Learn about the gaps diet and pregnancy!
Motherhood and Dilemma’s
THE MODERN MAMA HAS BEEN GIVEN A DILEMMA. SHE IS BRINGING HER BABY INTO A WORLD THAT HAS “SPENT DOWN” ITS NUTRITIONAL WEALTH, WHILE AT THE SAME TIME FILLING IT WITH TOXINS.
Traditional peoples had it better. A nutritional heritage, passed down from generation to generation of peoples eating real food, in an environment devoid of thousands of man-made chemicals…this genetically communicated a better message to the body.
“…failure to attend to the proper care and feeding of our bodies doesn’t just affect us, it affects our genes – and that means it may affect our offspring.”
“If you start early enough, the fruits of your efforts will be clearly visible in the bones of your child’s face…” ~ Dr. Cate Shanahan, author of Deep Nutrition
ALL children are precious and beautiful, but no one sets out intending to bring another child into the world with physical and mental setbacks if it can be helped. To give ourselves the best chance of producing a beautiful, healthy baby, it is important to start thinking about it before conception. If you are already expecting a baby, it is best to start making changes straight away.
What Is The Gaps Diet?
Gaps stands for Gut and Psychology Syndrome and is a nutrient-rich, gut healing diet. It is based on the theory that many physical and mental illnesses are linked to gut health, and through providing the body with what it needs nutritionally, many issues can be healed.
The importance of the gut microbiome is only recently being understood, but now we know that proper nourishment and a good balance of microbes can help ensure our overall wellbeing and the Gaps diet can help provide natural treatment for a leaky gut or poor digestive symptoms .
The Gaps diet focuses on healing the gut lining before moving onto the next stage of reintroducing healthy and nutrient-rich foods to ensure optimal health.
Can You Follow The Gaps Diet During Pregnancy?
Yes, you can follow the Gaps Diet during pregnancy but it is advised that you seek professional advice first.
The Gaps Diet for pregnancy takes this concept a step further, by providing extra nutrition to both mother and baby while in utero. By restoring healthy bacteria to the gut of an expectant mother, the theory is that it will create a healthier environment in which to conceive and grow a baby.
What Is A Mom To Do?
The only thing that any mother (entrusted with small and dependent human beings) can do, is the best she can with what she knows. Today I hope to give you some information that will both help and inform, because a mama with knowledge is a powerful mama.
How Mom’s Health Is Affected By Pregnancy
First we need to talk about the beautiful but demanding event of pregnancy on the woman’s body. The demands of producing a baby draw down maternal stores of a full spectrum of nutrients, and if there isn’t enough “extra” for baby then nutrients are stolen from mom, including, calcium from her bones, brain-building fats from her brain, minerals, and more.
Maternal brains can actually shrink, primarily in the hippo-campus and temporal lobe areas…which are responsible for short-term memory and emotion. Ring any bells, mamas?
Gut And Psychology Syndrome Diet
THE (GAPS) DIET FOR PREGNANCY
This is where the Gaps Diet comes in. With built-in food and lifestyle guidelines, this diet works to “heal and seal” a leaky gut, restore friendly bacteria, provide key nutrients that are lacking from our modern diets, while also reducing inflammation. This will help to reduce the need to steal nutrients from mom, and provide more than enough for baby.
Is This An Extremely Restrictive Diet?
No, the One of the best aspects of this diet is that it can be tailored to individual needs – some people do better on high-fat or -protein diets, while others may respond better to higher carbohydrate diets. There are also options for vegetarians and vegans, so there truly is something for everyone. The Gaps Diet can also help to reduce the frequency and intensity of morning sickness that many women experience during pregnancy.
Following The Gaps Diet
Due to many modern factors many women have low reserves of the fat soluble vitamins, which sets their children up for deficiency and early onset of digestive issues, poor brain development, poor bone structure, and more. There is no need for our precious little ones to drain us of all these precious nutrients, but it is all too common.
We have lost the knowledge and art of building nutrient reserves for the task of childbearing…an art that many healthy indigenous peoples knew well and treasured from generation to generation.
Fat Soluble Nutrients And The Gaps Diet
Fat soluble nutrients are at the top of the list, for development of the whole body and the brain. Every traditional culture around the world knew that pregnant women need very special nutrition.
During pregnancy the fetus takes priority over the mother in nutrition, so if the mother is deficient in some nutrients, her body will become more deficient in order to feed the baby, but the baby may still not get enough.
Poor Digestion And Gut Dysbiosis
A main reason for mom’s poor health is poor digestion and an imbalance of good gut microbes to harmful gut microbes. A well-functioning digestive system makes sure that we are fed well and protected from many environmental pitfalls. When we are eating in a “stressed out” state, or have low stomach acid, or poor bile flow, or the gut flora is abnormal, the whole digestive process goes wrong…and we cannot digest and absorb food properly and then we develop multiple nutritional deficiencies such as:
- Vitamin B deficiencies, especially B12 & B6
- Amino acid deficiencies from poor protein digestion
- Low vitamin A, D, & K2
- Low minerals (our “spark plugs”)
- Essential fatty acid deficiency
Improving Gut Flora
Our gut flora is the main source of B vitamins, vitamin K2, and many other nutrients our body produces. As a result, a woman with a compromised gut has serious deficiencies in these nutrients, which can lead to maternal anemia, and nutritional deficiencies in the baby, which in turn can lead to fetal malformations and other serious problems.
