Guest Post: A GAPS introduction with Certified GAPS Practitioner, Melanie Christner

by lydia on May 10, 2013

Today, I’m bringing a guest post to you from my good friend Melanie Christner. Melanie and I attended the Nutritional Therapy training program at the same time, and met during our 3 weekend workshops. We hit it off well and continue to keep in touch as well as work together in many ways. I asked Melanie to contribute to my ‘Heal Your Gut’ course material and she obliged. This post is an abbreviated version of a talk she did with me for the course. I hope you enjoy it!

Beef Stock - Beef Broth

Hello, my name is Melanie Christener and I am a Nutritional Therapy Practitioner as well as a GAPS Practitioner. Before I go into the details of the GAPS concept I first want to say that I became a GAPS Practitioner because of what I saw the protocol do for my own family and what it has done for so many, many others both in the US and around the world. I am passionate about GAPS because of what it has done to restore vibrant healthy childhoods to those who could be described as barely living. Here is a short list of symptoms that the GAPS protocol can address:

Autism, ADD/ADHD, Celiac, Diabetes, Depression, Colitis, Crohn’s Disease, Learning Disabilities, Diverticulitis, Cystic Fibrosis, Anxiety, Chronic Diarrhea, Constipation, Rheumatoid Arthritis, Schizophrenia, Eczema, Nightwakings, Asthma, Gas, Bloating, Colic, Feeding Difficulties, Reflux, Food Intolerances, Heartburn, Psoriasis, Dyspraxia, Hyperactivity, Malnutrition, Tummy Pains, OCD, Non-Anaphylactic Allergies, Hormone Imbalances, Migraines, other Autoimmune Conditions not listed, and more…

I think everyone can look back and see pivotal moments that changed their life course. Getting sick after my 4th child and then hearing Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride speak about the Gut and Psychology Syndrome was one of those course corrections for me. I will be forever grateful for her work on gut healing.

I first heard Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride speak about GAPS in 2007, when I was nursing my fourth child. I was hungry for information that could help me clean up the mess in my body caused by conventional food and medicine. I had become interested in the Weston Price Foundation and Nourishing Traditions and heard of one of their regional conferences coming to my state. So I grabbed a fellow health conscious friend and took the weekend to attend, nursing babe in tow. Hearing Dr. Natasha changed how I understood the connection between food and our bodies. And it made sense to me that given the proper tools, the body had an innate ability to heal itself.

Four years later, with home, business, and most possessions sold, our family was traveling the country in an Airstream travel trailer. It was then that we went on what is called the GAPS Introduction Diet and experienced for ourselves the deep-healing-nourishment of food.

There are six in our family so I won’t go too deeply into everyone’s issues, but here is a short list of things that were resolved:

  • Headaches (regular, frequent)
  • Migraines (I always had migraines, even as a child. My boys also had throwing up migraines)
  • Adult acne (Like embarrassed to go out in public acne)
  • Painful and irregular menstruation
  • Digestive issues (Bloating, gassy, belchy, constipation, etc)
  • Very picky eating
  • Skinny kids filled out and became stronger/more muscular (Our oldest boy said his younger brother was so much stronger!)
  • Sore/sensitive teeth
  • Mouth sores (Canker sores, sore gums)
  • Anxiety
  • Candida symptoms
  • Itchy skin/Eczema
  • Minor aches and pains, joint discomfort (aches we didn’t know were there until they were gone.

So what is the GAPS concept?

GAPS is an abbreviation for Gut And Psychology Syndrome as well as Gut And Physiology Syndrome. This concept was created by Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride in 2004. It comes out of her own despair, finding no help from the medical community for her small son who was diagnosed with autism. Through this protocol she was able to heal her son and thousands of others have been helped.

Dr. Natasha is a neurologist who also has a masters in nutrition. She practices in Cambridge, UK.

The GAPS Protocol has three elements:

1. GAPS Diet

2. Supplementation

3. Detoxification

GAPS Syndrome establishes a connection between the state of the gut and the health of the rest of the body. I like to say that your body is connected to the natural world through food. Disease begins with the miscommunication between the body and food. The GAPS protocol is the best I’ve found to heal the lines of communication.

Recent research has established that about 90% of all genetic material and all cells in the human body is our gut flora. So, we are just 10%, a shell providing a habitat for this mass of microbes. A healthy adult carries around 3 – 4 lbs. of bacteria in the gut. These bacteria are highly organized into a micro-world, with certain species predominating and controlling others. Their role in our human physiology is monumental and we ignore them at our peril. We cannot live without these tiny microorganisms, and just like soil, the more diverse the species the more healthy we are. In a healthy person with a healthy gut flora, this mass of microbes is dominated by the beneficial, or “probiotic” species, which are involved in many functions in the body.

Unhealthy gut flora produces hundreds of very toxic substances, which absorb through the damaged gut wall into the blood and get distributed around the body. When they get into the brain, they impair the brain function and cause mental symptoms: from inability to learn, poor memory, mood problems, behavioral problems to anxiety, panic attacks and psychosis. Getting into other organs in the body, these toxins cause other problems: arthritis, skin problems, asthma, allergies and autoimmunity.

