Healing Foods, Part 2: Bipolar and Beyond

In my last post, I shared with you my desperation to get my life and future back, to truly heal from bipolar disorder and not just try to manage my symptoms. I saw some improvement from a few changes, introducing specific supplements, taking out sugar and gluten. Meanwhile, my friend Kate implemented a healing diet called GAPS. I watched as she took hours out of her day to cleanse and rest, brought her own home-cooked food to every small group meeting and Sunday breakfast…and got better. I knew that GAPS worked for her, but no way was I going to give up bread, cheese and chocolate!! GAPS meant sacrifice, a sacrifice I wasn’t willing to make.

Fast forward to the spring of 2016. We wanted to remove the threat my mood stabilizer posed to a potential baby, so I started tapering off the medication. My psychiatrist at the time wanted to take me off depakote and try another mood stabilizer in its place. The misery of my withdrawal from this prescription drug was the catalyst I needed to finally say enough is enough. Pharmacology was never a good solution for me. My path lay elsewhere.

Through friends, we were pointed to a local naturopath who specialized in the GAPS diet. Up until that time, I had never had a doctor who took so much time to educate and empower me to understand why my body and brain were functioning abnormally and what we could do about it.

GAPS stands for “Gut And Psychology Syndrome,” from the book Gut and Psychology Syndrome: Natural Treatment for Autism, Dyspraxia, A.D.D, Dyslexia, A.D.H.D, Depression, Schizophrenia by Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride. Dr. Natasha’s quest to heal the mind by healing the gut began with her son, who was diagnosed with autism at the age of 3. Already possessing a degree in neurology, she observed a link between her son’s extreme pickiness and cravings, which resulted in a “very poor diet,” and the deterioration of his mind and body. Dr. Natasha went back for a second degree in human nutrition and developed a healing protocol which helped to bring about a full recovery for her son and has since transformed the lives of hundreds of others like him.

Dr. Natasha’s book is almost 400 pages long and covers everything from her research into the centuries-old science behind gut health, to detailed recipes and lifestyle changes for the GAPS protocol, to dozens of stories of children and adults who have recovered through this protocol. If you are considering GAPS, it’s a must-read! For our purposes here, here’s a summary of the guiding principle: the Greek doctor Hippocrates is often honored as the father of modern medicine, and he observed that “all disease begins in the gut.” The gut is the center of the immune system. A damaged gut cannot properly assimilate food into the body or protect it from contaminants or foreign invaders, which depletes its ability to process energy and wreaks havoc on the delicate balance of its ecosystem. Healing inflammation and breaches in the intestinal tract and cleansing the body from toxins and pathogens has far-reaching effects on every system, including the intricate workings of the central nervous system.

Dr. Natasha has operated the Cambridge Nutrition Clinic for almost 20 years and trained hundreds of GAPS practitioners, who guide people seeking healing from a wide array of physical and psychological problems. The GAPS book helped me begin to understand the roots of my disease, but other resources gave practical help for the healing process and are worth their weight in gold. Join us here next time for a day in my life as a GAPS patient and the recipe book that saved my sanity!

If someone you love has a chronic or mental illness, please share with them the first post in this series so they can follow my story. People are hurting and need to hear this hope.

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