The GAPS Diet

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By Matt Stone

I first wrote about Natasha Campbell-McBride and the GAPS diet many years ago, commenting on what an excellent public speaker Campbell-McBride is.  She speaks with a tremendous amount of confidence and fervor.  You are convinced, after hearing her speak, that she really knows something and is eager to bring it to those in need.  But these good intentions and good impressions aside, most find the GAPS diet to be woefully ineffective.  For some, like a young girl who recently contacted me after what seems to be some electrolyte-related heart troubles caused in part by her GAPS experience, it can do a lot of damage.

So what, in my assessment, is the good, bad, and ugly of GAPS (with an emphasis on bad and ugly as everyone else only talks about the good)?  As always, I bring this up and give my honest appraisal of it for discussion.  I have no doubt the discussions will be lively.  Enjoy this primer, as I plan to discuss this in much greater detail in an upcoming live GAPS podcast with Josh and Jeanne Rubin on April 30th

For those of you unfamiliar with GAPS, it stems mostly from concepts that led to the development of the Specific Carbohydrate Diet (SCD) decades ago.  The concept was that larger carbohydrate molecules cannot be broken down by an unhealthy digestive tract, and merely cause a great deal of irritation.  Thus, the carbohydrates you “specifically” eat are simpler carbohydrates – while avoiding complex polysaccharides such as those found in starchy foods.

The idea behind the GAPS diet, for simplicity’s sake, is to undergo a prolonged healing period in which the villi of the large intestine, the gut wall, and the bacterial flora of the gut can be healed and properly reestablished.  Proponents of the diet say it can take years to heal the gut.  On the diet, meats and fats are championed, as are many well-cooked vegetables.  For carbohydrates, honey and some fruits and nuts are allowed, but not necessarily emphasized.  Bone broths and probiotic supplementation are highly encouraged and considered mandatory.  Gluten and casein are restricted, but with the hope that they can one day be reintroduced after the gut has undergone its healing.  The diet is recommended for those with autism, schizophrenia, and other psychological disorders among a wide range of other illnesses – from constipation to food allergies.

I’m very thankful for having encountered Campbell-McBride, as it was her that got me thinking beyond the simple concept of what is and is not healthy – and thinking instead of targeted strategies to overcome specific problems.  It was this mindset that led me to identify low metabolism/body temperature as a specific problem – later developing a strategy for addressing it.

But that doesn’t mean I’m supportive of the GAPS diet.  In all honesty, I think it’s a pretty poor strategy that applies to only a rare few, and the system itself lacks a great deal of understanding about the collective functioning of the entire human organism – such as the ties between metabolic rate and countless digestive processes.

Take for example constipation.  When we take a broad look at the processes involved with transit time, stool moisture and volume, and other factors – we can see that it’s certainly not just a matter of what takes place with gut flora and the villi.  There are many factors that contribute, much more dominant factors at that, many of them being inseparably tied to rate of metabolism.

To keep this post from being book length, let me briefly point out the metabolism-digestion link.  Keep in mind that diets low in carbohydrates, or even diets that are overly restrictive and monotonous, which GAPS usually ends up being – can be highly detrimental to metabolic rate – my main criticism of basically all diets and other “health” interventions.

Metabolism controls the strength of the gastric secretions.  How well you digest your food – and how well it is broken down during the early stages of digestion depend on metabolic rate, gastrin secretion (governed in large part by thyroid), etc.  Thus, the first step of digestion is very metabolic.

How long food sits in your stomach depends upon metabolism too.  Delayed stomach emptying, or gastroparesis, is a frequent result of a slow metabolism.  You might see other apertures remaining open, allowing stomach acid to flow up the esophagus as in acid reflux/GERD when metabolism is low.  I experienced this phenomenon myself on several different diets, and even had this problem spring up from doing excessive hiking.  It didn’t matter what I ate.  Until I raised my metabolic rate, it did not go away.  It has been gone for many years now, except for brief periods when it has reemerged due to doing something metabolically stupid.

Metabolism largely controls the rate at which food passes through the digestive tract as well.  The mammal with the lowest metabolic rate also happens to have the longest bowel transit time (sloth).  When food travels through the digestive tract more slowly, fibers and sugars ferment excessively.  This can lead to gas, bloating, bacterial overgrowth of the small intestine/SIBO (presumed to be the cause of most cases of IBS thanks to the work of Mark Pimentel at the gastroenterology department at Cedars-Sinai), constipation, changes in bacterial flora, diverticulosis, and disorders attributable to straining at stool time – anal fissures, hemorrhoids, and perhaps even varicose veins.

Metabolism even seems to have some direct impact on gut permeability (leaky gut) and the strength of the gut wall.  As was observed in prolonged calorie-restriction…

“There is reason to believe that the epithelial lining of the gastrointestinal tract becomes more permeable to microorganisms in severe undernutrition.  The morphological changes in the intestinal tract would strongly suggest this.”

It’s well known that the rate in which new tissues are regenerated, as in wound healing, goes up and down with the rate of metabolism.  I even suspect that rebuilding the strength of the gut wall and repairing a damaged gut can be accelerated by metabolic increase – making more headway in a shorter period of time than with the use of other isolated approaches.  Like GAPS for example.

Overall GAPS is a speculative approach to fixing an isolated area.  One who follows the diet takes it on faith that the diet is performing healing work, but there’s no real way of knowing if this is actually occurring or not.  It seems more like a story to me, one that is partly true but may be riddled with far too much fiction.  A Santa Claus story if you will.

I understand that there can be many short-term symptom improvements in many health problems, but this is probably not too different from the honeymoon period one can find on any number of new eating regimes – from raw foodism to fasting to juicing to veganism to Paleo to carb restriction to removing various allergenic foods, all of which are fraught with danger from a long-term metabolic standpoint.

If decreasing metabolic rate is capable of contributing to heartburn, gastroparesis, gas, bloating, diverticulosis, hemorrhoids, constipation, IBS, gut permeability, and more – and the GAPS diet really does lower metabolic rate as often as my personal communications with others suggest, then I suspect the diet probably causes more digestive problems than it heals.  This says nothing of the barbaric restrictiveness and social crippling provided by the diet.  And it speaks nothing about the Santa-length list of health problems outside of the digestive tract that can surface as metabolism falls (problems with fertility, sex drive, menstruation, sexual function, sleep, anxiety, and so forth).

There is no diet or program or health pursuit that doesn’t have both positive and negative outcomes for those testing ‘em out.  There are successes and failures in every arena.  It is fair to recognize and discuss openly what those failures are, and why they occur.  Don’t get too swept away and infatuated with the idea that a few hard years of GAPS is going to deliver the health you are looking for.  You might totally ruin your health working so hard to get healthy.  There are real risks and real downsides to the approach.

I would be cautious about probiotic supplementation as well.  Many digestive problems stem from “probiotics” inhabiting portions of the digestive tract that should be sterile.  Mark Pimentel at Cedars Sinai certainly doesn’t use them – noting his belief that they can be fuel on the fire, and even the Rubins – who I will be discussing the GAPS diet with in an upcoming podcast, have noted that even people who have been taking antibiotics for long periods of time still show adequate or even excessive amounts of these “healthy bacteria” in the gut.

Anyway, in closing I will share with you what someone wanted to be shared with those blindly following GAPS without any clue as to the potential negatives.  This is not necessarily something to attribute directly to GAPS as it is low carbohydrate consumption and excessive fluid intake, but low-carbohydrate consumption happens by default on the diet, as does fluid intake with the broth-o-philia.  I would pay particular attention to this if low-carbohydrate or overly-restricted eating has resulted in frequent, clear urination (polyuria) or muscle cramping. You’ll notice many of the common themes in her symptomology that lots of people can experience with carbohydrate and/or calorie restriction – most of it metabolic in origin…

 “After eating strictly Weston A. Price food and being gluten free for 2 years I decided to try GAPS diet by Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride since my food intolerances seemed to be getting worse. Milk, Wheat, and then corn and nuts.  I ‘fixed’ the milk intolerance by drinking raw and fermented milk.  I assumed the other intolerances were due to my few years of vegetarianism and excessive sugar intake, lost digestive enzymes and probiotics and overabundance of “bad bacteria”.

I did GAPS introdiet for 3 weeks, lost 10 lbs to look like a skeleton and felt awful.  I assumed it was bad bacteria “die-off” or sugar addiction withdrawal.  I ignored these symptoms  only to find myself in the hospital with deadly low blood levels of potassium (an electrolyte), a nearly stopped heart, and what doctors call a‘heart attack’.   I was 26 years old, 130lbs, tall, thin, athletic, nonsmoker, nondrinker, and perplexed.  For the entire time of my GAPS trial, I wrote down everything I ate and exactly how I felt. My diet was not lacking in potassium.  I did more research and found many articles linking low potassium with blood clots, stroke, and heart failure. I also found a community of people warning of  diets because of a young girls’ death from a‘heart attack’ while on a low carb diet.  This case also had low potassium, and some think that potassium was lost because when a body is lacking in dietary carbs, it uses its stores of glycogen, which are bound to water. This process unbinds water and a person will experience excessive urination (and weight loss), which results in electrolyte imbalances.   But who would listen to that? Of course, the doctors attribute the heart attacks to being overweight, having high cholesterol and eating a lot of protein. There were no categories I fell into that doctors could blame. At first they thought I was bulimic because apparently there is a correlation with vomiting, loss of fluids and electrolytes, and heart attacks. They even looked at my arteries and found them to be “squeaky-clean” with no cholesterol buildup.

With my symptoms and information I think that eating a lowcarb diet, with diuretics (Dandelion root, kombucha, etc.) and laxatives recommended can be really dangerous for some since all of these things can result in dropped potassium levels with symptoms that mimic what the book calls“die-off” and normal to the experience. Some symptoms I experienced included: very painful cramps in my calves at night, headaches, chills, waking up to go to the bathroom 1-3 times a night, standing up and feeling dizzy, constipation, excessive hunger/thirst and dry mouth, craving oatmeal and potatoes.

I realize that I am not a doctor, and my case probably involved many factors since there is a whole community of people who have successful ‘GAPS’ stories. However, I do not understand why laxatives/enemas are recommended to be given on a daily basis with this diet when the author herself verified that potassium levels are kept in check by a hormone called aldosterone and can become dangerously low when this hormone is absent OR when it is lost through the gut(vomit/diarrhea) or kidneys (urine).

Here’s more details on the numbers and medical tests:

I did not have this low aldosterone hormone.  I entered the hospital with chest pain, chills, anxiety, and limp weakness. They ran a bunch of ‘heart attack’ checks but did not see anything.  The X-rays and dopler scans did not show blood clots or cholesterol blocks.  However, my blood tests showed high levels of CK-Total, CK-MB, Myoglobin and Troponin, which are all heart attack indicators.  My potassium was at 2.9 mEq/L, glucose at 111 mg/dL.  I stayed overnight and the next morning received a cardiac cathederization (tiny camera into arteries) where they found a tiny tiny dissolving bloodclot in the “distal obtuse maeginal branch”.   I do have Factor V Leiden blood , which is associated with blood clots in veins, and MTHFR (inability to convert folic acid)  but my doctors said that this blood clot was in an artery.  Factor V was associated with leg clots that would have had to travel through my lung and brain to get to my heart.  At this time, after the episode, my cholesterol was taken and it showed to be 205, 68 HDL, 131 LDL with a 1.93 LDL/HDL ratio. I also had slightly low white blood cell count. The camera in my artery showed no sign of corrosion, scarring, or cholesterol  buildup.  I was released from the hospital and told that there was no reason that this should have happened.  It was not related to potassium or my diet or my blood clotting factor.

But they did offer me statins and gave me a pill used for heart stent patients to thin my blood and open my heart, and sheet of paper that said I should avoid fried foods, creams, butter, whole milk, bacon, sausage, organ meats, egg yolks, tropical oils and only eat low-fat foods including “whole wheat, vegetables without salt or butter, skim milk, soy milk, nonfat yoghurt and cheese, lean cuts of meat, skinless poultry, fish, meat alternatives with soy or textured vegetable protein, egg whites or substitutes, unsaturated oils (olive, peanut, soy, sunflower, canola), soft or liquid margarine, and vegetable oil spreads, seeds, nuts, avocados.”

It has now been a year since this episode and I continue to have food sensitivities, intolerance to cold, midnight anxiety, no body heat, hypoglycemia, and really sensitive to sugar and alcohol.  I also had really low blood pressure (95/60) and low heart rate (60 bpm) for a while after hospitalization.”



  1. FIRST!!! (silly but that made my day).

  2. Can I just say, I am so glad my friend sent me to this site! I had been increasing my carbs a few weeks before getting here and that was around the time I kept hearing “get on GAPS!” “Do the GAPS diet!” – I was *this* close to looking into it, but I kept feeling a little bit better every time I increased my carbs so I didn’t do it.

    Now I am full RRARF and see big changes. I’m so sorry for those who are thinking GAPS is a miracle diet :( I know about trying to fix those villi, fixing a leaky gut, etc. – I’ve done it all – way into SCD which is even stricter than GAPS – did nothing for me but make me sicker.

    Anyway, thank you,, Matt, for all your research and your writings.


    • What is RRARF???

    • the scd diet is not stricter than gaps, and in response to matt, i used to have lower potassium levels when i was on a high carb diet now that i’m on gaps my potassium is fine. nor does she recommend laxitives that was prob why u had low potassium. Along with no more insulin resistance, it has helped my gastroparesis big time and severe depression, and chronic fatigue, mental fogginess, gerd, gastritis, and i’ve been on it 3 months.

      • Nice rebuttal Michelle – I too see no mention of laxatives in GAPS and as for potassium GAPS expressly recommends using decent amounts of natural sea salt – high in pottasium and other trace elements. GAPS is not for everyone – nothing ever is.

        • good clear-headed objective response Dennis. nothing is for everyone, but it is VERY hard to deny the stories of those hugely benefiting from GAPS.

      • I agree. The GAPS diet doesn’t call for laxatives or daily enemas.

  3. When your child has autistic symptoms and the GAPS diet is the only thing to keep the symptoms away what would you do? Its not so clear cut for a child who’s brain is being severely affected by non-GAPS foods. When sweet potatoes make your child toe walk you cling to the diet. Additionally fighting yeast and bacteria is a never-ending battle with a child that has an autoimmune disorder and is constantly eating pathogen feeding foods such as brown rice.

    I completely understand where you’re coming from because on full GAPS (never did intro) I felt like pure crap. I destroyed my metabolism on paleo and raw diets and am now miserable and feel chubby after abandoning GAPS for myself.

    On the other hand, intro is meant to be done slow, but you should quickly move on as Baden from GAPSguide has pointed out. If you’re spending 3 days on each stage that is a total of 18 days. Afterwards, you can eat soup once a day on the full diet with other meals that contain vegetables, fruit, coconut flour, beans, etc etc

    • To answer your first question, I would probably shoot myself.

      While GAPS might help someone with autism, that doesn’t mean everybody else should jump on the bandwagon with the assumption that there are no dangers or downsides to the diet. That is the point of this post.

      But even providing short-term symptom relief for autism doesn’t mean that someone can’t go on to develop better diets, better methods, better strategies, and better treatments. Even if GAPS is a solution, it’s a really hard one. Just because we invented a bike doesn’t mean we shouldn’t keep developing technologies for more efficient travel. There may be rocket ships out there. A certain blend of thyroid hormones, diet, minerals, anti-fungals, and body chemistry management (keeping urine density higher is certainly one starting point that is on no one’s radar) may be better. So like, somebody give me some autistic guinea pigs here!

      • I have 3 kids on the autism spectrum, all with varying degrees of severity. I have been through the ringer for a while now and I am trying to find the “perfect” diet to help my kids. (Keep in mind that I have tried many, many things over the last 8 years. This is just another step in my journey). So my question to you, Matt, is what do you suggest? I don’t want to make things worse, I want to make things better. Like I said, I have 3 kids, all with varying symptoms, and I am 2 steps away from Paleo… but before I do that, I want to make sure that what you are suggesting isn’t going to work better for my kids. I am pretty knowledgeable (I think you have to be when you are dealing with autism) but with so many diets floating in the air these days, you really don’t know who to believe or what to choose. And, yes, GAPS has been on my radar… just like every other diet that claims to heal my children.

        • Hey Michele,

          I have a son who has recovered from the ails associated with his autism, like stimming, gut and digestive problems, speech delay, infections and such and I researched and tried many diets. My best advice is that there are no miracle diets, but that instead food can be a healer. Food has the ability to help in many ways, and all three of your children may require different foods to help them.

          With autism, I learned that we are on the extreme side of things. We have to d everything slower and gentler. I always encourage my clients to add in healing foods gradually Befire even taking out offending foods. I will also say that we went without sugar for over a year, we progressed, but we also paid for it with other side effects much like Matt explained. We did body ecology, over all, we are healthy and have reincorporated breads, meats, etc. we eat balanced now. Take those aspects of each autism healing diet that feel right to you and incorporate them slowly,

          Some awesome stuff tha worked for us: coconut kefir, e3 live brain on, Bioage algae, bee pollen, fermented green powders, bone broth, green smoothies, green juices, cod liver oil, coconut oil,.

          When we cam off body ecology style raw veganism, my son craved eggs and pizza up the wazoo, that helped him tremendously, he now has it once in a while.

          It’s a delicious world. Rock on!

          • I love you Gina and Dougie is just a radiant light! xoxoo he is one lucky guy to have you and Doug as parents. love deb


        Jessica has her two sons (1st son PANDAS, ASD, MTHFR, etc) on special diets, but does not do GAPS. She also uses raw camel milk, natural antimicrobials, Soil Based Organisms, low salicylates, and Andy Cutler chelation (not the harsh type). She is seeing awesome gains with her boys, but as with everyone still encounters struggles here and there. Her 1st sons OAT test revealed that the high high doses of SBO’s are reducing pathogens to low test results. I am not informed enough as she is to undertake what she does. Her website is EXTREMELY detailed on what she does. Matt you may want to check out her site because you could be helpful to the mothers out there figuring it out on their own because the pediatricians are useless. Your next ebook could be about treating autism, adhd, etc with diet.

        I have repeatedly worried about my son’s metabolism after reading your ebook, but I feel like I have no other choice at this point. He seems like he has plenty of energy, BUT I have noticed his hair is thinning out which worries me big time. What tests could I do to make sure he is doing OK?

        Someone in the comments mentioned constipation is endocrine related. My son was constipated for the first 21 months of his life and was developing normally until out of nowhere at 18 months old presented autistic symptoms and regression and the GAPS diet at 21 months allowed him to act like his old self. Im curious to understand about endocrine system and constipation.

        • I also must point out that my son has never been constipated on GAPS so Im curious how that relates to the speed of digestion and GAPS

          • Christina and Matt:
            I am loving your exchanges here! I am working with a couple autism families in helping them become familiar with Matt’s ideas. As you know, there are many families out there who cannot afford the expensive biomed treatments, doctors, etc.. I am really hoping Matt can help with this. As I’ve told him, Autism families are like a big ol mama bear with a wounded cub. I trust he will find a way to help, someone just has to give him the chance :) I appreciate your vulnerability in sharing, Christina.

          • I’m not sure what you are asking about GAPS and constipation, but maybe this will help?

            When you eat no/low carbs, you begin to source energy from your body’s emergency glycogen stores. (liver and muscles) When converting this to energy, it releases water and you end up peeing A LOT! This is why really heavy people will lose so much weight in the first few weeks.
            Every time you urinate you also lose salts (aka electrolytes) such as potassium. If your body then experiences a shortage of potassium, it will try to hold on to every last piece of potassium it has. Since potassium can leave the body through the bowel or via urination, I assume that this is why constipation can occur when your body is low in potassium. Now, the GAPS diet says that when you are constipated to drink something such as kombucha, ACV water, lemon juice, etc to help, but if it is more than a few days then to use a more physical way of flushing out the bowels with an enema.

            Doing an enema would be an extremely dangerous thing to do if your body is trying to hold onto potassium that is normally excreted through your bowels or urination. It could just cause the potassium levels to go even lower.

            So the connection with the GAPS diet is that it says constipation is BAD. But, maybe some constipation could really just be a way your body is trying to save itself from more harm…after all, the body seems to know what it is doing without our brains getting in the way.

          • I have definitely seen some massive electrolyte/hyponatremia issues like yours triggered by enemas/colonics. Thanks for bringing that up.

          • I’ve noticed that my pee tends to go clear after I have diarrhea.

        • Any idea where she gets the raw camel milk? I’m looking on her blog, but don’t see it. I’ve heard wonderful things about it.

          • Kari, look up de Millie Hinkle. She’s out of north Carolina. I spoke to her this summer and considered doing the raw camels milk myself. She has a lot of info and from what I could tell, she’s very willing to share

          • Cheeseslave is very interested in Camels milk too and I think she has a source! Hook up with the Cheese !

          • I know where to get it. Email me and we can talk.

        • Hi Christina..I have heard low thyroid function which is part of the endocrine system can cause hair loss and constipation as Matt says the thyroid controls metabolism, temperature,digestion etc.Low thyroid also effects brain function and many other functions in the body..

      • Sorry, no guinea pigs for you here, Matt. BTDT. Healed that (PDD-NOS/Asperger’s) WITH carbs, despite constantly hearing we would likely never see normalcy because of feeding yeast, from the biomed community. For us, the magic combo was dropping vegetable oils (which likely cause retention of toxic metals through creation of age pigments) upping fat soluble vitamins, paying special attention to K2, and unfortunately staying gluten-free on an otherwise well-rounded whole foods diet, including sugar!

