Therapeutic diets are powerful: always keep track of your reactions to inform your next steps.
Lunch Hour Lesson #40
Back in November of 2010, I started on the path that would lead to my current profession as a Nutritional Therapy Practitioner, or NTP.
As it is with so many people who become certified NTPs through the Nutritional Therapy Association, I came into this field through a desperate quest to resolve my own troubling health concerns.
For many years before that, I had suffered what I now know was reactive hypoglycemia, along with what I definitely knew then were recurrent yeast infections. The yeast infections eventually became so frequent that the only days I didn’t have the itching and burning was when I was on my period, and then they’d start all over again. No amount of Monistat or prescription medication helped.
One day my husband came home from the health food store with a gallon of raw milk, something we’d never had in our house but which he said he drank growing up and was excited to try again. I read the label on the back and it said that because of the active enzyme and probiotic content of the milk, it could help people “heal their gut”.
I had never heard the phrase “heal your gut”. Again, this was back in 2010, and the importance of digestive health was not as well-known as it is today.
So I Googled it, came across the GAPS diet by Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride, and all of a sudden became obsessed with learning more. It was a singular moment that immediately shifted me into a new way of thinking about my body and my health.
GAPS is an acronym that stands for Gut and Psychology Syndrome. Science now demonstrates that is that there is a connection between the brain and the small intestine, or gut, and the GAPS diet is a protocol to heal the gut to relieve what are generally thought to be psychological issues, like autism, A.D.H.D., depression, and schizophrenia.
Even though I was not experiencing any of these conditions, I started reading about how the GAPS diet was focused on eliminating various types of sugar. I knew that sugar is food for yeast, so I wondered if following the protocol could also reduce my yeast infections. But, I wasn’t clear how the sugar that I ate could affect an overgrowth of yeast “down there”.
Turns out everything is connected. Yeasts and bacteria migrate all through our digestive tracts, and our digestive tract has two ends. One is the mouth, and one is the genital area.
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If there is an imbalance in the digestive tract, and some yeasts that would normally be there in small quantities, like Candida albicans, get out of control and start overgrowing, they can end up in either of these two places. In the genital area for women we call it a vaginal yeast infection. In the mouth, it is often called oral thrush.
I learned that I needed to correct the imbalance in my digestive tract, and one way to do that would be to eliminate the certain types of sugar. And guess what? When I did the diet, it worked! I haven’t had another yeast infection since 2010. Hooray!
I will say, however, that I was very uninformed about the complexities of food and nutrition back then, and stayed on this diet for longer that necessary for my own situation. I ignored some negative reactions to certain foods on the allowed list, because the positive reaction of the yeast infections going away convinced me I should just “push through”.
I know now that a diet that is therapeutic should, after a short period of adjustment, only make a person feel better and better. Also, therapeutic diets are meant to be short-term, and then allow reintroduction of other foods.
For the psychological conditions that the protocol was originally written to support, Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride recommends to stay on the diet for up to two years to fully heal.
I took this to mean that I should also do it for two years, but after a year and a half, I was having more negative symptoms than positive ones and was eventually convinced to stop the protocol.
Later I learned that I have sensitivities to foods like onions, garlic, and fermented foods, which are included liberally in the GAPS diet, which is why I wasn’t feeling well. These foods are so healthy and healing for most people, but they aren’t for me, and I didn’t listen to my body telling me so.
If this is a subject that interests you, I would really recommend that you get a copy of the book Gut and Psychology Syndrome by Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride and learn more about it. Or, contact me and we can decide if it would be appropriate for you or your children.
Option 1: Google “heal your gut” and read three different articles on the subject.
Option 2: Go to http://www.gapsdiet.com/ and learn more about this healing dietary protocol. The FAQ section is extensive and particularly interesting.
Lunch Hour Lessons with Allison
Watch this week’s Facebook LIVE – Lunch Hour Lesson #40: My Experience With The GAPS Diet Each week I bring you a topic related to nutrition and health that I think is interesting, and give you a lesson to take with you into your daily life. Watch Live on Facebook, Wednesdays, 12:30pm PST!
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