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Lisa Kelly

Curator Kids Health Australia

BA Marketing and Mother of Two

WELLBEING

GAPS: An Interview With Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride

By Lisa Kelly

Posted  June 16 2015 | 0 Shares

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The Gut and Psychology Syndrome or GAPS protocol was developed by Dr. Natasha Campbell-Mcbride in 2004. Dr. Campbell-McBride is a Neurologist, Nutritionist, Behavioural Therapist, and Biomedical Doctor, and one of the key scientists at the forefront of gut-brain axis research.

What is the principal behind Gut And Psychology SyndromeTM? What drew you to this research?

I am a mother. When my child was diagnosed with a severe form of autism at the age of three, I was thrown into a steep learning curve to find a solution to his problem. I am very fortunate to say that I found the right solution. As a result I am now the proud mother of a healthy and happy 19-year-old, who is leading a perfectly normal life; he drives a car, has a nice girlfriend, and is going to university. The fact that he once had autism now seems an unlikely fairy tale.

As a result of working with my own child and helping other families, Gut And Psychology Syndrome (aka GAPS) was born. My book with the same name is now in its second edition and GAPS Nutritional ProtocolTM has a large following around the world. This book focused on mental and psychological conditions, such as autism, ADHD/ADD, dyslexia, dyspraxia, addictions, eating disorders, depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia and epilepsy. Since the book was first published in 2004 thousands of people have been able to regain their health and the health of their children though the GAPS Nutritional Protocol. I am working on the second GAPS book: Gut And Physiology Syndrome, which will cover physical conditions, such as autoimmunity (multiple sclerosis, diabetes type one, rheumatoid arthritis and other), allergies, asthma, eczema, various forms of arthritis, chronic cystitis, chronic fatigue syndrome, ME, fibromyalgia and various other chronic degenerative conditions.

GAPS establishes a connection between the functioning of the gut and the functioning of the rest of the body. Our digestive system holds the roots of our health; if the gut is not healthy, nothing in the body can be healthy.When food does not get digested and absorbed properly, the person develops multiple nutritional deficiencies. The digestive system in GAPS patients, instead of being a source of nourishment for the body, becomes a major source of toxicity. Hundreds of very toxic substances are produced in the gut of these children and adults, absorbed into the blood stream and distributed around the body. Wherever these toxins get to they cause problems from abnormal brain function to various physical symptoms. The damaged gut wall in GAPS patients lets through various partially digested foods; the immune system finds these substances in the bloodstream and reacts to them; hence the person develops food allergies and intolerances. Autoimmunity is also born in the gut wall, bringing its own damage in the brain and the rest of the body. The whole concept is described in detail in my book and onwww.gaps.me

Are your beliefs/research accepted by the wider medical community? If not, why? Why do they find it hard to accept that what goes into the body can affect the mind and behaviour?

The tide is turning! I have just trained 160 Certified GAPS Practitioners in the USA amongst whom there are many medical doctors. As far as the larger medical community is concerned, the history of medicine shows that it takes on average 50 years to introduce and establish any new idea. It took hundreds of years to convince medical doctors to wash their hands before operating on patients! I am sure that establishing the GAPS concept will take much less time as we live in a world of abundant and freely available information. Today patients do not just accept the word of a doctor as a gospel; they go and research it online instead. Doctors have to move with the times, and many of them have already embraced the change.

Is there any bonafide research being done around this? Or is it still empirical? 

There is no research on GAPS yet. However, studies are now coming out to show a connection between the function of the gut (and the composition of the gut flora) and the function of the brain.

In your experience what are the main difficulties when treating a child who has some of the GAPS issues?

GAPS children are very often fussy with food, which makes it difficult to implement any diet. So in many cases we have to change the child’s eating habits first. There is a chapter in my book, called It’s Feeding Time. Oh, No!, where I describe an effective approach to introducing foods into a fussy eater’s menu. Following the structure in that chapter you can make any child start eating healthily. On my website there is a mother’s story which demonstrates the whole process very well. On top of that I am working on a new book, called GAPS Stories, where we will publish stories of recovery from people, written in their own words. Amongst the stories which have already been submitted, there are many about fussy eaters and how the parents managed to remove that issue.

Why are some people more sensitive to triggers, such as gluten and dairy, than others?