        A few years later, the hubby and I got greedy… Can’t we have our health and be skinny, too? Went low-carb… It was a bad, bad thing for all of us. My son’s anxiety and sleep problems resurfaced with a vengeance. He started some stimming behaviors again. My daughter developed terrible leg cramps, and a wicked strep infection (not the throat kind). We were all wasting vitamins A and B6, particularly, but also potassium and magnesium. I wouldn’t have thought to check it except my friend Team Smith pointed you out, and my kids’ temps were LOW.

        My own depression, which had healed on the same well-rounded eating paradigm I mentioned earlier, resurfaced. My hair fell out. My husband’s acne returned. It was all a big lie!

        Adding back carbs has not only gotten us back to that state of healing we had before (well, we are still working on it… Unfortunately my daughter may have developed an autoimmune reaction to gluten exposure on low-carb which she may never recover from). Nobody is stimming or overwhelmed by bright lights or sounds or textures, everybody sleeps well. Temps in 3 of 4 of us are now normal. Last guy is finally drinking the Kool-Aid. ;)

        I am personally frustrated by the idea being propagated that GAPS is the only way to heal Autism. That is contrary to my experience, and, as you argue very well, contrary to the evidence. Much of the dysregulation in the nervous system centers around mis-placed calcium, the deposition of which is governed by THYROID function, and I see this largely ignored by the community at large, but ESPECIALLY these folks looking at the gut as the be all and end all of health, but only in certain contexts!

        Nevermind the likely contribution of estrogens… And their promotion by such stressful diets!!

        Anyway, thanks for your great summary. Looking forward to the interview!

        • An interesting factoid about autism is that there is clear mitochondrial dysfunction. I think that’s probably a more appropriate starting place – getting the cell operating correctly.

          • How do you do that, or is that the million dollar question?

          • Ding, ding, ding! Matt is the winner!!

            The first award handed out by the Vaccine Court in the U.S. was to a girl with a mitochondrial disorder. Kids on the spectrum regularly benefit from a mix of vitamins dubbed “The Mitochondrial Cocktail.”

            I suppose we’ve been your guinea pigs, but I had started this so long ago, you just brought us back around to what worked in the first place after a big *bad* detour. (Riddled with FFAs!).

            You don’t have to look far to see kids with impaired glucose oxidation these days! Reducing the release of free fatty acids (frequently abbreviated as FFAs) by keeping oneself well fed (which can be hard with picky eaters on the spectrum), and decreasing polyunsaturate is huge.

          • I agree with Matt on the mito issue. Just about every ASD child I’ve been exposed to is struggling with mito dysfunction or disease, to some degree. I highly recommend the consideration of dealing with the methylation pathway, learning about your child’s gene mutations and more importantly, learning how to bypass them. Amy Yasko’s website is a great place to begin to educate yourself, she offers wonderful videos on the subject. Without this knowledge, something as simple as supplementation could actually cause harm. Giving a methyl donor can send some kids reeling in a sea of sensory overload and agitation and this could be related to their methylation blockages, yet some doctors are still pushing MB12 as the fix-all without this knowledge of their genetics. Epigenetics is our ability to turn gene expression on and off by way of environmental exposure, diet and thought. Our kids are the product of epigenetics. We can use that information to benefit or harm ourselves. Education is power.

            You are what you eat blogger

          • Jessica,

            Thank you for writing all that. I’ve been studying some on epigenetics and I need to know more about the blockage you are talking about because of the mercury and aresenic I have a hard time getting out of me. I was in a program (STUPID DECISION, but I was dying in 2010 and family sent a LOT of money to try to keep me alive) that ended up giving me over 60 supplements a day with a green drink, etc………. heavy detox, nearly killed me, with DMPS IVs and all. Anyway, will look into what you mentioned and I’ll check out your blog.


          • Yikes Tamara. Glad you are ok and at least they tried natural approaches, it could have been worse! =)


          • Interesting link! I had seen her basic video but not the full explanation of what she went through (including eliminating allergens).

        • Goomama: When you say healed your children with RRARF does that mean they are back in school functioning at the same level? Did you use chelation, supplements, etc? I am interested but very skeptical at this approach for my own son because I avoided vegetable oils and white sugar and any additives/processed food and fed him sprouted gluten free grains, soaked brown rice, cod liver oil, raw goat milk (all RRARF friendly) his first 18 months AND stopped vaxing @ 7 months and he still started to slip into autism around 18 months.

          Does anyone know what tests can be done to monitor your child’s metabolism?

          • Christina,

            Skeptical is GOOD! Especially when the word “cure” is used (I dislike that word greatly, but it was late… LOL). Everybody is selling something… and just by virtue of their reliance on sales, it can take them a long time to change their stance (or they never do!). I think this is particularly true in healing Autism Spectrum disorders.

            I’ve been hemming and hawing about whether or not I want to blog about this at all. Originally, I didn’t want to, because I feel that I am on a constant search for evidence and truth, and wasn’t sure how to do write publicly about these things and be open to changing my mind. But the last year and a half of reading this blog has shown me that it is possible. I just keep waiting for life to slow down so I can do it! (Ha! Nine years ago, I never thought I would say that, from inside my boring food prison).

            We did eat nuts for a long time. We don’t really, now, except for the occasional macadamia nut. I avoid chicken and pork, except very occasionally (once a month or less) when it is pastured, and then I trim the fat and add back butter or coconut oil. We eat at restaurants occasionally, because we can, but I try very hard to avoid PUFA when I do so, or at least as much as possible.

            We have done many interventions except two things… Veganism and SCD (though we basically were doing SCD when we were low-carb). Low-oxalate, Failsafe/Feingold, gfcfsfcfef (or as I fondly refer to as the “everything-free” diet), WAP, for the last 9 years now. I even tried the Milk Cure for myself! We also did chelation, early on. We used many, many supplements.

            We decided early on not to put my son in school; it would not have been a good fit for him — Initially, because of sensory issues and anxiety, and then later because of his uneven abilities (ahead in reading and writing, grade level for mathematics). He was able to participate in a quasi-school one day a week for 3rd (2nd) and 4th (3rd) grade (we put him in a grade ahead because he would have been bored). Funny, now that you mention it — we were on low-carb for the second part of that second year and starting into the third year, and part of the reason I pulled him out is because his anxiety had returned! I had attributed it to the situation, until just now (I had anxiety, too, at the time!). He could definitely participate again now or this coming year, but he accomplishes so much more being at home, and I don’t really require the “day off” any longer.

            This gets into the contribution of cortisol, though… ;)

        • When you say you stayed away from vegetable oils, do you allow your kids nuts/seeds? I know the body needs small amounts of omega 6. My son is likely mild PPD, and we’re trying to help. Adding a little omega 3 (we do a little cod liver oil bc he’s low in vit A), taking out gluten, and only allowing limited dairy has helped. My baby daughter is developing wonderfully but she is showing symptoms of THYROID issues(small for her age, dryish hair, and cold hands and feet, and undigested food in stools) and since I believe this may be how it all started with my son, I want to correct this desperately. K2 is made by intestinal bacteria, right? Or am I mistaken? Ghee and butter are good sources? Thanks so much for sharing your story.

          • sorry, my above comment was directed towards goomama. thanks!

          • Kari,

            This gets into the crux about what I would blog! ;) I’ve got some ideas about the causes of these things, and their relationship to motherhood, diet, and environment. I grew up eating a lot of restaurant food, then working with a lot of chemical solvents while I was pregnant (I have a graduate degree in neurobiology and molecular biology)… and then I made a lot of wrong turns in trying to recover from those experiences on behalf of my children.

            It’s impossible to eat a PUFA-free diet. Whether or not it’s necessary in the amounts espoused by many health fanatics is definitely up for debate, though! I did my share of cod liver oil guzzling, too, and used borage and fish oils to help regulate my menstrual cycles. Still recovering from that…

            K2 can be made by intestinal bacteria, yes. And it is present in lactofermented foods. But I am not convinced of their safety, for many of the reasons Matt states in this blog post. K2 would be present in the fat of grassfed dairy products, liver, and fish eggs.

            Right now I’m on vacation, but perhaps I’ll get a blog post up about this stuff when I get home.

            I feel like I’m so far down the rabbit hole that we don’t have to dye eggs at Easter. I just lay them. LOL.

          • Well, if you do decide to blog about it, I would love to read it. I have to admit, I am learning more than I ever thought I wanted to know about health. I am finding it all very interesting and I enjoy learning; I just wish that my kids’ weren’t the victims of this. It adds this feeling of desperation and an incredible feeling of guilt. Unfortunately, that has taken a toll on my own health.

          • I’m very interested in understanding K2 also. I was very low in Vit. D, so started taking D3 from lanolin. Great. But since I am no longer taking cod liver oil, I need to get K2 and since I can’t do much dairy, where to get it?

            Saw a youtube video that talked about getting it from brie cheese (dairy, but probably could do it sometimes). Not sure if synthetic supplementation is good for now or not – have a bottle of it sitting here staring at me!

            Would be interested in reading what you blog about it too….


          • Tamara, Natto, a fermented soy bean food is the highest source of K2. You can find it in oriental markets, but the taste might have to acquired. It is strong, but effective. Look at Chris Masterjohn’s blog for other sources of K2. Just Google him. Grass fed, raw butter is high but not like Natto.

          • That brings up an interesting idea — goitrogenic foods are often made more goitrogenic through fermentation (per Chris Masterjohn). I wonder if that is the same for natto, or if the unusually high amount of K2 provides a net positive effect for thyroid function.

            I’m reading a bit into it there, as I think K2 has a pro-thyroid effect. It has a direct effect on osteocalcin and calcitonin expression, which are produced in the thyroid. I need to do more reading on that, though.

            I like natto, but am avoiding legumes. We originally started supplementing K2 using the Thorne drops, and that created pretty significant (read: painful) detoxification of oxalate for my kids. Joining the VitaminK Yahoo! Group and perusing the archives isn’t a bad idea if one is going to play around with supraphysiologic levels of VitaminK. Not that I agree with everything on the protocol, necessarily (probiotics, iodine, low-carb, melatonin), but it’s nice to go into it knowing the potential effects, especially for kids. Low and slow is the ticket. Some people can only tolerate one drop every third or fourth day. But if one has been eating a lot of fermented foods or fermented CLO, rapid oxalate detoxification is probably not going to be an issue… probably. Someone told me the half life is only a few weeks, so… ? As with everything, proceed with caution. ;)

          • JANELLE – thank you – will look into that!

            CYNTHIA – yeah I know natto is high, but don’t think I can stomach it lol. I will look at the resource you suggested too.

            GOOMAMA – I’ve wondered the same thing re: goitrogenic foods and fermentation. When I was all about the WAPF, was very into fermenting everything – got pretty good at it, but didn’t realize about the goitrogenic part of it. Now I stay away from fermented cabbage, etc., but I do have a little miso sometimes. This Chris Masterjohn (sp?) sounds interesting – another resource for me! ha! So I wonder about brie cheese – that’s fermented from a bacteria too, but not a goit. veggie ????

            I would think K2 is pro-thyroid, but I am still at the beginning stages of understanding it – since it is related to D3 and calcium (and D3 is hormone related – endocrine – thus thyroid), I want more info on this K2 and how to get the best bang for my buck!

            You mentioned FCLO (or maybe just CLO). Anyway, that’s a PUFA right? I stopped using it when I started understanding more about PUFAs, but wondering if taking it every few days is okay??? What are your thoughts?


          • Wait, sorry if this is a silly question, but is fermented “everything” goitergenic? I realize cabbage and such is, but even things like milk kefir or coconut water kefir are? What is it about the lactic acid that is a problem?

          • Yep, that’s a PUFA. I’m not advocating either way ATM — going back to the Thorne for the time being, but just butter oil seems to be okay. Except, as it turns out, the butyric acid taste is what my kids hate, and the levels of K2 are variable, and the manufacturer is tight-lipped about the actual K2 content.

            Looks like there are a couple polymorphisms that can affect both the recycling of Vitamin K and also its activation of matrix-Gla proteins.

            Still studying… ;)

          • GOOMAMA –

            Okay so I stopped the PUFAs (except this one little bit I had the other day and then today had an itsy bitsy bit), but I stopped the fermented cod liver oil because it’s a PUFA but……… I was using it to get my Vit. A. Now what? How to get enough Vit A?

            I ordered Thorne K2 (well MK4 or whatever that expensive-who-has-the-money-for-that supplement) but your comment about detox. too fast kinda made me nervous.

            Where to get enough Vit. A? Doctor 2 yrs ago when I was turning orange said my liver was not converting beta carotene to Vit. A – I know my liver is a mess, but now when I eat carrots / sweet potatoes, I don’t turn orange (but I’m not juicing either). Anyway, if I can’t covert to Vit. A, where can I get Vit. A that you know of? I hear the synthetic is super bad for you – I don’t use much synthetic anyway, but there’s so much hype about synthetic A being super bad.


          • Replying here because it wouldn’t let me reply when you asked goomama about where to get vit a–you could get it from Liver, if you can stand it : ).

          • 1. Ick!

            2. Thanks, but ick!


            I saw when my hubby bought some spinach yesterday that there’s a lot of Vit. A in that. I’m thinking I need loads more than a handful of cooked spinach though.

            I have some liver in the freezer… IF (READ IF!!!) ha…. I decide to eat it, do you have a good way of doing so?


          • Vit A = fermented cod liver oil

            Not at all as gross as it sounds.

            Green Pastures is the best source. Mediterranean flavor is nice and salty.

          • You could just take a supplement, the best one is by Thorne its the MK-4 that is found in animal foods.

          • ANNIE –

            I have been taking FCLO (even wrote an article on the product lol)…. but since it is a PUFA, I stopped taking it. I’m on the fence about it. Have you taken PUFAs out of your diet?

          • Tamara — Zinc is needed to help convert beta carotene into vitamin A. So perhaps a zinc supplement would help, at least to start with.

            I’ve read elsewhere that beta carotene inhibits thyroid function, but can’t pull it up right now.

          • Hey, to the person with the child who is showing hypothyroid signs, I recommend you get her tested (they will probably just to T4 & free TSH). My own child was caught as a newborn, and they put him on synthetic thyroid hormone immediately. Now, I cried over this, because I wanted my child to be drug-free, everything natural or whatever, blah blah, but this is a serious growth/development issue. I’m still trying to find a way for him to get off of the supplements, but I have fed him well, and he is super-strong at 3 years old, heavy for his size, very intelligent. Check into what happens to children who aren’t treated for hypothyroidism.

      • Matt, have you actually read Gut and Psychology Syndrome or just heard Natasha speak? I think she makes it quite clear that if some approach is creating adverse reactions don’t keep beating a dead horse. If you’ve been around the autism community for some time you know that the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. Even if there was a complete cure for Autism through diet (which there is not) there is a small percentage of parents of autistic children that will argue til they are blue in the face that the science is bogus. As sad as it seems these parents have a comfort zone with their child’s affliction. Another percentage of those that actually do go on GAPS, SCD, Body Ecology, etc. take it so literally that they give themselves no room for adjustment. Every minute quantity, degree, carb, ratio, etc. is to the letter and analyzed to death. That is how I would describe the woman’s GAPS experience you posted in your blog. What good are all of those numbers she talks about? If you are not feeling well make changes and see what happens. GAPS works and it works well but like any diet, yours included, you have to use a little common sense and instincts. The stress alone from following any diet so literally and being so rigid is a big deterent to getting well.

        • Yes, I have actually read it.

        • Been doing GAPS for my two autistic kids for four years. It’s not a cure for all. But the kind of autism we parents are facing these days is the kind which if not treated naturally via diet only gets worse and worse. Sometimes diet is to maintain status quo and keep our kids from the inevitable slip into darker places. Having said that, GAPS gave me my younger son back. It does work, and the proof is in the GAPS friendly pudding.

      • Matt I’ve only just found your website today. I’m going to check out your ideas/program whatever. I’ve been hunting for the best diet for years. I’ve had 16 years of fibromyalgia, ibs and fatigue. I found that diet changes made huge differences and so began to believe diet was the answer. I’ve learnt some tough lessons such as ending up in a psyche ward for 4 months after attempting “The pH Miracle”. Anyway. I know people who have RECOVERED their kids from autism through GAPs. Please be carefull to rather than steal their hope/joy……..give them better answers! I have a son who has Aspergers and one not too far away from add who is four. We have pyroluria in the family and I’m interested in seeing if the right diet can affect the pyroluria. The experts seem to think it is genetic but I do wonder. Apart from supplemts for pyroluria my four year old can be redused to almost normal if I keep him fed what seems almost all day long! As for my 13 year old asd boy the worst thing for bringing his symptoms back is hunger! Pyroluria supplements + a wholesome diet + bucket loads of raw creamy milk + Dr Houston”s Trienza digestive enzymes have brought my kid back. Do you know about Dr Houston Digestive Enzymes. I could never get my head around doing GAPs with 5 children, one income, fibromyalgia and homeschooling. Instead I recovered our boy through digestive enzymes and didn’t have to do GAPS. I cried the day we took him out and he ate grilled cheesy panini and cake without going nuts! He is BETTER way better on normal food with enzymes. Still can’t handle egg white, apples or sugar or tomato, but it’s way better than SCD!

        Thanks for listening. How do we get kids their natural enzymes back without SCD or GAPs or probiotics though?

        • Cathy,

          What enzymes do you use?

      • “While GAPS might help someone with autism, that doesn’t mean everybody else should jump on the bandwagon with the assumption that there are no dangers or downsides to the diet. That is the point of this post. ”

        To my understanding it is not targeted at everyone, but people who specifically have leaky gut or major digestion issues, along with a variety of other conditions that author believes are related to the gut.

        And there is a lot of evidence to support her diet working, its not really fair to suggest that it is speculative, if peoples symptoms and problems stop, as a result of the diet, that seems to me to be cast iron proof.

        I have IBS type symptoms, asthma and allergies. Not to mention dyslexia and in the past depression.

        Currently on the first stages of the intro diet, many of the daily problems i have have stopped, something that I have invested a lot of time, money and energy into in the past and never had after months/years, let alone a few days.

        The fact you’re so discriminatory and keep talking about metabolic rates and the end of your posts is an opt in to receive information about an intervention for metabolic rates makes me a bit suspicious.

      • You have a refreshing style of communication, Matt. It doesn’t offend me in the least. I agree that following the GAPS program is hard (we’ve been on it for 8 months), BUT I disagree with you that other things that work might be easier. I have had friends do bio-medical (heavily based on supplementation) approaches to autism through DAN-doctors, some with great results, some with no results. To imply that a certain way of eating and cooking is harder than that crazy, confusing and expensive world of supplementation, pricey testing and experimentation…..I would have to disagree with you there.
        I do appreciate your thoughts on discouraging those who don’t ‘need GAPS’ to not just do it for the heck of it. I can see how that could potentially cause problems that weren’t going to happen already. Keep people making really mindful decisions before they jump into a program, but don’t turn those away from GAPS that could really benefit from it!! Thanks Matt!

  4. My husband and I attempted GAPS (after he was med-evac’ed from Afghanistan with weird auto-immune symptoms). We hated it. Felt like crap all day and night. And my digestion slowed to a c–r–a–w–l, which gave me stomachaches all the time. We were jonesin’ so bad for carbs! CARBS!!! We didn’t stick with it for more than a few weeks. I guess we’re just no good at ignoring instincts and cravings.

  5. Worked wonders for my daughter – all over body eczema cleared, nine food intolerances gone, weight gained, and ear infections a thing of the past. Just sayin’

    • Matt’s main point is that this program does not work for everyone. That’s AWESOME that it worked for your daughter though! I don’t agree with Matt on tons of his opinions, but I do agree that no program works for everyone.

  6. I experimented with a diet called the Body Ecology Diet for a while during a wholistic nutrition course. It is very similar to the GAPS diet. Similar to my began and vegetarian attempts, the diet produced all the familar metabolism lowering outcomes with zero benefits. I did lose weight but it was probably water and lean mass. Not to mention I couldn’t sleep at night and had zero energy for my active lifestyle. Thumbs down. 180 baby all day every day . Carbs up!

    • The Body Ecology diet would be up there with veganism and zero carb for ending overpopulation. It did cure me of not having a sugar addiction and not thinking about my diet much, as well as having some muscle mass – those terrible afflictions.

