Review: Gut and Psychology Syndrome

Gut and Psychology Syndrome Review Review: Gut and Psychology Syndrome

I’ve read the book “Gut and Psychology Syndrome” by Dr. Campbell-McBride several times, but recently re-read it and wanted to offer an in depth review.

You might have seen blogs or articles mentioning the GAPS/SCD diet, especially in reference to Autism, Allergies, A.D.D, etc. I first read this book several years ago, and while we weren’t struggling with any of those issues, we did add in some of the aspects of her recommendations to our diets.

Fast forward a few years and one of our children had been born premature and spent some time in the NICU. He later developed a dairy intolerance/allergy, that we suspect was a result of the steroids and antibiotics that he was given in his first days. At this point, I re-read the book and started to implement the protocol with him in hopes of reversing his dairy allergy and possible gut struggles from antibiotic use.

What is GAPS?

The protocol in Gut and Psychology Syndrome is basically an intensive nutritional program to heal the gut lining. It focuses on soothing and healing the gut lining with foods like bone broth and beneficial fats while boosting beneficial gut bacteria with probiotics and fermented foods.

Depending on the severity of the patient, one either begins with or works up to the Introduction Diet, which is the strictest part of the protocol, focused on intensive healing. There are then stages as the person begins to introduce other foods. The most difficult factor of the GAPS diet is that in order to be effective, especially in the beginning, one must be 100% compliant. This means a lot of preparing foods at home, as practically any foods prepared by someone not familiar with the protocol will have things that can aggravate the gut.

The website, GapsDiet.com, outlines some of the protocol, but the book is a much more comprehensive source of information.

On the GAPS diet, use of high quality probiotics and fermented cod liver oil are also encouraged to boost gut bacteria and nutrient levels. For many people suffering from these symptoms, part of the issue is that they are malnourished since the problems in the gut can lead to poor digestion and absorption.

Our Experience

In my experience, there are aspects of the GAPS diet that can be beneficial for everyone. Adding nutrient rich (and inexpensive) foods like bone broths and fermented foods is a good step for anyone.

For kids, boosting gut bacteria and immunity can help boost the immune system and keep them from getting sick as much. Having a good balance of gut bacteria is especially important for pregnant women, as babies inherit gut bacteria from their mothers at birth. (Note: The Intro part of the diet is not suggested during pregnancy, but the full GAPS diet is very nutrient rich during pregnancy). This is often why more than one child in a family can suffer from some of these same issues, as an underlying gut problem can be passed on to each child and then express itself due to lifestyle or nutrition factors later on.

Adding probiotics and fermented cod liver oil can be beneficial even if one isn’t on the GAPS diet, as these boost nutrient levels and can improve digestion.

In our own family, our son developed a dairy intolerance/allergy shortly after weaning. This caused him digestive disturbances, irritation, and eczema on his face. He has also always been my pickiest eater, so the transition to GAPS was not fun, but he adjusted and within a few weeks his skin had started clearing up, his digestion was better, and most surprisingly, his speech (which had been somewhat delayed due to him being premature) took off.

Since we have all been doing it together, I’ve noticed that my digestion is very regular and that I have a lot more energy, even while pregnant. While it is time intensive, our grocery bill hasn’t gone up much on GAPS, as it seems like we are just filling in the gaps (no pun intended) with bone broth and fermented foods, which are both inexpensive to make at home.

Who Should Do Gaps?

It is explained in depth in the book, but the author specifically focuses on people struggling with gut/brain issues like Autism, A.D.D., A.D.H.D., Dyspraxia, Depression/anxiety, Schizophrenia, and even allergies.

I often suggest Gut and Psychology Syndrome to parents who have children struggling with any of these issues, or even to parents whose children just have skin/allergy issues, as they almost always benefit from the protocol as well.

If you or someone in your family struggles with any of those issues, I’d definitely suggest reading Gut and Psychology Syndrome and seeing if you think it would be a good fit for your family.

