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I am frequently impressed. I get to witness dedicated parents (mothers especially) do whatever is required to help their children when they have struggles. Ahem. I’ve impressed myself with this parenting gig.
I’m also impressed by the individuals who make the decision to heal and care for their bodies, which requires effort and time and determination. That holds its own beauty and goodness for the world at large.
These families and individuals invest countless time, energy, and money into better food and practices to heal their bodies. Specifically in the GAPS™ Protocol (which is the bulk of my work as a GAPS Practitioner), in which folks generally commit to for 1 – 2 years, depending on their situation. That’s dedication.
Why be so dedicated? Because GAPS™ is amazing in what it can work in a person’s body! It combines time-honored, nutrient-dense traditional foods and preparation, targeted but gentle supplements, and a removal of so much toxicity and “clutter”. Not to mention it is empowering for those doing it. And if you have a practitioner to help with your bio-individual plan? Even better.
For many families, food has an incredible power to give them, and their children — the healing, symptom relief, and new lease on life they are craving. But what if it doesn’t quite hit the mark, even when doing it perfectly?
It is really rare that someone should actually stop the GAPS™ Protocol, but it is not unusual to have some struggles with the protocol. This is when, as a GAPS™ Practitioner, I employ what Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride calls “cherries on the top”.
More and more frequently, these “cherries on the top” are needed, and folks are presenting with tougher case histories in current times.
How a GAPS Practitioner can help if you are struggling.
Health issues can be complex, such that, even after eating the best foods, and doing a healing protocol like GAPS™, some aren’t having success and don’t know where to go next.
What does one do, when their best efforts with healing foods aren’t working?
Can the answer still be food and natural remedies, but in a more targeted, individualized way?
I say a resounding, yes. Below is my approach to consider.
There are many tests that are unnecessary to do from the beginning of the GAPS™ protocol, and testing is generally not recommended until one has been on the protocol for a full year to do its strengthening, nourishing work. It is amazing how many issues are resolved using the intense nutrition that comes from doing GAPS well.
In my work I make some lab test exceptions, however, which I will explain. Let me talk about the pros and cons of lab tests, and what I generally do with my clients.
Testing is expensive. I’m a researcher by nature and would love to do every test available to me, just to satisfy my natural curiosity about what is happening in my body. However, this level of testing is out of financial reach for many. Testing must be targeted and interpreted well by a trained practitioner.
Testing is based on TODAY’s science, which is continually changing and never “complete”. This is why test results must always be viewed within the context of a person’s health history and observation, and the tests chosen must have a record of accuracy and efficacy.
Testing needs to be used in conjunction to a personal approach. Talking with a client, listening, observing, is where my work as a practitioner begins. I find that an extensive amount of time listening to a client’s health history can actually be a part of initiating the healing process.
Most testing is limited to a metabolic “snapshot.” Your metabolism changes continually, so it is wise to learn to listen to your body. Only your body can navigate the many complex intricacies and calculations of what it needs from day-to-day, even hour-to-hour.
When the “interrupters” are removed — refined sugar, processed food, and toxic cravings — it’s time to listen to your body. There is always room for adaptation and variation, even in a diet like GAPS.
Here are some factors which influence what your body needs:
- Heredity & Constitution
- Anabolic/Catabolic Cycles (daily, seasonal, as needed)
- Parasympathetic/Sympathetic Dominance
- Acid/Alkaline Balance
- Energy Production Sources Switching (glucose vs. fats)
- Hormonal Shifts
- Water & Electrolyte Balance
The Case for Testing
By no means does the above imply that testing is of no value.
It simply means that it needs to be targeted, accurate, and usefully applied.
To quote Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride:
Some of the reasons to consider testing are as follows:
1. If you want to know, from the beginning, what foods will slow your healing process and cause inflammation…and give yourself, or your family a solid start.
For example: perhaps you have unknown food sensitivities to chicken and cabbage — if you go through the GAPS Introduction Diet consuming quarts of chicken stock, and adding sauerkraut juice to each bowl of soup, you’re going to drastically slow down your healing process. The right testing can steer you towards food alternatives for whatever stage of GAPS™ you are in.
