Food as medicine

I share below my experience of the first several weeks on the GAPS diet. I have since lost some of the stunning improvement BUT NOT ALL OF IT. This diet helped me find a new level of moving towards wellness. The fact is that when one has been seriously ill for many years it takes time to get better and it often takes the help of many lifestyle changes and disciplines. I continue with a blend of this diet and The Body Ecology Diet and also make personal adjustments as necessary after much experimentation and study.  This is an ever evolving process of listening to my body and study. It’s no easy thing but it’s a labor of love. All our bodies need different things. Find what YOURS needs. 

Sept. 2013 — Another update: A mini-histamine intolerance round-up – GAPS is in general a very high histamine diet and it turns out I’m histamine intolerant (at least for now) I learned a lot following GAPS and it was time well spent at that juncture of my particular process, but I wouldn’t recommend it in any strong sense anymore to people with histamine issues. It’s a powerful healing modality for many folks, no doubt…it was certainly an important step in my journey…I had a very strong healing response to GAPS at first…but because of the underlying autonomic dysregulation I bounced back into hell after that…finding balance is so important…GAPS catapulted me into well being for a while, but then because it’s not moderate in the right ways I catapulted right back into bad health…this has been a wild ride…I keep learning and finding balance as I go: Everything Matters: a Memoir From Before, During and After Psychiatric Drugs

Food as medicine: the GAPS diet

I came to the GAPS diet this time around via the autoimmune disorder communities. Many of my issues are autoimmune in nature. Most of my extreme physical symptoms are quite common in any number of autoimmune diseases.

Interestingly enough the first time I encountered GAPS several years ago was in the context of researching caring for and supporting the health of autistic children. The books cover goes further and it’s author had seen improvements in children with all manner of psychiatric diagnosis. Indeed the title of the book is Gut and Psychology Syndrome.  It was modeled, however, on a diet that had been popular sixty years ago (and again now in some circles) that was explicitly used for serious digestive disorders such  Crohn’s Disease, Ulcerative Colitis, IBS and Celiac, The SCD diet, or The Specific Carbohydrate Diet™. The GAPS diet goes further and seems to often heal the gut more profoundly thus healing all manner of typical Western chronic disease.

Anyone who has been following my blog knows I’m a big fan of GUT HEALTH. I have a tab on articles I’ve written about such. I achieved much, what now seems perhaps, superficial improvement by using a probiotic. In fact 20 years of chronic diarrhea cleared up a couple of years ago when I started making changes to my diet as well. What I didn’t understand until now is that my health and gut were much more deeply impacted and I needed to do more to get to the foundation and heal my unhealthy gut.

The GAPS diet is the reasonable extension of all my research.

Just as when I was withdrawing I was involved in forums with 1000s of people withdrawing from drugs, I’m also finding a community of people who have had or are having their lives transformed with the GAPS diet. People’s longterm chronic illnesses turn around. In the adult communities it’s generally used by people with autoimmune illness more often than specifically mental health issues.

It’s premature for me to know exactly how this diet will continue to help me, but my preliminary results are so stunning I thought I’d share what is up so far just so that any of my readers who fit the GAPS profile might do further research to find if it might be helpful to them.

The most clear indicator (but not the only one) is that one have a history of gut/digestion problems. I’ve pointed out many times on this blog that folks with psych issues often have IBS. Irritable bowel syndrome is a digestive disorder that Western medicine, in general, is at a complete loss to treat let alone cure.

This diet essentially goes to the foundation of gut health and rebuilds the intestinal lining. It takes great discipline, a lot of time, and unfortunately it can also be expensive. I’m finding many ways to get the foods at more reasonable prices, but I’m afraid it’s likely to be prohibitive for many.

I’m not even off the introduction diet but after eliminating many many foods (most foods at this point — foods are slowly re-introduced over the course of the diet when and if they are tolerated and then after a couple of years most people can eat most real whole foods again, after the gut is healed). In any case once eliminating foods I was allergic to — within two weeks my severe and acute neuropathic pain abated. My parasthesia abated.

Most astonishingly my PTSD is gone! And so was the anger/hostility that generally arises around the time of ovulation. GONE.

At night when I am very tired a very minimal amount (compared to what I was used to prior to the food restrictions) of all the above shows up. In the morning I awake once again, in better shape able to do many things I couldn’t do just a little more than 2 weeks ago and not for a good 3 years before that.

During this time I’ve driven on the freeway again for the first time in 3 years. I’ve left the house daily (alone) for a string of 6 days and run complicated errands. (again for the first time in 3 years.) I’ve started a vegetable garden which I’m doing by myself as in a strange twist of events my husband has a very painful and serious bulging disk in his back. I, all of a sudden, am the functional one in the family and I’m successfully picking up the slack!

Again, as I said, it’s premature to know if this will continue but it’s rather impossible to not suspect that my dietary changes have made a radical and WONDERFUL difference in my life.

I am able to do normal things again. DAILY. I was lucky if I could get out of the house 2 or 3 times a month prior to this turn around.

I’m still very sick. I still don’t sleep well and I’m very weak. But heck, the improvement is so stunning and so EARLY in the course of treatment I just wanted to share in the event anyone else feels this would benefit them they might start researching it for themselves.

As a proponent of holistic health and well-being I believe food and diet is one part of supporting our whole system. Body/mind and spirit. Different people need more or less of different kinds of support. Most of us need a combination of things that attend to those three spheres of being human.

This particular diet seems to be working for me. I have never believed that any one thing is appropriate for everyone. I share this information in the event that it may be helpful to you, while understanding that perhaps your path to healing is something altogether different.

Okay…I’ll share more whenever…as my last post indicated, and as my muse moves me. I’m not going to be updating the blog on a daily basis.

More on diet for helping with chronic illness: Minding Your Mitochondria: heal chronic illness with diet

Updated note: In our society today whether people eat animal products or not is a hot issue. I would prefer not to eat meat but have found I must. I’ve also found that I’m intolerant of dairy and eggs, so that leaves only meat and fish. I have found others like me in my community with similar physical ailments who have found that animal products are essential. I’ve experimented heavily with purely vegetarian methods of nourishing myself without meat since I deeply value the lives of animals and have failed. This choice does not come without pain. I’m always happy for those who find they can thrive without animal products and I certainly don’t begrudge those who can. I hope someday to regain enough health that I might be able to once again carefully tweak most if not all of the meat out of my diet. I write explicitly about this issue because we are all different and people need to find what works for both their body and their spirit together. Sometimes the needs of the body and the needs of the spirit seem to conflict. Such is life. Never simple.

I take comfort in the fact that all of nature eats itself and I’m blessed with a consciousness that can recognize that I am part of this web of life, complicated and lovely as it is.

**I remain unable to correspond much and do not check my email regularly. When I put an end to regular correspondence with my readers a couple of years ago responding to emails was a full-time job – no exaggeration. I won’t ever put that kind of time into online work again. While I am indeed doing better, I have things to do and places to be! After being homebound and/or bed bound for so long I need to use my still limited energy to catch up in the “real” world. Also this diet involves massive amounts of preparation and cooking and given I’m still very weak I really actually have even less time to spend online. Cheers to all.

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