      • Yeah! We could totally lay in bed too cold to “do anything” and let our muscles waste away while those SAD eating fools run around having fun! Dude I know my body runs on sugar but ima go ahead and feed it protein and fat instead… Sweet… Why am I not feeling to hot? Must be those pesky little GLUTEN guys. ..or maybe those casein critters … Lactose! Lordy lordy! Languishing in lactose I must be oh heavens to Betsy, that’s what’s wrong with me :)

  7. I had bi-polar disorder and problems with sugar-cravings before doing GAPS. I did GAPS for 9 months. Early on in the diet I had terrible die-off whenever I would drink Kefir … but I ended up needing an antibiotic not long after starting GAPS – and after I took the antibiotic I was able, to my surprise, to consume large amounts of kefir/kraut/probiotics without any negative side effects. I could tell that my digestion improved (gas gone), my moods stabilized, and my depression gave way to peace, calm and happiness. A true answer to prayer. It seems I had a mild overgrowth of pathogens that cleared up. Also, learning about “real food” was an enormous blessing. However … the last couple of months I was on GAPS were not as good. I now know that I have hypothyroidism and adrenal fatigue (I have since I was a child) and eating SCD/GAPS really, really caused an increase in those endocrine deficiencies. I am now I adrenal extracts, desiccated thyroid (& cod liver oil, some minerals, and some other supplements) and I am eating sprouted grains, raw milk and even some sugar sometimes. My complexion is brighter, the circles under my eyes (that developed while I GAPS) are almost gone and my energy is coming back. I am so grateful that the probiotic foods stopped my mood disorder. In the end, if a person is suffering from Colitis (or something) then I would absolutely recommend the diet to stop their diarrhea (constipation is likely endocrine related for many, as you suggest). But it should only be thought of as temporary, and definitely NOT for everyone. Especially people with thryoid/adrenal problems. Also, like you wrote, if a person is having alarming side-effects they should discontinue the diet. I have talked with Dr. NCM over email and personal phone calls and she has clarified on a few occasions that GAPS is not for everyone and that some people need more carbohydrates for their metabolism (even potatoes, etc). I would never suggest anyone consider staying grain-free or doing SCD for the rest of their life (well, maybe a few people could, but not most people). To support metabolism a person should try to add potatoes, or gluten-free grains (or something) as soon as possible. The point here is that we are all so very, very diverse. I think there are many autistic kids who need their adrenals and thyroids (etc.) addressed; hopefully their parents do so.

    • My question is, “what sick child/person doesn’t have thyroid/adrenal issues?”

      • well … I suppose if the acute illness (i.e. all-over body rashes, seizures, bloody diarrhea, etc) are are of more concern than adrenal fatigue (etc) … the person might find a lot of relief from the diet and should probably give it a try. But, they just need to be aware of the effects it can have on metabolism and keep an eye out. Again, my mood-disorder (that was virtually ruining my life) is a thing of the past; so I can’t complain too much. And, in fact, the increase in thyroid/adrenal issues have actually been a blessing in disguise – because it has actually caused me to go and learn about metabolism/endocrine-system, etc. … If I didn’t do GAPS I would probably still be living with the hellish lie that my depression was a “genetic chemical imbalance” which is a terrifying thought, at best =(

        • yeah i totally agree on that front – the whole “genetic chemical imbalance” depression myth is such a horrible life sentence; I’m also grateful for Dr Campbell-McBride for opening my eyes to the possibility that the cause AND cure may lie outside of the psychiatrists’ realm! I never did the full GAPS diet as it was just too labour-intensive for me but it did in a roundabout way lead me to Matt Stone and RRARF etc, and although I am now around 35lbs heavier than pre-RRARF, I have finally managed to get rid of the awful eczema/psoriasis and other candida symptoms that have been bugging me for the last 10 years, and I believe my chronic clinical depression is now (touch wood) a thing of the past.

  8. Thanks for this Mattie Cakes. Take a Stone to turn over every nutritional bullshit stone in the land. I commend you!

  9. “Some symptoms I experienced included: very painful cramps in my calves at night, headaches, chills, waking up to go to the bathroom 1-3 times a night, standing up and feeling dizzy, constipation, excessive hunger/thirst and dry mouth….”
    These were my symptom almost to a T about 8 months ago – you could add extreme anxiety and very low energy. I could even take a 20 min walk or i’d have to take a nap. I wasn’t on any diet. I just tried to eat balanced and I LOVED to workout – I worked out hard. I really did try to listen to my body and eat whenever I needed to etc….
    I am very thankful that I have slowly progressed because I really am clueless as to why these symptoms came about seemingly out of the blue. I don’t get dizzy anymore, I don’t get that dehydrated feeling even though I just drank 3 glasses of water, I don’t have leg cramps anymore etc…. I still have some issues but here’s my question. Is it really low metabolism that causes all of this? Was I working out too hard and not feeding my body enough even though I thought I was? When all of the above symptoms happened to me I eventually went to see a naturopath and he said I had leaky gut, which was causing my read blood cells to stick together, which eventually caused adrenal fatigue because my body wasn’t getting enough nutrients…. That’s the quick of it.
    So I guess i’m just wondering – I had those same symptoms you posted not being on the GAPS diet. So there must have been something else I was doing that caused me to have the same trouble? I get so confused about all the info out there on the internet, books etc. I am fascinated by it all and I LOVE to read it. I just have a hard time putting it together for myself I guess :)

    • Oops, I meant *couldn’t* take a 20 min walk :)

    • I think the answers to your questions are definitely “yes”? I find exercise to be even more powerful at lowering metabolism than many diets, in some cases. Doing a ton of exercise on a poor diet is the real clencher.

    • That was me on low carb paleo/ GAPs. I hoped to gain energy and lose weight. Now I am tireder and fatter! Everyone says just keep at it, I thought my body was taking a long time to adjust because I was so sick. I stuck with it for 18 months (well apart from the 10 million times I succumbed to the carb cravings lol), adding in GAPs in hope that’d help. When I started wondering if I should try FODMAP diet or low salicylates etc, I knew it was time to walk away. I have a condition called hypermobility syndrome, and am pretty sure I have had increasing adrenal fatigue for a long time after years of high stress and high strain on my body with pregnancies, nursing, dieting and so on. My poor body! It’s been 4-5 months since I reintroduced carbs (still gluten free as it massively amps up the GERD, gastritis and joint pain), and I am not seeing recovery. Very frustrating.

  10. So Matt, just curious as you mention probiotic ‘supplements’ whats your take on kombucha and fermented foods?

    Also, completely unrelated, in the quote you shared she mentions having Factor V Leiden which I also have. I’ve never met anyone else with this, expect family as it is genetic. From what I’ve heard it’s a fairly recent discovery…I think in the 80’s or 90’s? Anyway, just sayin…

    Unless you have any info on it because I haven’t been able to find anything super helpful except that I’m not allowed to be on birth control, (blessing in disguise?!) Can’t travel long distances without a blood thinner, and have to take a blood thinning shot every day when pregnant to reduce chance of clot or miscarriage. Although, I took those shots and still had a miscarriage so…I gave myself super expensive shots in the stomach every day for nothing…it was awesome.

    Sorry that was little long.

    • Lauren — google “Ken Lassesen”, or find him on Facebook. He (and members of his family have the same coagulation issue(s) — and are doing very well.

  11. SCD, GAPs and Body Ecology all say they’ve had success with autistic children and if I was dealing with an autistic child they’d be the first thing I’d try. But I agree that they’re on the extreme side and for specific purposes.

    You wrote “even the Rubins . . . have noted that even people who have been taking antibiotics for long periods of time still show adequate or even excessive amounts of these “healthy bacteria” in the gut.” Yet just the other day listened to this fascinating interview on Fresh Air:, where a documented case was mentioned of a woman with a lung infection who took antibiotics which handled the lung infection but afterwards became her terribly ill from an unfriendly bacteria, almost dying. In desperation the Dr. did a fecal transplant (yes, he put her husband’s poop into her) and she started to improve in 2 days, and 2 weeks later the unfriendly bacteria was completely gone. Just sayin’. There are examples on both sides and the truth is probably somewhere in the middle. I experienced a good improvement in my bowels when I ate sauerkraut daily, but I just could never enjoy the taste (or smell), so I stopped making it.

    I think many of us interested in health hear about something that heals a specific thing and then think “it must be truth, it must be good for everyone!” and try it on ourselves when it’s probably not applicable. (One time I told a friend I was eating a diet that cures cancer and she said, “But you don’t have cancer.”) Thanks for keeping us a little more balanced. That said, just because you mostly hear how things don’t work (aren’t those the majority of the people that find your site?), or something doesn’t work for yourself, does that mean that there aren’t those out there who do find success with a particular diet or philosophy of eating? While the proponents of a diet tend to ignore the failures, are you ignoring the successes, saying “look at all these failures, that doesn’t work”? Maybe it works for some and not for others? Is there anyone thatRRARF didn’t work for? Have you cured any children of autism? (NCM reportedly cured her own son of autism.)

    • I don’t know of anyone with autism who has tried to eat their way to a high body temperature. There are lots of RRARF failures. Like I said in the post, there are failures and successes with every approach. I highlight what can go wrong with various approaches and speculate as to why that is. I do the same with any ideas I have as well, to better anticipate how certain people with certain problems will respond to certain interventions. Most health sites promote one limited way of thinking. I try my best to be more innclusive and have a conversation about anything and everything – willing to use any and all tools available to us. The reason I don’t incorporate more tools from other ideologies, is I view many interventions as risky, or having only a short-term effect but not really getting to the root of things, or fueling neurosis/not fitting into the social construct well enough to be sustainable, or having a brief honeymoon effect with a nasty aftermath.

      I also am very skeptical about hype. Take low-carb weight loss for example. There are thousands of websites and gurus that say low-carb really works and is totally amazing and the ANSWER! to the obesity epidemic. Success stories are everywhere. Weight loss research shows that it doesn’t work. At all. No better than any other method. Even the best-intentioned people are not immune to deluding themselves into thinking that their “discovery” is going to save humanity in some way.

      • Matt – do you have a place posted where the RRARF failures are? I would like to know why it wouldn’t work.

        • Me too!

          • Thanks Yves. That was a well-thought out and professionally-written post. I appreciate your feedback. As I have since discovered, there are a lot of fine details and individual idiosyncrasies that make any kind of well drawn out template impossible. In my next addition of Diet Recovery there will be very little if any conversation about nutrition specifically, and a lot more about how to read and interpret one’s biofeedback correctly. For example, I tell people who are warm in the morning and cold at night to eat a meal pattern like you are eating. I don’t recommend people overfeeding when they are warm, but only when they feel colder than they should based on the temperature of their surroundings. Foods that make one person hot make another cold, as the post “What Gets You Hot” was a good eye-opener on.

            Likewise I will be talking about tongue color, coloration under the eyes, and other factors – having people focus on how to improve those rather than just eat some diet and hope it works for them, when it could go either way. I, for example, experience those changes in tandem with an increase in sugar intake. The more I eat, the more the discoloration under my eyes clears up and the pinker my tongue gets, along with other positive changes.

          • Matt,
            This is what I so like about your program. I am learning to read my body and what it needs and how to keep track of what it is doing-healing vs not healing. I am so waiting for the next addition of Diet Recovery. That is exactly what I need more info on.

            Thanks for what you do.

          • I’m excited for the new edition. It will go so much farther into depth on reading one’s body (urine, tongue color, color under eyes, cold hands and feet, etc.). And it will be a blend of several eBooks and audio programs on exercise, urine concentration, and all kinds of stuff.

          • That is interesting. I think you fit the profile of someone dealing with a fungal infection since high-carb, frequent feedings may well be ideal for fungal infections. Unfortunately I have/had multiple (fungal, protozoan, helmithic and bacterial) infections some of which appear to benefit from occasional fasting and caloric restriction. I think the only time I remember the circles under my eyes going away was 4-5 yes ago when I was too broke to eat, so I decided to go on a fast. I also did salt water “flushes”.. so there was nothing in my gut and any gut sourced toxin burden was way down. Peat’s basic idea that endotoxin=evil resonates with me as a result :)

          • Ooh, excited for this one! Any idea of a timeline for it (this year/next year?) : )

          • I have yet to find a good book that looks at the “how” to listen to your body. The intuitive eating books I know of are pretty lackluster. A book with “how to” is much needed in the diet world.

            Although I probably listen to my body better than most, my understanding of how to listen to my body is always changing. For example, trying to avoid certain foods that give you a bad reaction, e.g. dairy or sugar, might be seen as “listening to your body”, but there is only limited wisdom in that.

            We’ve established that there are no absolute good foods and bad foods, in the sense that there is nothing intrinsic to a food that heals or harms, but even on an individual basis I don’t think there are good and bad foods. It took me a while to get beyond (and I’m still working on it) the paradigm that says “the foods I ate today or yesterday are the direct cause of my negative symptoms.” The thought is that if I was eating the right foods, based on what someone else has said or even what my “body is telling me”, then I would immediately feel great.

            If I had to explain what caused my ill health I would say stress—the slow accumulation of stress from many different angles to the point where my body could no longer cope with it. The dysbiosis of my gut, digestive problems, hair falling out, and even the lowered metabolism were all secondary. And the root of that has nothing to do with food; it was about not trusting myself. I’m sure I would have actualized the same set of health problems even without doing weird diets, it probably would have just taken longer.

            But to bring it back to the book,
            One thing that has been very helpful to me, and that might be helpful to readers of the book, was becoming more aware of what a sympathetic stress reaction feels like in the body. The peeing, the brain fog, feeling in the heart, the jitters, etc. And then you could lay out the different things that might be advisable at that point, like napping, eating, eating and napping, eating and napping more, modifying the drinking schedule, etc.

          • Matt, thanks. The post may have come off harsher towards the diet than I really feel. I have to credit you with making me seriously challenge paleo premises, as well as being able to (with Guyenet’s help as well) shirk off the carbphobia I had. I think RRARF is awesome for people who have pigeon-holed themselves into restrictive diets. So for that, RRARF was seminal in allowing me to break away from the paleoverse. Also you introduced me to Peat (for whom I have plenty of criticism as well :) and the general idea that metabolism mattered.. I just think that the idea of “high metabolism” can be misleading as it implies a more-is-better mentality when I think some infection profiles can be made worse by high caloric intakes. I tracked diet and temperature for months and found almost 0 correlation between caloric intake and temperature. I also felt pretty lousy eating so much food which I tried to power through.. it wasn’t until I was basically in pre-diabetic BG ranges that I dropped the whole approach. I think inappropriate eating can very well lower your metabolism by causing inflammation and feeding pathogens. A high metabolism can also be seen as a liability since nutrient requirements increase.

  12. Been waiting for this post. I found your blog a recently while researching GAPS. Found that many people who had been on GAPS eventually felt better after following RRARF.

    Recently I’ve been eating an essentially paleo diet and was ready to start GAPS in an attempt to heal what seem to be ‘leaky gut’ symptoms, but I hope to get pregnant within the next 12 months, and don’t want to inhibit my ability to get pregnant because I’ve gone too low carb and effed-up my metabolism and hormones. (Neither of which are operating optimally now.)

    So where do I start? How do I increase my carb intake when so many of these foods leave me feeling crappy?

    I’m trying to figure out how to write this comment without giving you my entire medical history, so here are the highlights:

    1) Avoiding grains, sugars, & dairy alleviates my symptoms (headaches, IBS symptoms, severe PMS including extreme cramping & severe depression/anxiety/rage days 14 -28 of cycle, bloating & accelerated weight gain, low energy levels, blood sugar crashes, moodiness/agitation, compulsive cravings) but has proven unsustainable and creates low-metabolism symptoms (cold fingers/nose, low body temps.)

    2) I love food and want to be able to eat all foods. My husband is a gourmet chef and artisan bread baker, for God’s sake!

    3) I spent Sep. – Feb. eating anything and everything I wanted, whenever I wanted and exercising very little but feeling completely shitty and gaining a lot of weight. (This was the result of being unemployed and depressed coming out of a very stressful working environment.)

    4) Since March 1, I’ve been eating no grains, sugars, dairy, caffeine, alcohol, or nightshades. My energy is up, my mood is stabilized and I’ve lost weight. If it weren’t for being constantly thirsty, peeing all the time, and the freezing-cold fingers/nose thing, I would say I feel good. But I’m afraid to eat these foods, mostly for the mood instability that comes with them.

    5) I’m still overweight by about 40 lbs. (I don’t have a scale, so that’s a guess.) And yes, this matters to me. I’m not interested in being a supermodel, but I would like to feel fit and healthy.

    Any feedback/suggestions greatly appreciated.

    Thank you!


    • I think #3 was probably pretty therapeutic, even if you did feel crappy and have no energy. Sometimes that’s what it takes to let the adrenals regenerate. But I would recommend taking time to sleep a lot and eat these “problem” foods as part of an attempt to specifically raise your body temperature. That’s the most likely way you’ll have a true breakthrough where you achieve goal #2 and stop being so prone to fat gain.

      At the very least, I would try to get some more calorie-dense foods in ya – since you are eating such a limited an joyless diet, and really increase salt and carbs where you can and decrease fluid intake. That peeing all the time/freezing hand/feet/nose thing is not where you want to be, and there is a very depleting cumulative effect of spending too much time in that state.

      • Thanks, Matt. Appreciate this feedback. I think my challenge at this point is going to be to unravel my twisted psychology around these foods.

        • Yes, that is indeed the kicker. I had so in”grained” myself into thinking all these foods were so terrible, that it may have been somewhat of a self-fulfilling prophecy. I think there is a huge psychosomatic component to diet/health. One thing I have really tuned into is how much stress negatively effects my body. There is “conscious” stress, a perfect example being fretting over foods and eating habits, schedules etc (a hallmark of just about every form of dieting), or getting worked up about certain things, letting work get to you etc. But there is also the “unconscious” stress, like intermittent fasting and drinking coffee… where you think you feel amazing, but in reality are doing damage. There is no doubt in my mind that sugar, carbs, and wheat/starchy foods can be some of the most de-stressing and healing foods to the body physiologically, but if you are beating yourself up about it, or obsessing about how “bad” these foods are, any and all benefits are negated and you just perpetuate the negative cycles and thought patterns.

          It has taken me 6 months or so to really shake my old thought patterns and habits, and I am SO much better off now eating whatever I want. Granted I still think that there is so much crap available to us marketed as “food” that is still better to be avoided; I maintain a mindset of food quality. There is a difference between eating a big slab of cake made by some local bakery, with basic & no unnecessary ingredients, and eating cake from a mainstream grocery store which ingredient list looks more like a chemistry experiment. Or home grilled juicy burger on a sourdough bun vs. a Big Mac… you get the idea.

      • Actually I wonder if that’s true,probably for most people,if eating whatever you want relaxes the adrenals? It can certainly relax the brain,but in my experience I seem to notice that ‘foods I love’ at first might relax me but within an hour stress my adrenals probably bc they rob the body of vitamins&minerals though I use lots of Himalayan Salt and/or feed the wrong bacteria/parasites/molds.
        This stress can out itself in various ways; depression/lethargy,fatigue,severe anxiety for the entire week,moodswings/rage,jointpains. I know it all yet I can’t kick the habit of already ‘fantasizing’ about all the bad foods I’d like to eat for instance tomorrow when I go to the city to do groceries. At first I don’t want to give in,but it’s like I have this devil on my shoulder that whispers :”…do it for one last time”.

        I wonder if I’ll ever gonna get my head straight…..and a healthy lifestyle&mind.

  13. I seriously have a lot of issues like the girl at the end of the article! My body temp is low, feet are always cold…I’m just always COLD, anxiety that keeps me up at night, food allergies and I can’t handle alcohol…add in gastritis and GERD. I have the GAPS book and DvD and have been wanting to do it. This sort of freaks me out now and I need to get your e-book and figure out how to raise my metabolism. I don’t do low carb or anything but my diet is lacking since I have had GERD. Interesting read nonetheless!

  14. I was more successful with triphala (just 3 weeks) than I was with a low carb/gf diet (gluten free, not glue free, I’m assuming all of us are on the glue free diet.) to repair my gut which took a terrible IBS turn post antibiotic several years ago. Incidentally, at the time I had no appetite, was always cold, and had horrendous pain. Its been a couple of years, I’ve successfully refed (or is it refeeded?) my body. I did put on some weight over the last 6 months, but I’m starting to turn that around and I’m nice and toasty. Getting a pat on the back from me is like getting a hot stone massage.

  15. I’m a really big fan of the Listen to Your Inner-Wisdom Diet. Yes, I just made up that name, but it’s what I’ve been doing for a while now. Basically, I follow where my intuition leads me, and I take what makes sense. A year ago I was suffering from severe adrenal fatigue, PMDD, and other issues. I resolved to turn my health around, including improving my kidney function (I had kidney damage from an infection when I was a kid) so that I could safely get pregnant a second time. I felt I needed raw milk, so I found raw milk. I felt I needed a naturopath that specialized in kidney disease, and I found one. I felt I needed to increase my meat–especially red meat–consumption, so I did. I felt I needed to cut back on grains, so I did. Then I discovered WAPF and started preparing foods traditionally. With all these changes I saw improvement, but not enough. Then I knew I needed to improve my digestion. I went off grains and immediately felt improvement in my energy and well being. I learned about GAPS and strongly felt I needed to do it. Right before I started GAPS, all of a sudden I was craving oatmeal. That was a dilemma for me. Do I do GAPS, which my intuition was telling me I needed to do, or start eating grains again, which my body seemed to be telling me to do. I took it as a sign that I needed to up my carbs a notch or two, so I did–oatmeal craving went away. I started GAPS intro, and I suddenly realized what a calm stomach felt like. It was amazing. I experienced detox/die-off which felt exactly like my old mood problems coming for a visit, but I was careful that I wasn’t detoxing too quickly. I kept my carbs up by eating lots of veggies, especially carrots, and having honey, just as GAPS Guide recommends. I made my soups thick, so it really wasn’t a ton of liquid. I just did what seemed right to me. I didn’t push myself to do anything I didn’t want to. I was actually quite enjoying it. I did start to feel tired because I had gone off my vitamin/mineral and other supplements, so I started taking them again. I kind of went up and down during intro–feeling tired, feeling great, etc. Every time I felt tired or moody, I figured out why. I added liver, and that helped. I decided to ditch the “have fruit separately” rule so I could get more carbs with my breakfast, and that helped. I could tell when I needed more calcium, so I’d eat more calcium-rich foods. I don’t think I had ever been so in tune with my body in my life! Once I got back on dairy (after six weeks off), everything has been blessedly easy on GAPS. I admit, it is challenging to get enough carbs on intro when you aren’t doing dairy (unless you really, really, really love vegetables), but I was able to make it work for me. I was mindful of my need for carbohydrates and I did not deny myself them. I feel like I eat a wide variety of foods. I am eating more vegetables than I ever have before. But, you know, I don’t think my body has a great need for starches, while other people perhaps do.