Fat Soluble Vitamins
Fat-soluble vitamins A, D and K are essential for building a healthy body for the baby. In a mom with compromised digestion, these vitamins are in great demand to deal with toxicity, so there may not be enough left for the baby. As we live in a world of fat phobia, many women limit their fat consumption, making the whole situation worse.
Mineral metabolism is very complex…in order for the body to absorb minerals we need good stomach acid expression and gut microbes. In order for the body to use minerals appropriately we need fat-soluble vitamins. These factors are lacking in women with compromised digestion.
What Damages Out Gut Microbes?
- Antibiotics – Penicillins, tetracyclines, antifungal antibiotics
- Processed carbs & sugar (feeds pathogens, changes pH)
- High grain fiber diet
- Prescription drugs (such as pain killers, steroids, etc…drug induced gut dysbiosis can be especially difficult to treat)
- Birth control pill
- Bottle feeding
- Prolonged fasting or starvation or overeating
- And more
Why Are Probiotic Foods And Supplements So Important?
They help with:
- Gastrointestinal disorders of all kinds
- Bacterial infections
- Chronic viral infections
- Urogenital infections Hepatitis, liver cirrhosis & biliary disease
- Lower cholesterol & prevent arterial disease
- Weight issues
- Osteoporosis (enhance calcium assimilation & metabolism)
- Burns of various degrees
- Perioperative care and intensive care in surgical patients and patients with massive blood loss
- Clinical infections
- Autoimmune disorders
- Moods Produce
- B vitamins
- Synthesize Vitamin K
- Integrity of our intestinal wall
- And more
A Mother With Abnormal Digestion Is Likely To Have An Unhealthy Baby. Why?
- Babies pick up our gut microbes as they pass through the vaginal canal and they develop abnormal gut microbes.
- Their immune system is compromised
- With compromised immunity, our babies are more suceptible to frequent ear and chest infections, which often are treated with antibiotics
- Antibiotics further damage the gut microbes & immune system
- If we then add vaccinations and the usual weaning diet of cereal grains, then we end up with gut dysbiosis in our babies, allergies, digestive problems, toxicity, and even brain dysfunctions.
So that part about informing and helping? It is important to do what we can to give our babies a good start. To help you, here are 3 main steps to take:
1. THE GAPS PROTOCOL!
GAPS has an amazing ability to heal the gut, gently detox, and restore nutrients. (Note: If pregnant or nursing, do not do the Introduction version of the GAPS diet, only Full)
2. REDUCE THE TOXIC LOAD (WHATEVER TOXINS ARE IN OUR BODIES, THEY ACCUMULATE IN LARGE AMOUNTS IN OUR BABIES)
- Pregnancy is not a good time to visit your dentist! Everything dentists use in your mouth is toxic and will increase the level of toxicity going to your baby. So, visit your dentist only in emergency, and even then discuss less toxic and less invasive options before proceeding with any treatment.
- Avoid all personal care products, cleaning chemicals, make up, hair dyes, perfumes and all other man-made chemicals.
- Reduce your exposure to absolute minimum and use only natural alternatives. It is important for a pregnant woman to avoid electronic pollution and radiation…of course you don’t have to completely avoid mobile phones, computers and TV, but keep in mind that they emit radiation, which can be harmful for your baby, so limit your exposure to them.
3. PREPARE THE VAGINAL CANAL FOR BIRTH
In the last 1 – 2 months of pregnancy, populate the birth canal with probiotic bacteria, using live natural yogurt, kefir or a good quality probiotic powder after you bathe. Allow to dry and stay on skin. A woman’s vagina has a very rich microbial flora, which needs to be dominated by beneficial microbes.
4. TAKE CARE OF YOUR GUT MICROBES WITH PROBIOTIC FOODS, PROBIOTIC SUPPLEMENTS AND THE GAPS DIET.
5. PREPARE FOR BREASTFEEDING
- Breast milk is the best food for baby! Apply live natural yogurt, kefir, or probiotic on the nipples in the last months of pregnancy and during breastfeeding.
Avoid toxins, processed foods, & drugs…everything we have in our blood can get into our milk.
Best Fermented Foods For Gaps Diet
Fermanted foods are the most important part of GAPS diet. These provide beneficial bacteria and enzymes that help to restore balance in the gut. Here are some fermented foods you can use on GAPs:
• Coconut yogurt
• Beet kvass.
These are just a few of the fermented foods and fermented vegetables you can use to replenish your gut microbes and help restore balance in the digestive tract. As with any dietary change, it is important to consult a health professional before making any drastic changes to your diet.