Because gluten and dairy are just a small part of the whole picture. The GFCF diet is inappropriate for these people! Their gut flora is abnormal, producing potent toxins; their gut lining is damaged and letting through not only improperly digested gluten and casein, but all other proteins and food substances. Yes, removing these two proteins out of the equation may help, but it is not enough, and in many children other undigested food substances are causing much more damage than gluten or casein. And what about all the toxins produced by pathogens in their abnormal gut flora? They are being absorbed through the damaged gut lining and causing brain dysfunction and many other symptoms. The treatment has to focus on healing and sealing the gut lining, on restoring the gut’s ability to digest food and absorb it properly, on driving out pathogens and establishing normal gut flora. This is what the GAPS Nutritional Protocol does.

What changes do you think need to occur in our society to help prevent the continued increase in kids with GAPS? What are the implications for our society if this is not addressed? 

Autism, ADHD/ADD, dyslexia, dyspraxia, bipolar disorder, ODD, depression and other learning, behavioural and social problems in our children have reached epidemic proportions. 15-20 years ago we were diagnosing 1 child in 10,000 autistic, now in some counties in the UK and in some states in America we are diagnosing 1 child in 60-70. If this is not an epidemic, than what is? This catastrophe is based on another epidemic – an epidemic in abnormal gut flora. Let me explain.

Before examining the child it is very important to look at the health history of the parents. Whenever the parents are mentioned people immediately think about genetics. However, apart from genetics there is something very important the parents, mother in particular, pass to their child at the time of birth: their unique gut micro-flora. After studying hundreds of cases of autism in children and adults, a typical health picture of these children’s mothers has emerged.

A typical modern mother was probably not breast fed when she was a baby because she was born in the years when breast-feeding was out of fashion. Breastfeeding is essential for the development of normal healthy gut flora; bottle-fed babies develop abnormal gut flora. Having acquired compromised gut flora from the start, a typical modern mum had quite a few courses of antibiotics in her childhood and youth. Antibiotics wipe out the beneficial strains of bacteria in the gut. At the age of 16 and sometimes even earlier the modern mum was put on a contraceptive pill, which she took for quite a few years before starting a family. Contraceptive pills have a devastating effect on the beneficial (good) bacteria in the gut. One of the major functions of the good bacteria in the gut flora is controlling thousands of species of pathogenic (bad) microbes. When the beneficial bacteria get destroyed the pathogens get a special opportunity to grow into large colonies and occupy large areas of the digestive tract. A modern diet of processed and fast foods provides perfect nourishment for these pathogens, and that is the typical diet a modern mum had as a child and a young adult.

As a result of all these factors a growing number of modern mums have seriously compromised gut flora, and that is what they are passing to their newborn babies. Indeed clinical signs of gut dysbiosis (abnormal gut flora) are present in almost 100% of mothers of children with autism and other neurological and psychiatric conditions. The problem is that this situation is getting worse with every generation of women who are having children now, which is reflected in the epidemic of childhood learning disabilities. The majority of these children are GAPS children, they are ill because of their abnormal gut flora. A baby with abnormal gut flora is very vulnerable to being damaged by vaccinations, infections, bottle-feeding, inappropriate weaning foods, chemicals and pollution in the environment.

The way our modern world functions ensures that the epidemic of learning disabilities will continue getting worse until humanity learns the lesson and starts making changes in the way we treat our planet and our bodies.

What have you learned in your work that amazes you about the mind-gut connection? 

The way children recover! The human body has an amazing ability to recover at any age, but children are particularly good at recovering their bodies. As soon as you start nourishing them properly and remove the environmental poisons and toxins coming from the gut flora, children recover quite quickly. In order to heal the brain we have to heal the gut! There is no doubt about it.

What is the best and the simplest way to explain GAPS to the average person? Do you have a good analogy?

The health of a tree is ensured by the health of its roots: if the roots are not healthy the tree is not going to thrive. The health of the roots relies on the health of the soil around those roots; it is the soil that provides nutrition and support and protection for the roots. The same happens in the human body; the roots of our health are in our gut, and the soil around those roots is our gut flora. If you look at the microscopic picture of the gut lining you will see a strong resemblance with the picture of the plant roots: the gut lining has long protrusions, called villi, which look very much like roots. Those villi are imbedded in their own soil – the gut flora, which feeds them, looks after them and protects them. In GAPS patients the ‘soil’ in their gut is sick and is unable to look after their ‘roots’, in fact it poisons the ‘roots’ and makes them sick and unable to function. A tree with sick roots cannot thrive and neither can the human body.