    I have more energy than I’ve had in years. I’m calmer than I’ve ever been in my whole life (I’m finally not flipping out on my 3 year old on a regular basis). My face looks better than it has since I hit puberty. I feel like I’m digesting my food better because after a couple of weeks back on my vitamin and mineral supplements, I was able to go off them again–because I am absorbing more nutrients. I don’t know how long I’ll be on GAPS. I don’t lock myself into things. However, it’s recommended to do the diet for 6 months to two years, so I imagine I would fall in there somewhere…maybe. We’ll see how it goes. I’m also not just focusing on my gut health, by the way. For example, I have my kidneys to think about, so I am doing other things to support healing there. I’m also getting my body ready for pregnancy.

    So that’s my story, so far. What is interesting about your article, is that it doesn’t describe GAPS the way I understand it. I read Gut and Psychology Syndrome and I read GAPS Guide, and I am not seeing the problems you describe here. It’s not supposed to be a low-carb diet. If people are doing it low-carb, then they are either following their own agenda, or they are getting lazy about chopping up vegetables/aren’t eating fruit/aren’t eating dairy/aren’t eating nuts/aren’t eating honey. Also, raw vegetables are encouraged–they are even part of the intro. I don’t think people are supposed to guzzle down tons of broth–it’s more like thick soups and replacing some of your water consumption with broth. Meat is required, yes, but it’s only supposed to be like 10% volume of your meal. The author of GAPS Guide says she once calculated her carbohydrate intake one day in the beginning phase of intro, and it wasn’t anywhere near low-carb. I do think that as with any type of prescriptive diet, some people need more guidance. Without it they may misinterpret things or get a little too gung-ho. Or they may just be on the wrong diet for their body.

    Anyway, all that said, I think you make a good point about metabolism. I don’t believe any one person has all the answers. There isn’t one magical diet that cures everybody. I don’t worship Dr Campbell-McBride as my health guru, or Sally Fallon-Morell for that matter. I read Paleo blogs just because there is some interesting info there, and I’ve read some of your stuff, too. I think keeping an open mind is really an important key to attaining good health.

    • This is an awesome comment about listening to your body, I agree, its very important, and a lot of one size fits all diets program people to follow the diet to a ‘T’ and then they are not following the cues of their body. Thats wonderful that the GAPS diet worked really well for you, but I was curious you mention on your blog recently that you need quite a bit of sleep and that you think you may have some hormonal imbalances (PCOS) and possibly low thyroid since you generally feel cold with icy cold feet, maybe you could use some RARRFing? Maybe you don’t need to work out really hard at the gym for those things to get better, because like Matt said, exercise will make you feel good in the short term but in the long run will make those problems worse. Or maybe you just need more recovery on the GAPS diet, I don’t have any answers, but in light of what Matt is talking about here I thought I’d bring it up.

      • Hi Janelle–I think I’ve had PCOS since I was a teen, and I think I’ve been on recovery from it over the past year, so whatever I’m doing seems to be helping. Same with needing lots of sleep–started when I was a kid, and got worse when I was pregnant over four years ago. Interestingly, just this week I seem to be waking up earlier and more refreshed, and I’ve definitely been sleeping better since starting GAPS. I’ve been thinking about thyroid and RARRF–and maybe I need to read about thyroid in depth more–but my temps seem to be normal and what I’ve read about hypothyroidism it does not sound like me. I almost want it to be the problem, since then I could have a better understanding of how to treat it. As for the exercise thing–I had been hoping that simply doing my housework/gardening and other light exercise like walking might be enough for me, but it clearly isn’t enough. I’m not talking about heavy workouts here, but I’m terribly out of shape, I feel like my body is screaming for exercise, and I feel it’s time to listen to it. Thanks for your thoughts, though. I feel like I’m on 180 degree health right now as more of a “preventative” measure–so I don’t fall into the diet traps he’s talking about.

    • Lisa, I LOVE WHAT YOU WROTE!!!! I am in the Intro and struggling and this article just scared the crap out of me seeing as how my detox ended with a major racing pounding heart for days. I had just decided today that I was going to use the diet as my guide and go with what I think my body needs. And I agree. Everytime I ate I was in pain and now there is nothing… it is wonderful. If you were ever up for giving me some tips please email me at
      THANKS for the encouragement!!!


  16. This comment is for the candida post but didn’t get a chance to post it there …
    After many years of really bad chronic candida – won’t go into details but really, really, really bad(!) it went overnight – literally – never to be seen again after high dose antibiotics for chronic rickettsia. Yet antibiotics are supposed to cause it not cure it? Not that I would recommend antibiotics because I don’t think it’s really the point, more the removal of a load I was carrying. Could have been any load, could have been any means of removal, that’s what I’m thinking.

    As for the anti-candida diet my sister and her husband did it for 3 years and like me they are models of discipline (and have worsened health to show for it! ). Zero results for all that effort.

    Candida now a non-issue :) but plenty of others still to deal with, insomnia and weight gain since rrarf top of the list, and now my mantra is “feel good however you do it”. So on bad days (sleep deprived and depressed as a result) I have to think what would make me feel good right now and do it, whatever it is, and b*gger the rules. Usually it’s rest, a good book, being very kind and gentle with myself. One of the best things I did was buy clothes that fit, even if XL not M, so I can feel better about myself. You know how the diet books say wait till your goal weight? I don’t think so. You have to feel good now, however you do it. Not much in the way of results yet except in the all -important state of mind which is much better.

  17. I agree with you that Dr. McBride is a very good speaker and very convincing! I was very impressed when I saw her speak at the WAPF conference. I had previously put my son on GAPs where he developed a nutritional deficiency. Whether that was related to the diet or that I couldn’t get him to eat enough is really the question. I don’t know. However, when I saw her speak and asked her about the nutritional deficiency that my son developed, ridges called Beau’s lines, she didn’t have an answer that satisfied me. Also the diet was debilitating because of the amount of time it required and fortunately I never put my son or myself back on the diet. However, I haven’t felt the over all healing for either of us using carbohydrates either. So there is a big missing piece for me. I still have all the same problems I did before only with excess weight and my son’s digestive issues are not mending. Although, he is happier eating pancakes, ice cream and other goodies. It is interesting, that when I started the Metabolic Blueprint, I felt like the diet they are recommending sounded similar to GAPs only they recommended potatoes which GAPs does not oh and white sugar…

    • Beau’s lines-are those white lines near the top of the nail bed? Horizontal? My entire family developed those when we restricted our diet, and I believe we went too high protein. My baby girl still has them even though I never restricted her diet-I don’t know why she has them but I’m concerned. Did your son’s go away when you added carbs in? She is only 11 months old but has a varied diet so I can’t figure what’s causing them.

      • Sorry just read that they are ridges, not white lines. Pretty sure I got those at one point too, though! Ha!

      • Yes, Beau’s line are ridges, like dips in the nail. It is where the nail matrix stopped growing for a period of time when there is severe trauma of some sort in the body. They all grew out and he is eating a normal diet except for gluten now. He has healthy nails again. :-)

      • Zinc deficiency perhaps?

  18. This is really hitting home for me. I am 36 weeks pregnant with my third baby. I’ve been stricken with intense fatigue the entire pregnancy. Very low blood pressure (90/50), dizziness, weakness, freezing feet, inability to gain weight (I’m still only 5 lbs above pre pregnancy weight), food intolerances (had to cut out wheat/dairy/eggs), sugar sensitivity, anxiety, among other things. I’m probably the unhealthiest healthy person out there. I am so careful about what I eat – high quality meat/fish, soaked grains (but not many), tons of veggies, a tiny bit of fruit.

    Our (not anymore) autistic son put us on this healing journey. I’ve spent the last 5 years stressing about GAPS, body ecology diet, yeast overgrowths, etc.

    I’m on bed rest right now, because I’m too weak to do anything else. I feel like I’m constantly about to pass out. Im about to give birth and need some help! Any thoughts?

    • i’m so sorry you’re having so much trouble. i wish you a healthy pregnancy and birth. my advice would be to eat the food! as much as possible! you and your baby need it! go get a gallon of ice cream and go to town! and enjoy every second of it! :) also, stay hydrated! instead of water, drink some coconut water throughout the day! i’m not doctor, nor should i be giving advice, but this is what i think would help you for the rest of your pregnancy. interested what matt might tell you to do though! :)

    • I am 30 wks pregnant and know how you feel as far as fatigue goes. I am really trying to eat the food to increase metabolism, but everytime I try and feel like I’m digesting faster and have more energy- I crash and get severe indigestion. If I eat ice cream everyday it leads to reflux that causes sharp pain under my ribs (not in any specific spot), it may be my gallbladder but I can’t be sure. For you I would try not to be obsessive over eating healthy, I think that may be causing some of your low thyroid symptoms, and make sure to get in enough carbs and fat.

    • Megan –

      If you have true food allergies, say dairy for instance, you won’t find eating a gazillion bowls of ice cream helpful, but will hurt you – will also put stress on the adrenals because 1. simple sugars do that by raising adrenaline (thus causing anxiety), 2. anything that is a stress on the body is a stress on the adrenals.

      Try starches / higher glycemic foods – lots of them. Sweet potatoes (maybe regular potatoes – but again, many people have nightshade family allergies), gluten free pancake mix for high carbs, carrots, etc.

      You might be having a thyroid prob (I’m not a dr. either, but been dealing with this for years) – I’d remove cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, and brussels sprouts – no sauerkraut either. These have anti-thyroid substances in them.

      Everything you mentioned shows low metabolism / low adrenal activity. There’s an adrenal hormone: aldosterone which, if you are having low blood pressure / dizzy / faint-like, shows you are having adrenal issues – salt helps, but it’s not the answer. Rest, rest, rest, rest, and more rest, and lots of carbs (and possibly lowering meat intake) will help.

      Whatever stresses you, stop it! If it’s being around certain people or t.v. or whatever, stop doing it – mental / emotional stress is the worst for the adrenals.

      I’m so sorry for your suffering – will pray for you and baby :)

      Like someone else said: eat the food! If you haven’t read Matt’s free e-book, do that.


      • Where do you find or how do you get the free e-book?

        Stupid question? :-/

    • I guess I’ll throw my two bits in, too! I’m 20 weeks pregnant with my 5th baby and was very strict about what I ate when I was pregnant last time. Followed the Nourishing Traditions recommendations. I felt very good that whole pregnancy, had my healthiest, calmest, biggest baby and the fastest labor and gained the most weight. I hardly lost any of it afterwards and have had a hard time with that. Anyway, after feeling so good during pregnancy and for almost a year afterwards, I started feeling a lot lost energetic. Then Matt started on the RBTI and eating anything you want. I started eating on the RBTI schedule with a small supper and drinking the lemonade. I am much more relaxed about what we eat now and love the freedom! When I first got pregnant this time I was determined not to gain as much weight so I tried to keep eating the small suppers but had to give that up because I had no energy and was so hungry the next morning. So, ever since I decided that I can’t worry about the weight gain and that I would just eat the food I’ve felt so much better. I was actually gaining weight pretty quickly even though I wasn’t eating too much and my weight gain has slowed down since I started eating more! I’m sure hoping it stays that way, because at 5’2″ and already 156lbs I cannot stand to gain too much more weight. But I’m trying not to worry about it! Its so hard though. I’m sure hoping it comes off easily this time.

  19. Hey Matt,

    Thanks for the write up on GAPS. Definitely helps debunk the thought that I *must* have been doing something wrong for it not to “work”. RRARFing has been going awesome. So weird and great to go somewhere and just eat what is served without looking at the labels or bringing food.

    Have you had any luck healing acne with RRARFing? Cystic stuff went down due to some medication but had to be pulled of b/c of liver stuff. Hoping it will just disappear. :)

    What happens when you metabolism is high enough? My temps are going up consistently. Aside from a temperature reading what signs does your body give?

    Thank you!

  20. I have always thought GAPS is a bad idea for most. This is a great arctile, Thanks.

  21. My daughter spent two+ years on SCD, by the book, no cheats. She had severe IBS, had tons of testing, scoping, medication, etc. There were days when she couldn’t leave the house and when she did, stopped at every public restroom along the way.

    She had been eating SAD and after her naturopath gave her BTVC, did not know what to first ate tons of fruit, yogurt, meat. Then she started the recipes which included certain beans, plenty of vegs and almond meal bread.

    The results were rapid. The healing to the point of being able to eat outside of the SCD box took, well at least two years (it may’ve been less, she didn’t test it).

    My point is; one can heal on a diet much less extreme than GAPS and include plenty of foods that contain sugars (fruit, honey) and feel healthy at the same time.
    She lost a substantial amt of weight, as well, but never had sx of illness.

    I am so glad that we didn’t hear of GAPS at that time. I would not have been happy to have her in the ER….way too scary.

    • GAPS is NOT much more restrictive than SCD. I think the only difference is that you can’t have milk on. Dairy is very much encouraged, even in the intro stages.

  22. Matt Stone, you’re my hero. Every time I read your essays I end up yelling at myself (aloud) for being too stupid to figure this all out myself. You’ve really sewn up the holes in my arguments with some pretty simple ideas that are evidently too plain for people to see, my moron self included. My mind has been blown. Pease let me know if there’s any brunt work you need done, maybe a paper pusher, experimental guinea pig,, gelato procurer…

  23. I had different results than most people commenting here.
    Pre-GAPS I was sick as a dog (peeing three times a night, unable to sleep from being in pain, so stiff in the morning I could hardly walk, daily headaches, retaining so much water I could not stand to be touched, really overweight, hair falling out, and the list goes on)
    My temps were in the 96’s.
    After going on GAPS all the above got better plus I had started having painless periods for the first time EVER!! And they were really really painful before. My minor lifelong issue with eczema cleared up too. It even cleared away my body image/anorexia issues.
    After two years on GAPS my morning temps are 98.3.
    Hard for me to knock a diet that changed my life that drastically.
    Oh, and I’m slowly transitioning off with no issues. I eat some bread and a little sugar, milk, as many potatoes as I want.
    At one point I went really low carb though and that did make me sick. For the past year I’ve been eating a lot of fruit, yogurt, etc.

    So I guess it can make some people really sick, and some people really well. Weird.
    One of my sisters has gone on it and it didn’t do much at all for her, so she went back off it.

    Oh, and I don’t think it’s a yucky way to eat. Yes, sometimes I’d like more freedom but in general it’s made me enjoy and appreciate food much more. I don’t feel deprived. It’s not always a bad thing to restrict i one area of your life so that you can have more abundance in another area. Just like sometimes (as a mom especially!) you have to sacrifice things so that others can have more.
    I don’t doubt that it makes some people sick, but it definitely doesn’t send everyone to the ER, especially if you’re not being fanatical and restricting fruit and yogurt, etc….

  24. This is why I pretty much just eat what I feel my body wants these days. Seems to work pretty well. Interestingly, I met a fantastic guy a couple of months ago who I’ve been dating and despite a serious lack of sleep (thanks to being out with him until all hours, wanting to spend so much time together) and drinking more than usual, etc., I’ve been feeling better on several fronts. Just plain old happiness can do wonders for the health. Pretty sure if I could eek out a couple of good nights sleeps, I would be feeling amazing right now.

    • Hi Matt,
      It sounds that your approach is based on Dr. Campbell-McBride’s article -the one Melissa posted above

      I also, think that you have some valid points. However, like GAPS protocol your diet doesn’t fit all. That’s too bad, I wish there was a diet/protocol good for every single one of us.

      “In conclusion: Mother Nature took billions of years to design the human body; it is an incredibly intelligent creation! As the natural foods on this planet have been designed during the same time, your inner body intelligence knows their composition, and knows what foods to choose for particular needs. All we have to do is treat this intelligence with respect. Use your senses of smell, taste, desire for food and satisfaction from eating it to guide you in your decisions: when to eat, what foods to eat and in what combinations. And remember: you are unique, so what suits your neighbour may not suite you at all.”
      Best wishes,
      Dr Natasha

  25. I’m just so confused about PUFA and thyroid. I hear that EFAs are essential to thyroid function. When I restricted my diet, it eliminated most grains, nuts/seeds, and all veg oil. My hair was dry and falling out, and I had symptoms of EFA deficiency. Added some nut butter and some fish back in and it helped (I know higher carb helped too!). My son used to have shiny, soft, hair. He consumes way less PUFA now and it has gotten much drier. I have heard people say that EFA’s helped their kids on the spectrum (adding a little omega 3 seems to help mine), but now I’m starting to read about glucose metabolism and free fatty acids?? So are EFAs harmful for the thyroid, then? Pretty sure I’m too dumb for all of this!

    • Sounds like you could do some reading on thyroid, metabolism, and EFA’s! I know its so confusing! I’m still trying to figure it all out. You have Ray Peat on one end of the spectrum that says there is no such thing as an EFA deficiency and then there are so many in the Paleo/WAPF camp that says we must get the proper ratio of Omega 3:6. I think in light of a very low PUFA diet, you could get enough just from eating things like cheese, grass-fed beef and eggs. It sounds more like your symptoms are from a restrictive diet, when I cut out gluten and was eating high protein I started getting dry eyes and burning lips, I’m thinking it was more a nutrient deficiency which is more common on restricted diets.

      • Check out a guy named Brian Peskin. He thinks we are consuming too much Omega 3.

  26. Off topic…but how can I get my picture to appear without a website?

  27. Really confused here. Where on this site do you find answers for how to start eating the way you are talking. so far all I see is how I have been eating for 3 years and felt like crap. i recently started GAPS and for the first time have felt awesome digestion, no PMS and no food allergy reactions… my temps are up and my feet are no longer cold. I came from a high (healthy) carb diet so I am really not understanding. I cannot handle sugar. I react even touching it. I used to eat a very high sugar/carb diet (all unhealthy) and thats what started my issues. I ate a ton of food too. so very confused here…

  28. Check it out Matt… This woman died from drinking too much (coke). The fact that it was coke shouldn’t matter too much. Water probably would have done the same thing to her:

    “A pathologist has said a New Zealand woman’s eight-litre-a-day Coca-Cola habit probably contributed to her death…”
    “Natasha Harris, 30, of Invercargill, died from a heart attack in February 2010.”
    “Dr Dan Mornin testified at an inquest on Thursday that Harris probably suffered from hypokalemia, or low potassium…”
    “Harris had experienced blood pressure problems and lacked energy.”

    The more I learn about excessive fluid intake the more surprised I am that I’m still alive given the symptoms I had in the past and amount of water I used to force down my throat.

  29. I suppose i agree with much of this article. On GAPS intro my dark circles that I’ve had for over a decade disappeared basically over night. BUT I became very constipated, and have been ever since – 5 months. It did heal and seal my gut, I believe that. My face has color, and I really look so healthy. I don’t wear make-up half the time because I just look so much healthier than I did, and when I walk by the mirror I can’t believe it (even still). But I’m so constipated. I suppose every body is different, and what we need at one point in time can be different than at others.

  30. Mark Sisson always says if you want to get rid of excess body fat, then eat plenty of fat. Your body will get used to having fat as its main source of fuel, and will increase its fat-burning capabilities and consequently be more efficient at burning your body fat.

    Using Mark Sisson logic, I therefore suggest anyone wanting to get rid of Candida should eat a high-Candida diet. You can buy bags of Candida spores from microbiology laboratory suppliers, or can make it yourself if you have the time. A high-Candida diet (say 50-80% of calories) will make your body view Candida as its primary source of calories and will ramp up its Candida-digesting capabilities to the levels of our iron-stomached ancestors.

    • Haaa! You try it and tell us how it works for ya!

      • LOL!!! That’s exactly what I was thinking – no way – you try it first!

    • This is hilarious. Thank you Candida, I must try you, if not for your humor.
      Also, assuming the same from a sociological standpoint, eventually the increasing amount of stupid people of the earth will kill/cannibalize themselves.


  31. GAPS Nutritional Program has been nothing short of a miracle for me. The short story… Lyme and co-infections treated with IV and oral abx. CIDP treated with IVIG. Seizure disorder treated with antiepileleptic. Necrotic lung disease with cavitations treated with IVIG. Hypothyroid treated with armour thyroid and SR t-3. Multiple supplements and homeopathics. Years of IMT/ PT acupuncture, chiropratics, multiple alternative practitioner… adrenal fatigue treated with cortef.
    Pain meds, oh, nacalepsy with cataplexy treated with something nasty.. can’t remember. Microsporidium treated with expensive hard to find drug…, then of course candida. ALS dx. dysautonomia

    Then worked with practitioner volt machine, more homeopathics and supplements.. got off IVIG, but lungs got worse, off nacolepsy med, less pain meds… swtiched seizure meds to PRN

    Then wholistic MD says quit dairy and sugar and read about GAPS…. Improvement without dairy and sugar. Then GAPS… start was rough, really tired, die-off, but no seizures!! No crutches! Things started getting easier, pink tongue, not skin ulcers, better sleep, more exercise, add Ambrotose, increase cognition and lung function.

    It’s been 10 months and things keep improving. I know GAPS is not for everyone. It sure has been incredible for me. I think the trick is learning how to make GAPS your own. Get enough carbs.. I get plenty… figure out what add in’s you may need.

