Hello!

So I just need some clarification about the best way to go about truly healing a leaky gut and the digestive system. I've read this site fairly thoroughly and lots of the discussions, and Pat's 14 steps make perfect sense to me - eat the most nutrient dense foods and your body will heal itself.

 

My story: I'm 24, dealt with mild acne my whole life and mild-ish digestive issues which I accepted as normal since they didn't bother me that much, such as bloating, loose stools, constipation, etc. This culminated in developing severe acne about two years ago, and I've been trying to holistically heal myself ever since, learning new things every day! 

 

I managed to get rid of my acne completely naturally within three or so months (I assume because I was getting more nutrients than ever before), but I still struggle with mild on and off acne and the digestive problems have never really gone away (well... less constipation now). I now generally try to eat something close to a WAPF style diet - no gluten- no dairy - rarely any soy - rarely any corn - etc. Green smoothies :)

 

Anyway... I realize that I've obviously not done enough to undo the damage to my intestines and I'm preparing myself to embark on a serious gut healing endeavour to heal myself once and for all - I just want to know the best way to do it. 

 

So I've been reading this site and its forums, and I've been reading all about the GAPS diet... what I'm confused about is the issue of "cutting things out" (using WAPF as a baseline here). GAPS obviously cuts out starches, grains, certain beans etc and whatever else is on its list while you heal.

 

From what I have gathered, you (Pat) seem to suggest that you don't need to cut these things out as long as you are getting enough nutrients and probiotics to detoxify your body, as per the 14 steps. Is this correct?? What is your opinion on the GAPS?

 

Also what I'm wondering about is the issue of food sensitivities. From what I (used to) understand, you need to cut the things you've become sensitive to in order to let your gut heal and then reintroduce once you're better. I notice GAPS incorporates this too by utilizing the intro diet and then challenging yourself.

 

So is cutting out food sensitivities still part of the 14 step plan?

 

The reason I ask is because I have never had obvious reactions and have so far only ever been able to tell my food sensitivities by getting tested with a naturopath. I don't have a clue what my current sensitivities may be and I'm curious if it's something I need to even worry about. 

 

Thank you so much!

 

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I would love to hear how you healed your acne.  My 19 yr old has had severe cystic acne since he was about 15.  He has less large lesions now, but his whole face is still covered with acne and scarring.

Thank you!!

Tracy, I don't really know the answer to your question.  I trust that each individual is on her own healing journey and has different priorities.  For myself, I was able to identify food intolerances after my son was born and his reactions were a clue about MY food intolerances.  I wished I'd heard of many of the healing foods long before pregnancy --- alas, we live and learn. :-)

I have only skimmed through the GAPS protocol.  I bought the book finally about 6 months ago and really want to read through it!  But I have read many people referencing GAPS (and every other diet under the sun) over the years on Mothering.com.  Then, I would research the nutritional benefits of individual suggestions.

Originally, I coined the 14 steps as a tool for a mom on a budget looking for an 'affordable, high quality multi-vitamin supplement'.  I prefer nutrient-dense foods, instead.  I don't claim that those foods alone, alongside a SAD will "cure" anyone of anything.  However, I do believe that the nutrient-dense foods will replace many of the empty (and toxic) calories and cravings, address microbial imbalances, and nourish the body's ability to heal itself.

Many people have reported significant benefits from "The GAPS Protocol".  Just eliminating food toxins will help most people!  Personally, I'm not keen on experts and "cure-alls" and dogma/rules.  LOL   So, I don't believe that GAPS (or any "diet") would fit in my life.  However, if you find that the food eliminations would be helpful to identifying your food triggers, that sounds helpful, imo.  We learned our triggers through strict food awareness and food eliminations while our son was a nursing infant.  Many people seem to prefer an "GAPS Approved" and "Not GAPS Approved" list of foods, as a starting point.

In retrospect, ten years ago, I didn't know much about creating nutrient deficiencies or choosing nutrient-dense foods. I gravitated toward salmon, lamb, seafood, sweet potatoes, eggs, butter, asparagus, chicken and rice and ate a lot of that for a couple of years. Fortunately, those provided a lot of the critical nutrients we needed: Omega 3, vit A and D, folate, iron, proteins and were gluten/dairy-free.  I probably didn't focus enough on including fruits and veggies as I was most concerned about macro-nutrients: proteins and fats.  I lost a lot of weight, detoxing into my breastmilk, I imagine.  And I have amalgam (silver mercury) fillings which increased our toxin exposure.

So, as a young woman, without an intention to conceive within a year, I might do a strict GAPS food elimination for a short while.  But, I'm frequently concerned when I see nursing moms (and kids) doing extensive food elimination diets for longer than a few months.  Often, nutrient deficiencies develop and then MORE food intolerances snowball as a result.  I've seen prolonged and increasing food intolerances develop in many, many people on elimination diets!  Additionally, nutrient deficiencies lead to toxin excretion concerns, as does caloric-restrictions. 