Autoimmunity is born in the gut! When undigested foods and toxins get into the blood stream the immune system reacts to them. There are several mechanisms of how autoimmunity develops. Here we will just say that autoimmune attack on the body adds more damage on top of what the toxins and microbes are doing.

A Typical Child GAPS Scenario:

  • Mother with gut dysbiosis
  • The baby does not develop normal gut flora
  • Immune System Compromised
  • Ear Infections & Chest Infections, antibiotics
  • Further damage to gut flora and immune system
  • Vaccinations
  • Usual weaning diet
  • Gut dysbiosis leads to damaged gut wall
  • Toxins, microbes, undigested foods enter the body
  • Toxins entering the brain cause Gut And Psychology Syndrome
  • Toxins entering other organs cause Gut And Physiology Syndrome

(Please read the chapter The Families in the book, pp. 59 – 65. GAPS children acquire abnormal gut flora from their mothers and fathers right from birth.)

Babies are born with an immature immune system. Establishment of normal gut flora in the first 20 or so days of life plays a crucial role in appropriate maturing of the baby’s immunity. As these children acquire abnormal gut flora they are left immune-compromised. As a result they get one infection after another, antibiotics are prescribed; every course of antibiotics damages the gut flora even further and has a direct damaging effect on the immune system of the baby.

Vaccinations: please read the relevant chapter on pp. 67 – 70: GAPS babies are not fit to be vaccinated with the current vaccination protocol. Considering the fact that the proportion of babies being born with GAPS is growing, it is essential to review our current vaccination protocol. In the chapter on vaccination Dr Campbell-McBride outlined a new strategy, please read it. The change in vaccinations will come from grass roots efforts and not from the top.

As a result of all the factors discussed, the baby finishes up with a very abnormal gut flora and a compromised immunity. The usual weaning diet based on grains and processed milk feeds the pathogens in the gut, making the whole situation worse, leading to toxicity coming from the gut to the brain and other organs in the body.

Entering the brain the toxicity coming from the gut causes brain dysfunction in the child. GAPS children are born with normal brains, normal ears, normal eyes and other sensory organs. Children use their sensory organs to collect information from the environment and then pass it to the brain to be processed. That is how children learn to communicate, to behave appropriately and fit into this world. In GAPS children their brains are clogged with toxicity and are unable to process the information coming from the sensory organs: this information turns into a noise, from which the child cannot learn. Depending on the mixture of toxicity and severity of the whole problem a child may become autistic, hyperactive, dyslexic, dyspraxic or develop another mixture of symptoms.

Entering other organs toxins cause physical problems in the child: eczema, asthma, chronic cystitis with bed wetting , arthritis, diabetes type one, celiac disease and other problems.

A Typical GAPS Scenario: Adult

  • Usually was a GAPS child
  • Antibiotics or other influences damage the gut flora
  • Abnormal digestion and absorption of food lead to multiple nutritional deficiencies
  • Gut dysbiosis leads to damaged gut wall
  • Toxins, microbes, undigested foods enter the body
  • Food allergies and intolerances
  • Immune system gets compromised
  • Autoimmunity joins in
  • Toxins entering the brain cause Gut And Psychology Syndrome
  • Toxins entering other organs cause Gut And Physiology Syndrome

Majority of GAPS adults were GAPS children: they often acquire abnormal gut flora from their parents at birth, which then gets damaged further by repeated courses of antibiotics, modern food and life style, and other environmental influences. Just like with children the gut lining in these people deteriorates, causing food allergies and intolerances, maldigestion and malabsorption of food with multiple nutritional deficiencies and a flood of toxins into the blood stream. Immune system reacts to these toxins and foods adding more damage. These adults then go on to develop psychiatric problems and physical problems. This is the short list of typical GAPS conditions in the adults: allergies, asthma, eczema, arthritis, cystitis, PMS, various female problems, rheumatoid arthritis, MS, lupus, degenerative neurological disorders, ME, CFS, fibromyalgia, thyroid problems, adrenal problems, depression, mood swings, memory loss, anxiety, panic attacks, eating disorders, addictive behavior, epilepsy and schizophrenia.

For Books, first and foremost, I recommend:

The Gut And Psychology Syndrome book (This is required reading for my clients, you can buy through shop.gapsdiet.com or on Amazon).

For the Do-It-Yourself-er:

The GAPS Guide Book – by Baden Lashkov

The GapsGuide.com blog also has many resources…the best place to start is with her questions section.

What to Eat, 30 Days on GAPS Intro, E-Book – by Cara of Health, Home, Happiness for $20

Internal Bliss, GAPS cookbook ( also on shop.gapsdiet.com  or Amazon)

GAPS Stories: Personal accounts of improvement and recovery through the GAPS Nutritional Protocol (also shop.gapsdiet.com  or Amazon)

Work With Me & Further Offerings:

For those who would like further assistance in implementing the GAPS Protocol and want Melanie Christnertroubleshooting help, I am available for phone consultations. I have several different packages depending on what your individual needs are.

Email –  melanie@honestbody.com

Website – www.honestbody.com

I will also be piloting an online GAPS course, starting in June or July. Signing up for my mailing list at www.honestbody.com would be a great way to stay informed. I will post a list of the GAPS course offerings to the Heal Your Gut Facebook Group!

 

 

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