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GAPS – Bridging Diet and Psychology GAPS – Bridging Diet and Psychology
by Francesca Orlando, Nutritional Therapy Practitioner If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with an ASD, bi-polar disorder, a learning disability, or... GAPS – Bridging Diet and Psychology

by Francesca Orlando, Nutritional Therapy Practitioner

If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with an ASD, bi-polar disorder, a learning disability, or an autoimmune condition, or if you suffer from digestive distress, please know that there is hope for you yet. Thousands of people have healed thanks to the GAPS protocol.

The GAPS protocol was created by Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride. Dr. Natasha, as her patients call her, is a world-renowned Russian neurologist and neurosurgeon, practicing in the UK. When her son was diagnosed with autism, Dr. Natasha decided to study intensively the condition, its causes and treatment option. It was during her quest to heal her son, that Dr. Campbell-McBride developed her theories on the relationship between nutrition and neurological disorders. This led to her completing a second Postgraduate Degree in Human Nutrition at Sheffield University, UK. After treating her son successfully with nutritional therapy, Dr. Natasha decided to specialize in a nutritional approach to autism, and she is now recognized as one of the world’s leading experts in treating people affected by learning disabilities, mental disorders, as well as digestive and immune disorders.

gut_psychologyHer book Gut And Psychology Syndrome. Natural Treatment Of Autism, ADHD, Dyslexia, Dyspraxia, Depression And Schizophrenia was published in 2004. In her first book, Dr. Natasha explores the connection between the body and the brain, specifically the connection between the state of the gut and the rest of the body.

As, Hippocrates, the father of medicine put it – “All disease begins in the gut.” The book explains how an unhealthy gut and imbalanced gut flora lead to autoimmune disease, mood disorders, learning disabilities, and a myriad of other health issues.

According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), “about 1 in 88 children has been identified with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD). About 1 in 6 children in the U.S. had a developmental disability in 2006-2008, ranging from mild disabilities such as speech and language impairments to serious developmental disabilities, such as intellectual disabilities, cerebral palsy, and autism.” The CDC also states that 4 out of 100 children have a food allergy, and children with food allergies are more prone to develop asthma and other allergic conditions. To this scenario, we add the hundreds of thousands of children suffering from delayed food sensitivities and intolerances.

Never in the history of mankind, have our children had such a precarious state of health. Each generation is weaker than the one before. As a species, we are producing weaker children.

We believe that the weak link resides in our gut, and mainly in our gut flora. The human body carries around 4 to 6 pounds of bacteria. We have more organisms living within us than we have cells in our body. It is a specialized, organized eco system, and unfortunately when the health of our gut flora is compromised, so is ours.

Dr. Natasha Campell-McBride

Dr. Natasha Campell-McBride

Our gut flora is the right arm of our immunity; it synthesizes vitamins; it aids digestion and elimination; it detoxifies the body. Our beneficial gut flora also keeps pathogenic microorganisms in check; it is keep the intestinal tract clean; it fuels the cells of the colon; and much more.

A newborn’s gut is sterile. As the baby passes through the birth canal, he swallows his first mouthful of flora. Whatever resides in mom’s vaginal tract, will colonize the baby’s gut. Dr. Natasha shows us how dysbiosis and candidiasis are passed on from generation to generation. She also shows how, with every generation, things get worse.

The main disruptors of gut flora are antibiotics, the pill and other medication, bottle-feeding, chlorinated water, stress, alcohol, pollutants, caffeine, diet. Also, unhealthy foods such as refined carbohydrates, sugar and other man-made concoctions ferment, feeding pathogenic microorganisms, leaving the healthy flora starved and unable to fight back.

This imbalance in gut flora also affects the enterocytes of the small intestine, making them weaker and weaker and causing the lining of the gut to become leaky. When we develop leaky gut undigested food particles are allowed through the gut lining into the bloodstream in inappropriate sizes. This further compromises the immune system and leaves the body malnourished.

gaps braingaps digestivePathogenic microorganisms also produce toxins that flow from the gut into the bloodstream and get shuttled around the body. These toxins can settle in the muscle (the person may develop different forms of arthritis), the skin (skin conditions like eczema and psoriasis may develop), and the brain. When toxins reach the brain they can cause seizures, autistic behavior, migraine headaches, mental and mood disorders, learning disabilities, etc.

The goal of the GAPS protocol is to reestablish the optimal gut ecology, heal and seal the gut lining, and gently detoxify the body. The protocol is composed of a diet, a supplemental regimen and a detoxification program.

The diet removes all processed foods; all foods that feed pathogenic microorganisms, as well as foods that cannot be broken down by damaged enterocytes. It is a nutrient dense, whole foods diet that provides the building blocks necessary to rebuild and repair the entire body from the cell up. It is based on healing foods like bone broths, fermented vegetables and dairy products, with plenty of vegetables, proteins and animal fats.

Everyone suffering from one a GAPS condition should take a therapeutic probiotic, and EPA and DHA from fish oil. The rest of supplemental regimen needs to be tailored on the individual taking into consideration biochemical make-up, condition and level of disfunction, nutritional deficiencies, digestive dysfunction, etc.

The detoxification part of program is targeted at reducing the toxic load. It does so on several front: elimination of toxins, support to the organs of detoxification, reduction of toxic exposure.

It takes time, planning and dedication to implement GAPS. The protocol is strict and it is labor intensive. But the results are short of amazing. As a Certified GAPS Practitioner I have seen so many clients heal and regain their life back. I have seen children and families blessed with a second chance. If you or a loved one is suffering from ASD, bi-polar disorder, a learning disability, or an autoimmune condition, please get a copy of Gut And Psychology Syndrome and visit

If you would like to schedule a GAPS consultation you can reach me at

Francesca Orlando is a Nutritional Therapy Practitioner in private practice in San Diego, CA. She is a certified GAPS practitioner and a Lead Instructor for the Nutritional Therapy Association Inc. Her expertise in traditional diets comes from a family background in biodynamic farming, wine making and the Slow Food movement. She is a follower of the works of Dr. Westin A. Price and Dr. Francis M. Pottenger, Jr. and believes that food is medicine and that through proper nutrition the deleterious effects of the standard American diet can be reversed. You can reach her with questions or comments at, or visit her Website,