Gut and Psychology Syndrome Diet (GAPS): Understanding the Gaps

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Gut and Psychology Syndrome Diet (GAPS): Understanding the Gaps

11. The GAPS diet and the BED diet have a different understanding of dairy.

The GAPS approach to dairy is a little confusing. Campbell-McBride acknowledges that milk contains substances that are troublesome, including casein – one of the two proteins in milk that many people must avoid. They are especially problematic for anyone with a gut and psychology syndrome disorder. However, on the Intro Diet one can consume certain dairy foods after 6–12 weeks. On the Full Diet you can eat those dairy foods right away.

Fermented dairy, such as yogurt, is allowed. It’s the lactose, the main sugar in milk, that GAPS identifies as the source of the problem with certain dairy foods. As she states, “Lactose can be found in fluid or dried milk of any type, commercially produced yogurt, buttermilk and sour cream, and any processed foods with added lactose. These dairy foods are strictly avoided on the GAPS diet.”

From her clinical experience, Campbell-McBride believes that fermentation is the key that allows those with a gut and psychology syndrome to have dairy, even if it contains casein. Fermenting it makes the milk product more digestible, as she states: “All this information {mentioned above} is correct if you do not take into account a wonderful, natural process called fermentation.” She advises that as long as the milk product is fermented at home and fermented long enough so that the lactose is gone, then milk products are good for those on the GAPS Introduction Diet. Fermented yogurt, kefir, sour cream, and cheese can be introduced gradually in what amounts to a “trial and error” method. “Dosages” of milk products are increased incrementally—a hard-to-follow program that most likely results in confusion and frustration.

Body Ecology’s approach to dairy is very simple: If you have gut dysbiosis, don’t eat it.

When the gut is inflamed and wounded, it is also permeable or “leaky.” Dairy protein will then leak through the gut barrier and is seen by the immune system as a foreign protein and thus an enemy, creating an autoimmune response and systemic inflammation. Anyone with diarrhea is not a good candidate for dairy foods. Any type of milk, cream, sour cream, yogurt, kefir, cheese, ice cream, buttermilk, etc. would be avoided in stage one of the BED.

Milk also contains sugars that are a food source for the pathogens in the gut and should only be consumed after the gut has healed and one has a hardy inner ecosystem in their intestinal tract.

Some people will never do well on dairy foods as they are mucous forming. They can also be very dehydrating, causing constipation, unless plenty of water is consumed.

Following the Principle of Step by Step, if one does well on dairy foods, it can be introduced gradually—step by step. Since young coconut kefir (YCK) is an important food on stage one of the BED, and it is made from a kefir starter containing beneficial bacteria and yeast that are grown on dairy, drinking YCK will provide dairy-loving bacteria and yeast to the gut, helping you further digest the already pre-digested fermented milk kefir.

In other words, fermented milk products, especially kefir and whey protein concentrate, can often be eaten once the inner ecosystem is well established in the gut. But the Principle of Uniqueness applies here as well. One only eats it if it is a truly strengthening food for their unique body. Because they contain almost no casein, butter and ghee can often be eaten (preferable raw and in smaller amounts) right away on the BE Diet program. BE also recommends kefir over yogurt, simply because homemade yogurt requires heating the milk to a very high temperature, which kills off some of the good bacteria. Kefir, made with raw milk, is only heated to 90 degrees, thus keeping much more of the beneficial bacteria and yeast alive.

The GAPS diet asserts that people who don't respond well to dairy foods are simply having a stronger Herxheimer reaction (pathogenic bacteria die-off). But we at Body Ecology think otherwise. Most people are eating milk from cows that produce A1 casein, which is very hard to digest. A2 milk is the better choice; A2 protein is found in human milk, as well as the milk from other animals, including goats, sheep, and camels. The Guernsey breed of cow is believed to produce mostly A2 casein, but this breed is less common in the US, Canada, England, New Zealand, or Australia.

Another reason dairy foods may not be best for many people is because dairy is high in an unsaturated, omega 6 fatty acid called arachidonic acid (AA). AA is also found in other animal foods, especially in their fat. While smaller amounts are used in the production of hormones and the body’s immune system, too much of this fatty acid can eventually lead to an elevation of cholesterol.

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