 Have you ever heard of GAPS? Have you done the protocol? What were your results? Share below!

Reader Comments

  1. kristin says

    do you feel considerably better doing GAPS, even though it seems that you already ate a pretty similar paleo-type diet before doing GAPS? were the main difference for you adding bone broth/fermented foods and removing some of the starches like sweet potato that GAPS/SCD doesn’t allow? i do a pretty strict paleo diet and mostly everything i eat is also on the autoimmune protocol (although i cheat w/ nightshades sometimes), but i’m thinking of doing the GAPS intro this winter. i’m hoping it won’t be tooooo hard since i’m pretty used to eating this way already, although the strictness of no eating out will probably be the most difficult thing for me!

    • says

      I definitely do notice a difference with adding the broth/fermented foods, and I’ve been eating sweet potatoes and more fruit too since I am pregnant. If you have autoimmune issues you are working through or just want to boost gut health, the winter is a great time to go full GAPS since bone broth always seems more appealing when it is cooler (at least to me…)

      • change12 says

        thanks for your info on the book.. SO ? someone commented that sweet potatoes weren’t on the diet ?
        LOL.. I love them,, so will keep eating them either way .
        also,, is the regular cod liver oil you can purchase in any store the same as fermented ?
        many I know take it on a daily basis.
        I LOVE fermented foods , I mmo kraut everyyear , SO good. & SUPER easy .
        I also mmo yogurt.. yum
        pickles in vinegar are always good for you, also fairly easy to do.
        learning to can your own products is well worth the effert :-)
        lisa

        • jess says

          Fermented CLO is not the same as regular you get in the store. It’s way more potent and pure and has the natural form and ratio of fatty acids, A, and D. It’s great stuff. Check out Green Pastures. I think they have info on their website that details how their fermented product is different. I used to take the FCLO and then switched to the FCLO/butter oil blend and I noticed a difference in my energy. But every body is different so maybe that’s just me. I also find it easier to give to my kids

          • Bridget says

            I am just curious if you have used the normal cold pressed CLO before and see a noticeable difference with the FCLO?

      • Ornella Burns says

        This is a breath of fresh air to read up on your site. (good fats, bone broth, fresh fruit etc)

        Re: Gut health: do not believe that cod liver oil and fermented foods help that area. It is the opposite, sorry to say. Cod liver oil/fish oil in general is a major PUFA (which I think you guys know about) very inflammatory to your system and fermented foods and probiotics just forms lactic acid instead. You may feel good for the initial start but will go downhill from there. Or maybe because of the other good stuff, it helps get you by. Thoughts?

  2. Susan in Saskatchewan says

    We did the SCD a few years ago and I’m getting ready to return to it for my son’s sake. Do you know much about it and how do you feel it compares with GAPS?

    • says

      From my understanding, GAPS is roughly based on SCD but with a little more of a focus on the healing/regenerating aspects and boosting the gut bacteria. She mentions SCD quite a bit, but it might be worth reading this book and seeing how they compare to see if it would be beneficial for you guys.

  3. says

    I would love some insight on incorporating fermented cod liver oil into the diet. I can get my three-year-old to sip bone broth without much difficulty, but cod liver oil? I think I’d be wearing a few doses before I got any in his mouth!
    Also, has anyone had experience with introducing fermented foods to younger, picky eaters?

    • says

      Even my 15 month old loves homemade sauerkraut, so that hasn’t been too difficult, but if your kids struggle, just start slow and insist on one bite per meal until his taste adjusts (and it will). For the cod liver oil, I either mix with honey if it is liquid so that they don’t mind the taste, or get the emulsified cod liver oil gel and keep in the fridge. This makes it semi-solid so I can scoop out a little ball of it, dip in honey, and let them eat it that way, which makes it more bearable. It took a little adjusting for my older ones, but they really don’t seem to mind it now that taste buds have adjusted. Good luck!