Does your dietary protocol help all everyone or just those with GAPS issues? 

As our gut flora has such a fundamental role to play in our health, it is hard to define what problems are not GAPS, at least partially. I find that GAPS Nutritional Protocol helps people with all sorts of conditions, from autism to allergies, from asthma to diabetes type one, from celiac disease to schizophrenia. Even in children with genetic conditions, such as Down Syndrome, their physical state improves so much that they become much easier to look after; they feel well and can function and learn much better.

Are all children with GAPS issues being helped by following your dietary protocol or does it only work for a percentage of children?

It works for all children. However, the degree of the improvement depends on many factors, the age of the child being one of the most important (the younger is the child the quicker they recover). It is impossible to predict how quickly the child is going to benefit, some children recover quickly, others take much longer. Children are all different.

If gut dysbiosis causes GAPS, then why do these imbalances manifest differently – in some cases autism, others ADHD?

Our gut flora is unique in every one of us. Depending on what kind of pathogens the person has in the gut, the mixture of toxins being absorbed into the bloodstream will be different. We are also all different genetically and constitutionally, so our reactions to those toxins will be different. That is why GAPS can manifest with a different set of symptoms in every person.

Is there one condition that seems to respond best to this dietary protocol?

No. It is not the condition that we are treating, but the person, and every person is different. People with seemingly devastating disorders, such as polyneuropathy or multiple sclerosis can recover quite quickly, while a person with mild hay fever may struggle to get rid of this condition for longer. The reasons for that can be very individual.

Article on www.mindd.org

Reviewed by Lisa Kelly 16 June 2015 references
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This document has been developed and peer reviewed by a KIDS HEALTH Advisory Board Representative and is based on expert opinion and the available published literature at the time of review. Information contained in this document is not intended to replace medical advice and any questions regarding a medical diagnosis or treatment should be directed to a medical practitioner.

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GAPS: An Interview With Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride

WELLBEING

By Lisa Kelly

The Gut and Psychology Syndrome or GAPS protocol was developed by Dr. Natasha Campbell-Mcbride in 2004. Dr. Campbell-McBride is a Neurologist, Nutritionist, Behavioural Therapist, and Biomedical Doctor, and one of the key scientists at the forefront of gut-brain axis research.

What is the principal behind Gut And Psychology SyndromeTM? What drew you to this research?

I am a mother. When my child was diagnosed with a severe form of autism at the age of three, I was thrown into a steep learning curve to find a solution to his problem. I am very fortunate to say that I found the right solution. As a result I am now the proud mother of a healthy and happy 19-year-old, who is leading a perfectly normal life; he drives a car, has a nice girlfriend, and is going to university. The fact that he once had autism now seems an unlikely fairy tale.

As a result of working with my own child and helping other families, Gut And Psychology Syndrome (aka GAPS) was born. My book with the same name is now in its second edition and GAPS Nutritional ProtocolTM has a large following around the world. This book focused on mental and psychological conditions, such as autism, ADHD/ADD, dyslexia, dyspraxia, addictions, eating disorders, depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia and epilepsy. Since the book was first published in 2004 thousands of people have been able to regain their health and the health of their children though the GAPS Nutritional Protocol. I am working on the second GAPS book: Gut And Physiology Syndrome, which will cover physical conditions, such as autoimmunity (multiple sclerosis, diabetes type one, rheumatoid arthritis and other), allergies, asthma, eczema, various forms of arthritis, chronic cystitis, chronic fatigue syndrome, ME, fibromyalgia and various other chronic degenerative conditions.

