too Many PUFAs
The typical Western diet is drenched in polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs). These fats accumulate in the body’s tissues and can cause many health problems (including inflammation and suppressed thyroid function). The only way to allow your body to detoxify from a build-up of PUFAs is to strictly limit your intake (which is honestly not too difficult) and eating mostly saturated fats instead (which tend to displace the PUFAs in your tissues).
Why is this a problem on GAPS? Because many people rely heavily on seeds, nuts and nut flours while on the GAPS diet.
Most seeds, nuts and nut flours are very high in PUFAs. Polyunsaturated fats–even those in nuts–tend to oxidize very easily, both outside and inside the body. While the fats in nuts are obviously an improvement compared to the fats in vegetable oils like corn and soy (which are also mostly PUFAs), they can still be overeaten.
Seeds, nuts and nut flours are fine in moderation while on GAPS. But eating them daily and especially several times a day might actually be holding you back from healing completely.
If you want to eat more nuts, choose from those with a lower PUFA content, like macadamia nuts, hazelnuts and cashews.
GAPS Diet Mistake #2: Not Enough Carbs
Again, this is about balance. GAPS is a healing protocol, and carbs play a specific role in helping the body rebuild. Without enough carbohydrates, the body tends to overtax the adrenal system and will eventually suppress thyroid function. This tends to signal the body to break down its own tissue for energy rather than rebuild. On GAPS, restoring the integrity of the gut wall is crucial, so signaling the body to rebuild is vitally important.
Eating carbohydrates with protein and fat allows the body to take full advantage of the building materials in your food. This way you will use the amino acids and fatty acids from the food you eat to rebuild and replenish cells.
While it’s true that starches and grains are not allowed on GAPS, vegetables, fresh juice, fruit and honey most certainly are. Take full advantage of this and be sure to include at least some carbohydrates with every meal.
If you are concerned about blood sugar, you can eat smaller more frequent meals, and also be sure to eat protein and fat with your carbohydrates. This will help restore natural blood sugar regulation.
GAPS Diet Mistake #3: Not Enough Food
This is extremely important. Stimulating metabolic function is mandatory if you want to heal your gut. Thyroid function and gut health go hand in hand–you can’t have one without the other. Eating plenty of GAPS legal food will restore both. The GAPS diet can feel restrictive and it may feel difficult to find enough food to eat during the day. But right now more than ever your body needs food. It needs energy to heal and nutrients to replenish cells. So eat up!
GAPS Diet Mistake #4: The Wrong Proteins (Too Much Meat)
Don’t get me wrong: good quality meat can be a healthy addition to the GAPS diet. But relying too much on muscle meat for your protein overloads your body with inflammatory amino acids and will cause imbalances. Eating plenty of bone broth (gelatin), organ meats and whole eggs will help counteract this effect and give you a proper balance of amino acids. Soups are excellent because they balance meat and broth intake together (plus they taste amazing!).
I cannot overstate how incredibly healing bone broth and gelatin can be during the GAPS diet. They are an absolute necessity.
GAPS Diet Mistake #5: Too Many Probiotics, Not Enough Prebiotics
I know a lot of folks who spend a small fortune on probiotics during GAPS. I do not know if this is necessary for everyone. You can pummel your system with probiotics, but if those friendly bacteria don’t have the energy they need to colonize, then your efforts may be in vain. Probiotics need prebiotics to thrive and repopulate your gut with healthy bacteria. Get plenty of prebiotics by eating vegetables and fruit, whose fiber actually feeds friendly bacteria in the gut.
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