    • jess says

      I give the fermented oil and butter oil blend – it seems to be a bit
      softer on the pallet. I started giving it with a bit of honey, then
      weaned off the honey and my kids really like it. For fermented foods I
      started with homemade kefir – milk and water kefir.

    • Jessica West says

      I make my 2 1/2 year old a coconut milk smoothie every morning, and I add 1/2 tsp of cod liver oil to it. He never seems to notice, or if he does, he doesn’t mind the taste when mixed with everything else!

  4. Casey says

    Great overview. This book has been on my list to read for a while and I just haven’t made it there yet. I’ve seen such an improvement in both my mental and physical health as I work toward repairing my good ol’ guts. :)

  5. says

    I got the GAPS book a month ago and we’ve been kinda dabbling in it. We’re not diving in to the whole program, but I’ve amped up our bone broths and have been fermenting foods for the first time. I’m so glad to see your review, Katie! Also, your readers might be interested in knowing that my friend has two autistic stepsons, and the progress they’ve made since implementing the GAPS diet at their house a couple of months ago has been astounding.

  6. Samantha says

    Is your son with the dairy intolerance the one who was born via C-section? I have to have c-sections with all my kids due to a physical deformity. I was wondering if you did anything to give your son the best gut flora possible despite not going through the vaginal canal? If not, would you do anything differently if you could have, or could you suggest anything to those who must give birth through c-sections, both for the baby and the mother (because the mother is given antibiotics during a surgical birth)? I know that probiotics are essential, but for how long and what dosage should you give the baby probiotics to give the baby his/her best start? Anything else? Both of my sons suffer from abnormal gut flora, and although all of us are doing the GAPS diet, I’m hoping to do things better next time. I’d be grateful for any advice you have.

    • says

      He was the one born via c-section and our premmie who was given tons of steroids and antibiotics. I wish I knew then what I know now! I would have started the probiotics on Day 1 (snuck them in to NICU even) and put in his mouth before each time nursing. I wasn’t taking a lot back then, but if I could do it over, I would have been on Gaps before, during and after and taking major doses of probiotics to build him back up. I really wonder if this would have prevented the issues we are having now in the first place. You could also request no antibiotics, which you do have the right to refuse, though your doctor would likely not be happy! If you get to hold the babies right away, or if your husband does, he could make sure the baby gets probiotics in the mouth right away to simulate the birth canal, and you could put probiotics on your nipple before each nursing, especially at first…

      • Samantha says

        Thanks for your ideas. I didn’t think about probiotics immediately after the birth. We just started GAPS in August, so I’ll probably have another baby sometime within the next two or two and a half years, during which I’ll still be doing GAPS, so it’ll be good timing.

  7. jess says

    thanks for the review! I read the book over the summer and have found it to be THE most comprehensive and clear outline of how the digestion works and gets damaged.

  8. Yam - London says

    Hi, I read the book few years ago and my husband went through the GAPS diet for a short period just to regulate his digestion. Although it was adding some extra work, I tried to make it fit in our family diet (WAPF) and if fitted naturally. The results were great and the recipes at the end of her book are easy and more than affordable. Dr Natasha Campbell often lectures at the WAPF conferences, she is a great speaker.

  9. Amber says

    Has anyone tried this for ADHD? My daughter has AHDH and I’m thinking of trying this diet for her. I’m really nervous about going through the holiday season on this diet and I’ll have to make sure her teacher is on the same page with me so she doesn’t get candy or cupcakes from school.

  10. Rose says

    Hello, I hope this comment doesn’t come too late to get responses. I am looking for ideas and suggestions.

    I also have a preemie, who was in the NICU and on steroids and antibiotics. They also gave him perinatal nutrition through the IV, and I’m still not sure what exactly that was, besides most likely being synthetic. Since he started dabbling in eating, our son has had various issues with malnutrition, and I’m so excited to think that a gut problem that is healable is likely behind it. Yay. I started reading the GAPS book and also realized that his poop fits into the description, as his tends to be fairly acidic, which gives him frequent sore bottoms.