[We store toxins in our fat and release the toxins into blood circulation, as we lose weight. During this process, we need MORE (and specific) nutrients to safely and effectively remove the toxins from the body, rather than just mobilizing and redepositing them. Food restrictions can lead to nutrient deficiencies. Thus a cascade of issues.]

Gluten is often ignored as a huge inflammatory culprit and an unwillingness to avoid gluten (or dairy) is a whole other paradigm than GAPS.  So, the 14 steps are helpful even for people who are consuming a SAD and trying to heal.  I don't believe any "diet" is a panacea; but the body is amazingly resilient.  The 14 steps are ways to ADD nutrient-dense foods, for improved gut health.  I'm not sure there is a measurable "healed gut" endpoint. The closer I eat to our ancestral diets, the healthier I feel!  I've been pondering raw meat, for instance.  I've found that food is much more than culture, nutrients and toxins.  The more I learn, the broader my exploration of food becomes. 

I don't believe there is One.Right.Diet. for everyone.  I trust that you can listen to your body for messages.  I would just caution about nutrient deficiencies developing on strict food elimination diets for any duration, without a strong focus on ADDing nutrient-dense foods.  Again, many people don't want to eliminate large groups of food (such as dairy, wheat, corn, soy, grains, legumes, salicylates, phenols, oxalates, goitrogens...the list goes on and on!) - but the 14 steps will help them, in my experience.

On the other hand, many people want "The Right Answer" and many diet gurus will tell you their diet is the panacea.  Maybe it is, but (vegan, raw, cooked, paleo, wapf, gaps, Mediterranean, weight watchers, low fat, high fat, low carb, low cholesterol, macrobiotic, localavore, fruitarian, vegetarian, body ecology, failsafe, GFCF, cleanses, HCG, Hallelujah diet, sugar-free, fasting, candida, detox, Atkins, Blood Type, Gerson, ketogenic, juice fast, etc. etc.) dogma doesn't work for me.

I understand wanting a short-cut of 'How To' healing tools.  There are many variables to health, including the toxins from our environment (water, pharmaceuticals, food additives, air pollutions), our beliefs and emotions, and our genetics (and sunshine, sleep, exercise and the love vitamin).  ;-)  But, those variables become clearer, and more complicated, the more we listen to our body.  To me, food is a journey, not a prescription. 

 

Bottom line, the 14 steps is not a "diet".  I don't believe in diets, personally.  They seem to be an external expert for YOUR body.  I trust that each person is the expert for her own body!

Pat

Okay! Thank you Pat, I appreciate the long reply and clarification!


All in all, I'm not that interested in focusing on the gaps elimination diet for too long, but more of the Full gaps diet... I think the reason I wanted to ask you this question is because your recommendations of super nutrient dense foods for healing really resonated with me, and then I started to look at GAPS and I noticed they were quite similar (what with bone broth, fermented foods, liver, etc..)

 

Anyway... I know this whole thing is a journey, I'm still working my way through it and learning to listen to my body. If there is one thing I've learned it's that everyone is different and dogmas do not work - but it's so easy to get sucked into. I appreciate your help :)

 

@Kris - I got rid of my acne just by improving my lifestyle - eating a lot better, getting better sleep, exercising etc. My diet has gone through all sorts of phases - soy and gluten free vegan, fasting, moving away from vegan into vegetarian, eventually slowly making my way into paleo and then candida cleansing and back into WAPF... all of which have managed to keep my skin at a solidly mild-acne level and much nicer than it was even before my severe acne hit. As I was just discussing with Pat - there is not only one answer as much as I want there to be.

 

All in all, I think just a general improvement in lifestyle and moving away from SAD and getting a heck of a lot of nutrients into your diet is enough to improve people's skin tremendously. Getting checked for food sensitivities made a big difference for me in particular. Oh - and getting rid of gluten and dairy is huge as well as stopping any commercial products/cleansers etc. Emotional health and stress is also a major culprit in acne! Haha... oh dear, I could go on and on. 

Hi! I've really gleaned a lot of info here (appreciate this community so much for that:)) and I have sort of an aside question from something you mentioned above. I am a nursing mother who will, Lord willing, be nursing for a while and then have very little spacing between nursing and being pregnant again and nursing some more. I was diagnosed w PCOS before this pregnancy and was able to bring it under control w my diet and lost weight (after struggling 1/2 my life to do so!) and had a GREAT pregnancy, gained a healthy amount of weight and lost it before bringing my baby home. But since his birth, my weight has been ballooning back up again (assuming my hormones are a little caddy-whomp trying to settle back from the pregnancy?), so I am really focusing on bringing that under control and losing the weight so that my next sweet baby can hopefully benefit as the first one did.  All that to say (sometimes background info is helpful:)) that I would really love some more info regarding this statement:

[We store toxins in our fat and release the toxins into blood circulation, as we lose weight. During this process, we need MORE (and specific) nutrients to safely and effectively remove the toxins from the body, rather than just mobilizing and redepositing them. Food restrictions can lead to nutrient deficiencies. Thus a cascade of issues.]