Gaps Diet Guidelines
Additionally, it is best to start slowly and introduce one fermented food at a time until you find which ones work for you and can easily be incorporated into your daily routine. By eating these foods regularly, you will notice an improvement in digestion as well as overall health.
Is The Gaps Diet A Gluten Free Diet?
Yes, the GAPS diet does not include any gluten grains. The introduction diet includes a lot of nutrient rich foods such as meats, fish, vegetables, fruits, and some healthy fats and oils. On the full version of GAPs you can also add nuts and seeds but there still may be some foods that are excluded in order to avoid any type of food sensitivities.
When following the GAPS diet, it is important to be aware of what you are eating and its effects on your body. Be sure to listen to your body and consult with a health professional if needed. With some patience and dedication, the GAPS diet can be a great tool for restoring balance in the gut and improving your overall health.
Is The Gaps Diet A Low Carb Diet?
The GAPS diet is not a low-carb diet. While carbohydrates are limited in the introduction phase of the diet, complex carbs such as squash, sweet potato and quinoa are slowly added back into the diet during the full version.
Additionally, it is also important to note that while carbohydrate intake is reduced in the GAPs diet, it is not eliminated. Therefore, you can still enjoy some of your favorite carbs in moderation.
By following the GAPS diet guidelines and making sure that you are eating a balanced diet, you can easily find ways to incorporate healthy complex carbohydrates back into your meals while avoiding processed foods. This will help ensure that your body is getting all of
Raw Vegetables And The Gaps Diet
Raw vegetables are an important part of the GAPS diet because they contain beneficial enzymes, vitamins and minerals that can help to heal the digestive tract. Eating plenty of raw vegetables on a daily basis can also help improve digestion and absorption of nutrients from other foods.
It is best to choose organic, locally-grown produce whenever possible. Avoid canned foods and processed foods, as these are generally lower in nutrition.
In addition to raw vegetables, GAPS also recommends eating starchy vegetables like potatoes, squash and yams, as these can help provide energy and support the healing process.
First Stage Of Gaps Diet
The first stage of the GAPS diet is an elimination phase, during which certain foods are completely removed from the diet. This includes all grains, processed sugars, vegetable oils and store-bought dairy products.
The Elimination Diet
During this phase, it is important to focus on eating nourishing and nutrient-dense whole foods like organic vegetables, fermented foods, homemade bone broth and pastured meat.
It is also important to drink plenty of water during this time to help flush out toxins from the body and help support the healing process. After a few weeks on the elimination phase, you may gradually reintroduce some of the eliminated foods in small amounts to see how your body responds.
Second Stage Of The Gaps Diet
The next step of the GAPS diet is to focus on restoring balance in the digestive system. This includes eating plenty of fermented foods, probiotic supplements and other gut-healing foods like bone broth.
It is important to avoid processed sugars, refined carbohydrates and processed oils during this phase. Avoid packaged and canned foods and focus on organic foods and homemade fermented foods when possible.
Try eating the following foods:
- Healthy proteins (e.g.,pastured meats, wild-caught fish)
- Fermented foods .. vegetables and fermented fish
- Healthy fats and oils (e.g., coconut oil, cold pressed olive oil, avocado oil)
- Probiotic supplements
By following these guidelines and eating a variety of nutrient-dense foods, you can help restore balance in your digestive system and support the healing process.
Third Stage Of Gaps Diet
After focusing on grains, pasteurized dairy, starchy vegetables and legumes for a few weeks, the next stage of GAPS diet is to slowly reintroduce roasted and grilled meats, olive oil, juices, nuts and seeds. You can eat meat and eat animal fats as part of the GAPS diet, but it is important to choose high-quality sources.
Fourth Stage Of Gaps Diet
The last stage of the GAPS diet is to re-introduce all cooked grains and other cooked foods. This includes whole wheat, rice, oats and quinoa. The final step is to reintroduce pasteurized dairy products like milk, yogurt and cheese. You can also have raw organic egg yolks, organic eggs, fermented foods like homemade yogurt are great for Gaps.
Try this easy Instant Pot Homemade Yogurt Recipe here!
Get A Balance Diet
Finally, it is important to remember that eating a balanced diet and getting plenty of physical activity is essential for overall health.
The GAPS diet can help to support the healing process and provide your body with the nutrients it needs to function optimally, but it should not be viewed as a replacement for a healthy lifestyle.
With dedication and consistency, you will eventually reach your desired level of health and wellbeing by following the GAPS diet. No more severe digestive symptoms
About the Author:
Melanie delights in helping you apply healing protocols to everyday life, while eating really great food…and becoming friends with your body again. She writes at HonestBody.com As a mom of four children herself, she works with moms and their kiddos to help them feel their best and to have all the life and energy they were meant to have. She teaches the popular online GAPS Class. Melanie is an NTP, Certified GAPS Practitioner, and Healing Foods Specialist in Vermont. For fun you can either find her playing in her kitchen, Nordic skiing, or swimming in the Green Mountain rivers with her family.