Food is by far the most important part of the GAPS diet, but there are some supplements that can be helpful. I’m going to share with you some supplements for the GAPS diet that have been helpful for me.
It’s really important to remember that with the GAPS diet, and with healthy eating in general, food is the absolute most important thing. You can’t rely on only supplements to rebuild your gut. Focusing on nutrient dense food is what worked for me! I share how the GAPS diet changed our lives here. If you’d like all my best tips on how to start the GAPS Diet, check out my post here.
The goal of the GAPS diet is to rebuild the gut. Many supplements can actually irritate the gut, and we don’t want that! For this reason, Dr. Campbell-McBride recommends keeping supplements to a minimum.
That being said, there are some essential supplements for the GAPS diet that Dr. Campbell-McBride recommends, and these are what I used when I was on the GAPS diet.
Some people need more supplements than this, but that is something for a qualified practitioner to decide. Most people do very well with following the diet and using these essential supplements. Let’s take a look a what the essential supplements are.
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When you’re looking for a good, therapeutic grade probiotic, Dr. Campbell-McBride recommends choosing one with these qualities:
- Includes as many strains as possible
- Has bacteria from different groups of probiotics
- Has at least 8 billion bacterial cells per gram
Also, she says that the manufacture should test each batch for strength and composition, and be ready to publish those results.
This is the probiotic supplement that I took while on the GAPS diet, and I still sometimes take it.
Here are some tips that Dr. Campbell-McBride recommends for starting a probiotic:
- Don’t begin too soon. That is one of the common mistakes on GAPS intro. Let any die off settle down and make sure you’re doing well with homemade fermented foods before starting a probiotic.
- Start slowly, with a very small amount.
- Watch for die off symptoms, including fatigue, nausea, bloating, diarrhea, constipation, low fever, headache, and flu like symptoms.
- If you don’t see any symptoms, increase the dose.
- if you see a die off reaction, settle on that dose until the symptoms go away.
- Repeat those steps until you’re at a therapeutic level.
- Keep the therapeutic dose for at least 6 months, while you follow the diet.
These are the therapeutic dosages that Dr. Campbell-McBride recommends for different ages:
An adult should have around 15-20 billion of bacterial cells per day (8-10 capsules).
Infants up to 12 months of age can have 1-2 billion of bacterial cells per day (1 capsule).
Toddlers from 1 to 2 years of age can have 2-4 billion of bacterial cells per day (1-2 capsules).
Children from 2 to 4 years of age can handle 4-8 billion of bacterial cells per day (2-4 capsules).
Children from 4 to 10 years of age can have 8-12 billion of bacterial cells per day (4-6 capsules).
Ages 12 to 16 can increase the dose to 12-15 billion per day (6-8 capsules). Gut and Psychology Syndrome, page 251
Essential fatty acids
Essential fatty acids are extremely beneficial for our body and brain (source).
Dr. Campbell-McBride recommends that essential fatty acids come from a seed/nut oil blend with a ration of 2:1 of omega 3 to omega 6 fatty acids, and from fish oil. Both should come in dark colored glass containers, and require refrigeration.
Dr. Campbell-McBride recommends starting slowly with small amounts of the oils, and gradually increasing to therapeutic dosages.
Here is what she recommends for various ages:
1-2 teaspoons of nut/seed oil, and up to 1 teaspoon of fish oil per day for young children up to 24 months
1-3 tablespoons of nut/seed oil, and 1-3 teaspoons of fish oil per day for children
4-5 tablespoons of nut/seed oil, and 3-4 teaspoons of fish oil per day for adults Gut and Psychology Syndrome, page 272
Cod liver oil
High quality cod liver oil is a great source of vitamins A and D, as well as EPA and DHA.
Cod liver oil is still something we take every day, whether we’re on the GAPS diet or not. The nutrients in it are wonderful for growing children and a strong immune system.
As with the essential fatty acids, Dr. Campbell-McBride recommends starting with a small amount of cod liver oil, and working up to therapeutic dose amounts.
Here are her cod liver oil dosage recommends for different ages:
Up to 1/3 teaspoon per day for babies and young children
1/2 teaspoon per day for children
1 teaspoon per day for adults Gut and Psychology Syndrome, page 284
Abnormal gut flora usually means low stomach acid, too. Not producing enough stomach acid doesn’t make for very effective digestion.
Dr. Campbell-McBride recommends that most people take a digestive enzyme, and she recommends Betain HCl with pepsin.
Vitamins and minerals
Vitamin and mineral supplements are not something that Dr. Campbell-McBride recommends for most people with severe digestive issues in the beginning stages of the GAPS diet. Many vitamin and mineral supplements can contain ingredients that irritate the digestive system. We don’t want that while we’re trying to heal!
Dr. Campbell-McBride says that some people can benefit from additional liver and detoxification support, and additional vitamin and mineral supplements. Those things usually come up as a person gets farther along in the GAPS diet. Those kinds of supplements are something that a qualified practitioner will be able to determine and recommend.
The most important thing to keep in mind is that food is the main focus on the GAPS diet. When I was following the GAPS diet, I made sure to avoid any supplements that could irritate the digestive system, and just stuck to the essentials.
If there are some supplements you use, Dr. Campbell-McBride recommends finding ones with a high absorption rate. She also says to keep supplements to a minimum in general.
How to start the GAPS diet
Having pure, healthy water is very important. This is my Berkey water filter review for the water filter system we use in our home.
More GAPS diet resources
Are you taking any supplements?
What are you taking? What supplements have been most helpful for you?
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GAPS™ and Gut and Psychology Syndrome™ are the trademark and copyright of Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride.
The information in this blog post is my personal experience and opinion. It is for general information purposes only, that may not apply to you as an individual, and is not a substitute for your own physician’s medical care or advice. Always seek advice from your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding nutrition, medical conditions, and advice. Never disregard medical advice or delay seeking medical care because of something you have read on this blog.