Mind the Gaps Diet
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I have elsewhere mentioned the prevalence of mental problems in youngsters these days. It concerns me very much. I have personal experience of both girls and lads, aged 16 plus, suddenly becoming very withdrawn and then developing severe symptoms such as OCD, depression and even becoming addicted to drugs. It is heart-breaking to watch these friends, for that is what they are, close down. Literally, previously seemingly happy children changed almost overnight into an unhealthy mental state. Youngsters at the peak of life too depressed to get out of bed. It is hard to know how to speak to the parents. What do you say, other than to sympathise? The mental health agencies I understand cannot cope with the vast numbers of such youngsters. If they do receive counselling, I hear that it is either too short, infrequent and often ineffective. They are put on drugs, and then stronger doses when the first dose doesn't seem to work, while anxious parents watch on helplessly. Maybe you know someone too. It doesn't just afflict the poor, or the disadvantaged. It attacks all, seemingly indiscriminately. None of us are immune. It might happen to your children, it could happen to mine.
I think the biggest question in many minds is - what has caused it?
Parents will feel responsible. What have we done wrong? they will think.
Many will give an answer: a deprived childhood. No, these youngsters I know are dearly loved and cared for. Then what about poor parenting? Well which of us is perfect. As somebody once said, children don't come with instruction sheets, and we don't always get it right. The list could go on and I have no doubt the poor parents have thought of every possibility and blamed themselves to distraction. Wouldn't you!
So no real answers. Quit beating yourself up if you are in this position, it just won't help!
The next question is, what can we do about it? For many parents there is no help. They face it alone. They may seek help but find the system fails them. Imagine having a violent, self-destructive drug abusing teenager in the house with no support - not even the police are overly interested - just another youngster in trouble. For many there seems no hope. Imagine have your young man in bed all day paralysed with fear? Parent's are desperate for an answer. Their own lives are taken up with caring for their child and coping with the strain. Of course they do it willingly, but that's not the point.
Do the psychotic drugs work? Well, no they only deal with the symptoms. They might help to lift the mood slightly, but they don't address the cause. Does counselling work? Maybe for some it gives an outlet for their frustrations - mainly with feeling the way they do. My own experience of counselling training has taught me that much counselling focuses the patient's mind on past things, trying to 'peel off the layers' until the trigger for the mental problem is found. Unfortunately, as we all know, focusing on a problem doesn't help, it makes it worse. Distraction is often far better than digging deeper into oneself.
What about Cognitive Behaviour Therapy? Well, I find that having spoken to those who have had it, it did very little. In fact, the more severe the problem the least effective it was. A quick google brings up the following:
Again, it is focusing on the problem which as I know from personal experience actually does tangle you up more! I'm not saying there might be some useful strategies amongst it all, but it doesn't take the problem away. In addition, some of us don't actually like the thought of divulging our personal life in front of someone else. It's not always appropriate, let alone having to cope with what often boils down to having to answer intrusive questions as the counsellor digs in to the problem, or resorting to telling 'tales' on other people.
What if you learnt that actually the problem was not just the brain itself, but the gut had a powerful influence on the brain. What if you learnt that it could be that your gut is sick, not your head? What if you leant that what you eat could influence how you feel. We know that to be true anyway as many of us seek comfort in sugary foods. Now that is not helpful, don't get me wrong, I'm just illustrating that we already know that food affects feelings.
Wouldn't that give hope?
This is precisely what Dr. Natasha Campbell Mc.Bride is doing with the GAPS diet.
She is giving hope and release to hundreds of families. As she explains, some children show symptoms much earlier on, in the form of autism, or ADHD or ADD or dyslexia etc.. Others were maybe sickly youngsters who for example, for one reason or another have had to have several course of antibiotics for ear infections etc.. Others have been fussy eaters and hard to feed, or have allergies, or bad eczema/asthma. As Dr. Natasha says, many of these overlap and she rarely sees a child with just one symptom. Her experience has shown her that it is these children who may then as teenagers fall prey to substance abuse, or 'to become diagnosed with schizophrenia, depression, bipolar disorder and other psychological and psychiatric problems'. (Gut and Psychology Syndrome pp5-6 by Dr. N. Campbell McBride).
As to why her diet protocol is the answer:
To answer all these questions we have to look at one factor, which unites all these patients in a clinical setting. This factor is the state of their digestive system. I have yet to meet a child with autism, ADHD/ADD, asthma, eczema, allergies, dyspraxia or dyslexia, who has not got digestive abnormalities.....But what have digestive abnormalities got to do with autism, hyperactivity, inability to learn, mood and behaviour problems? According to recent research and clinical experience, a lot! In fact it appears that the child's digestive system holds the key to the child's mental development. The underlying disorder, which can manifest itself in different children with different combinations of symptoms, resides in the gut!
And in case you think this is a modern idea:
The Father of modern psychiatry French psychiatrist Phillipe Pinel (1745-1828), after working with mental patients for many years, concluded in 1807: 'The primary seat of insanity is in the region of the stomach and intestines'.
How may modern psychiatrists ask about your stomach? I've never met a conventional one, yet I know from my own body that if I'm worried, my stomach reflects it, so there is an obvious link. In addition, the Bible talks about the stomach as the seat of the emotions. God knows a thing or too, if I can say it reverently!
Incidentally, a quick Google ( I don't say it's a good site, I don't know, but this article is interesting as it pertains to our discussion here)
So, if you are one of these folk, struggling yourself, or caring for someone who is struggling, then please give this area your full concentration. Let's not miss something! Doing a gut healing diet is very hard work, but is it not worth the sacrifice, if by so doing we can breathe mental life back into our children?
This is not a quick fix answer. The youngster will need help from outside still, but it may be more effective if coupled with an eating programme that gets to the root of the problem.
Explore these links:
Disclaimer: I am not a doctor. A member of the medical profession should be consulted about all matters relating to your health. This information is for advice only.
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Welcome to Mind the GAPS!
Here you will find not only a record of our GAPS diet journey, with helpful hints and tips, but also mouthwatering, simple, adaptable, recipes for feeding a growing family without spending all day in the kitchen! Please stay and browse.