The Gut Brain Connection and the GAPS Family
Our family is a GAPS family.
A GAPS family is defined by all the different ways poor gut health affects the physical and mental self. The poor inner ecology is what was ‘passed along’ but the symptoms present as many different things, from allergies to eczema to autism.
Have you ever wondered why your family seems to have so many ‘issues’ while others sail through life eating worse food and having much less healthy habits than you? Did you have a nagging suspicion that your family’s ‘quirks’, though seemingly unrelated, could actually be related?
As we talked about in the Gut-Brain Connection post, the inner ecology in our body has a LOT to do with conditions that you would not expect to be related to eachother or what is eaten, but they are.
Doctors are puzzled by this, and tend to just claim ‘genetics’ if they don’t understand something. I’m sure some things are genetics, but I find it difficult to believe that the ‘autism’, ‘eczema’, ‘hyperactivity’, ‘allergy’, ‘food intolorence’, and ‘OCD’ genes would suddenly show up in this current generation after being missing from so many before. A family full of these things is a ‘GAPS family’.
In addition to the inner ecology influencing brain function, generational nutrition does at well.
A GAPS family likely was very healthy 100 years ago, living on whole foods with minimal toxins and drug exposure. Two or three generations ago they switched to eating more packaged foods and smoking cigarettes.
The next generation they may have quit smoking, but continued to eat even more food that came from factories, and started avoiding sun exposure (and with that avoiding fresh air) and fat.
Antibiotics, an amazing discovery that saves lives, unfortunately also are over prescribed without looking toward the long term consequences in the GI tract.
The following generation is where some big issues started popping up- Chronic fatigue, digestion problems, attention problems, autistic spectrum disorder, eczema, chronic unexplained pain, learning disabilities, depression, and possibly even obesity.
Our ‘progressiveness’ is hurting our families. Each generation has said, ‘Well, I was raised this way and I turned out fine… Grandma lived to be 80… It must be something else, my great grandparents not only ate like this, but they also smoked a pack a day!”
Over time, our bodies have become depleted. Moving away from whole foods, reducing fat, and the stress of environmental toxins has left us depleted of nutrients. When we get pregnant (if we are able), these deficiencies are passed on to our offspring, and the toxins may be partially passed on as well.
If a mother’s liver is overwhelmed with toxins, it may not adequately filter them out and away from her developing baby, and the baby is then born fighting an up hill battle. A mother deficient in vitamin B12 passes that deficiency onto her baby, who then has trouble growing, developing, and learning (source) and detoxifying. These aren’t the only problems- they are just what I could think of right now.
As we talked about in the gut-brain post, just intake of the correct nutrients isn’t enough. We need to be taking in nutrients that our body can actually use (ie from whole foods) and our body has to be functioning well enough that it can digest and utilize the nutrients how it should.
- Bipolar Disorder
- Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
- Compulsive behaviors such as overeating, obsessive dieting, and excessive hand washing
- Chronic unexplained fatigue
- Digestive issues
- Chronic unexplained pain
- Sensory integration disorder
What Can We Do?
By taking the nutrition and toxin aspect of our family’s health seriously, I believe that we can change our family tree. If you suspect your family is also a GAPS family, I would suggest starting by reading the Gut and Psychology Syndrome book, and then implementing the diet as described in the book.
“What if I don’t want it to go away?” Some people ask me that; their child has loveable quirks, and they don’t want to lose the intelligence, different way they view the world, or their personality. I don’t think modifying their diet really does get rid of that sort of thing. I’m a bit obsessive (see my baby research for a taste of that) and on GAPS I stop washing my hands 97 times a day and don’t have to re-check that the stove is off a dozen times before leaving the house, and I don’t repeatedly put my truck in first gear while waiting for the light to turn green, but continue being able to methodically evaluate things (such as supplements). In my experience, I haven’t noticed ‘losing’ any of my quirky traits that I find helpful in life, I only lose the ones I’m happy to not have.
*Disclaimer: I’m just a mom trying to figure out what will help my family. I’m not a medical professional. I’m not judging you, diagnosing you, or claiming to have all or any answers. I’m just sharing what I’ve learned lately, if you have any questions please see a qualified healthcare professional.