2. If you’ve been on GAPS for 6–12 months and there are lingering issues that you are unsure of.
Every person is unique and has their own set of circumstances and health history. Some of us have been sick longer than others and need some additional assistance. Following the GAPS Protocol for 6 – 12 months gives the body nutrients and the strength that it needs before attending to deeper issues. It also allows time for the body to go through the cycles of die-off and detox, which can bring symptoms of their own as well as worsening current symptoms for a time.
3. If you are not yet confident in listening to your body, and using self-tests like the Coca Pulse Test or the Skin Sensitivity Test, to determine food sensitivities, is not enough.
Self-tests are inexpensive and can give one a good beginning, but may not give you all the information you desire.
Tests I Use & Recommend Regularly
The three tests I often recommend, in combination, to clients are:
- Comprehensive GI Stool Panel
- MRT Leap 150 Food Sensitivity Test
- Adrenal Salivary Index
These three tests, used together, are extremely valuable.
Comprehensive GI Stool Panel
For example, your stool test may reveal a need for digestive enzymes, and your food sensitivity test may reveal a sensitivity to pineapple, papaya or pork…three very common sources of digestive enzymes in supplements. So, if you took these common digestive enzymes, you would be causing yourself daily digestive distress, instead of digestive help.
A comprehensive GI Test can be used for early immuno-detection of parasites and testing of inherited food allergies/sensitivities, fungal dysbiosis, inflammatory markers, pancreatic digestive strength, pathogenic bacteria, and infectious organisms like Giardia, Cryptosporidium, C. difficile, occult blood, functional markers, etc. It shows how your “gut army” is faring, whether it is barely limping along, on “high-alert”, or doing well. It also reveals just how balanced your helpful bacteria are with commensal or pathogenic bacteria.
The comprehensive stool test is important for determining if someone is in need of targeted digestive help or aid in knocking down pathogens, alongside of GAPS.
MRT Food Sensitivity Testing
As my colleague, Margaret Floyd, has laid out in her fantastic series on food sensitivity testing — we consider the MRT Leap 150 Food Sensitivity Mediator Release Test to be one of the best options for testing most food sensitivities.
Eating foods we are sensitive to, even “healing foods”, can cause inflammation, worsen intestinal permeability, and act as obstacles to our healing protocol. With this test we are able to remove problem foods for a period of time, allowing the gut to more efficiently do its healing work.
Adrenal Salivary Testing
This testing measures the patterns of the hormone, cortisol, throughout the day, as well as measuring the hormone, DHEA.
The adrenals are a major player in our steroid hormone pathway, responsible for much more than our “fight or flight” response. They direct and have a role in many bodily functions — energy, sex hormones, blood sugar regulation, immunity, anti-aging, inflammation, fluid balance, and daily tissue repair.
DHEA is our feel good hormone as well as an anti-aging, “building” hormone. Proper levels support cardiovascular health, decreases body fat, gives us healthy moods and emotions, and decreases the affects of stress. High/low levels of this hormone are not good markers and is something we can check with the adrenal salivary panel.
Adrenals are impacted by ALL forms of stress — physical toxins, emotions, food sensitivities, infections, acute and chronic stress. With all the roles they carry out and the stress they are susceptible to, it is important to check on their well-being and give them support.
These are the basic tests that give me a good start with client work, when combined with a comprehensive intake. As we peel back the layers of your health, we may have need for additional testing, but we handle it in a measured and structured approach.
The GAPS™ Protocol is the best I know for building up little bodies (and big ones!) with deep nutrition, cleansing, and natural remedies for the whole family. It can be adapted to fit many body types and needs. However, for a targeted approach it can be necessary to have carefully chosen tests done.
If this kind of healing work resonates with you and you are ready to have the most efficient and supported GAPS™ healing, set up an initial consultation with me so we can talk about options for you. If you would like more info, please visit my Work With Me page.