I am very concerned about the possibility of detoxing into my breastmilk and would be very interested to know more about the "MORE (and specific) nutrients" mentioned in the above statement, and anything else I can do, to prevent that from happening. It makes me sad to think of inadvertently doing something detrimental to my sweet son in my quest to be healthier for him and his (future) brother/sister(s). Thank you SO much for your help!!!:)

Hey great questions that I didnt know I had and answers to them. I wish i had a magic fix/easy button too. 
What does SAD stand for? 

Hi Jennifer - it stands for Standard American Diet

Valerie, the KEY nutrient is magnesium. Epsom salt baths are one route. But, most Americans, especially pregnant and nursing women are magnesium deficientNettles infusions are a wonderful, whole food source of many nutrients, including magnesium.

Other nutrients critical for supporting natural detoxification is selenium.  B3, B6, B12, and folate also. Vit C helps too.

I'd focus on adequate pasture-raised animal fats to avoid rapid weight loss, especially if you have mercury (silver amalgam) fillings in your mouth.  Many people detoxify well, though.

Pat

Oh wow! Learning so much here, thank you for your original question Tracy, and for clarification, Pat.

 

I too am a nursing mother and have been worried about mercury mobilisation and dumping toxins into my son's milk. To this effect, I've decreased my KT intake drastically, even contemplating stopping it altogether due to die-off, though I gather kefir does the same :-/. I have no mercury in my mouth any more but used to have 2 which were swapped for composite 2-3 years ago. I've done juice fasting, water fasting and flirted with the raw food diet quite a bit. I try to eat mostly organic but cost disallows for regularity.

 

Anyway, what I'm taking away here is that I need to drink my nettle tea faithfully. Good thing they grow in abundance in the garden, plus I've access to dried nettle leaves.

 

What foods have an abundance of selenium, B3, B6, B12 and folate? I take camu camu for Vit C and other nutrients.

 

Also Pat, what is your opinion on clay?  I've come across info that calcium bentonite will help get rid of heavy metals safely via faeces. What is your personal take on this please? And when you mention Epsom salts, how does one use these, if not for baths? Can it be taken internally?

 

Many, many thanks, I appreciate your time.

 

xJac

Actually, kefir doesn't act similarly to kombucha.  It is specifically the S. boulardii in kombucha which kills candida, releasing bound mercury and toxins into blood circulation.  If you drank kombucha long before pregnancy, you've probably already mobilized the mercury, unless you are having candida/yeast type issues, currently.  So, it is considered fine to *continue* kombucha - just caution beginning kombucha while trying to conceive, pregnant or nursing. I'd avoid kombucha, with any history of mercury or candida, at least until nutrient deficiencies had been addressed.

I love this reference list of Worlds Healthiest Foods, by nutrient.  Brazil nuts are high in selenium.  Nettles has selenium also. Caution, only 1-2 Brazil nuts a day. And if you have thyroid issues, selenium needs to be taken in conjunction with iodine-rich foods, such as (heavy metal tested) kelp and other sea veggies. The 14 steps, lists many of these foods to include in a simple, succinct list of foods to ADD.

B-vitamin rich foods are greens, beans, liver and legumes and nettles. B12 is only in animal products.

Sulfate in Epsom salt baths is really hard to get from another route, except through direct sunshine on the skin. Sulfur foods are an issue for some people with mercury issues. Sulfate is poorly absorbed by the digestive tract and causes diarrhea, in excess.

Clay is a fascinating topic about which I've been doing a lot of reading. Orally, it causes constipation, like serious blocked bowels, if introduced too rapidly. So, again, oral ingestion requires caution and research, if you give it a go. And take it away from food minerals, imo.

Clay baths and mud baths with clay are therapeutic!

Pat






Thank you :-). Very much. 

I forgot to clarify, that you are correct that *too much* kefir (at one time) could also cause die-off of microbials in the gut, releasing dead microbial toxins. But, not the same as releasing mercury when killing off candida.

Any large shift in gut microbials or shift in gut ph could cause "die-off" - which is basically dumping toxins into blood circulation to redeposit into brain, organs, fetus, breastmilk. So, gradually introducing foods to balance microbials is safer.

Pat

Fab, thanks for that last clarification.

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