    I am wondering a couple of things: 1. I can’t imagine putting one of the six in my family on the intro diet alone, but I can’t imagine being able to convince the rest (kids and especially husband) that this diet is worthwhile and that we should all do it. 2. I am still nursing the preemie, who is a young two year old, about 2-5 times per day. How worried should I be about die-off in my breastmilk?

    Thank you in advance.

    • says

      We had a preemie too with almost the exact same story, and it did wonders for him! It was definitely easier to have the whole family do it! I also did it while nursing, and just did the full GAPS instead of the intro to make sure there wouldn’t be too much die off and that my supply wouldn’t go down…

      • Rose says

        Did you do the full GAPS for you only or was the whole family on full GAPS? If all of them did the intro diet, how did you convince them to do it? Thanks again. I’ve found your site so wonderful and helpful.

          • Rose says

            You are right; our stories are very similar. My preemie was my fourth baby, and I too had placenta previa.

            I’ll have to decide whether I will be able to get him to eat a bit differently than the rest of us.

            Thanks again for your help, and thanks for this site!

  11. Katie says

    HI, I have a couple of questions about GAPs. I have read the book and am planning to implement it GAPS. I suffer from Hashimotos and many digestive problems. I have seen my kids show symptoms of digestive problems also. Is there any store bought yogurt that can be used or do you have to do homemade? If so what is the easiest strain of yogurt for a novice? I have gone gluten free and am feeling tons better but I know I need to heal my gut

  12. Susan in Saskatchewan says

    Hi there, I was wondering if you could update on how the GAPS diet is working for you? Curious to see how things are going with it now.

  13. evababedesigns says

    My daughter was in Nicu for 3 weeks on massive amounts of antibiotics. Her immune system was wiped out due to the antibiotics and she constantly got sick and had bad allergies/asthma. Her speech was delayed at 18 months old. She went through 2 sets of tubes. In desperation, at age 4.5 I decided to switch out her diet to avoid getting tube set #3. I had no idea that Gluten, Milk & Sugar all create extra mucous production. I eliminated and reduced as much of these items as possible and she passed her hearing test with 100% accuracy. The ear specialist was amazed that we no longer need tubes or needed to be a patient. Since then, I have added a daily dose of fish oil, probiotics, and vitamin D3 to my daughter’s diet. Guess what? She now rarely gets sick and when she does it’s for a shorter amount of time and she rebounds faster. I put myself on this diet too and my non-stop sinus infections have cleared up as well. I’m now the “healthy one” at work. It’s amazing that we are products of what we put into our bodies.

    • Layla says

      At 6 mos my son had his first ear infection. It would not go away for months. At 10 months, he still had fluid. We went to the ENT who insisted on tubes. I refused and took my son to our chiropractor. He showed us ways to manipulate his ear to encourage drainage. Two weeks later we went to the pediatrician’s office and his ears were perfect. I manipulate his ears a few times a week and we have no trouble. When he had an ear infection, I rubbed basil essential oil on the outside of his ear to get rid of the infection. It worked without antibiotics. My point is that a chiropractor might have helped alot to avoid tubes for future reference or children.

  14. Jana says

    Hi Katie,
    My son, now 2.3 years old has been born via C-section and also given antibiotics, then.. after 1 week of developing mastitis I had to be on 3 weeks antibiotics.. Eventually I had to stop breastfeeding – after 2 weeks o antibiotics, as I thought it was way to much drugs for my son… From there our problems started, he developed severe cows milk allergy, eczema and other food allergies: eggs, wheat, soy and all dairy. He is on very restricted diet, but still experiencing wind, bloating and persistent loose stools… I’m happy I have stumbled on your website and very keen to try GAPS diet, as nothing advised by multiple doctors has really worked… I have a question, for how long you need to keep to diet to see some benefits? is it a year or more?…thank you, Jana

      • Sarah Newman says

        A couple of months on the intro stage!!?? How did you get thru it? We are on day 5 and nearly dying!!! My 7 year old is grumpy all day and my 22 month old screams at the top of his lungs for hours on end!! They want something else besides broccoli, boiled meat and Brussels sprouts. Any suggestions??? Pls help!!!