GAPS establishes a connection between the functioning of the gut and the functioning of the rest of the body. Our digestive system holds the roots of our health; if the gut is not healthy, nothing in the body can be healthy.When food does not get digested and absorbed properly, the person develops multiple nutritional deficiencies. The digestive system in GAPS patients, instead of being a source of nourishment for the body, becomes a major source of toxicity. Hundreds of very toxic substances are produced in the gut of these children and adults, absorbed into the blood stream and distributed around the body. Wherever these toxins get to they cause problems from abnormal brain function to various physical symptoms. The damaged gut wall in GAPS patients lets through various partially digested foods; the immune system finds these substances in the bloodstream and reacts to them; hence the person develops food allergies and intolerances. Autoimmunity is also born in the gut wall, bringing its own damage in the brain and the rest of the body. The whole concept is described in detail in my book and onwww.gaps.me

Are your beliefs/research accepted by the wider medical community? If not, why? Why do they find it hard to accept that what goes into the body can affect the mind and behaviour?

The tide is turning! I have just trained 160 Certified GAPS Practitioners in the USA amongst whom there are many medical doctors. As far as the larger medical community is concerned, the history of medicine shows that it takes on average 50 years to introduce and establish any new idea. It took hundreds of years to convince medical doctors to wash their hands before operating on patients! I am sure that establishing the GAPS concept will take much less time as we live in a world of abundant and freely available information. Today patients do not just accept the word of a doctor as a gospel; they go and research it online instead. Doctors have to move with the times, and many of them have already embraced the change.

Is there any bonafide research being done around this? Or is it still empirical? 

There is no research on GAPS yet. However, studies are now coming out to show a connection between the function of the gut (and the composition of the gut flora) and the function of the brain.

In your experience what are the main difficulties when treating a child who has some of the GAPS issues?

GAPS children are very often fussy with food, which makes it difficult to implement any diet. So in many cases we have to change the child’s eating habits first. There is a chapter in my book, called It’s Feeding Time. Oh, No!, where I describe an effective approach to introducing foods into a fussy eater’s menu. Following the structure in that chapter you can make any child start eating healthily. On my website there is a mother’s story which demonstrates the whole process very well. On top of that I am working on a new book, called GAPS Stories, where we will publish stories of recovery from people, written in their own words. Amongst the stories which have already been submitted, there are many about fussy eaters and how the parents managed to remove that issue.

Why are some people more sensitive to triggers, such as gluten and dairy, than others?

Because gluten and dairy are just a small part of the whole picture. The GFCF diet is inappropriate for these people! Their gut flora is abnormal, producing potent toxins; their gut lining is damaged and letting through not only improperly digested gluten and casein, but all other proteins and food substances. Yes, removing these two proteins out of the equation may help, but it is not enough, and in many children other undigested food substances are causing much more damage than gluten or casein. And what about all the toxins produced by pathogens in their abnormal gut flora? They are being absorbed through the damaged gut lining and causing brain dysfunction and many other symptoms. The treatment has to focus on healing and sealing the gut lining, on restoring the gut’s ability to digest food and absorb it properly, on driving out pathogens and establishing normal gut flora. This is what the GAPS Nutritional Protocol does.

What changes do you think need to occur in our society to help prevent the continued increase in kids with GAPS? What are the implications for our society if this is not addressed? 

Autism, ADHD/ADD, dyslexia, dyspraxia, bipolar disorder, ODD, depression and other learning, behavioural and social problems in our children have reached epidemic proportions. 15-20 years ago we were diagnosing 1 child in 10,000 autistic, now in some counties in the UK and in some states in America we are diagnosing 1 child in 60-70. If this is not an epidemic, than what is? This catastrophe is based on another epidemic – an epidemic in abnormal gut flora. Let me explain.

Before examining the child it is very important to look at the health history of the parents. Whenever the parents are mentioned people immediately think about genetics. However, apart from genetics there is something very important the parents, mother in particular, pass to their child at the time of birth: their unique gut micro-flora. After studying hundreds of cases of autism in children and adults, a typical health picture of these children’s mothers has emerged.

A typical modern mother was probably not breast fed when she was a baby because she was born in the years when breast-feeding was out of fashion. Breastfeeding is essential for the development of normal healthy gut flora; bottle-fed babies develop abnormal gut flora. Having acquired compromised gut flora from the start, a typical modern mum had quite a few courses of antibiotics in her childhood and youth. Antibiotics wipe out the beneficial strains of bacteria in the gut. At the age of 16 and sometimes even earlier the modern mum was put on a contraceptive pill, which she took for quite a few years before starting a family. Contraceptive pills have a devastating effect on the beneficial (good) bacteria in the gut. One of the major functions of the good bacteria in the gut flora is controlling thousands of species of pathogenic (bad) microbes. When the beneficial bacteria get destroyed the pathogens get a special opportunity to grow into large colonies and occupy large areas of the digestive tract. A modern diet of processed and fast foods provides perfect nourishment for these pathogens, and that is the typical diet a modern mum had as a child and a young adult.