    I still take thyroid meds, and B-12 and a multi and Ambrotose, and a couple of amino acid supplements, and CoQ-10 once in a while. My temp is slowly increasing. My BP is up to the normal range. Nerves are still healing, I’m getting stronger daily. I love my life.

    For whatever it’s worth…

  32. MATT!!!

    Sorry, needed your attention lol

    Weird things are happening to my body:

    1. I am feeling “muscular” for the first time and yet I am in bed most of the time and cut down on protein big time. I feel strong and fat is *maybe* going away – I am seeing curves in my waist yet loading up on the pancakes, rice, sweet potatoes until I look like a mad woman who just got out of a concentration camp and can’t get enough food – I mean literally mounds of rice and even one morning had 1.5 big sweet potatoes and 2 pancakes *blushing* There is definitely this harder muscle under the fat.

    2. I don’t have sweet cravings much at all now (now that I eat tons of starches – I love them and they love me…. awwwwwwww! :o)

    3. Had cut out PUFAs – then today ate some – like way too much. Within an hour and a half, the left side of my neck and my head hurt. I got my refractometer and pH strips today – tested saliva when pain started, was 7.6 / maybe 7.8. Watching and reading all I can on RBTI and didn’t know what to do, so I drank some of my purified water which has a pH of 6.2 – had more than usual: about 5 oz. Felt a little better right away, but not good enough at all – what to do when saliva is nearing 7.8?

    4. The pain in my thyroid area is subsiding. Was pretty bad, now if it comes on, stays only for 1/2 hour at most.

    I spoke with the manufacturer of Min-Col today for about an hour – got TONS of info and in May, will be talking with Jim Daily’s son (the scientist guy) to get even more info. But for now, can you tell me what to do when saliva pH is high or low?

    And on a “warm” note, I have been in the 98s today all day except this a.m. *BIG SMILE* – it is hot today in my house, but even so, when it’s been hot in here before, I have been freezing…. RRARF IS WORKING!


    • Oh that was a really long post – sorry. When I turn in homework, I get all As, even when I go over on words, but got my first B last month when I was supposed to write a 750 word essay and it ended up being about 3,000 words. Got a B :(

      Trying to learn to write less….


    • I wouldn’t respond to saliva pH. If it is still consistently at that level day after day after day for months, you can consider doing a coffee enema.

  33. After experiencing digestion problems for years ( leaky gut etc ), the number one thing I’ve found to solve the problem better than any diet is the Five Tibetan Rites exercises. There are 5 exercises generally and an additional one which is optional. They are easy and only take about 15 mins per day. Use google and you can find them for free. I found you need to start with about 10 reps per exercise and work up to 21. My digestion went from having to run to the bathroom at least once a day, to having 2 or 3 easy well formed poops after only 3 days of exercises !! No more dashing to the toilet ! I don’t know why it works, only that it’s the best thing I’ve found. It’s a must to at least try.

  34. - “With my symptoms and information I think that eating a lowcarb diet, with diuretics (Dandelion root, kombucha, etc.) and laxatives recommended can be really dangerous for some …”

    So, based on that, actually she was apparently not following GAPS at all, so why on earth does the article indicate she was?!

    Daily enemas are also not ‘obligatory’ on GAPS. They are, simply, optional parts of the protocol, for those who understand they have a need for them. Other detox measures and the food itself will work also, just somewhat slower, usually, than an enema might.

    In general, this is a poorly researched article.

  35. RRARF for me, has changed my life. I tried low carb, tried nixing gluten, drinking water by the bucketfull, intermittent fasting, paleo, (never did get on the GAPS bandwagon, but considered it) … ended up having a severe love/hate relationship with food. If I could have, I would have just not eaten anything else for the rest of my life. Dramatic, yes, but it seemed that food was the enemy. Over a period of months, thinking and reading about RRARF and gradually changing the way I eat and think about food (I actually enjoy my food these days and DON’T FEEL GUILTY about eating!), I’ve gone up a degree and a half in my basal temperature. I do natural family planning (birth control seriously messed with me) which means taking my temperature every day at the same time each morning when I wake up. This has made it very easy to see the difference in my temperature from a few months ago until now. Post-ovulation, my temps at 6:30 in the morning are generally from 98.8 to 99.1. Pre-O, probably a half degree lower. Drinking less water was perhaps the most amazing idea and application in my life diet-wise. My husband and his family are shocked/amazed at how little water I drink compared to them.

    The main thing I wonder about now, is how to help the family-in-law I’m with who are overweight, have spinal implants, fibro, try to ‘eat healthy’, are in chronic pain from deformed backs and multiple surgeries… I just don’t know what to tell them! The last thing they want to do is eat more! One of my in-laws is severely overweight, but she eats like a horse! What’s the deal with her? I thought overeating was supposed to make us svelte and sleek! :))) But seriously…. what to advise them? They ask my opinion, but I just don’t know what to say.

    • Glad to hear RRARF worked for you. Any comments on how the journey went (i.e. how fast did it work, any bumps in the road)? Anyone else that’s RRARFed, feel free to post, too. I’m very curious to hear progression stories.

      I ask because I’ve been RRARFing for about 2-3 weeks now. This is my second attempt — the first probably lasted about 2 weeks. I think there are improvements, but the progress is by no means steady.

  36. Hi Matt,
    I have stumbled across your blog before and came here from the GAPS group.
    I did the GAPS diet for about a year and saw a lot of healing in the first 2 months or so. I started being able to tolerate more salycilates and ghee. I discovered oxalates after about a year and a half of gaps/paleo and started restricting them. I am still doing that a year later. I’m dumping oxalate constantly! Since low-oxalate diet I have had eczema flare up on my hand (never had it before, I am 20 yr//old), constant dandruff, and now bouts of depression and anxiety most of the day. I am getting tested for MTHFR next week. Methylfolate gave me severe fatigue but at the same time I felt my immune system was waking up- I got hayfever for the first time ever. I have not been sick in 4 years, and not because I’m healthy..I think my immune system is asleep. My periods are irregular (I have had 2 in 4 years). I react to heaps of foods (I can eat about..10) and environmental allergies like dust, cats etc..If it breathe in too much dust I will feel like I am coming down with a cold for a week just purging it out. Basically I don’t know what the frick to do from here! I don’t want to do low carb but I don’t really have a choice..I barely digest rice, can’t digest kabocha or peas, and butternut squash is too high in oxalate to get a decent serving..
    I want to add more carbs in but I don’t know how!! I have severe fructose malaborption too, and FODMAPS. These allergies have gotten worse the longer I’ve been on paleo. It seems that the more meat and fat I eat, the less I can tolerate other foods. Now I am in a vicious circle. Gosh I just wish I could go back to eating an abundance of fresh fruit and vegetables.

    • Hi Natalia,
      seems like you may have wiped out most of your gut biome at some stage. Have you looked into fecal microbiota transplants and/or helminth therapy?

  37. Matt, I have just started to read your ebook on metabolism (when I get time in between chasing a 20 month old around!). For the last year I have had major digestive issues, Gastritis and “GERD”. I have been allergic to dairy all my life and eating it has caused different reactions all my life, for the most part hives. So I have been able to eat it without it causing me too many issues. But since no one can figure out why I have gastritis I was thinking maybe it was my allergy. Since all this started, a year ago, I obviously don’t eat as much as I should since I have had choking incidents from my GERD and my esophagus is inflamed. I also still nurse my toddler and I know I don’t get nearly enough calories, my hair doesn’t grow, I can’t keep weight on, I’m always cold, can’t sleep, have to pee all the time and have developed tons of constant anxiety just in the last year. The thing is, I love food and I know my metabolism is in the toilet but I have no idea where to begin.

    Do you have any quick tips for me in the meantime before I can finish your book? Thanks! And keep doing what your doing :)

    • Hi Janelle,

      I just read your comment. It sounds like you have the same thing happening that I do with swallowing food. I am still waiting for a doctor’s appointment to get a referral to a gastro specialist. I did a barium swallow with one specialist, but I didn’t really like him, so I’m going back for another to hopefully get an endoscopy done.

      Sometimes, when I eat, the food gets stuck in my esophagus; sometimes, it’s not so bad. The most offending foods are rice (not as bad when I cook the rice well), scrambled eggs, meats (Paleo was fun here), some breads and some cereals. During the meals food seems to get stuck more, I don’t eat as much or I drink lots of water. It has helped to eat slowly, chew my food well, and let it go down by itself (even if it hurts a bit).

      I’m not sure what’s wrong with my esophagus or digestive system, but I will definitely check out any allergies issues that could be causing that.

      It’s no fun when the food really gets stuck and I can’t get it through. It happened at a restaurant when I was alone with my kids and at my parents house (it probably freaked them out). I think stress makes it worse in my case too.

      I have been rrarfing and it has helped me to feel better, especially when I get good sleep at night and napes during the day.


      • I’ve been working with a guy with this problem off and on for almost 2 years. Still really struggling to have a breakthrough, but I’ll try to remember to let you know something if we ever do crack that.

        • Hey, Matt!
          great article/critique.
          I work with folks regularly with this symptom – we call it “plum pit Qi” in TCM. Nothing apparently wrong acc. to biomedical screening, but the symptom can range from a mild nuisance to debilitating. I would love to discuss it further if you would like – feel free to email or call me.
          @ Beth & Janelle, same for you two. A good acupuncturist should be able to help you with this. It is often due to stagnation of Qi, which usually responds well to acupuncture.

          • Interesting Sheila G…I haven’t heard of of Plum pit Qi, I did a quick google search and thought i’d add some extra thoughts.

            If they are functionally tensing the muscles in their throat this could lead to a similar sensation, and it would be a physical obstruction for swallowing (if the muscles were tense when they are swallowing) as it would narrow the size of the pharynx.- you would probably be able to observe overt signs of tension on their neck/shoulder/maybe jaw stiffness). However, if that were the case you would need to look at what is causing the muscle tension and treat that rather than just treating the tense muscles (bandaid approach). In my experience, functional muscle tension tends to be associated with stress, be it emotional/traumatic or physical (perhaps the person has multiple co-morbidities), much like most of our health problems. So I guess it then comes down to identifying and treating the underlying stressor. But certainly symtom managmenet may help to temporarily relieve some of the discomfort.


      • Hi Beth,

        Noticed your comment about difficulty swallowing. What did the barium swallow reveal? (If you don’t mind). Are you sure it’s oesophageal? Can you describe a few more of your symptoms when swallowing food? It may be that the problem is with your pharynx (throat), rather than your oesophagus, or a combination of both. Is the sticking sensation focussed in your chest area, or higher up? The reason I mention this is that if the problem is in your pharynx, a barium swallow or endoscopy usually won’t identify this. In this instance, you’d be better off doing a Modified Barium Swallow (x-ray of your throat whilst swallowing different textures of food/fluid, perhaps with the use of different swallowing strategies to observe their effectiveness).


    • Oops! Naps, not napes. heh :)

  38. So, SCD has done wonders for us as well. Stopped my GERD and reversed my son’s chronic constipation. And it’s not intended to be low carb. Low carbers have ‘perverted’ it, in the words of Elaine, as they say. But for us, it’s just a means to an end- where to go from here? We eat tons of fruit and honey, but if we cheat a little, we are very sensitive to Candida, so I would like to ‘wean’ us off the diet so we can devour a meat-lovers pizza without having Candida outbreaks. I say that to say, can we RRARF with foods that we love on the diet, so we dont’ get seriously ill, and then gradually add in some potatoes, dairy (we are sensitive to that right now), soaked grains, etc. and eventually be able to eat some high-sugar ice cream. Any thoughts?

  39. Damn this was good to read.

    My GAPS story was a nightmare. I wanted to believe so hard in the diet and it’s healing power, but it just wasn’t for me. I ended up being on Intro Phase 1 for about two months – everytime I would try to introduce something, I would get violently ill. I would get on the Yahoo Group and people would tell me to scale it back again. Then again, nothing made me feel sicker than the bone broth or boiled chicken. I was bedridden basically the entire time. My avoid-all-conflict father begged me to stop, which was a wake up call to me. I just kept convincing myself that it was die-off, and telling myself over and over that all I had to do was take two years out of my life (that’s all, right?) and be uncompromisingly stringent about my diet and then I could eat whatever I wanted to forever without any problems! Hooray!

    I ended up breaking the GAPS diet with a few slices of pizza and a cookie. For the first time in weeks, I felt fine after a meal. Go figure.

    Now my doc thinks I have a congenital defect with my digestive system…which would probably explain why none of these extremely restrictive diets has ever done a damn thing for me, besides giving me a ridiculous case of orthorexia. Which I have now conquered thanks to RRARFing. My life has improved 100 fold – thanks Matt :)

  40. I should also point out that if anyone develops OCD/Obsessive Eating Traits/Disordered Eating/Orthorexia on a Paleo Diet, transitioning to GAPS will scare you out of your ever-loving mind.

    Now not only is food dangerous, but all of the containers they come in and ALL household cleaning products and cosmetics and plastic and pots and pans and the list goes on…all of it is way too harmful to keep in your home. Your vitamins and supplements might have something dangerous in the capsule. Don’t even think about using the microwave. Don’t use commercial tea bags. Don’t get me started on “grounding” and food “zappicators” and all that stuff. I know there’s a place for all of this stuff and that there is some truth to it, but to me it ended up just being a huge fear campaign.

    I figure if something is out to get me in the form of almond milk carton linings and hand lotion than let it. I’m so pleased to be finally living a happy, normal life now. Maybe that’s just being blissfully ignorant, but whatever :)

    • I think in many cases the stress is more harmful than the toxins. Stress is called toxic for a reason. Personally, I eat organic (as much as possible) at home, use non-toxic cleaners (like baking soda and vinegar) and try to use fairly natural soaps and lotions, but the rest I let go. Unfortunately we live in a toxic world, and there’s no way to maintain your sanity or social normalcy if you try to avoid it completely. I’d rather live a normal life even if it’s somewhat shortened by chemicals from my make-up or carton linings, or the food I eat when I go out to restaurants.

      • Amy – thanks for writing that! I cannot afford to live as freely with toxins around me as I am so stinkin’ sick, but as far as the letting go of the stress – PARAMOUNT! Once I let go of a lot of the stress (last year), now when I am so sick I feel like I am dying – usually about 2 or 3 days out of the week – I am much more relaxed about it. I have given it to God and He takes care of me when I am well and when I am sick. The stress, it is a killer and if we stress so much about what we eat, even more so because it’s the foundation of health and we were created to enjoy food, not try to get it down each and every day to “get thin” or to “look good” or whatever the vanity goal. Anyway, thanks……….. remembering stress is a major factor is huge!


  41. Wow, what a poorly thought-out article. And I’m no hater… I do however know a thing or two about GAPS.

    It does not need to be — in fact, shoudl not be — low-carb… it is not much more strict that SCD (just omits milk, not dairy)… it is not low calorie… does not require you to down gallons of broth, maybe 1/2 cup with meals, unless you’re having soup… DOES show real, long-lasting, health-promoting results… and is the only answer out there for people who suffer from food intolerances who would like to Eat the Food.

    Will you have a lower metabolism than when you’re stuffing your face with apple pie and pancakes? Could be. Dangerously? No. No more than a normal person eating a moderate, whole foods diet rather than pigging out.

    You might have some good seeds of ideas in here. But you make many leaps, and downright errors.

    For instance: Calorie restriction and malnutrition aren’t the same thing, and while it shouldn’t be surprising that the latter can cause break down of the body, including the intestines, assuming the former does as well isn’t warranted.

    Moreover, GAPS doesn’t restrict calories anyway.

    And more important than THAT, if you can’t absorb the nutrients in teh food you eat, you can stuff your face 24/7 — you’re going to be malnourished.

    As for the girl in the hospital, why was she even on GAPS? Why in the world would I assume that because one person had a horrid experience of HER version of a highly-acclaimed diet that this is an indictment of the diet — and not her judgment?

    How about examples of children who are sloughing off whole-body eczema, and have blue lips, hands and feet, kids like my son? Who was allowed to eat everything on a solid whole foods diet? And only since starting GAPS has he had a solid poop… or color in his face… or breaks from his eczema.

    Finally, it is easy to poke holes in solutions. And when those solutions are difficult, you’ll always have an anxious fan-base waiting to cheer you on. Providing alternatives is far harder.

    Really disapppointing.

    • Bullshit. It is badly carb restricting.
      The No List includes all grain, milk, patateos..
      if this is isn’t low carb what it is?

      • Just because there are similarities with low-carb/paleo diets, does not make it thus.

        It’s true, you can make it low carb. But that’s not the intent. Butternut squash, carrots, yogurt, cream, fruit, honey are not low-carb. And you can eat as much of that as you want.

        Sorry, but this article does not accurately represent GAPS. GAPS is medicine, not a vogue diet intended to lose weight.

        In fact, many malnourished, underweight kids finally gain weight when they go on it.

        If you can’t digest starches, as is the case with my son — comes out EXACTLY like it went in — then you’re defact low carb anyway. Oh, and malnourished, when it causes everything you eat to come out as diarrhea.

        I can’t WAIT to be able to serve my family our choice of ANY food we want to eat. But that will come once we can actually tolerate these food. Again GAPS is medicine.

        And just like RRARFing can create problems in solving another — weight gain being not an incidental one — the long term gain makes these measure worth it.

        • It seems to me that a lot of people do have success with GAPS, at least when they do it properly. If I had a child with autism or other massive problems (like your son had) I’d probably try it. I think it’s good to hear stories like yours (the good) along with the bad so we can see both sides, and see what makes it work or not work (having plenty of carbs seems key, for one).

          • If you look at every diet in the context of Metabolic typing, it is a whole different ball game. This is where the metabolic differences start to show. This is where the rubber meats the road. Some are meant to be low-carbers, and some are high carbers and the rest are somewhere in between. This is why NO diet or way of eating is perfect for all the human race. Just my 2 cents.

  42. Readers may be interested to read this recent piece by Catherine Shanahan, MD, author of Deep Nutrition and Food Rules.

    She discusses the reasons why sudden changes in carbohydrate consumption can sometimes trigger a response in thyroid hormones, and cautions those people to transition more slowly. It’s fascinating and may be relevant for those concerned.

    • The longer one restricts carbs, the lower thyroid hormones get. The initial drop that takes place is separate.

  43. So here’s what I don’t get. Before GAPS, I ate almost a perfect diet. I am skinny, so I never restricted my diet. In fact, I ate and ate and ate. I made homemade whole wheat bread, raw milk kefir, the whole bit. I hardly drank any water because I was never thirsty (after a UTI I upped my water by about 6x, and my acne completely cleared). My feet were cold a lot, but I never took my temperature so I’m not sure about that. But I looked very healthy, felt healthy, because I didn’t know things like mood swings were a physical manifestion of a problem.

    BUT 3/3 of my babies came out colicky and refluxy. My third was a natural home birth, and still, she had colic and reflux. So we started GAPS.

    I guess my point is, unless I don’t understand your RARRF very well (have read about it just yesterday and today), I don’t see how it actually makes you healthy. Raise your metabolism? Sure, i suppose it probably does. But when metabolism doesn’t seem to be my problem (or at least the need to lose weight), and I obviously don’t need to be eating more (I could out eat my husband any day, and usually do), perhaps the gut flora is an issue. Mostly, I just feel like I did just about everything your diet says as far as I can tell) just because that’s how I lived, and still had gut flora issues.

    Now if you and Dr. Natasha could get together and discuss these things, that would be great, because on GAPS I am struggling with other things. It is interesting to see how parts of me and my children are so much better, and parts are worse. I haven’t been “low carbing it” except perhaps by default.

    • Just because you are conventionally thin doesn’t necessarily mean that your metabolism is where it should be. Many people use the word “metabolism” to mean that it’s in good shape if you’re thin and it’s in bad shape if you’re overweight. But metabolism used around here refers to temperature, cold hands and feet, and other signs. So you might look the same before and after RRARFing, but if your temps are low now and you RRARF and the temps get burnin’, then your metabolism just improved.

      • Today I read an article on the WAPF site which at a certain point mentioned that thyroid&adrenal problems arise when one has low metabolism, but later on it was about when one uses thyroid meds it initially increases energy but that this energy increasement becomes stressful to the adrenals…which will lead to feelings of tiredness etc. again.
        So,I wonder if this is also applicable by raising metabolism/temps through food? and that this might be why some people still feel tired despite of higher temps?

        ” If, however, the adrenals are functioning well, the thyroid hormones can do their job and the result is good metabolic energy. Another way of looking at this thyroid-adrenal relationship is to think of the thyroid as “generating” the energy while the adrenals need to be able to “handle” the energy. If the thyroid-generated energy is excessive for the adrenals’ ability to handle it, the body will down-regulate the thyroid energy as much as it is capable of doing to accommodate what the adrenals can safely handle. Sometimes, in an effort to help the patient feel better, the physician keeps increasing the thyroid dose or even gives a T4-T3 combination like Armour Thyroid or just a T3 support like Cytomel.

        The problem with this approach is that it forces the system to function at a higher energy than the adrenals can handle. Initially the adrenals have enough reserve to handle the higher thyroid energy so the patient feels better. When the (adrenal) reserves are exhausted (this can happen within a few days, weeks or months) the patient can develop fatigue, anxiety, bursts of rapid heart beat or the feeling of such bursts (palpitations) or other symptoms of either high thyroid function or of low adrenal function (see the Metabolic Scorecard™). This is the “crash and burn” phase of a thyroid treatment that ignores the adrenals’ capacity to handle the thyroid support. It is often followed by a recommendation for an anti-anxiety or anti-depressant drug.”