        • Joe says

          The almond flour pancakes will replace the “feel” of food that they are missing. You can try dates too as you get farther into the intro diet. They will become your candy, as they are very sweet.

        • Joe says

          You can also make mashed potatoes from cauliflower.

          Stay with it! Before long you will wonder how you ever ate the way you used to.

  15. Kelly says

    Hey Katie! I’ve been seeing so much on the GAPS diet that I want to try it. My daughter has asthma and bad allergies. She is 5. My son is 2 and he was born via c-section and he has tooth decay on his upper teeth.
    I actually just bought the ingredients for your tooth powder recipe and order bass toothbrushes! :) we have them on cod liver oil. Anyways…

    You think the GAPS diet would work for these issues? I was told by a Chinese herbalist that upper tooth decay means stomach problems. Not sure how true that is but it makes sense to me. He craves sweets like no other so I KNOW this will be hard.
    But I’m determined! I just ordered bones, liver, and even hearts at my local coop! I pick up Tuesday! I also ordered water kefir grains :) yay! Thanks for all your info! I’m a huge fan :)

    • Joe says

      The probiotics, in combination with the diet, are amazing at fixing mouth issues. Try taking a small amount of the kefir before bedtime (and after brushing teeth). Unsweetened would be best, but if there is too much resistance you can add some honey. Try it yourself too and you will notice a reduction in your morning breath.

  16. J K Jain says

    Dear Madam,
    I shall be grateful for your advice. My son is facing with severe allergy for the last three years especially on the forehead and cheeks and nearby areas. Flakes come out often. Please suggest some diet plan which can help wipe it out Thanks

  17. Maddie says

    I saw a Naturopathic Doctor for help with prolonged, moderate to severe digestive issues and also anxiety and depression. I’m 23 now, have had all the above issues since around age 16. The ND wanted me on a diet immediately–she gave me the choice between SCD and GAPS–since I was a vegetarian at the time I chose SCD because it focused less on meat. I did have to eat some meat (begrudgingly) or I would starve.

    Admittedly, I only followed the SCD for 7 weeks before I stopped because I felt HORRIBLE. I developed terrible acne, my period got significantly heavier, my stomach felt WORSE– I just felt disgusting and wanted to die.

    Since that experience I’ve thought “there isn’t one diet that will solve the same issues for every person; everyone’s body is different” (and I had read “Eat Right 4 Your Type” by Peter D’Adamo, which reinforced that thought). I’ve also been kind of drawn to vegan diets, which often emphasize whole grains, which apparently are from the devil. However, I’m afraid I’m just nuts or screwing myself in the long-run by avoiding diets like SCD and GAPS. So I’ve just been eating french fries and cookies. :(

    Wellness Mama, can you offer any diet advice that would allow me to remain vegetarian? For me meat is completely filthy and disgusting and I can’t do it.

    Thanks for sharing your knowledge and passion with the world.

    • Susan Martin says

      Hi Maddie,
      I saw your comment and wanted to encourage you. I am a mother and have a 16 year old daughter who also struggles anxiety and depression (actually I am coming to realize that this runs in our family on both sides). Anyways, I just want you to know that the food you put (or don’t put) into your body really affects the way you feel. A diet of french fries and cookies is going to add to your anxious and depressed feelings (and probably your digestion issues, too).

      A book that might be helpful to you is The Anti-Anxiety Food Solution by Trudy Scott. It’s a short book (not as long at the GAPS book) which may make it an easier start for you. If you are still working with your ND perhaps this is a good place to begin so you don’t feel overwhelmed.

