Jenna Wunder, Registered Dietitian
Jenna Wunder RD, MPH is a dietitian specializing in whole foods nutrition, the GAPS diet protocol, ALCAT Sensitivity Testing, Candida O... read more
GAPS™ Dietary Counseling (Gut and Psychology Syndrome)
What is GAPS™?
GAPS™ (Gut And Psychology Syndrome) is a condition that recognizes the connection between an unhealthy digestive system and certain psychological conditions. Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride noted this relationship after working with hundreds of children and adults with neurological and psychiatric conditions including autism, ADD, ADHD, schizophrenia, dyslexia, and OCD. What she found in these patients was that apart from their mental problems, they are also quite physically ill. Digestive disorders, malnourished, allergies, asthma, eczema, chronic cystitis, thrush, and fussy eating habits are a consistent part of the picture. Ultimately, what they all had in common was gut dysbiosis or, put more simply, an unhealthy, out-of-balance gastrointestinal tract. She called this relationship (you guessed it) Gut And Psychology Syndrome. This is not necessarily a new idea. The father of modern psychiatry, Phillipe Pinel (1745–1828), after working with mental patients for many years, concluded, “The primary seat of insanity generally is in the region of the stomach and intestines.” Long before him, Hippocrates (460-370 BC), the father of modern medicine said, “All diseases begin in the gut!”
What is the GAPS™ Diet?
Since autism, ADD, ADHD, OCD, dyslexia, schizophrenia, depression, sleep disorders, allergies, asthma, eczema, and other conditions are linked to an unhealthy gut, Dr. Campbell-McBride developed an intense therapeutic diet – the GAPS™ Diet – to heal the digestive system and reverse these conditions. The diet removes grains, starches, dairy, and sugar, while emphasizing saturated fats, mostly from animal sources, to ‘heal and seal’ the gut. Other essential elements of the GAPS™ Diet include mineral-dense meat broths, well-cooked vegetables and fatty meats, and fermented vegetables and dairy. The diet begins with the Introduction GAPS™ Diet, composed of several stages that are an important step for those with serious digestive symptoms such as diarrhea, abdominal pain, bloating, some cases of constipation, etc. These introductory stages, along with proper supplementation and lifestyle interventions, will likely reduce symptoms quickly and initiate healing in the digestive system. After the Introductory Diet, patients move into the Full GAPS™ Diet, which mostly consists of consuming animal fats, fermented vegetables and dairy, meat broths, fatty meats, some nuts, cheese, and legumes. Depending on the severity of the condition, patients can move through the program as fast or as slow as needed. After completion of the GAPS™ Diet – typically between six months and two years – gut health will be restored, ailments will be significantly improved or healed altogether, and patients can continue living on a whole foods, home-cooked diet to ensure their digestive system stays healthy.
Why the GAPS™ Diet?
Jenna Wunder, MPH, RD had the privilege of receiving personal instruction from the GAPS™ founder, Dr. Campbell-McBride, who because of her intense schedule in the U.K., no longer comes to the United States to train practitioners. Within her practice, Jenna has seen eczema completely healed, significant improvement in autism symptoms, life-long constipation resolved, and much more. These conditions have gone from being insurmountable struggles in the lives of her patients to being easily manageable – all resulting from a commitment to stick to the GAPS™ Diet, supplements, and lifestyle interventions. This may be a challenging diet for some. But Jenna’s job is to walk the journey with you, answering questions, sharing recipes, food plans, and resources, and offering encouragement and accountability. Jenna teaches patients how to make delicious food including meat broths, how to ferment their own vegetables and dairy, and where to get the equipment and ingredients necessary to make your home GAPS™ friendly. She will also advise on a GAPS™ strategy for when your children are in school and how to travel while on the GAPS™ Diet. Jenna’s goal is to make this process as understandable and manageable for you as possible, so you can see real results for yourself and/or your loved ones.
What if my child is a picky eater?
One of the most common concerns Jenna hears from parents of children with these conditions is fear that their child will reject the foods on the GAPS™ Diet. While the transition phase may be intimidating to parents, Jenna has found the opposite reaction true more often than not. Children typically acclimate to the diet very easily and have actually been ‘craving’ these foods all along. Parents are often amazed by how quickly their children begin to eat and thrive on GAPS™ foods.
Do I need to cook to eat GAPS™ friendly foods?
Following through with the GAPS™ Diet means cooking most – if not all – of your meals, sourcing hormone-free, antibiotic-free meat, fermenting your own vegetables and dairy, making broths and stews, baking GAPS™ friendly baked goods, and staying accountable to the process for up to two years or more. If followed precisely, the GAPS™ Diet will likely produce real, life-changing results. Although cooking this way can be daunting to some, don’t worry too much. Jenna will give you many ideas for how to simplify the process so that it works for your life.
Severe Rashes and Hives, Marji
‘I came to the Natural Balance Wellness Clinic seeking help for a problem that had started 20 months ago and was getting worse. Most foods I was eating was causing skin rash and hives. I felt awful and was struggling to get through my day. Traditional medicine was a dead end and only offered pills with side effects that I was not going to take. NB Clinic started doing many tests and was making only a bit of progress. I started seeing Jenna to help figure out what progress we could make by eliminating the worst trigger foods. Here again, a tiny bit of progress but not a home run. One visit with Jenna, as I was leaving, she mentioned that she had just completed training on the GAPS diet and I should check it out online, so I did. I thought I could try the diet because I had done everything else. I make some home made sauerkraut which took a few weeks to develop and started making the soups and the other dietary changes. Within two weeks of consuming the home made sauerkraut, I woke up one day and noticed that the itching was going away. I actually felt better and my skin started to clear up and regain a more moist, normal look. It took a few more months on the diet and the itching has pretty much gone. I have resumed a more full diet now but keep to the basics of the GAPS diet and consume fermented foods twice daily. I have a spot on my leg that I call my ‘itchmometer’. If I eat something that is not healthy for me it starts to itch after two days. Then, I know I have to review the content of my foods and make changes. Jenna’s knowledge and this GAPS diet has been the game changer for a healthier life for me.’
My son Antonio was diagnosed with ASD two years ago and of course like most families in this situation we changed his diet to a GFCF diet. I was stuck feeding him a total of three things on the diet, gluten free oatmeal, gluten free pizza and bananas. I would wake up every day wondering how this boy with so many nutritional deficiencies was going to ever get better by eating these three food items along with over twenty supplements that were truly replacing what he needed most, natural nutrition from food. The GFCF diet never felt right to me but I continued on doing it for nearly two years. I started researching different kinds of diets and found many articles and blogs that were written by mothers of ASD children that were once in my shoes and how the GAPS diet had changed their entire families. I started researching it deeper and found that it made complete sense. GFCF kept foods that were a problem away from my son but never provided the proper nutrients and never addressed the underlying problem. The GAPS not only provided the proper nutrients, my son loves the food I make. He actually feeds himself now, nearly eating anything that is GAPS legal because the recipes have amazing flavor with no fillers or additives to upset his stomach. This diet is how our grandparents and great grandparents lived. The food they ate was naturally organic, minimally and naturally processed, and processed for them by them. The best thing I did was read the book “Gut and Psychology Syndrome” and then meet with Jenna Wunder to start me off on my GAPS path. I could not be happier and feel so right about what I am doing for my son. I only wish I had discovered this life changing diet years ago.