Is “Leaky Gut Syndrome” one of the causes of Autism and Depression?

Is there a way to heal the gut, to alleviate the symptoms of autism, depression and other mGAPS bookental illnesses?

First of all, the brain isn’t separate from the rest of our bodies.  Of course this is obvious when we look at the human body.  But somehow, we have been led to believe in our culture that our stomachs and the food we eat don’t really affect our brains and how we think.

In Five Element Acupuncture, the body is viewed as an intricate whole.  There are separate systems but each one of these systems or elements affects and relies on one another.  It is also said that the Earth element, which is connected to the stomach and the spleen, is the most important element, or the Mother of all elements.  If out of balance, this can lead to many other imbalances within the body, mind and spirit of a person.

To understand this, you only have to imagine the Earth.  When the Earth is diseased – unhealthy plants, too many toxins, pesticides, etc. – this has a detrimental affect on the living organisms on the planet.  We have seen the result of pollution on the Earth over the past several years and can attest that an unhealthy planet leads to diseases in plant, animal and human life.

Another example:  Imagine a bicycle wheel and the spokes that come out from the center.  The stability of the center is vital for the bicycle wheel to function properly.  Now imagine a broken center, where the spokes don’t connect properly or there isn’t any real substance of the center to hold the spokes.  So what happens?  The wheel falls apart.

Now return to the human being.  The stomach or Earth element is our center.  It is the place where the nourishment and food we eat becomes digested and transformed into energy in order for our bodies to be healthy and happy (hopefully!).  It feeds every cell in our bodies, especially our brains.  So in essence, the food we eat fuels the way we think, how we feel, and how well we are able to accomplish a task at hand.

We don’t usually think about food in this way.  But when you take into consideration that alcohol can affect speech, actions and thoughts, it is easy to understand that the food we eat also affects our minds, either positively or negatively.

Now imagine the Earth element or digestive system that is imbalanced or unhealthy in a person.  The result is that the food doesn’t become digested properly.  Toxins, yeasts, and unfriendly bacteria build up simply because there is a shortage of the good bacteria or normal gut flora to keep these toxins in check.

The Earth element is very unhappy in a person like this.  And what’s more, the gut lining of this person becomes damaged.  This is what is termed “leaky gut syndrome,” where undigested food and toxins leak through the gut and into the rest of the body.

Where do these toxins go?  They can go all over the body, unfortunately, and wreak havoc on any other body part.  Skin rashes, eczema and psoriasis can begin this way, from an unhealthy, leaky gut.

Where else do you suppose these toxins swim to in our blood stream?  Unfortunately, these toxins reach the brain and cause all sorts of malfunctions.

What are some of these problems? To name a few; depression, autism, ADHD, Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, learning disabilities, schizophrenia, anxiety, nightwakings, behavioral problems, hyperactivity, bipolar disorder and others.

Is this for real?  Yes, and a lot of people, including some doctors, still don’t believe that a poor digestion has anything to do with the way one acts, thinks or feels.  But fortunately there are doctors, parents and other people who can vouch that this is indeed true.

One of these pioneers is Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride who wrote Gut and Psychology Syndrome.  She is a doctor of Neurology and Human Nutrition and she herself has a child who was diagnosed with learning disabilities.  But through a specific diet, she was able to heal her child who now lives a normal and healthy life.

Reading this book has been like finding the missing piece I’ve been looking for over the years.  Everything she writes makes perfect sense, even if sometimes I have to read it 2-3 times because it is a little technical.  I haven’t even finished reading it yet, and when I do, I’m going to start over at the beginning.

In my recent posts, I have written about how my diet is going the grain-free direction.  Actually, it’s already there, I think for at least a couple weeks now.  I have decided to do the GAPS diet, which is a grain-free, sugar-free, starch-free diet.  (I am waiting to do the Intro. diet until my son is no longer nursing.)

