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Review: Gut and Psychology Syndrome by Campbell-McBride


You are what you eat—or at least what you absorb.  But what you absorb depends strongly on the bacteria that live in your gut.  In other words, what you are depends on what lives inside you.  Really.

So, welcome to your inner world, the physical one.  This busy world of the gut is unhealthy in the majority of people in the industrialized world and, according to Dr. Campbell-McBride, author of Gut and Psychology Syndrome (GAPS), that is one cause the epidemic of disease—including psychological disease—sweeping our countries.  In fact, the subtitle of her book is Natural Treatment for Dyspraxia, Autism, A.D.D., Dyslexia, A.D.H.D., Depression, and Schizophrenia.

“A healthy adult on average carries 1.5-2 kg of bacteria in the gut.”  In a truly healthy individual, these millions of microbes are largely beneficial, providing all sorts of health-giving benefits.  When the gut bacteria have been attacked by antibiotics, poor food choices, drugs, or stress, the healthy ones give way to disease and toxin-producing microbes of all sorts (bacteria, fungi, protozoa, and more) which also destroy the integrity of the gut wall.  Resulting diseases depend in an unknown way on the particular microbes and person involved, and include cancer, autism, psychosis, autoimmunity, allergies, irritable bowel syndrome, and many more. Clearly and with a minimum of technical language, Campbell-McBride discusses the gut-brain connection, autism, schizophrenia, depression, and family tendencies.

So, now we are aware of a serious problem most of us did not know existed.  What should we do about it?  The solution is simple in theory but overwhelming in scope:  increase the proportion of beneficial bacteria.  A huge part of this is altering our diet.

Over 60 years ago, the Specific Carbohydrate Diet (SCD) was developed to help people with all sorts of digestive disorders.  Apparently it greatly benefits people with celiac disease (such as me) as well as those with other conditions mentioned.  This diet has been studied, applied, and popularized by Dr. Elaine Gottschall who wrote Breaking the Vicious Cycle:  Intestinal Health Through Diet. Online resources are available at sites about Breaking the Vicious Cycle, SCDiet, SCD and autism spectrum disorder, SCD and inflammatory bowel disease, and the GAPS diet.  There’s also a detailed online description of Campbell-McBride’s GAPS diet, which is similar but differs on dairy.

The specific GAPS version of the SCD diet does not recommend buying more processed (and expensive) ‘health’ food of any sort, but rather focusses on natural foods.  The list of recommended foods includes:

  • Meats and fish (recommended to be eaten with vegetables)
  • Eggs
  • Fresh vegetables (non-starchy)
  • Fruits, including berries
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Beans and legumes:  only navy beans, lima beans, string beans, lentils, split peas (others are too starchy for people suffering from GAPS)
  • Honey
  • Beverages: water, freshly pressed juices, meat/fish stock, as well as weak tea or coffee for adults.
  • Fats and oils: natural meat fats, cold pressed virgin olive oil, and other cold pressed oils; not commercial oils or artificial fats
  • Notice the complete lack of grains; grains are apparently not good for people with GAPS.

A list of delicious-sounding recipes is included in the book.  (The book was due at the library before I could try any of them.)

Campbell-McBride understands the difficulties of actually feeding autistic children such diets, and shows a behavior modification method she teaches the parents of her patients.  She also discussions probiotics (from supplements as well as fermented foods); fats, including virgin coconut oil; vitamin A (from cod liver oil, with recommended dosages by age); digestive enzymes, which are low in people with abnormal gut flora and which can be stimulated by cabbage, sauerkraut, or homemade meat stock; and vitamin supplements (a good probiotic will increase the absorption rate of nutrients from food by 50% or more; healing the gut is more effective than increasing supplementation).

For detoxification (since bad gut microbes can produce huge amount of toxins) she recommends freshly pressed juices to increase both total nutrient intake as well as absorption.  She specifically mentions black elderberry as an immune booster in juices, just 1-2T per day for a family of 4.  To reduce the total toxin load on a person with GAPS she also recommends reducing all household chemicals and personal care products, airing the house out frequently, avoiding contaminated water, and growing houseplants.

I cannot resist sharing two of Campbell-McBride’s lists:

Top 10 Influences which Boost Immunity (p 221)

  1. Cold pressed oils:  olive oils, fish oils, nut and seed oils.
  2. Fresh eggs, particularly raw egg yolk.
  3. Onions and garlic.
  4. Freshly pressed vegetable and fruit juices.
  5. Regular consumption of greens: parsley, dill, coriander, spring onion and garlic, etc.
  6. Probiotic supplementation and fermented foods.
  7. Contact with animals:  horses, dogs, etc.  Having a pet in the family can do a lot for children’s immune status.
  8. Physical activity in the fresh air.
  9. Swimming in unpolluted natural waters: lakes, rivers, and sea.
  10. Exposure to sunlight and sensible sunbathing.

Top 10 Influences which Damage Immunity (summarized from p 223)

  1. Sugar and everything containing it.
  2. Processed carbohydrates.
  3. Chemically altered and artificial fats.
  4. Lack of high quality protein.
  5. Exposure to man-made chemicals.
  6. Exposure to man-made radiation.
  7. Drugs and medicines.
  8. Lack of fresh air and physical activity.
  9. Lack of exposure to sunlight.
  10. Lack of exposure to common microbes in the environment….The immune system needs constant stimulation from the microbes in the environment.

If someone in your family suffers from celiac disease, allergies, IBS, autism spectrum disorder, a learning disability, or any form of psychosis, this book could make a huge difference.  Highly recommended. 

Note that a newer edition of this book with extra topics is now available.

About the Author:  Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride MD, MMedSci(neurology), MMed(nutrition) runs a clinic in Cambridge, UK,  where she specializes in nutrition for children and adults with behavioral and learning disabilities and adults with digestive and immune system disorders.  She became involved in this field when her child was diagnosed with autism.

Tea Time with Annie Kate is not a health blog, but a blog for homeschooling moms.    However, improving gut bacteria in one’s family can pay huge dividends in many areas including learning ability.

I ordered this book from the library by accident, having mixed its title up with one recommended by my MD.  It has been a blessing to read.  Since I personally have celiac disease and have been regaining strength only very slowly, I plan to implement some of the GAPS protocols.

To learn more about GAPS, do read Wardeh’s GAPS series.

To see what’s being discovered about gut bacteria, check out ‘Old Folks’ Stomach Bacteria are the Secret to Their Health’ and the Nature article on which it is based.

Disclosure:  As usual, I am not compensated for this review and it expresses my own honest opinions.

This is yet another book in the 52 Books in 52 Weeks Challenge and is also linked to Saturday Review of Books.  For more healthy living tips, see Workin’ It Mondays, The Better Mom,  No Ordinary Blog Hop, Sustainable Ways, Encourage One Another Wednesday, Women Living Well Wednesdays, Works For Me Wednesday , Raising Homemakers, and Simple Lives.


  1. briana says:

    Nice review! Thanks for posting her lists. I still need to read this book but I have read the book for the SCD diet. I hope you are able to try some things which will help you regain health!

  2. Oh sweet friend! I am so glad I stumbled on your post! I have been seriously looking at this diet for about a week and a half now. I am preparing to start this in late September. But in the mean time I am ordering the book and there are some other ebook cook books that I will get too. I have started implementing some of it already! I love the meat broths and kombucha. I can’t feel a difference already. God lead me to this and I am soooooooooo excited. I can’t wait to finally be healed of my allergies and adrenal gland fatigue. I will pray for you too my friend. ((HUGS))

    Blessings and ((HUGS))

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