        • Yup, I can attest this is true, Dutchie. When I started going higher carb (before I knew about RRARF), I started getting energy. Used it up, back in bed. Started revving up carbs more, temps going up, more energy, used it up. Again, sick as a dog. Adrenals have to heal. It’s a rock and hard place situation ya know? So what I am doing is laying here, eating, not stressing, sick as a dog, waiting for adrenals to kick in and say “well done, let’s get up and use some of the hormones I’ve made for you, just take it easy!” :o)


          • The problem’s that I get very anxious&antsy if I try to do so and just ‘need to move”,escape the house be amongst people preferrably strangers while still being on my own. (Is it bad digestion?die-off?autophagy?….who knows)
            I can’t even enjoy doing anything creatively anymore,or I’ll fly up the wall of crippling anxiety or when I have the time don’t feel like it anymore, of which I do fantasize all day. I sometimes manage to view one/some of my favorite series in the weekend during dinner.
            That’s another mental thing;on Saturday I feel that I must have/want a special dinner in combination with a series/movie….something to look/hold out for the entire day.

          • Once I started eating large-ish amounts of sugar, by chocolate craving completely disappeared, and coffee became disgusting. I used to eat entire bars of 100% cocoa baking chocolate. XD Now I think chocolate is gross. This has never happened to me before. Ever.

            I had craved chocolate my entire life. I had avoided sugar my entire life. Now I eat sugar and bam, chocolate = yucky. It’s awesome, and probably because my adrenals are happier. :D

          • Good observation. I find all stimulants and drugs to be pretty revolting when I’m well-fed.

  44. So, i tried GAPS for a year…not so good for me and my whole family. Did absolutely nothing to improve digestion once grains are introduced. Oh, i suppose, i should have stayed for two whole years, then it would work, right. But after heavily eating nice home-made puddings, the starch digestion improved like crazy. I thought it would never happen this way, ever ever ever.

    I am still part of the GAPS yahoo group and it is amazing how many people actually heavily restrict carbohydrates while those that defend GAPS say it is not a low-carb. For most people it is, since they are restricting fruit and root vegetables so not to feed candida, but forget to feed themselves.

    Even when adults on the diet complain that hair is falling out, the rest of GAPS members say , oh it must be a die-off, hang in there. Crazy. I tried to argue few times, but wow, got really defensive responses, so now i just sometimes read mainly to see what kind of troubles people have due to GAPS.

    I think it works better for kids since most babies are born slightly hyperthyroid, so kids have relatively undamaged metabolism, whereas for adults, it is quite dangerous, especially those with mental issues.
    Peace :)

    • ooh – what kind of pudding??

      • Ha! My thoughts exactly. Please post pudding recipe!

        • Haha, i don’t have any recipe! I have 4 month old twins and believe me there is no time for any measurements. I am sorry, but it is not GAPS legal, and it took me long time to allow myself to eat lots of grains. I make pudding just because it so conveniently mixes some protein (milk) and grains and makes me very warm and satisfied, and it increases milk supply. Usually, i cook the flour in coconut milk and then mix the pudding with some raw milk. I usually use (organic) barley flour with some white rice flour and sweeten it with evaporated cane juice and some blackstrap molasses. It’s more like a baby food.

          I was so disappointed that a year of GAPS didn’t improve the horrible gas from consuming grains, but just a month of this pudding or cake made with barley flour and lots of eggs and yogurt, and there is no more gas from grains or even sugary stuff. This is the most amazing thing for me. It seems that the solution to the problem is the problem itself.

          • I don’t know all the answers, but in MY experience, when I eliminate something from my diet for a while, my digestion may revolt when I add it back in. However, if I keep on eating it, the digestion issues will subside. BUT if my body is having issues with the food and I keep eating it, it will manifest problems in different ways. For me, it is Hashimoto’s as the dairy and gluten get confused for my thyroid and my body attacks my own thyroid. The digestion issue for me is a warning signpost. Also, I doubt I am really getting the nutrients from those foods. When my daughter was born, she started having reactions to dairy and gluten. Now I feel terrible that I didn’t get my gut flora balanced before she came so she would inherit “good ones”. Anyway, on a journey to health.

    • I’m glad there is someone else here who is also from the GAPS group. I feel the same way…they get very defensive very fast. It is hard to talk to them. I do stay in the group though to keep up with all the nutrition info everyone is sharing all the time.

      So how did you come up with your *pudding* idea?

      My daughter is the reason we were on GAPS. She was always constipated and straining to pass stools. Also all grains passed right through her whole, so we know she wasn’t digesting them properly. I am still trying to wrap my brain around “eating more grains and starches will help her digest them better”. GAPS has really scared me into thinking I can’t feed her anything or it will cause further damage to her gut. But I figured giving a shot at this RRARFing for 3 weeks or even a month is better than having to do GAPS for 1-2 years in order to see if it does or does not work. GAPS is always there if this turns out not to work for us I guess.


  45. I really like Dr. Campbell-McBride and I have always enjoyed her lectures. About 6 years ago, while in the throws of acid reflux and feeling cold all the time, Dr. Campbell-McBride told me that reflux meant there was bacteria, fungus and other nasty organisms surrounding the sphincter that closes the stomach off from the esophagus. These organisms prevented the sphincter from properly closing. In order to heal, she said, I needed the GAPS diet and her strong probiotics containing soil organisms. I was also told to avoid fruit, honey, and legumes, focusing on meat, animal fat, broth, vegetables, including winter squash and roots. I did GAPS for 3 months during which time I began to have terrible muscle spasms at night. I was jerking and twitching and running to the bathroom to pee. I called Dr. Campbell-McBride and she told me that my nerve cells were being attacked by toxins and that was reason I was in muscle spasms in the middle of the night. I was also terribly constipated and I knew it was a result of the strong probiotic as well as the diet. What I did NOT know was that my problems were stemming from low blood sugar and low body temperature! I continued to suffer through the diet, getting worse, not better, until I had to take a trip for 3 days to a hotel and found there was nothing to eat but fish, meat and small salads. Everything else had some starch or bean, or fruit, sugar/honey, etc. I was beside myself with hunger!! I tried to be “good” but eventually broke down and had white rice with a piece of fish… just so I could function again. Upon returning home, I had an upper endoscopy in which the doctor came back to report that my esophagus and stomach were free of bacteria, fungus, candida, etc. No H-Pylori, no nothing except a small hiatal hernia. I was shocked! I never went back to the GAPS diet again and in fact, many times I have questioned the wisdom of probiotics containing massive amounts of soil organisms. I have heard a few horror stories about them and the result of my research still leaves me questioning their safety, especially when taken in pill form rather than through natural ingestion of lesser amounts through food. Matt, I am eager to hear your podcast with the Rubins. Perhaps the 3 of you may know more about the probiotic part of GAPS, especially about these soil organisms.

  46. I think GAPS can work great for some people — such as autistic kids or people with severe digestive issues.

    But most people do not need to be on GAPS. Even Dr. Natasha says this in her lectures.

    For those who do need it, GAPS should be a temporary diet — not a long-term diet. And yet, I keep running across people who have been on the GAPS Intro Diet for over a year or more. This is extreme.

    GAPS is also not necessarily a low-carb diet. But so many foods are restricted and most people don’t reintroduce new foods soon enough — and they end up falling into a low carb diet. Dr. Natasha recommends that people start eating dairy almost immediately on the diet, working their way from ghee to butter to kefir/yogurt up to cheese and finally milk and cream. She recommends that people push through and gradually add new foods. The idea is to continue to challenge yourself. Yes, there are some people who need to go slower but those people are in the minority.

    I see most people afraid to add new foods, subsisting on broth and meat and green vegetables and fats for months and even years. Saying they can’t eat fruit or honey due to “candida” overgrowth. Again, this is extreme!

    I truly think that it is a result of the popularity of low carb along with the popularity of paleo, converging with the GAPS Diet — all of these have converged at the same time. People are hearing all these different camps saying, “Avoid grains.” “Eat low carb.” “Cut out starches.” I think it blends in people’s heads and they think this must be the ideal diet.

    I have never heard of laxatives being recommended on the GAPS Diet. The occasional enema, yes, but not laxatives.

    • A big part of it is that people, on any diet with substantial restriction, simply don’t eat nearly as much as they normally do – because food is less pleasurable/palatable, etc. And there is a resulting decline in metabolism over the long haul.

      • Matt,

        Do you think that people who can only tolerate a very limited number of foods are likely have a good metabolism to start with?

        And for those who can’t digest starches — all or some — do you have an alternative to the GAPS, SCD, or targeted elimination diet?


  47. Matt,

    I was hoping to get some input on taking body temperature readings.

    I’ve been taking my temperature upon waking up during the past week (first time doing this). I’ve been taking armpit readings. The four readings so far (taken on separate mornings) have been 97.9, 97.8, 97.6, and 97.7. The 97.9 morning was the highest reading, the day before I played basketball outside (the other readings had previous days of no real exercise).

    So first, is it possible that the right type of exercise can increase temperature for some? Even if they only have a border-line acceptable temperature to start?

    I also read in your appendix of Diet Recovery that the armpit temperature tends to run lower than your actual temperature, sometimes up to .5 degrees. Does this mean I should add .5 to armpit readings? This doesn’t seem right.

    Any help from you or a well informed follower would be appreciated. Thanks


    • 98.0 is a pretty good target for first thing in the morning for males in the armpit. Those temps are pretty good. Exercise can definitely keep the body temperature slightly higher for some. Not for everyone though. It depends upon one’s metabolic condition and recovery capacity.

  48. I’m soo confused =( On my 2nd round of GAPS, onto stage 2. I’ve had digestive problems for a decade, firstly started when I ate chicken, corn or dairy. Have tried the Blood Type Diet which made very slight differences….

    The symptoms being; extreme bloating 24/7, tissue inflammation, acne, put weight on easily, nausea, extreme fatigue, muscle weakness/cramping, insomnia, heart palpitations, anxiety/stress/depression, I pee all the time, jump from constipation(more so) to diarrhoea, achy joints, headaches/migraines….and the list goes on and on!!!

    Have read nearly the whole GAPS book and currently over 1/2way thru Matt’s Diet Recovery book. Yesty I rode all day at a horse show, and last night I had the most excrutiating pains in both legs thru all muscles, which I haven’t had in a while. The only thing that stopped it was Arnica and somehow downing 1L of water helps??

    I’m incredibly scared of eating even though I love food and if I could, I would eat all day. Im scared if I eat grains or dairy that I’m going to have this massive reaction. So sick of being almost bed ridden and in constant pain with no energy….& the bloating….oh that drives me nuts!!! I want to eat whatever, whenever……….

    All the way from Australia…

  49. Wow, I love the comment made by you Matt Stone which suggest there is not one diet that is effective for everything. I think that should read there is no diet effective for everything except the diet that I (Matt Stone) am promoting.
    Leaky gut is a condition that can be tested for. It the improvements which occur following GAPS can also be tested for. An overgrowth of bad bacteria can be tested for and a reduction of the presence of overgrown flora can be tested for.
    The story you gave (by the way as someone who is so keen on research surely you would know that posting one persons account of an event is in no way evidence nor does it prove anything???) is really good at showing why you should read into a diet before starting it. GAPS intro is not reccomended for people who are significantly underweight. So this person did not read the book properly, obviously was not seeing a practitioner, and got sick from doing something you are not supposed to do. Hmmmm….
    As far as treating conditions is concerned, my 8 month old had significant failure to thrive, reacting to all but 3 foods, had a low body temp and was constantally vomiting. It would have been great to feed her up on carbs but she was intolerant to pretty much all of them. She is doing amaizingly well now thanks to GAPS. My partner, who has had a very low functioning thyroid for a long time, is also doing remarkably well on the diet (improved energy, mood, weight loss, etc).
    Though I am sure your medical knowledge far surpasses that of a neurologist who also went on to do further study in nutrition and has 20+ years of clinical experience, I think your assesment of the diet is ignorant, poorly researched and completly disregards (or possibly purporsefully ignores) the thousands of people who have benefited from the diet.
    I am, in no way saying GAPS is for everybody but am certainly saying that many people may benefit from it greatly (especially if they actually do it properly) and your blatant criticsms (which appear to basically be ‘GAPS is crap, do my diet instead’) is liable to prevent many people following a very healing diet which can improve many symptoms thought by the medical profession to be unchangeable.
    Very sad and dissapointing.

  50. This has nothing whatsoever to do with this post. But I just pounded about 1kg of boiled potatoes for dinner…and wow, for awhile there I didn’t think it was gonna stay down. But the discomfort has (mostly) passed! Hopefully it’ll leave me feeling peppy tomorrow!

  51. Just wanted to say the GAPs diet was probably one of the worst things I have ever done. I suppose it also conicided with a time where I was eating mongo amounts of raw fibrous vegetables and then dumping ridiculous amounts of fat into my body had a devestating effect on my liver and digestive system. Got crazily constipated and my liver actually felt rock hard beneath my ribs. I though I was dying – I proabably was. I had no energy to run or excercise – but it was all bacteria die off right? Wrong.

    Having lots of OJ, milk, salt and shellfish has literally saved my life.

    • What you’re describing is not the GAPS diet. So, no, GAPS didn’t harm you.

  52. Every time I read one of your articles, I think, “Wow, there’s one more thing I can cross off my list to stress about!” I’d been feeling raging guilty for not doing GAPS or something like it for my minor-issue girls to heal their hay fever, peeling nails, etc. – and to make my next kiddo a superhuman (I’m 7 mos preggo). Maybe we’ll just chill, x-out the probiotics, and eat some more waffles.

  53. Matt what kind of protein sources do you recommed?,i can’t digest meat very well,can’t find raw milk and don’t have much money. I also don’t know what fats to have because i can’t find any butter or lard without vegetable oil in it. All help would be appreciated ,thanks Jim.

    p.s you should join twitter it’s better than facebook and easier to communicate with a lot more people

  54. Is there still a free ebook? I am still interested in learning about raising my metabolism, but I just can’t afford to pay 20$ right now. I got the starter package, but there were no details there. Am I missing something? I really have no health issues other than my metabolism, which has been low since I was a teenager. I have 25 pounds of baby weight to lose and I’m 5 weeks pp. Despite my baby gaining 5 pounds in the last 5 weeks, I have not lost anything since a few days after the birth. How is that even possible?!

  55. Matt –

    I’ve put in my email 3x over the past week to get the info pack with free ebook and I never get anything in my email. I put in a different email address just now and still nothing. ???

    I had to ask a friend to forward the free ebook to me to read – I would like to see the introductory video and anything else too please.


  56. I just have to say that while I am a big fan of critical thinking and welcome conversations about the pros and cons of alternative diets and therapies, I found this article to be alarmist in nature and disappointing. I fear that the overall tone of it throws the baby out with the bathwater and I feel sad that people who were considering the GAPS diet are now completely dismissing it.

    I’m not saying that there may not be flaws with the diet. As with anything, time will tell and it just hasn’t been around long enough for us to know the real success rates. It’s important to have discussions and point out possible issues or concerns. I also agree that it may not be for everyone. We must always consider bio-individuality and know that healing is not a one-size-fits-all. But I take issue with painting this diet as “barbaric,” “woefully ineffective,” or instilling the fear that it “can cause a lot of damage” or “might totally ruin your health.” There may be cons to the GAPS diet but I believe it highly unlikely that this amazing protocol that many are finding miraculous success with could be THAT BAD. Problematic for some perhaps, but not the villain this post makes it out to be.

    For the record, the GAPS diet is NOT low-carb, and it is NOT forever. You can get plenty of carbohydrates in the diet as you eat a TON of vegetables (sweet ones included), and fruit and honey are allowed as well. It’s certainly lower carb than a SAD diet but it is not low to the point of danger. Also, the diet is a temporary healing protocol, after which it is encouraged to re-introduce grains and other complex carbs.

    Even if the metabolism issue presented here is valid, GAPS should not be completely dismissed because of it. For me, I suffered from severe Crohn’s disease for years, couldn’t leave my house, was in the bathroom 18-20 times a day and in excruciating daily pain. I had been on every single drug available to me, nearly died on two occasions and was facing surgery. I found the GAPS diet in December of 2009 and while I was skeptical, I was entirely out of options so I gave it a go. In 7 months, the GAPS diet healed me and I was completely free of Crohn’s symptoms. At 9 months, I was able to go 100% med-free and have now been living without Crohn’s, completely healed, for a year and a half now. I stayed on GAPS for 1 year total and then gradually started incorporating other foods. I now eat a normal, WAPF-type diet and do not have Crohn’s anymore.

    My point is this: even if there was a risk that this diet could “totally ruin my health,” after being on it, it would have been worth it to get rid of the Crohn’s. Even if I experienced problems afterword (which I have not at this point), I STILL would have chosen to do it anyway. It gave me my life back and I would rather have that and deal with metabolism issues than still be stuck in my house in pain. If metabolism issues are a possible “side effect” I would have gladly chosen that. Keep in mind when you’re facing surgery and your future looks like it might include a J-pouch or a lifetime of toxic drugs that may cause cancer, the GAPS diet, for better or worse, is hands down, the better choice. But what if, in my initial skepticism, I had read an article like this and decided that it wasn’t worth it? What if I became too afraid that it might “totally ruin my health” or “woefully ineffective.” and run back to my doctors asking for the knife or the next toxic drug? Well, I don’t even want to think about that.

    And I’m sorry, I sympathize with the gal in the story, but I don’t really see how her experience can be blamed on the GAPS diet. GAPS is not low-carb nor low calorie (you are allowed to eat as much as you want), and does not promote excessive fluid intake (even with broth). And I’m confused as dandelion root, kombucha and laxatives ARE ABSOLUTELY NOT recommended on GAPS!!! Home enemas are recommended only when necessary (like with constipation or fecal impaction).

    Criticize if you feel the need but please be aware that this diet IS helping hundreds if not thousands, especially those with very serious illness who desperately need an intervention like this. So to call it “woefully ineffective” simply isn’t true. My concern is that with unbalanced articles like this, someone who was once considering GAPS might be swayed negatively and that it may very well cost that someone their healing. At the end of the day, GAPS is a wonderful protocol for MANY and I’m beyond thankful that I found it.

    • Agreed and agreed. If you have digestive problems, fixing your gut flora before eating loads of whatever food you want is vital. I ate loads of food my entire life, I was never short on exercise, I didn’t guzzle water either, and I was in the worst shape for most of my life. I’ve had repeated rounds of antibiotics from childhood onward, and I attribute much of my digestive ailments to that. I had to take foods out of my diet out of necessity and I feel better for it! BUT in no way am I low-carb.
      I recently started on a probiotic and I’m digesting my food like a magician!! I can’t tolerate any dairy, but I ate a scone made with some cream, and WHAM- brain-fog, anxiety, and sleepiness ensued. So, I downed the first two caps of my newly
      purchased probiotics, and in twenty minutes, all of my symptoms were GONE. I’m usually out in a fatigued nightmare for the entire day and then some, but not this time. So, I know gut flora play a major major part in all of this. It is essential to fix before chowing down on a bunch of crap that your body can’t tolerate. I did enough of that my entire life. And yes, carbs are important, but some people have to work up to certain foods, and that’s perfectly alright. I think probiotics are the key! I’m amazed at the difference in my digestion just by adding them in, I hope this helps someone!!

  57. Matt,

    I cannot find any contact info and assume that I am to ask questions here then? So here goes…

    I have a 3yr old daughter who started having *constipation* issues when she was around 1. She would strain really hard to pass a stool. I mean strain like she was in labor. This is literally the way my husband describes it. She was also not gaining much weight. We cut out all processed foods and gradually started eating organic/free range/grass-fed…etc, over a course of 2 years and it got a little better. So here we are now and she is about to be 4 and she has only 26lbs. She’s been fluctuating between 24 and 26lbs for about 1.5 years now. She is rail thin with very fine and thin hair (can see her scalp) and her stomach always gets upset when she eats. We did GAPS *loosely* for about 9 months and fell into that low-carb arena, without realizing it. She just won’t eat vegetables and we think she has candida so we cut out honey and fruit/nuts as well. So yeah, very low carb only recently. Anyway we just stopped GAPS as of Sunday and ate pancakes this morning!! But her tummy hurt and she said she felt “heavy” and was sleepy. She gets tired after she eats all the time.

    Anyway I got your ebook Diet Recovery and we would like to follow it but am not sure how to do this for a 3 year old (soon to be 4 in July). Can you give us advice? Do I just let her eat all she wants until evening time and then a light dinner? Or do I try to make her eat more when she says she is done? Thanks for any tips anyone has to share.


    • I would love to hear Matt’s comment on this, too. I would like to say I think it’s normal for her to feel sleepy and heavy after eating pancakes if she isn’t used to it. It should get better (at least it did for me). I wouldn’t necessarily feed her light at night to begin with. I’m trying to get my baby, almost 1, to gain weight as well. Good luck with your daughter!

      • My daughter stayed at 19-20 lbs from 1 year to about 2 years old. Then she gained about 3 or 4 lbs in 6 months and then just stayed there until now. Docs knew nothing of course! We just stopped going to them and started eating whole unrefined foods. Then I got suckered into GAPS…lol. But I love how it seems the answer to our problems is just that she doesn’t eat enough. I just basically gotta give her tummy a workout now and stretch it! Thanks for the reply to you and Matt!


