I arrived back from Puerto Rico late last Wednesday and was grateful that a friend had put some chicken carcasses in a Crock-Pot for me earlier that day; for I had to be at work the next morning at 7a.m. I was determined to begin the GAPS Diet ; I knew that bone broth was exactly what my intestines needed to calm the inflammation down!! For those of you who don’t know, I was a vegetarian for nearly 14 years! I must say it was about 2 years ago, when I started studying the GAPS Diet, that I became convinced that a vegetarian diet was not the best thing for me (still trying to convince my daughters to become omnivores….). If you have never heard of the GAPS diet, let me tell you about it briefly…
GAPS stands for Gut and Psychology/Physiology Syndrome. It is acronym coined by Natasha Campbell-McBride who based GAPS on the Specific Carbohydrate Diet with her own special additions to the protocol. Natasha had a son who was autistic and through lots of research, developed this protocol that ultimately cured her son (and thousands of others) from autism (amongst other diseases and ailments). She realized that many diseases begin in the gut (as did Hippocrates over 2000 years ago..).
The condensed version is that we all have bacteria in our intestines. Actually, we have about 4 pounds of bacteria. There is pathogenic or bad bacteria and there is also beneficial or good bacteria. Certain foods that we eat, medications that we take, and stress in our life can lead to an overgrowth of the pathogenic bacteria and the decrease of good bacteria, known as dysbiosis (imbalance of good and bad bacteria). The role of beneficial bacteria in our body is to control the populations of the bad bacteria as well as to provide nutrients for our intestinal cells. When the numbers of good bacteria are compromised, the bad bacteria have a chance to overgrow and start taking over. Pathogenic bacteria secrete toxins which compromise the integrity of intestinal cells. The intestinal cells produce digestive enzymes which are responsible for the last stage of digestion before absorption. If the intestinal cells are not healthy, they cannot produce the enzymes needed for this final step. The toxins produced by the bad bacteria also cause the intestinal wall to become permeable. This combination of events leads to undigested proteins leaking out of the intestinal wall into the bloodstream. This is also referred to as “leaky gut syndrome”. Our bodies do not recognize these proteins when they leak out into the bloodstream. They only recognize individual amino acids, which is what is absorbed after proper digestion. Our body’s response to these foreign invaders are to produce and excrete antibodies to destroy them. However, these undigested proteins may resemble protein structures in our body. The antibodies are not able to distinguish the difference between the “invader” proteins and proteins that exist in our body. Examples of these proteins could be the protein lining the surface of our knees or other joints causing arthritis, our thyroid gland causing hypothyroidism, or the epithelial lining of our skin causing eczema or other skin conditions. This can also lead to other autoimmune disease is such as Type-1 Diabetes, food or seasonal allergies, asthma, rheumatoid arthritis and more.
A week after I returned from vacation, I got news that my intestinal distress was caused by the infamous, antibiotic resistant bacteria, Clostridium Difficile, otherwise known as C. Diff.
Next entry to discuss the hows and whys of the GAPS diet.