As a result of all these factors a growing number of modern mums have seriously compromised gut flora, and that is what they are passing to their newborn babies. Indeed clinical signs of gut dysbiosis (abnormal gut flora) are present in almost 100% of mothers of children with autism and other neurological and psychiatric conditions. The problem is that this situation is getting worse with every generation of women who are having children now, which is reflected in the epidemic of childhood learning disabilities. The majority of these children are GAPS children, they are ill because of their abnormal gut flora. A baby with abnormal gut flora is very vulnerable to being damaged by vaccinations, infections, bottle-feeding, inappropriate weaning foods, chemicals and pollution in the environment.

The way our modern world functions ensures that the epidemic of learning disabilities will continue getting worse until humanity learns the lesson and starts making changes in the way we treat our planet and our bodies.

What have you learned in your work that amazes you about the mind-gut connection? 

The way children recover! The human body has an amazing ability to recover at any age, but children are particularly good at recovering their bodies. As soon as you start nourishing them properly and remove the environmental poisons and toxins coming from the gut flora, children recover quite quickly. In order to heal the brain we have to heal the gut! There is no doubt about it.

What is the best and the simplest way to explain GAPS to the average person? Do you have a good analogy?

The health of a tree is ensured by the health of its roots: if the roots are not healthy the tree is not going to thrive. The health of the roots relies on the health of the soil around those roots; it is the soil that provides nutrition and support and protection for the roots. The same happens in the human body; the roots of our health are in our gut, and the soil around those roots is our gut flora. If you look at the microscopic picture of the gut lining you will see a strong resemblance with the picture of the plant roots: the gut lining has long protrusions, called villi, which look very much like roots. Those villi are imbedded in their own soil – the gut flora, which feeds them, looks after them and protects them. In GAPS patients the ‘soil’ in their gut is sick and is unable to look after their ‘roots’, in fact it poisons the ‘roots’ and makes them sick and unable to function. A tree with sick roots cannot thrive and neither can the human body.

Does your dietary protocol help all everyone or just those with GAPS issues? 

As our gut flora has such a fundamental role to play in our health, it is hard to define what problems are not GAPS, at least partially. I find that GAPS Nutritional Protocol helps people with all sorts of conditions, from autism to allergies, from asthma to diabetes type one, from celiac disease to schizophrenia. Even in children with genetic conditions, such as Down Syndrome, their physical state improves so much that they become much easier to look after; they feel well and can function and learn much better.

Are all children with GAPS issues being helped by following your dietary protocol or does it only work for a percentage of children?

It works for all children. However, the degree of the improvement depends on many factors, the age of the child being one of the most important (the younger is the child the quicker they recover). It is impossible to predict how quickly the child is going to benefit, some children recover quickly, others take much longer. Children are all different.

If gut dysbiosis causes GAPS, then why do these imbalances manifest differently – in some cases autism, others ADHD?

Our gut flora is unique in every one of us. Depending on what kind of pathogens the person has in the gut, the mixture of toxins being absorbed into the bloodstream will be different. We are also all different genetically and constitutionally, so our reactions to those toxins will be different. That is why GAPS can manifest with a different set of symptoms in every person.

Is there one condition that seems to respond best to this dietary protocol?

No. It is not the condition that we are treating, but the person, and every person is different. People with seemingly devastating disorders, such as polyneuropathy or multiple sclerosis can recover quite quickly, while a person with mild hay fever may struggle to get rid of this condition for longer. The reasons for that can be very individual.

Article on www.mindd.org

Reviewed by Lisa Kelly 16 June 2015
references
  • current version

  • PEER REVIEWER

  • Doc id

  • next review

This document has been developed and peer reviewed by a KIDS HEALTH Advisory Board Representative and is based on expert opinion and the available published literature at the time of review. Information contained in this document is not intended to replace medical advice and any questions regarding a medical diagnosis or treatment should be directed to a medical practitioner.

make a comment

0 comments

more articles by Lisa Kelly

view more

latest articles

view more

MEET THE EXPERTS

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