Debunking the GAPS Diet: An Unsubstantiated Approach to Health and Weight Loss

In the pursuit of weight loss and improved health, there are numerous dietary approaches available to us. However, in this article, we will focus on the GAPS diet, exploring its principles and examining the scientific evidence behind it.

Scientific Perspectives on the GAPS Diet

The Origins of the GAPS Diet

The gut is often referred to as our "second brain," and research has confirmed the existence of a gut-brain axis, representing the complex bidirectional relationship between our neurological system and the gastrointestinal tract.

It is now known that many mental and emotional disorders may be linked to the composition of our gut flora or the functioning of our digestive system. Conversely, stress and emotional issues can also contribute to digestive or intestinal diseases.

Taking this into account, neurologist Natasha Campbell created the Gut and Psychology Syndrome (GAPS), which stands for the psycho-intestinal syndrome. This concept suggests that our gut microbiota plays a fundamental role in the development of conditions such as autism, depression, and overall psychological well-being. Therefore, dietary changes can significantly impact mental and emotional health, while also aiding in weight loss.

This concept indeed holds scientific support, as the bacteria in our digestive system have been shown to influence our behavior and mental health. Natasha Campbell developed a method to improve gut flora, thereby promoting the management of various diseases.

The original idea behind the GAPS diet was to help individuals eliminate toxins from their bodies and cultivate healthy microbiota. Thus, this diet has emerged as one of the most popular worldwide, with extensive marketing and associated products.

What the GAPS Diet Entails

The GAPS diet aims to improve gut flora to aid weight loss, manage various diseases, and maintain overall health. Its main principles involve completely eliminating grains, refined carbohydrates, sugars, processed foods, and certain starchy vegetables.

On the other hand, the diet encourages the consumption of fermented foods, protein sources, and healthy fats such as meat, fish, shellfish, yogurt, eggs, and coconut oil. Additionally, the diet recommends supplements like probiotics and cod liver oil, which are marketed as essential components of the GAPS diet.

The diet is typically divided into two phases: an initial strict phase, which can last up to two years, to restore gut health, and a second phase that reintroduces various foods once the gut microbiota is considered healthy.

Scientific Critique of the GAPS Diet

Although the connection between our gut and brain is well-established, there is no scientific evidence supporting the GAPS diet as a beneficial approach for our gut microbiota.

Furthermore, the GAPS diet eliminates entire food groups, leading to potential high levels of stress and, counterintuitively, could be detrimental to mental and emotional health rather than improving it.

Additionally, the diet restricts healthy foods such as grains, vegetables, and fruits, while making scientifically unfounded claims about the need for detoxification or the superiority of consuming fruits in the form of juice.

The diet's claims appear to be more about marketing products than sound scientific evidence, raising concerns about its overall safety and effectiveness.


In conclusion, the GAPS diet lacks substantial scientific support and may not be a suitable or beneficial dietary approach. Instead of promoting improved health and weight loss, it could potentially lead to adverse effects and unnecessary stress on the body. It is essential to seek evidence-based and balanced dietary plans to achieve sustainable and positive outcomes for both physical and mental well-being.
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