This diet is based on the Specific Carbohydrate Diet with a few modifications.  From the GAPS guide book:
“GAPS relieves symptoms of Autism Spectrum Disorder, Celiac Disease, depression, colitis, Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, learning disabilities, diverticulitis, Cystic Fibrosis, chronic diarrhea, schizophrenia, Attention Deficit (Hyperactive) Disorder, anxiety, Crohn’s, rheumatoid arthritis, nightwakings, eczema, non-anaphylactic allergies, asthma, behavioral problems, gas, bloating, constipation, feeing difficulties, coilc, reflux, food intolerances, vomiting, heartburn, psoriasis, dyspraxia, hyperactivity, urinary and fecal incontinence, malnutrition, tummy pains, stool abnormalities and more.”

Why have I decided to do this diet?  If I stay away from certain foods, such as most dairy, gluten, soy, beans and most sugars, then I can keep my food allergies and symptoms in check.  However, I don’t feel that eating a limited diet like this is ultimately going to heal me from my food allergies.

What I have been learning  is that through a specific protocol of avoiding all grains, starches and sugars (honey and fruit is okay), while giving the body probiotics and nutrient packed foods that are easily digestible, the gut lining can begin to heal.  After about two years on this specific diet, people’s guts have normal gut flora, their linings are healed and they will no longer have the symptoms they once had from eating certain foods.

This means that for many people, they are able to eat dairy products again, maybe after years of avoiding them.  People become “un-allergic” to other foods too, such as eggs and nuts.  It is also said that after the gut lining heals, you can deviate from you diet and eat some grains (even glutenous ones) here and there and you won’t have the symptoms you used to have from eating these foods.

Now, would I rather continue eating a gluten-free diet for the rest of my life?  Or will I be able to stay grain-free for two years in order for my body and gut lining (the source of the problem) to heal so that I can live a healthier and happier life?

Although this diet is not easy, I am choosing the latter.  For many people with children with autism or other mental and digestive problems, this diet is their last straw and hope.  Although this diet is not a “quick fix,” there are many families, individuals and families who have done the diet with success and have had some amazing results.  Click here for testimonials.

I think I’d better stop here.  I am very passionate about this subject, this diet and what it can do for millions of adults and children who are suffering right now.  Please help me spread the word, check out the diet or tell someone you love about it today!

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  1. This is a great post, Sarah! I like the way you explained the body. I’ve followed your links (and thanks for the link to my site) and I have learned and understand more of this diet. I like that it is very specific and detailed in the Intro diet, which is usually lacking in most other diets that I have read about. I look forward to reading more about this!

    Congratulations on the progress you have made in healing yourself. This is wonderful. 🙂 Keep up the good work!

  2. Sarah,

    You nailed a very complex set of issues beautfully, in one short page! I am always inspired by your positive, intelligent and creative attitude towards healing with whole foods.
    Although my diet has been severely restricted for several months, finding the GAPS diet has literally saved my life and finding the Heart of Cooking has been my inspiration.
    It’s amazing what you do with so few ingredients. I made this ketchup and have frozen 1/3 cup containers, enough for 6 months! So yummy!

  3. Hi Sarah,

    I am so excited that you recommended the GAPS book. I am reading it and find that it is putting pieces together that I had wondered about. Thanks Sarah!

  4. HI Debbie,
    That’s great! I am still slowly reading it. I too find it very informative and like it’s filling in the “gaps” for me!

  5. Hi Ann,
    Thanks so much. Finding the GAPS diet has also made such a huge difference to me! I foresee the journey to continue for at least a couple of years, but I’m grateful that I have found a way back to optimum health!

  6. Elizabeth says:

    SO where is your suggested diet plan?? Foe example breakfast ,lunch,dinner?? PLease. Thanking you in advance.

  7. Hi Elizabeth,
    I really depends on your allergies and where you want to start. If you want to start with the GAPS diet, I have several menu planners available. They are all available on the membership site, which gives you the greatest flexibility in terms of choosing which menu planner you want to use for the week. You can read about it here:

    Please let me know if you have further questions. thanks so much.


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