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Monday, February 25, 2013

Healthy Days: Diet Changes in the House

As I mentioned in a previous post, our son, Zachary, has a rare auto-immune disorder that has compromised his balance and coordination.  The disorder is called Opsoclonus-Myoclonus Syndrome (or Ataxia).  We have been fighting this thing for about 11 months now with a few supplements and homeopathic remedies for detoxification.  A few weeks ago, though, I gave our son some gluten a few times and then he began a G.I. detox, and we quickly saw the ramifications of these things on his system.  He regressed quickly and we had him crawling for a little over a week to protect him from falls and hard-knocks, even though he still fell on his face multiple times while crawling resulting in several split lips and cut gums...the joys of OMS.

But, I digress, after this whole episode, it really became apparent to me that this little dude has absolutely got some gut issues going on.  Several months ago I became aware of a detox/healing program called Gut And Psychology Syndrome (or GAPS).  The agenda of the diet is to reset the gut, eliminating the overgrown negative bacteria, or other unwanted gut visitors, and jamming it full with the beneficial bacteria of which I am sure most of us have heard: probiotics, lactobacteria, etc.  These are the ones found in yogurt, kefir, fermented foods, etc.  They are super awesome at fighting off illness, and keeping a sufficient supply of them in the gut is critical to protect it from ugly visitors taking up residence and taking over the place.  Some common symptoms often related to bad bacteria overgrowth (and therefore a gut imbalance) are yeast infections, adrenal fatigue, Crohn's disease, ADD, autism, colic, allergies (all kinds), and others.  After several months to several years on the diet, depending on how compromised the gut is, the person should be able to eat all previously problematic foods without issue, since the gut is being healed through the program, not just temporarily achieving a lack of foods that cause problems.

To give an overall idea of the plan, essentially all grains are removed, most beans and legumes, some cheese, starchy vegetables, and all sugars, excluding fruits.  But, to begin eating these foods the person detoxing will go through several stages, starting with broth and easily assimilated foods and gradually increasing other foods, always looking for reactions in the gut and body to show a sensitivity to that food.  More on this diet can be found at www.gaps.me, and www.gapsdiet.com.  I am still getting accustomed to the plan itself, but I will be taking steps I can right now with eliminating grains, starches, sugars, and dairy from his diet until I get a better grasp on things.  Then we will really get serious about this thing!

On a side note, other diets similar to GAPS, though not purposed for digestive healing to the same degree, and not put together under scientific guidelines or for medicinal purposes, include ones like PALEO and Whole30.  Many people begin these types of diets and find they begin to feel great, have more energy, etc, sadly, though often connecting some negative concept of grains, as though they are the devil...I have regularly seen this kind of generalization in the Paleo community.  The likely reason so many people do so well with these programs is that their gut is compromised, so removing the foods that feed bacteria (i.e. starchy, sugary, polysaccharide rich foods) allows some of the detoxing to occur, thereby providing some level of initial healing.  But, these programs are incomplete in getting to the root of the problem.  I cannot at all get on board with Paleo because its ideology is so completely anathema to my beliefs as a Christian...I do not relate to some "cave man", and I do not abide by the belief that the foods that God has specified to be for our consumption are somehow bad for us because of "evolution."  Whole30, thankfully, does not give any ideology behind their program except to say that many people lose weight and feel great on their program.  Yes, with all three programs, the meals look very similar are the foods allowed are almost identical (slight tweaks with each), but the reasons and motivations behind each are different.  I am using all, though, for meal ideas as we begin this grain-free, starch-free, sugar-free journey.

Have you ever followed a GAPS program, or something similar, like Paleo or Whole30?  How did you feel on the program?  Have you considered why you felt that way?  Have a blessed day!

1 comment:

  1. Have you read Wheat Belly? We eat Paleo, but it's not really the idea of eating what our cavemen ancestors did, it's more about eliminating the insane amount of genetically modified wheat from our diets to live a healthier life. 60 yrs ago the wheat wasn't the same as it is now today (and people were slim and healthy), and because humans interfered with it we as a nation are getting sicker and sicker. I urge you to read the book, and good luck in your endeavors!