      My daughter also prefers to not eat meat, but unfortunately, for anxiety and depression animal protein seems to be important. But even on a vegetarian you need to get ample protein. Part of your desire to avoid meat may rest on having certain vitamin deficiencies like zinc and B6 or B12. Also if starting with fermented foods seems like too much right now then see if your health care provider can point you toward a really effective probiotic.

      Keep on seeking to care for yourself. Start with good food, real food. Good luck!

      • Maddie says

        Hi Susan.

        Thanks. I was exaggerating with the french fries and cookies, lol. I will check out that book you mentioned.

        Best Wishes

    • Liz says

      You should look into the Gerson Therapy. It is completely vegetarian. It is difficult but it might just cure you for good.

  18. Patrick says

    I’m just learning a little bit about the GAPS diet. I have the book on hold through the library and waiting to receive it. I’m wondering if it might help my youngest son. He is 17 months old and was born healthy via C-section.

    Over the course of 4 months at the time of his birthday, he was on 4 different antibiotics and was not given probiotics afterwards (I didn’t realize that he should have had them). Then he had eczema and bloody stools. A colonoscopy revealed that he has a type of rare allergic response called EoE. He’s allergic to dairy, eggs, chicken, beef, pork, and more. Is anyone familiar with EoE? Might this diet be beneficial to him? Thanks.

  19. Leanne says

    Hi. Loved reading your blog Wellness Mama. My son was born premmie too, given antibiotics twice as well as I had the steroid shots before he was born to help with his lungs. He was fine til weaning then I noticed constipation problems. My health clinic nurse said that was unusual but I listened to other mothers say, “oh, no, my xxx has had constipation, it’s normal”. I added stewed prune puree to his diet and if he went without it for two days constipation would hit, then at 18 months even with lots of drinking water and prune he started getting constipation. I took him to drs who put him on coloxyl and said if he still had constipation after a month then would have to do tests. He was constipated within four days so I took him to a local naturopath. She was amazing, Did zinc taste test and said he was deficient, did intolerance pin prick test and found lactose and wheat intolerance. Put him on supplements to help gut flora etc but he got worse. She said he needs extra help so I took him to an amazing Integrated GP. She did tests the drs won’t/cant do as Australian medicare won’t cover ($328 for a poo test!) and so far he has shown positive for Clostridium plus zinc deficiency and other deficiencies. He’s inherited some things from me, others from his entry into this world, but I’m starting him on the GAPS, all gradual and my test results are back and the dr needs to see me asap (darn it!!) so i’m really trying hard to prepare myself with my own total changes too. Sam is gluten, lactose, sugar-free so far but very fussy with food. I’m about to start doing the broth, have had to source grass-fed meat as very popular grain-fed locally. But I’ve loved reading your readers’ and your own comments. Wish me luck. Aussie Leanne

  20. Christine says

    Hello! I’m curious if the book mentions that the GAPS diet can help vertigo? I had a friend suggest that leaky gut/candida overgrowth could be the cause of my constant dizziness, for which the doctors can find no reason (other than an inner ear imbalance, but they don’t know why). Thank you!

  21. Melisa says

    Wellness mama, did the GAPS diet ever cure your son’s dairy intolerance/allergy, or does he still have that issue? What exactly were his symptoms when he was having a reaction? Why does GAPS take so long (years?) to work with an allergy/healing the gut? I haven’t read the book yet, but have been reading a lot about it online. Am not sure if we could afford to do it, or that my family would try it (esp if it is years long), but my 3 year old daughter has a dairy sensitivity, and she drinks goat’s milk/dairy currently.

    • says

      We were able to fix it. He had digestive, behavior and skin symptoms. It took us about 18 months. I’ll try to write a post on it soon, but the reason it took so long is that you essentially have to repopulate the gut bacteria correctly.

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