    • That’s great. Her tummy should hurt and she should feel sleepy (and hot) after eating a good-quality meal that shuts down catabolic hormones (allowing her to build tissue properly). Her stomach will bother her for a while. Her digestive juices are probably really weak, but over time they can get better. I would feed her exactly what she wants and is in the mood for. No matter what that is. The more appealing it is the more she will eat, and the more she eats the faster she should (although it doesn’t always work this smoothly) heal. Adding minerals to her food in the form of blackstrap molasses and min-col may also be helpful.

      • So as long as her temps are rising, her stomach hurting is ok? How long is “a while”? What do you suggest for constipation in the mean time? Sometimes she won’t pass a stool for 3 or 4 days.

        Thanks again so much for answering my question!


        • Hi Jenn,
          Matt may have a better idea, but the blackstrap molasses might help with constipation. : )


      • MATT –

        I was wondering if it bothers you like it does me that Min-Col has lead in it? When I spoke to the manufacturer, they said that the analysis comes back with some lead in it, but that it’s “okay” because it’s in a different form (huh?).

        And there’s arsenic in it too. I have a bottle of it here and started on it, but since I have trouble excreting heavy metals (and I am WAY high in arsenic), I’m not sure it’s smart to put lead and arsenic in me via Min-Col.

        Your thoughts?


        • My understanding is that the mineral is part of a “colloid” and thus doesn’t behave at all like minerals in isolation. Even have heard reports of those with hemochromatosis having their iron levels significantly lowered, if that’s any consolation. If you would like more info. on this I suggest you get in touch with Thomas Giannou.

    • Jennifer & others with small children –

      This is more of a rare situation, but if your children are constipated and have digestive issues from birth or infancy/toddlerhood, you might want to get them checked for a congenital condition called Hirschsprung’s disease. It’s a disease in which the nerves in the colon do not grow during development. Believe me when I say that no amount of good food or strict dieting or GAPS or anything will remedy the situation. I’m 26, recently diagnosed and have tried to diet away my digestive disorders for the past few years, all to no avail. If the constipation and issues gaining weight continue, consider bringing it up to your pediatrician. You might save him or her from decades of confusion and discomfort :)

      • She just never had digestive issues since birth. She started to have them around 18 months. She never had colic or gas or bloating or anything like that. She never even burped as a baby. She was breastfed even while she was on solids, so not sure what happened. We had started changing diet around that age into more whole foods and less processed foods, so I’m thinking she couldn’t handle all the whole wheat maybe? Her poos were grainy in texture so it seemed she wasn’t breaking down whole wheat. As we got less and less processed stuff and more and more whole/unrefined foods, she got better. But I think I jumped the gun and didn’t give whole foods enough time before I jumped into GAPS. Then since we were low-carbin it on GAPS (unintentionally) we screwed up her metabolism. She didn’t like eating anything we gave her. She liked about 2 things. She hated foods and so now I’m stuffing her face with everything she wants. She got over the constipation which was due to too much cheese in one day added back into her diet. But now that it is all passed, I’ll have to see if she gets it again. She is eating more and more though at least.

        If this doesn’t work in the next 3 weeks to even out temps and get her poos normal, I will have to visit a doc to go deeper. Thanks for the advice!


  58. Help Matt!! I’ve been doing RRARF for 2 1/2 months now. I’ve gained about 25 lbs and I don’t seem to be make much stride on the temp. First day I was 36.1 and I’ve only gotten up to about 36.5 or .6 on my best days. Today I was at 36.2. What am I doing wrong? I just can’t gain any more weight. I’ve been eating ice cream in the morning for weeks now too and it just ain’t helping. Thoughts?

    • There are lots of things to play around with. Like fewer fluids at certain times, incorporating some exercise, eating lighter in the evening (although some respond better with more food at night if that’s when they feel the coldest), more salt, more sleep, different macronutrient ratios, etc. I would recommend eating what you want rather than hoping that one wonder food (like ice cream) is gonna save you somehow. And that changes from meal to meal and from day to day.

      • I have been eating what I want, which puts me high on a learning curve. I had potato chips and Kraft dinner recently, just because I wanted it. What do you recommend for drinking? I try to keep my water down to about 6 cup a day because of #2 issues, and I’ve been adding salt to it. I also drink coffee a few times a week, some tea and raw milk (try for 3 cups a day). What should I be drinking/not drinking a certain times of day. I’m trying to keep my runs to the bathroom down to every two or three hours, as opposed to the previous once an hour or so. Thanks Matt!

  59. So interesting.
    I would love to know more about aldosterone and its connection to adrenal fatigue, undereating, metabolic disturbance etc. This post is somewhat close to home for me. Three years ago I ended up in the emergency room with a 2.2 mEq/L potassium level, following three months of palpitations, which were diagnosed as stress related, that culminated in an episode of a mad cardiac arrythmia, intense chest pain, confusion, visual disturbance, muscle paralysis etc. Never ever felt so wrecking or so afraid. In retrospect, never have I ever felt so embarassed by my own ‘health’ agenda and its effects on my body. It has taken me three years to recognise that and come to terms with it. The doctors, in all fairness, were bemused by it all and just put me on a drip and sent me home the next day. I talked my way out of it, because I assumed it must have been inadequate rehydration and eating post-exercise, and the big energy drink I had had that day. But my own experience of the exhaustion, chills, thirst issues, sleep disturbances, digestive problems, mood swings, muscle cramps etc prior to that time was enough of an indication for me to know that it was, in part, at least as I see it now, some part of my own war that I unconsciously had waged on my body’s metabolism.

    Focusing on calories is the only thing that gets me fully away from the thirst-exhaustion game. The adrenal connection and solving it with salt is not pretty for me at all, even in high calorie consumption. Given I still can’t tolerate salt, I wonder if aldosterone disregulation is to blame. I also wonder how much hypothalamic activity is to blame- a certain rewiring that has occurred over years of self-abuse that means I am stuck with a strange, sensitive metabolism that demands mostly only sugar as its cure.

    Amen to that though, sugar is a tasty exit strategy. And at least I now know the recipe for a painful exit from Earth.

  60. Oh God….I so hate myself,today ate,more binged on, lots of food I shlouldn’t and get such anxious&OCD feelings (probably my adrenals that get stressed and give me these anxious thoughts?). Yes,I am warm but it’s not good doing it this way,also financially can’t keep this up,though I try to make reasonable somewhat nutritious selections but still. I’ve been scared by so many people in the past about amounts of carbs,fats,proteine,exercise…..yet these binges are probably the most fattening and I don’t pay attention to ratios. However I really need to kick that habit and start eating nutritious meals or I’ll never heal my adrenals,thyroid,gut,Lyme&Co etc. I just don’t know how to go about it and I think I keep ‘postponing it’ bc once it’s on,I need to stay on!Yet there’s also a part in me that ‘likes eating those foods and not wanting to gain on veggies/fruit etc.’ at that cafetaria,though I know it gives me such mental anxiety and I’m so stupid as to keep falling into the trap of it. I seriously get so antsy,that I’m doing some squats and wall pushups on the toilet,sometimes running short periods,drinking lots of green tea (but that’s not uncommon,just crave more tea than normal).
    It makes me want to go back,out of pure fear,to my OCD exercise high-Cardio days bc I feel I’m never doing/moving/exercising enough and keep failing/being lost. (On a sidenote,lately I don’t want to even have any/much contact with my mom&sister for some reason….the preferrable situation would be that I’d live somewhere far away.:s) Sunlight also seems to have such weird differenet effects sometimes on my mood,sometimes on my hunger&satiety feelings.
    I can’t keep doing this to myself:( (Yet I wonder how much of ‘myself’ is part of this)

    Honest to God,most of the time I’d wish I’d die or get the news of my life ending soon. I think that might be my only cure. I seriously feel more&more like jumping out of the window.:'(

    • Dutchie, what are these “bad” foods you’re binging on? Usually binges are caused by one thing: restricting foods. Maybe you need to just listen to your body and try to make peace with your cravings and what your body wants to do. If it’s telling you it wants a certain type of food, or in a certain quantity, there’s probably a reason. Once I was able to really “tune in” and give it what it wanted (and not just food; sometimes, sleep, rest, whatever), it started being a lot better back to me.

      Maybe you need some hormonal help while you’re recovering because it sounds like you’re in a really bad place. Maybe you’re someone who could benefit from taking cortisone, or if you want to be more natural, even amino acids (like from Julia Ross’s Mood Cure). I know people here like to do the food-only cures, but sometimes medical stuff can help you over a hump, especially when you start talking about wanting to end things. Can you go to a more holistic endocrinologist who can test all of your hormone levels and maybe give some help?

      • Cakes,bread/croissants,doughy stuff,pizza,icecream,whipped cream,vegetable oil filled sauces………so all bad sugars,white flours,some bad fats etc.

        I know the people here think it’s me stressing about these foods…..however it’s not me bc I love eating those foods,but after like an hour my mind suddenly goes raising with lots of anxious thoughts and I’ve while that happens I’ve done the pupil test a couple of times and they’re always dilated. So I guess it’s not me really thinking these things,but my stressed adrenals causing these thoughts.

        So,no….I can’t get away with cheating……and that does make me feel angry,hurt,sad etc. bc “I”?(or is it all the parasites,molds etc.) love them,taste,texture etc.

        I already take many different supplements.

      • I also notice that I have completely different future aspirations when I eat these bad foods. Than I want to exercise hard everyday,maybe become an instructor,combined with a creative job,like animation/graphic design (which was part of the studies I’ve gotten my Bachelor in).
        Apart from the stressing thoughts caused by my adrenals,it seems my emotions differ by it too…..sometimes it impacts can be positive,I’m a more positive/happy person but other times I become this angry person and impatient. I haven’t discovered,what might be a factor in this.

        When I eat nutritious, I feel more like living on a farm/wanting to do farmwork,keeping busy,preferrably more&more away from society.

        Having read Wilson’s and GAPS book, I’m almost certain I’ve been born with weak adrenals(& supposedly thyroid) (due to nutrient difficiencies?) and probably bad/weak gut flora.

        Though overall I feel being outside is the best,especially on sunny days. I always dreamed about immigrating to a sunny country.

        Overall,I’ve never heard/read about people experiencing the same :(

        • A completely diff twist, there is a book that you might find unlocks all this emotional stuff. It did for me. It is called “Loving Choices”, by Nina Heart and Bruce Fisher. Amazing and transforming. Many blessings in this fight we call life.

  61. Wow, Matt, are you going to answer even a single critique of this piece?

    Do you have so little respect for people who read your blog?

  62. I think for both the article and criticisms are fair enough. Readers will have to weigh them up.

    If you have debilitating Crohn’s or ulcerative colitis, the risk to your metabolism may well be warranted. If your symptoms are less extreme you can end up nutritionally trapped, overreacting to everything.

    SCD put me in a bad place metabolically. Unfortunately it triggered intense allergies to dairy and coconut, so I lost some big caloric players that I’ve never been able to reintroduce. Personally I don’t count non-starchy veg towards carbs. Squashes, swede, celeriac or fruit just wasn’t cutting it for me. Then I moved on to the early Paleo stuff, which just reinforced and prolonged my agony. Bad times.

    • I never really got interested in the comments thread on this one because it’s just a classic…

      GAPS diet cured me. Those who had problems weren’t doing it right. Matt Stone is an asshole huckster.

      GAPS diet effed me up and I did everything right. Matt Stone is more awesomer than Tim Tebow.

      No one seemed that interested in getting closer towards figuring out when GAPS is and is not appropriate. Even for those who it does work for – that doesn’t mean that an easier, more expedient way to fix the problems doesn’t exist. It very well might exist.

      • You are way more awesomer than Tebow.

        • Also, for what it’s worth, you didn’t position your thoughts as “when is GAPS appropriate?” You said flat out that it doesn’t work; and that it can be life-threatening. Not, “It can work, but is it what you should consider using?”

          I think you have a very valuable point with discussing its impact on metabolism, and how important it is that one keep that in mind. This point gets lost.

          • I didn’t say flat out that it doesn’t work. I said that I was going to discuss more of the negatives rather than the positives because no one is talking about those who aren’t doing well on GAPS. That alludes that I acknowledge it can work, and that there is probably a time and place and person for it.

            Triple bypass surgery can be life threatening too. One needs to weigh the pros and cons of every decision, and not be ignorant to that which can go wrong when we take on and attempt to change our diet based on ideas, and not based on biofeedback or instinct.

          • Just reread the article – I’m sorry, you didn’t say that it never works. Really have a different take away now. Huh. Wonder why? Defensiveness? Reaction to comments saying “wow, now I never ever have to consider that awful GAPS diet”?

            Sorry dude! Will read closer next time.

          • Much respect for this comment, Annie. Not everyone can be that vulnerably honest… with themselves and with others.

            I love it when a person can be real and vulnerable enough to say what they really feel… especially when it’s not easy. I admire that in a person. Some think it’s a weakness. I see it as a strength.

          • Very sweet of you to say. When you run off at the mouth as often as I do, you get quite accostomed to the taste of humble pie.

            Mm, pie… that sounds good…

          • It’s just the defensiveness Annie. I was like that too when on GAPS. So very defensive and literally close-minded.

      • Hm, not how I’ve read them at all, or certainly not how I intended my comments. I certainly think you’re neither an asshole nor Tebow, not that I know you. Maybe you are… are you? No I’m sure you’re not.

        Anyway, folks repeatedly have said GAPS is not for everyone. I personally called it medicine, not a fad diet that most shoudl consider doing. )In fact, I just saw a naturopath yesterday b/c I know we need help through this process. SHe, btw, warned of not being low-carb b/c of the impact on thyroid.) Several of us have said it’s appropriate for extreme situations like autism, or some of the particular conditions others have described.

        And I’ll add if I didn’t already — I’d LOVE LOVE LOVE another way to address my son’s food issues. I meant it when I asked if you had any ideas. I hate GAPS. Hate it. It makes me sad. But that’s because not being able to eat the effing food makes me sad — and I’m trying so hard to get us to eat the food.

        We just ended a month of all you can eat grains. Holy shit the pasta tasted so good… but all the lovely side effects… the eczema, OCD, depression, body aches so bad I couldn’t sleep… it all came back.

        I just want my family to be able to eat. So. That is why we do GAPS.

        If you — or anyone — has a better idea, I am all ears.

        But I think the main critiques — that you misrepresented GAPS with the example that you shared, that you made claims abotu it being ineffective run counter to nto some, but all the stories I’ve heard, that you made claims about it being unprovable (is that a word?) that progress is being made — remain valid.


        • Has anyone ever just tried taking food enzymes supplement to help with food allergies? or Stomach acid? …or even amino acid supplements?

          I have seen a few articles relating enzymes and amino acid absorption/ mal absorption to food sensitivities and allergies. In a lot of related cases having a genetic mutation such as MTHFR where the vit. B9-B12 folate-methionine pathway is ‘messed up’ you cant absorb or make some important chemicals to properly digest foods. And MTHFR mutation is present in about 50% of the population and most dont know it. (most autism cases are known to have an altered methionine pathway as well)

          I have found that I cannot tolerate corn or wheat unless I take a strong mixed B vitamin just after eating it. A lot of sensitivities, yes, are caused by leaky gut and gut dysbiosis (wrong bacteria). But it can also be caused by the way we process foods and take out nutrients necessary for digestion.

          For example: taking the bran/germ off of most grain leaves it deficient in B vitamins and fats that then later need to be added back (fortified). But many ‘organic’ and natural breads or home-made stone ground flours dont have the natural levels or fortified B vitamins added back in, so it could possibly be better for your digestion to eat fortified non-organic/ non-artisan baked bread.

          …..just what I have experimented with. I’m wondering if anyone else has had this experience? I only began getting ‘food sensitivities’ when I started “paying attention to my health” and eating organic or home ground fermented flour bread and non-fortified breads.

          Also a really good book of alternative options to GAPS – “Natural Solutions for Food Allergies and Intolerances” by Casey Adams

          • Thanks for the ideas Racheal, I will check out that book.

            I’ve wondered about food enzymes and supplemental stomach acid. Played around a little with the latter, but felt gunshy about investing in yet another supplement so didn’t go for the enzymes. Also have gotten to teh point of wonder what will let me know I’m seeing improvement.

            Having said that… Two of my three sons have spina bifida… which can be related to deficiency in folate… which requires B12 to synthesize… all of which, as you say, can be affected by MTHFR. Going by memory, I tested as have one of the two mutations. The doctors weren’t impressed. But now I’m wondering again, and wondering if I didn’t pass this to my “healthy” son who has all the digestive, skin and food intolerance issues. He resembles me in pretty much every way, so maybe it’s showing up in him like it’s shown up in me.

            If you do’nt mind me asking, what are you symptoms after you eat corn or wheat w/o the B supplement?

            I am tempted to test this theory today…

          • Annie-
            I have eating corn/wheat my whole life and started getting symptoms of gluten intolerance at 23 and then corn intolerance. (after being vegetarian and eating organic/whole unfortified grains)

            My symptoms with only wheat consumption and no B vitamin = muscle pain, pins and needls in hands, spinal lock, extreme fatigue, headaches, memory loss and just generally uncomfortable and very crabby.

            Corn w/out B vitamin = after 1-2 days I get really itchy, red nose, red blisters similar to cold sores (had them tested for staph infection but came back neg.), sore throat, chest congestion, then cough. and grumpy/moody/angry at nothing. Symptoms are similar to the progression of catching a cold w/out fever.

            A few times I ate corn w/ wheat in chips or a porridge mix and it put me out for about 2-3 months. Fever, sore throat, cough, whole body pain, couldnt concentrate, couldnt read, hands fell asleep…

            I can tolerate wheat better now, and corn w/ the vitamins I get no symptoms but I have not been brave enough to try a corn/wheat mix yet. : /

          • That’s pretty interesting. I, too, only started getting food sensitivities when I got “healthy”. In my case, I think it was more related to my metabolism slowing down (which slowed my digestion and I had to take HCL and enzymes). I do think that you have a point, for sure, and it may have contributed to my issues. Also, the “whole grain” thing…it can also cause digestive problems, even if they are soaked or whatever, in my opinion. I don’t do so well with regular oatmeal, but can do the more processed quick oats just fine.

          • I try to stay away from whole grains. Not strictly, but you can definitely overload the digestive tract with unnecessary stress with too many whole grains. Grape Nuts almost made my stomach explode once on a lengthy road trip, haha.

          • I just ordered a product called MucoPure,which is a supplement powder that is said to detox as well as built the gutlining.
            Don’t know if it’s for sale in The US,but are there maybe people who have experience with this product?

            Also read,at least try to read&understand the article, on Jack Kruse’s site which made a connection of high Estrogen and the GallBladder/Bile.

        • Hey Annie,

          depression, body aches…these are all classical signs of hypothyroidism. Also, the mental issues easily arise if you have impaired glucose metabolism, where the glucose tolerance only gets worse with GAPS (first hand experience). Your blood sugar probably goes down fast after eating lots of carbohydrates. I am having this problem particularly after the GAPS diet, but so far i can feel pretty good if combining carbohydrates with protein, but i am hoping to overcome this hypoglycemia by consuming lots of carbs.

          Have you considered taking some kind of natural thyroid supplement?

          Ray Peat’s book on female hormones explains so well the connection between thyroid and progesterone and bunch of health problems, like yours, but as Matt said, Ray doesn’t offer a good solution apart from taking some thyroid or progesterone to break the hypothyroid/estrogen dominance cycle. His books are cheap but he offers some great insight and knowledge i couldn’t find anywhere else.

          • Sanja,

            I was just this evening finally reading about hypothyroidism in The Mood Cure. I see people mention it all over the place, and have the dual mental block of “Old and/or very overweight people have that” and “woah, not ready to learn about yet ANOTHER thing that could be wrong with me.”

            Yet, I have to say several things applied in the checklist. Certainly went through tremendous stress w/all of my kids’ medical issues, and was pregnant and/or lactating for 4.5 years straight whilst dealing with these issues AND not eating well enough.

            Re: GAPS – I am rethinking whether we need to do this (yes, fine, thank you Matt.) My, er, gut is telling me it’s a bad idea to stress our bodies (and emotions), that maybe there’s a cause to our issues that isn’t gut dysbiosis. I NEVER had antibiotics as a child, yet had gluten intolerance (I know see). My digestive-issue 3yr-old has also never been on antibiotics, and ate a very healthy, well-rounded diet. It has never made sense to me that it’s something we consumed that did this damage. But… I took it on faith, b/c EVERYONE talks about GAPS.

            Anyway, thanks all.

  63. We put my son on GAPS (18 months old) because he was having severe resprotory issues, sort of like asthma, but it baffled all the Drs he saw, he would get a simple cold and have to be addmitted to the hospital and given IV antibiotics, breathing treatments every half hour etc. On GAPS for less than a month he had his first (and only) siezure, which scared the living daylights out of me, so we took him off the diet, just started giving him ‘normal’ but nutritious foods, along with a few other changes including moving out of our mold infested house, and as of now he is much better, still has breathing issues when he is sick, sometimes, but not nearly as bad! And he has started GROWING, he was not thriving, he was falling off the growth curve, but now he is growing like a weed. I had wondered what I did wrong, why he got worse on the diet, this explains it, very interesting!

