For those of us whom have or had gut health issues there are diets out there to help with recovery. There are three main therapeutic diets with which I have become familiar, the newer one which has grown from the ancestral movement and that includes many of the same principles as the other two, and a fourth that was developed by researchers at Monash University.
I am not a dietitian or nutritionist, thus I can’t make dietary recommendations. I am providing the following as general information only. Also, while I have found the guidelines from each of options mentioned below immensely helpful, I completely understand concerns about claims made about “curing” any physical or mental challenge. A dietary change can be extremely impactful for someone suffering from an illness – especially a digestive issue. However, as with any part of healthcare, nutrition has its limits and the word cure shouldn’t be used lightly.
The GAPs Diet or Gut and Psychology Syndrome Diet
The GAPS Diet, was created by Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride M.D. It was based off the SC diet that was originally created by a Dr. Sidney V. Haas, MD. Basically, the GAPS diet is a gut healing diet developed for children with psychological disorders such as autism or digestive dis-ease. It includes an Introduction Diet, which is listed in full online for free. The book, Gut and Psychology Syndrome: Natural Treatment for Dyspraxia, Autism, A.D.D., Dyslexia, A.D.H.D., Depression, and Schizophrenia, includes in depth information about the diet, different disorders and how to go about implementing the diet. Once a person has made improvements they can slowly start introducing more foods and move onto the Full GAPS diet. Throughout there is great emphasis placed on including broths and fermented foods to allow the gut to heal and re-populated the microbiome properly. For more information on what foods are allow/not allowed on the Full GAPS diet read here, or pick up the book. And finally, there are directions for how to transition back to eating some of the excluded foods once a satisfactory level of healing has been achieved. Though it should be noted that Dr. Campbell-McBride never recommend going back to the Standard American Diet.
Specific Carbyhydrate Diet or SC Diet
As I alluded to above, the Specific Carbohydrate Diet was created in the early 20th century by Dr. Sidney Valentine Haas M.D. . But the person who took it further, researching and eventually writing a book, Breaking the Vicious Cycle, was the mother of one of Dr. Hass’ patients, Elaine Gottschall. Dr. Hass created this diet specifically for those with digestive issues such as ulcerative colitis for which there were little options until just a few years ago. As in the GAPs diet, there is an beginning phase and a progression from there to the more broad diet as the patient improves. The idea behind this therapeutic diet is that specific longer chain carbohydrates can be irritating for those with digestive issues. Eliminating those sources for a period – at least a year but preferably two – is supposed to allow for a re-balancing of the gut flora. Along with the specific carbohydrate restriction, there is a focus on using fermented foods to help re-balance the gut flora, the favorite which is a homemade yogurt (I made it years ago before we eliminated dairy. It was delicious.). For more details on foods allowed on the diet read here, or pick up the book.
Gut Healing Paleo or Ancestral Diet
As the ancestral or paleo movement has gained more ground it’s been identified that just going paleo doesn’t always work for people with highly impaired health – especially gut health. What has sprung up – and is still gaining ground – is the importance of focusing on including foods (within the ancestral template) that heal the gut, not just excluding foods that can be tough to digest. The Paleo Mom has been a champion in this area. While her focus is on autoimmune diseases – which run the gamut as to what tissue(s) is/are affected – most if not all of the same principles apply to those with digestive dysfunction. In fact, many disease auto-immune or otherwise are greatly affected by gut health. It should be noted that The Paleo Mom isn’t just any other blogger. She has a background in research science and conducts her actions within the paleo/ancestral community as such – meaning she provides exhaustive scientific research in any area she focuses. For more information about a gut healing ancestral/paleo approach check out this post from The Paleo Mom.
Low FODMAP Diet
FODMAP is an acronym for a classification of carbohydrates – fermentable oligosaccharides disaccharides monosaccharides polyols. Monash University offers a nice breakdown of the types and sub-types of these carbohydrates. For those who are sensitive to this types of carbohydrates the symptoms include but are not limited to bloating, diarrhea and constipation. A low FODMAP diet has most commonly been used with those who suffer from IBS. However, it has been suggested for those with other digestive issues such as SIBO and colitis. The difference with this diet is that it was started by researchers and has undergone some studies. In fact, it’s well known enough in the gastroenterology world that it’s actually been mentioned by one of Rick’s doctors. For a simple break down of the diet and a list of foods of both low and high fodmaps Stanford Hospital and Clinics has a great pdf for free.