Specific Carbohydrate Diet and GAPS Diet

In the past month, Kristin and I feel like we have finally found the missing piece of the puzzle with regards to healing the gut.  Of course, it’s a little bit complicated, but I like to simplify things, so here goes:

If a sugar is a monosaccharide (1 molecule), a compromised gut can absorb it and use it as fuel.  Monosaccharides include glucose, fructose, and galactose.  Fruit and honey are made of monosaccharides.

If a sugar is a disaccharide (2 molecules) or a complex molecule such as starch or carbohydrate, a compromised gut lacks the enzymes needed to break it down.  The sugar then ferments and feeds the bad yeast and bacteria in the gut.  Table sugar, Maple Syrup, lactose (milk sugar), grains, potatoes, and corn are all made of disaccharides or complex carbohydrates.

The Specific Carbohydrate diet was developed in the 1950s by a doctor named Sidney Valentine Haas.  It was later revived by a nutritionist named Elaine Gottschall in her book Breaking the Vicious Cycle: Intestinal Health through Diet. The GAPS diet by Natasha Campbell-McBride is largely based on the Specific Carbohydrate Diet.

We think the diet is an exceptional healing diet.

Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride is a British Neurologist with an additional PhD in Nutrition.  She has identified a link between many of the psychological disorders and a poorly functioning digestive system.  She calls it Gut and Psychology Syndrome (GAPS). Her book and website is a magnificent guide for anyone trying to heal their gut.  We think it is better than the Anti-Candida Diet because it eliminates all grains and starches, so you do not perpetuate the vicious cycle. The good news is, according to both Elaine Gottschall and Natasha Campbell-McBride, a person can resume eating many things that have bothered them after they’ve spent a year or two on the GAPS or Specific Carbohydrate diets.

DAIRY – Here’s a very short summary of what the GAPS book suggests for dairy (She has 4 pages about dairy):  Lactose is a disaccharide and Casein causes problems all over the body if the gut is leaky.  As the gut lining heals, you can introduce dairy slowly, in this order: 1. ghee  2.  organic butter  3.  home-made yogurt fermented for 24 hours to get rid of the lactose  3. hard cheeses   5.  commercial yogurt.  She suggests that you eat a food and then wait 3-4 days and see if you have a reaction.

BEANS – If you soak your beans overnight and rinse them thoroughly, the GAPS diet allows white (navy) beans, lima beans, string beans, lentils, and split beans.  Kristin would recommend soaking them in water and a tablespoon of Apple Cider vinegar.

FRUIT – eat only ripe fruit and avoid if you have active diarrhea.

Again, this is a gross oversimplification, so I encourage you to visit the GAPS website and buy the book.

Kristin and I have both eliminated grains and starches from our diets over the past few weeks.  Since we’ve been refraining from the carbohydrates, our GI systems have been very happy with us.  Although we had both felt like we were over the bulk of our health issues, we still were having issues with our digestive systems.  For example, I would get painful bloating every once in a while and I couldn’t figure out the trigger.  I even went to a GI doctor (actually she was a PA in a GI clinic)….which is funny, because we weren’t exactly on the same page.  I was hoping that she might have seen enough patients that she’d be able to tell me what healing diets have worked for people. Instead, she told me that healing diets weren’t validated, nor were probiotics.  What?  A GI specialist doesn’t believe in the validity of probiotics?  It was sort of like me trying to communicate with a native Spanish speaker.  We understood a little of what each other was saying, but we weren’t quite communicating.

Kristin and I will keep you posted on how well this diet works for us, but we recommend that you do some reading for yourself.  Remember that we are all responsible for healing ourselves, both physically and spiritually.  Doctors, Naturopaths, Nutritional Therapists, and this blog are just resources to help you on your path to healing yourself.

Good luck!

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One response to this post.

  1. Posted by Jesse Archer on February 8, 2011 at 11:20 am

    Thanks for the post! If you have eliminated grains and starches, what have you replaced them with? Would love to know what you’re eating to make you feel full/energized!

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