    I got your diet recovery book and Im trying to wrap my brain around it. I have been eating like crazy and I will admit I am much warmer than before (Im usually ALWAYS cold) Sometimes I feel like Im even TOO hot! My temps are still not optimal in the morning but I will stick to it. Im reeeally finding it hard to convince myself not to go on a strict starve yourself kind of diet though because I am the heaviest Ive been my whole life, including the weight I was when I was pregnant with my third baby! Its very depressing :(

  64. I found this post to be fascinating! However, I’m having a little trouble figuring out whether I’m one of the people who should be on GAPS or not (judging by the comments it can be helpful in some cases). Perhaps you could help me, Matt?

    I’ve had terrible digestive issues since I was 8, was diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome at 11, had anorexia at 14, bulimia at 17, then a binge eater at 18, then borderline anorexic again at 19, at which point I developed insomnia (waking up between 3 and 5am and not falling back to sleep), unbearable periods (doctors are convinced I have endometriosis, though it’s yet to be confirmed) and chronic constipation. After another binge-eating period, I finally overcame my eating disorders, but the physical side-effects remained.

    I’m now 22 and have been on GAPS for about 4 months. I’ve seen some great improvements in many of my digestive symptoms. For the first month I felt pretty awesome. However, since then my energy levels have been horribly low, and the depression which I had managed to get rid of on a non-GAPS-but-high-saturated-fat diet has returned with a vengeance. My hands and feet are often cold, I have those little red spots you talk about, and I have pretty much all the symptoms of adrenal fatigue. By blood pressure is extremely low (always has been, but seems to be even worse since starting GAPS) and I get muscle cramps, pins and needles and chest pains – which in light of this post concerns me somewhat! I attributed all these things to “die-off”.

    I’ve made an effort to not fall into the low-carb trap on GAPS – plenty of dairy, legumes, vegetables, fruit and honey. I enjoy the food that I eat on the diet. Still, I can’t help feeling like I’m lacking something. The other day I had an insatiable craving for oatmeal, which is unusual as food cravings have been rare since starting the diet.

    I apologize for the essay, but I thought perhaps you could shed some light on the issue – maybe I’m going about this all wrong and should focus on fixing my metabolism/healing my hormones first? I’d really appreciate any guidance/advice!

    Thanks for your time and for this challenging post!

    • Those are symptoms of die-off. Not die-off of candida or bad bacteria though, but of Mali Korsten! Eat the food!

    • Diet Recovery is the best starting point, but some of the recent discussion on the blog over the last few months has opened up some new possibilites.

      • Okay… I’ll stick around and see what else I can learn before deciding which route to take. I will admit that right now the prospect of starting the day with real pancakes seems heavenly! Thanks for your help :)

  65. Just a couple more questions before I buy the book and take the plunge into a much desired pizza… I eat above my maintenance calorie-level – roughly 2000-3000 calories per day – yet I still experience the symptoms mentioned above. Is a high-calorie diet not enough to ensure good metabolic function? Like I said, I’m not low-carb either – just no starch. But something’s clearly amiss. Are there times when starchy foods really are the only answer, over and above non-starch carbohydrates and saturated-fats? I’m 97% sold…

  66. The idea that diet can cure all or most psychiatric ailment is As Absurdly reductionist if bad as the idea that all psychiatric ailments are genetic conditions that must be treated by psychopharmaceuticals.

  67. Hi Matt,

    I read your Diet Recovery book, and I need some help. I figured that your GAPS post was the best place to do so as my family is currently on the GAPS diet. I’d like to note that because of this post, I’ve been a rebel and told other moms doing GAPS with their kids to eat rice when they start experiencing hypothyroid issues haha

    I need to start out by saying that GAPS has been a life saver for my family. My son couldn’t talk, and although he wasn’t autistic because he was very social, he still had some signs of stereotypy and other autistic traits. We put him on GAPS in a panic last September, and he is now a healthy, typical, thriving little boy. (I think the diet works best for small children who are high-functioning autistic or close to it.) My digestion is better, my adrenal fatigue is gone, my anxiety is completely gone, and my psoriasis is final going away. My husband has improved greatly as well, but he has not faired as well as us. His digestion is much better as is his mood and brain fog, and actually many of his hypothyroidism signs are gone, but he still has hypothyroid symtpoms. None of us have cold hands or feet anymore or cramps, but my husband and I have VERY COLD body temps (95-96.9). We don’t have sugar cravings or cravings for anything, and none of us have crashed and started losing our hair (yet). I’ve always worried about my son’s thyroid, even when he was a little baby, because he has very thin, sparse hair.

    We are ready to transition off the diet and just eat whole foods. We imagined this being having some gluten-free sourdough bread toast with eggs and bacon and fruit for breakfast, nice salds for lunch, quinoa or rice or potatoes with dinner…. Now that I’ve read your Diet Recovery book, I feel like we’re going to have to carb up before we can just eat the food and incorporate starches back in our lives? None of us are cold, do we need to “refeed” ourselves? Do we need to specifically do RRARF? It makes me feel like it’s another diet, and I know it’s not supposed to. The idea of so radically changing our eating habits that we currently really enjoy, instead of just adding starch back in is a bit exhausting. I do worry that my husband really needs to RRARF because of his fatty liver, large waist, high cholesterol, low thyroid, etc… but, man, you’re killing me! I’d love to fix his metabolism and recover him from all the years of dieting (7, low-fat, low-carb, GAPS, leptin reset, lots of running on his elliptical), but he finds the idea of eating lots of grains and carbs unappealing (although a few starches throughout the day sounds nice to him), and he is loathe to give up his homemade bacon from pastured pigs XD It makes me feel like doing RRARF would go against everything you say about eating what you want…

    I guess I’m looking for a tiny bit of advice. I’m guessing it’s going to be add the starch back in, push through the discomfort from eating it, and then see if you want to do RRARF.

    I’m tired of special diets. I want to eat clean and wholesome. We’ve healed a whole lot. Time to live again. I wish RRARF didn’t feel like a special diet, though!

    Help! And thanks!

  68. I just wanted to add I have found that the first month on GAPS is very hard. I had depression/anxiety, insomnia, and leg cramps. I cannot tolerate any fruit, honey or nuts. The diet I have to follow is only veges (no potatoes) meat, butter, and oils. After the initial period though I felt better. But I still cannot add in any foods.. I know it is good for my gut issues and autoimmune issues (I have IBS, and an autoimmune disorder) because my pain in my body particularly my arthritis is nearly gone. My bladder pain is also a lot better ( I have painful bladder syndrome aka “IC”. When I try to add in any grains or potatoes, the pain in my joints and hands come back within 30 minutes, and I begin to get bladder pain again. The diet is not easy at all, but when you are in chronic pain, and it helps you feel like your in a catch 22. The diet itself is SO hard to stick to, and I have many “die off” symptoms or so I think they are, but I feel deprived and have a hard time knowing for sure if these symptoms are truly die off, or just that my body needs more food..which I cant give it cause it causes bad pain! UGH.. Anyway there is something right about GAPS, and no grain/refined sugar diets, they DO help many people with painful autoimmune issues, but they are not easy to stick to long term and I am not sure it will lead to complete healing.

  69. I realise I’m joining this conversation late, but only just read your article now. Have you read this article by Dr. Campbell-McBride:
    Plus GAPS is a protocol, not just a diet, although laxatives, daily enemas and dandelion tea and kombucha are definitely not part of it. And although people often fall into the low-carb trap, it does not have to be. It is a protocol that is very adaptable to individual needs.
    The article above highlights Dr. Campbell-McBride’s views on ‘one-size-fits-all diets. I’m sure you’ll agree with her words!

  70. The gaps diet does not have to below carb to the point of causing problems. Many if not most people do best on a moderate carb diet, not a low or high carb. Even 75 or a hundred grams per day is a good range for many people. Many people have digestive issues because they have screwed up gut flora from lack of breastfeeding, antibiotic and other drug abuses, poor nutrition resulting in weak immunity. Clearing these problems will do a lot more for your metabolism than eating loads of foods that feed the infection to try and gun the metabolism and thereby somehow cure the infections. I would highly discourage anyone who is doing well on gaps/scd from jumping on the rrarf diet. I tried it and it messed me up so bad it took months to get back to where I stopped having diarrhea and had my energy and slunk back. The foods that I have found I can use to get optimal carbs for me are all the higher carb veggies such as carrots, winter squashes, lentils, fruit and raw honey. Also tomato paste or sauce onions. Often ill bake a big one like a potato and eat. Rhutabagas are good. I eat a lot of honey like half a cup or more a day often. I feel good on these foods. Have energy, warm good mood and digestion. But very soon after eating much in the way of grains or potato I get the diarrhea and inflammation. Gaps/scd does work great for many people and can be adapted and personalized for carb content and other things. A good website to help you with this is, by Jordan reasoner and Steve wright. They have healed their crohns and uc with the scd and are great resources for learning how to troubleshoot problems and customize the diet so you can feel your best and heal. Many people in time can heal to the point of being able to tolerate starches and grains. Kat of Kat’s blog is one who in time was able to do this as well as Matt at Matt has a great ebook on the protocol he used with approval of his doctor for fecal microbiota transplant. Doing this is what got his gut flora healed to the point of being able to reintroduce some grains. I would go learn from these people who have had serious digestive illness and have been having success overcoming and know how to help you optimize your diet in terms of macronutrients and in every other way, rather than listening to a guy who has no experience with IBD and is probably just bad mouthing scd/gaps to elevate his own stuff and sell books.

  71. Matt what’s your take on metabolic typing? Could it be that GAPS works for those who are
    protein type?

    • No. That’s not how or why some people get relief from various illnesses on a low-carb diet – GAPS included.

  72. Hi Matt,
    A lot of people have recommended I read this article after my effort with GAPS was a resolute failure! It’s well written and informative, thanks for publishing!
    I’m curious though, you posit that one of the reasons GAPS fails many people is because it slows a person’s metabolism. Is that purely, in your opinion, as a result of a low calorie intake?
    I ask because my calorie intake on GAPS was anyhting but low and I always kept my carbs up, eating carrots, beets and nuts. I actually managed to gain weight on GAPS! :-D
    I’d be interested to know your take on this.

  73. Her story reminds me of my own, only her cholesterol ratio was better. I’m celiac, have Hashimoto’s, fibromyalgia, heterozygous for Factor V Leiden, no MTHFR mutations, but I do have other related methylation polymorphisms I didn’t realize at the time, and cytochrome P450 mutations. I had a heart attack a day after I ate a bunch of carbs (300g vs the 150 I usually ate) preparing for my first 5k. I, too, monitored my daily food in a journal. I was gluten free, primal eating at the time (eating dairy, so not paleo). I quit coffee a month before my heart attack. My hsCRP has been as high as 11 or 12 (can’t remember exactly) indicating inflammation, ut shortly before the race I’d gotten it down to 3. . My heart attack blood labs were also elevated. My symptoms after the race were that I about collapsed from exhaustion from pushing too hard after the race. I ate a banana after, then some leftover spinach frittata in the car on the way home (I didn’t eat before the race because I wasn’t hungry from the day before). I really wasn’t hungry after the race, but figured I needed protein. I don’t remember much after that other than taking a super hot bath to soothe my fibromyalgia aching muscles, and going to bed. I’d recovered much from my pain by going gluten-free and only my legs would ache by this time in my healing recovery. I still had fibro related trouble sleeping. I had a very long unfit sleep that night, and decided to wake up at 5am. I was anxiety-ridden. My chest felt like a truck was sitting on it, and my left arm hurt like a too-tight blood pressure cuff was stuck. Drove myself to the ER (I recommend an ambulance whether you think you’re having one or not, btw – big mistake on my part. I just didn’t think this could be happening to me). My arteries were also clear, no Rx, just followup with my PCP. I now believe my heart attack to be due to a combination of poor liver detox and too high histamine or lack of DAO enzyme. FWIW, my TC: 206, Tri’s: 74, HDL: 49, LDL: 142. TC/HDL ratio should be under 3, but it’s 4.2. I can’t seem to get my LDL lower, and wonder if it’s because of my detox Ph. 1? Could the person who had the hard time with GAPS also have histamine issues with yogurts and bone broths, etc? My fibromyalgia is gone when I eat very very strictly and I have since run up to 6 miles and walked an additional 4 in one day without pain. I hope that news helps someone. :) I still have low body temp, so I’ll be checking out what Matt has to say. I pretty much follow an autoimmune paleo, low histamine diet, but it’s very difficult. I binge on potato chips (and get symptoms. Which for me are: heart palpitations, edema in my ankles, fibromyalgia, insomnia. For someone else it might be GI, headaches, hives or rashes). Any thoughts? (I don’t remember what I was googling around for but your article showed up and it interested me. I know this is a very late comment). Thanks for reading.

  74. As a GAPSter I like to look for additions to my diet, like Amino Acid Supplementation, anything to help with my healing wholly.. Anyway GAPS is far from a low carb diet, and if you do go low carb you are doing it wrong!! It makes me sick that at the expense of Dr. Natasha and all those who are healed or could be healed by GAPS, you make money.. Nothing but a sales gimmick.. The gut has everything to do with everything you are trying to sell, it is the cornerstone of our health. I just love you and your partner Jeanne selling crap for massive prices, when you can get Natasha’s book for 23 bucks on Amazon… Seriously!! She literally gives the diet away for free on And look at your online store!! Look at your sidekick Jeanne’s Metabolic Madness SALE $597 for Platinum!! Wow!!

  75. I just want to say GAPS has worked miracles for me and I am far from low carb. I eat fruit, vege/fruit juices, vegetables, honey, treats with dates and coconut flour and nuts/nut flours. I do think it’s true that no diet is for everyone. I am glad to know of other people having problems so I know what to look for. I think if you don’t feel good on GAPS it may be a good idea to see a GAPS practitioner who may recommend some changes. I took my daughter to a Naturopath and GAPS practitioner for her chronic constipation. My daughter is not on GAPS with me and the Naturopath did NOT recommend GAPS for her. Dr. Natasha knows GAPS is not for everyone. I have read through her Q and A on her website and she steered people away from GAPS to other known diets for certain disorders. Seems like everyone acts like she is trying to cure everything under the sun. She isn’t, she’s trying to heal unhealthy guts. It’s been a miracle for me and I am thankful for her research.

  76. I tried Gaps. It made me feel awful. That’s all I need to know. If a diet doesn’t make you feel better, then it is making you worse, or at best, it isn’t helping. Just listen to your body.

    People seem to be encouraged to stay on Gaps because of this mystifying phenomenon called “detox” and “die-off”. These are not scientifically explained at all, and people routinely misunderstand them, giving them the kind of superstitious power that old wives tales have. So people are sticking with the diet when their body is telling them clearly to stop.

    Gaps seems to be based on part science, part conjecture and part folk remedy. There are probably some grains of truly effective treatment in there, but the research hasn’t yet confirmed which bits work and which don’t. That means it works for some and not for others. I’ve been on a scientifically designed diet and it was a totally different experience. The RPA Hospital Failsafe diet has been developed by scientists and doctors and has been prescribed to treat food intolerance issues since the 80’s, with a very high success rate. This diet may not be for everyone, but I know from being on it that a diet developed by researchers, scientists and doctors has absolutely no element of mystery or faith to it. You don’t get worse before you get better, you just get better. You don’t have to wait long periods of time for healing, you get better really quickly. Everything you do is explained, everything that happens is understood, and it all makes sense.

    I would really encourage people who are “waiting for healing” on Gaps, or who are going through uncomfortable “detox” and “die-off”, to take a step back and ask themselves what their body is telling them. From what I’ve read, and from my own personal experience, if it’s been a month and you still don’t feel better, it’s probably not working.

  77. I pay a visit day-to-day a few web sites and information sites to
    read articles or reviews, but this web site presents quality based articles.

  78. What would you suggest for our situation: Daughter (11) and I, both with Ehlers-Danlos, moved to a house with high salt well water and copper pipes. Within 1 year developed major nervous system problems and about 30 food allergies each. We were extremely chemically sensitive. Similar to what mold exposure victims get.Daughter has high levels of copper in hair test, I have high levels of salt and depleted moly-b. Fast forward 5 years after completing FAR infared sauna treatment, and a food rotation diet chemical sensitivity is better but, we both are down to 15 foods that we can tolerate each. We tried GAPS but became allergic to all the meats we made bone broth with. Most of what we can eat without negetive effects is fruit. I feel helpless between this rock and hard place.

    • Julie

      Did you use pasture raised or certified organic meat for your bone broth ? What water did you use in the broth? I hope you are no longer using the water from your well
      This could make a difference to you.

      SO sorry to hear about your problems with toxicity.

  79. WOW

    The opening ‘article’ is a sensationalist toxic rant (how ironic) and totally biased piece. Man, the drug companies must love you.

    There is a lot of BS in subsequent postings too.

    Cambell McBride is a qualified doctor with a medical practice. She has dealt with many patients. She must have very good reason to postulate her theories and a lot more experience then anyone posting here.

    And maybe the diet will not suit 100% of people; everyone is different, others may have other contributing health problems.Or they may not being doing things the right way or just telling lies…we do not know

    The US medical care system is corrupt. It’s based on big money pharma and over priced medical insurance. And therefore no food diet will EVER get the testing that will satisfy the mainstream as the cash cow will dry up.

    It make’s sense to me that anyone who withdraws from drugs (eg a heroin addiction) that are bad for them usually feels terrible when they do so; so would you recommend that they start taking heroin again just to feel good?? No, I thought not.
    Just maybe it could be the same with a ‘bad’ diet. Your body is addicted so will rebel. Maybe it’s not a good idea to go back to your old ways for just that reason.

    I think we all agree that what you eat is very important and a change for the better is going to help more then any drugs ever can.

  80. I find Alana Sugar’s story the most eye-opening of any posted here.

    I’m glad I never did GAPS.

  81. Hey there! I’ve been reading your website for some time now and finally got the bravery to go ahead and give you a shout out from Porter Tx! Just wanted to say keep up the fantastic job!

  82. Hi Matt, I am in the 3rd week of GAPS intro. with my son and am finding myself desperate to quit–I can’t stand how restrictive and monotonous it is. I’m very intrigued by your ideas. I bought your diet recovery book and would like to follow RRARF. My son and I both have low temps and low blood pressure, and the reasons we came to GAPS were less severe than most: chronic sinus problems, migraines (me), and food intolerances (making me suspect candida). The sinus problems and migraines have cleared since beginning GAPS intro., and we are slowly reintroducing dairy successfully. However, I have started to think that we are not getting enough carbs, and I’m almost convinced that GAPS is not the way to go. We had a “cheat” day in week 2 of intro., because I had a major tantrum about GAPS’ restrictiveness, and we both suffered from it–my son with gastric distress, and I with a full-blown sinus+migraine headache. My question is this: is there a way we can gently ease off intro. without causing ourselves such distress? Thanks in advance for any and all ideas!

    • Anytime you suddenly jump off of any diet you’ll likely experience distress in some form. But I would consider implementing some of my ideas lined out in Diet Recovery 2 and Eat for Heat with your own customization to it (for you two I would recommend very well-cooked, soft, and easily-digestible foods almost exclusively due to your digestive limitations at the moment) and sticking with it through the distressing part until you become acclimated to the change.

  83. Do you have anything to say to us folks who have problems related to MTHFR mutations? Autism, as addressed here regarding the GAPS diet, can be one, and chronic fatigue another, miscarriages another, and many more like clots, heart disease and cancer. Basically, MTHFR mutations mess with the methylation cycle on and we cannot utilize B-vitamins and we build up toxins. It’s a basic cellular thing. I know you don’t put a lot of stock into supplements and detox, but what is one to do when there is a genetic issue that causes specific yet widespread problems? RARRFing faithfully for 9 months despite having a good metabolism previously has not helped other than helping get rid of orthorexia, and putting 10 pounds of unwanted weight on my frame. Is it time for supplementation? I’ve just recently discovered the link between MTHFR mutations and basically ALL the problems I have and I’m looking into taking some supplements.

    • Try them and report back. I would be curious to see what, if anything, they are able to do for you.

  84. Hey, just posting here in the hopes that I can get some help/advice!
    I started Gaps about 3 months ago (still didn’t do the intro diet).
    I started it because I have had bad eczema since the age of 15 and nothing worked. A dermatologist told me I have candida in my gut which is causing the eczema (who knows if it’s true, but I’m afraid to take the prescription anti-fungal because it can have so many side effects).
    Also, around the same time I started gaps I found out I am celiac/gluten intolerant.
    I have self-diagnosed myself with leaky gut, candida, and gluten intolerance, which I believe are the causes of my eczema, and also I have some brain-fog issues and hypothyroidism…

    At this stage I’m so confused with all the advice online and different diets, and whether GAPS is right for me or not, and I’m wondering if anyone could help! :/

    Thanks in advance!

  85. Hello,
    I began the gaps diet (with a few intense weeks of intro) 2 months ago because I have been on antibiotics in the past, have had constipation for years, and was sure gaps would be the answer for me. I have had hardly any energy on the diet, and my constipation has gotten much worse. I wanted to get off the diet and go back to my previous way of eating (wapf style), but when I tried reintroducing gluten from sprouted bread and sourdough, it did NOT agree with me! I felt dizzy and drunk for a few hours afterwards. I never noticed anything irregular beforehand. I’m just wondering where to go from here. It seems like my brief adherance to the gaps diet has caused the intolerance. Any advice is appreciated.

    • That’s a temporary response I’m sure. Once you get your bowel transit speed up to a level where you’ve overcome your constipation (achieved by eating heartily of a mixed diet to the point where your body temperature gets well above 98F upon waking), you should feel quite a bit better and be able to digest a wider variety of foods well without problems.



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