Digestive Disturbances: Gut and Psychology Syndrome (GAPS)

Gut and Psychology Syndrome, also known as GAPS, was coined by Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride, a British neurologist. This term reflects her belief that there is a critical link between learning disabilities, the foods and medicines that we take, and the condition of our digestive system — for a healthy brain, we need a healthy gut.

Dr Campbell-McBride and many other clinicians have noted that microbial abnormalities, “leaky gut”, and allergies often occur together and are frequently the cause of much hyperactivity, attention deficits, dyslexia, and dyspraxia in children. Older people may develop bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, or depression associated with microbial gut disorders and associated food intolerances. Recent studies, such as one conducted in 20 patients with food allergies and 21 with food sensitivities found that they all had measurable increases in their intestinal permeability, a condition often called “leaky gut” in which the gut wall becomes like a porous sieve. This permeability allows increased levels of toxins into the blood stream and in many cases this affects the brain, learning, and psychology.

The good and bad bacteria and other microflora residing in the gastrointestinal system is a highly complex ecosystem. If the balance of these microflora becomes upset, many of the unfriendly bacteria, yeast, or parasites can release inflammatory and toxic chemicals, some of which are known to affect the brain.

Microbial abnormality (dysbiosis) in the gut also causes symptoms of poor digestion such as gas, colic, bloating pain, and poor immunity. Weak immunity may mean more antibiotics, most commonly for ear infections or tonsillitis. Antibiotics aggravate the problems in the gut, which may cause poor nutrient absorption of minerals such as magnesium, which in turn can affect the brain and affect behaviour.

GAPS experts propose a natural, allergy free diet and a probiotic-based treatment for autism, ADD, ADHD,
 depression, dyslexia, dyspraxia, and bipolar disorder that is based on correcting the gut flora, digestion, nutrient deficiencies, and any associated food intolerances.

At IMI, we consider that for behaviour and mood disturbances, ADD and ADHD, depression, etc., intestinal healing is an essential part of treatment. Intestinal infections can be detected from a stool sample, which looks at both the pathogenic species present as well as the amounts of the friendly bacteria. So called “leaky gut” can be diagnosed by a lactulose/mannitol test. A qualified practitioner can guide you through a programme of removal, restoration, and repair of the gut, which can have a large impact on behaviour.

Related videos:

The Gut and Psychology Syndrome — Natasha Campbell-McBride

Fermenting Vegetables with Sandor Kataz