GAPS Diet: Critical Differences Between GAPS and BED, Two Gut-Healing Protocols
Gut and Psychology Syndrome Diet (GAPS):
Understanding the Gaps
3. On GAPS, one consumes a lot of cooked saturated fats.
Both the Intro and the Full GAPS diets have a very high intake of cooked saturated fats, including pork fat, beef fat, goose fat, duck fat, chicken fat, human fat (in breast milk), butter, and ghee.
A big proponent of fat, Campbell-McBride states that in her clinical practice, “people with digestive disorders absorb fats quite well” (p. 103). She goes on to immediately contradict this statement by saying: “However, there is a problem in a person with abnormal gut flora.” This is a confusing statement because anyone with a digestive disorder will also have abnormal gut flora. Speaking again from her own clinical experience, Campbell-McBride, from her own clinical experience has seen that “when starch and double sugars are taken out of the diet for a long enough period, the production of mucus normalizes and, as a result, the absorption of fats improves.”
Body Ecology’s position is that people with digestive disorders usually have a problem digesting saturated fats, especially when they are cooked. Indeed, how well a person digests fats depends on the health of their liver and gallbladder. Is their liver congested? Is their gallbladder releasing adequate amounts of bile to digest the fats? Are there enough pancreatic enzymes being produced to digest the fats in the small intestine? Bottom line, saturated animal fats are too heavy for people with over-worked or congested livers, especially in the amounts recommended by GAPS.
On the BE Diet, fats are eaten according to one’s ability to digest them, consistent with the Principle of Uniqueness, which says that each of us is quite unique and needs to eat the foods that work best in our body. Genetically, many people cannot metabolize saturated fats at all and should avoid them entirely. A recently developed nutritional genomics test in Australia, called SmartDNA, indicates that many people do poorly on saturated fats. Finally, recent research shows that saturated animal fat causes inflammation of the gut lining.
Fats and oils are easier to digest when eaten raw. For example, some people may be able to eat raw butter and ghee if they are raw and if they eat them in very small amounts. But bottom line, eating large amounts of heavy, saturated fats doesn’t work for anyone.
4. GAPS emphasizes heavy consumption of animal protein foods and the saturated fats that are in them.
GAPS says that “Homemade meat stocks, soups, stews and natural fat are not optional— they should be your patient’s staples.” (p. 144)
From the Body Ecology standpoint, this is a lot of acidic animal protein and fat to digest when one has problems in the gut, and it is too acid forming if one is battling a systemic yeast infection and their body needs alkalizing.
On the Intro GAPS diet, bone broths and soups are eaten frequently throughout the day until the gut is no longer showing signs of inflammation.
Broths are great for anyone with gut dysbiosis. In fact, the use of broth supplies the same nutrients one would obtain from eating the actual meat, but broth is much easier to digest. But when not properly digested, pathogenic bacteria use animal proteins and fats to produce toxins that further damage the gut lining. On the GAPS diet, the cooked saturated fat in the broth is not strained off. As mentioned above, someone with a gut disorder cannot efficiently break down cooked fat, so the undigested fats will feed pathogens.
On the Body Ecology Diet, we recommend that people with gut disorders follow the 7 Universal Principles, which can be especially helpful in improving digestion, building strength, and even managing your unique pace of healing. Here is how the principles work in relationship to meat protein:
On the BED, approximately 20% of your meal would be an animal protein, and alkaline vegetables from the land and ocean (raw, cooked, and fermented) would then make up the other 80% of your meal. The high fiber plant foods provide plenty of food for the beneficial bacteria in your gut. Click here for more information about the Principle of 80/20.
Body Ecology emphasizes that to heal we must first and foremost create more energy by using The Principle of Step by Step. There is a strong emphasis on nurturing your thyroid and your adrenals through both diet and lifestyle choices. But one very important reason for keeping acid-forming protein within reasonable limits and balancing it with larger amounts of alkaline-forming plant foods (The Principle of Acid/Alkaline and The Principle of Balance) is that most people today have overworked and burned out adrenals—a condition called adrenal insufficiency. Your adrenals do need some animal protein foods for energy, but not much. Eating too much or too little protein is not wise when your adrenals are in need of rejuvenating. The 80/20 Rule is just the right amount.
When the gut lining is permeable and irritated, Body Ecology also recommends eating animal broths or soups instead of eating the actual meat, fish, or other animal protein. However, on the BED those broths are carefully strained of cooked saturated fat. After the broth is made, it should be placed in the refrigerator where the fat will harden and rise to the top of the container; it can then be skimmed off the top of the broth. Cooked saturated fats are not eaten on the BED.
Body Ecology is flexible about eating animal protein. We feel that there are times when a vegan meal is more appropriate; for instance, with most cases of cancer, with an outbreak of a viral condition such as herpes or AIDS, and in the hot summer months. The BED also honors the fact that many people choose to be vegetarian (still eating eggs and dairy) or totally vegan (eating nothing from an animal).