Leaky gut syndrome plays a part in many conditions, such as Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis and GERD. Following the strict regimen of the GAPS diet may help to correct a leaky gut and generally restore healthy stomach function. This may be particularly beneficial to those suffering from peripheral neuropathy, since this condition often starts in the stomach.
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About the GAPS Diet
The GAPS diet, also called the Gut and Psychology Syndrome Diet, was developed by Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride, a neurologist, neurosurgeon and nutrition expert. Campbell-McBride's diet is based in the idea that brain function and physical disease are connected to the gut, and poor stomach function and damaged gut flora may play a part in many medical conditions, such as autism, GERD and autoimmune disorders. The GAPS diet is low in lactose, carbohydrates and sugars, and eliminates gluten products, junk food and processed food. The main focus of the diet is on fresh vegetables, fruit, fish and fresh meat. Daily probiotics and vitamin supplements are also an integral part of the GAPS diet. The diet's aim is to heal your damaged gut and restore healthy gut flora in the intestine.
About Peripheral Neuropathy
Peripheral neuropathy is a type of nerve damage that causes pain and numbness in the extremities. Often, peripheral neuropathy is caused by a vitamin B-12 deficiency. Because vitamin B-12 is absorbed through the stomach, deficiencies are often because of stomach problems such as gastritis, malabsorption syndromes, and autoimmune disorders such as Crohn's disease and celiac disease. A vitamin deficiency resulting in neuropathy can also be caused by malnutrition from alcoholism or poor diet.
Eating For Your Condition
People who have developed neuropathy because of a vitamin deficiency related to stomach problems may feel improvement on the GAPS diet. The GAPS diet regimen helps to restore healthy stomach function, repair leaky gut syndrome and restore the stomach's balance of flora, which are all essential to proper vitamin absorption. As long as stomach problems persist, B-12 deficiency will continue to be a problem for those with vitamin absorption issues. Healing the stomach through a healthy diet and introducing more good bacteria into the stomach will help promote overall stomach health and vitamin absorption, thus lessening the risk of deficiency and neuropathy.
As of time of publication, there are no scientific studies verifying the effectiveness of the GAPS diet. Edward V. Loftus Jr., M.D., of the Mayo Clinic's Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, cautions that while some patients may feel better on restricted diets, the lack of verifiable evidence makes it hard to recommend such diets. Further, gastroenterologist Arthur D. Heller, M.D., notes that excluding fuel sources such as grains and starch may cause colon cells to function less effectively. Heller also notes that taking antibiotics and probiotics and making moderate diet changes may accomplish the same thing as restricted carbohydrate diets.
Since the GAPS diet restricts a large number of foods, check with a doctor or dietitian to make sure the diet is right for your specific condition. If you're having stomach problems or neuropathy or have been diagnosed with a vitamin B-12 deficiency, get a full diagnostic workup to determine the cause of your condition before trying to heal yourself through a diet. Finally, follow all of your doctor's orders regarding medications and vitamin supplements, which you may need to reverse the effects of peripheral neuropathy.