I’m not a medical professional. I’m kind of the opposite- someone modern medicine said “Sorry, can’t help you” and ended up having to scrounge around for options. So, keep that in mind. Please do your own research and don’t rely on what I say alone.
I gave GAPS a try, as I mentioned. It ended very, very badly. The first day I tried it I was starving and tired and reached a point where I couldn’t stand the thought of anymore soup. The second day, I just skipped to second stage and mixed egg yolk into every cup of soup I had (cooked it, I never had problems with eggs and that’s my comfort level) and I didn’t feel much better. Some people will say I should have stuck with it, I’d like to tell them to shove it. I’m a parent of a toddler, and am not comfortable being so out of it like that. It also just felt deeply wrong, and I’m not going to put myself through suffering when my body seems to be saying “this is a bad idea”.
Since then, I’ve done some more research into other options and I’ve thought about it and here are my thoughts:
If you want to do the GAPS Intro Diet, unless you’re a nutrition expert, you should seriously do it under a professional’s guidance.
I know a lot of people say that to cover their butts, but this is my honest opinion on the subject. There have been plenty of things I’ve tried myself, but I honestly don’t think it’s a good idea to try GAPS without that sort of help.
Intro GAPS seems to be to both cleanse the body and heal it at the same time, by severely cutting down your diet and trying to force your body to change its calorie source. Now, virtually everything about that statement is open for debate, but let’s assume that GAPS is 100% legit (can’t say it is or isn’t), I still don’t think this is a good idea. Let’s break that statement down to see why.
Cleansing: The GAPS resources acknowledge that you can experience the effects of “die off” (when the bad bacteria et al die, releasing toxins into your system, also known as Herxheimer reactions). If the GAPS intro diet really does starve the bad bacteria/etc, then you’ll be flooding your body with toxins very quickly. Every other detox plan I’ve seen, even hospital ones using anti-biotics, advises starting more slowly and keeping the die-off to a level that the individual can handle. I’m not saying GAPS is the only one that says this, and as a non-professional I can’t guarantee it’s not the right way to go, but it still sounds like a bad idea.
Calorie Source: Basically, the idea is that your body has carb-burning and fat-burning modes. When you eat a carb-heavy diet, it burns carbs and never switches to fat burning mode. Again, not a medical professional, no idea if this is bunk or not, we’re assuming it isn’t. By cutting carbs out of your diet, you force your body to start burning fat and using fat as its main source of energy. I’ve seen people who are doing GAPS talk about how they’re training their body to switch its fat source and that this isn’t assumed to be an easy transition.
Limited Diet: This is actually the most potentially dangerous part of GAPS in my opinion and what I was most concerned about, especially at the beginning. There is no debate over the dangers of malnutrition, and if you aren’t careful you could definitely end up with big gaps (heh) in your diet. I’ve seen a few people who did an unassisted GAPS who got extreme fatigue and other problems, likely due to not getting certain needed nutrients. Unless you’re a nutrition expert, seriously, be REALLY careful about doing the Intro Diet unassisted no matter the circumstances.
Healing: Honestly, this is the most mild part. When your body is healthy, whenever you get rid of bad stuff in your body, it starts healing itself. I’m not suggesting you should prevent healing by any stretch. However, I don’t think that you need to focus on healing and cleansing at the same time- especially not when you’re doing everything else.
There seems to be a transition period when you start virtually all diets where you feel worse before you get better. Vegetarian, Paleo, Atkins, WAPF, starting to eat healthy after living off of fast food, virtually every diet I’ve read about says “it gets worse before it gets better”. Even ones that have documented health benefits (laying off the fast food and eating healthy foods). Simply starting the full GAPS diet, without any other factors, can put strain on your body during that transition period. When you do the Intro Diet, especially if you’re starting from a non-GAPS diet, then you put all these other strains on it. It’s a recipe for disaster. I know that people have had great success on it, but I think most of the success stories I’ve seen were people who were working with a professional.
There are ways to detox (if you believe in that stuff) that don’t involve all of this and allows you to work your way up rather than flooding your body with toxins. I won’t list them here because this isn’t about promoting them, I don’t even know if I buy into them or not. But it really does seem, to me, that it’d be better to try to detox your body and then try an extensive healing protocol, rather than putting a huge stress on your body by so severely altering and limiting your diet and flooding it with toxins all at the same time.