Differences Between SCD & GAPS

The question, “What is the difference between SCD and GAPS?” comes up so frequently that I wanted to create a post that folks could simply link to.

Overview: The SCD is a diet only. GAPS is a three-part program: diet, detoxification, and supplementation. GAPS’ diet is based heavily on the SCD. However, the GAPS diet includes a stronger emphasis on broths and fermented vegetables; removal of casein for at least 4-6 weeks (then very careful reintroduction); fewer types of beans (legumes); and only homepressed (as opposed to storebought) fruit juices. GAPS also allows the use of sea vegetables and pure cocoa upon sufficient healing.

Intro Protocol: The intro presented in Breaking the Vicious Cycle includes honey, fruit, broth, dairy, meat, and vegetables. For some people, yeast overgrowth can be maintained throughout this intro. Also, for people sensitive to casein (and it’s hard to know until it’s first removed), this intro will have limited effects. GAPS’ intro protocol involves veggies, broth and meat –working up from there. This is a pretty safe starting point for everyone, giving full opportunity to heal the gut and also to see what foods might be bothersome for a given individual. GAPS’ intro is much more detailed and clear-cut than that presented in Breaking the Vicious Cycle.

Supplementation: The GAPS program recommends a handful of supplements specific to bowel and brain function. The author of GAPS also recommends a wide range of bacteria, including Bifidus which Elaine Gottschall declared illegal for SCD.

Philosophy: Breaking the Vicious Cycle promotes ‘fanatical adherence’. GAPS is more accurately described as a list of recommendations, from which each patient will develop a personalized program. Besides adherence to the SCD, GAPS recommendations (but not requirements) for supporting the body’s balance include: use of pasture-fed meat, use of pastured eggs, a toxin-free home, safe removal of mercury fillings, etc. From the various recommendations, each patient selects the ones that suit his particular needs, lifestyle and budget. For example, the developer of the GAPS program has found that some people continue having symptoms until all pesticides have been removed from their diet. These patients, then, would find this critical to success. Others have found this variable to not be as crucial, so focus their resources elsewhere.

Detox: Of the two, only GAPS includes a detox protocol. This includes healthy living, avoidance of harmful chemicals, and baths with baking soda, epsom salts, etc.

Purpose: SCD was developed specifically for bowel disorders. (It was shortly recognized, though, that it also helped to resolve autistic traits.) GAPS was developed specifically for people struggling with behavioural/cognitive/mood issues with or without obvious bowel issues.

Personal Perspective: Personally, I see GAPS as the next stage in SCD’s evolution. The diet, originally developed by Drs Haas, was tweaked by Elaine Gottschall to improve results. My perspective is that GAPS has done this again. That is, although GAPS was developed specifically for people dealing with cognitive, behavioural or mood issues, I believe that the full GAPS program would be an absolute boon to folks focusing primarily on bowel disorders, too. After all, “all disease begins in the gut”. GAPS simply springboards from earlier excellence to offer results even more spectacular. I am deeply grateful for the work done by Drs Haas, Elaine Gottschall, Dr Campbell-McBride and all the others who have contributed to this particular healing approach.


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32 Replies to “Differences Between SCD & GAPS”

  1. The “tweeking” of the research Elaine Gottshall from Dr. Hass was done through advanced science degree, and committing to a lifelong, 30 plus years of research on how sugars are digested and the foods you have now on any of these diets, not to mention her countless sacrifice to get the information out there. Her recipes are an old mothers dinners in the 60’s but the New SCD diet Cookbook has a lot of up to date recipes. By the way if you try to use foods at your leisure and do not adhere to learn and eliminate all sugars that are not monosaccharide’s recommended by Elaine first it may well just stall results and open one to say “oh it doesn’t work”. And that would be sad if the diet offers relief to that person. It would be an excellent idea to really read her research in the first chapters and spend time researching the materials and research sites.
    GAPs is wonderful also it seems to have lots of research in mood and behavior disorders and it also is discouraging dairy, I wonder if (testing) would be a good idea, I have heard many people are completely dairy sensitive, and need to rid it completely to see results. But you bet more than a passing glance needs to be invested in Elaine’s work if IBD and diet is considered. Just some thought sent out there! look forward to your information.

  2. Actually, in the GAPS book, on the section about introducing dairy, she says that if the patient finds him/herself reactive to ghee, he/she may well never be able to consume dairy. This isn’t specifically GAPS related, but there is some research that I have taken a very special interest in for the last two years or so in raw camel milk curing anaphylactic allergies to milk and any other allergy. if you google camel milk allergies, you should find the full text of the small-scale study. After four days the children showed reduced allergies, and by a week, they showed no allergies at all. They stayed on the milk for about a month, two of those weeks exclusively. They reported no recurrence, either. Unfortunately, even pasteurized camel milk is illegal in the US. Completely ridiculous. It’s like there is someone out there in the FDA and USDA that doesn’t WANT anyone to heal. Baden, I feel like I may have typed something similar to this before, so if I have, just ignore this comment in the moderation process. Anyhow, I’m hoping to take a trip overseas either this next summer or the one after it. Can’t say it will be the most enjoyable visit, but I bet it will be well worth it. The only thing I worry about is that while all children were allergic to milk, they were all children. None of them were close to 18. I guess we’ll see.

  3. I would say.. no. If your allergies are severe enough, you can actually become allergic to human milk if the mother/wet nurse eats something you are allergic to. I had that problem with my mom’s milk as a baby. This is specific to camel milk. There are actually many healthful properties to camel milk AND camel urine. There are also some benefits to combining the two. I’m totally not making this up. In other parts of the world, these have been recognized for their healing properties and are used for quite a few conditions, including several autoimmune (milk) and even cancer (urine, though I’m not sure if this is a proper application or not. I’m not aware of the exact healing properties of the urine.)

    ETA: Upon reviewing my comment, I have decided that it sounds insane. Maybe this will help: http://articles.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/2011-01-13/science/28367190_1_blood-cancer-cancerous-cells-cancer-institute

  4. Hello,
    Can you please help me to understand why GAPS and SCD allow foods such as bananas, honey and other fruits that feed Candida albicans? My own understanding is that these foods allow the bad yeast to thrive and when this occurs they burrow into the gut lining creating leaky gut syndrome.

    So, if GAPS and SCD are suggested as great diets for those with digestive disorders then what about this whole gut dysbiosis issue? I listened today to a lecture by Elaine Gotschall and she said that it is the single sugars the body can break down and absorb so does that mean they are sufficiently being absorbed in the small intestine so once the food (what is remaining of it) is deposited into the colon there is nothing there ideally to feed the bad bacteria?

    The thing that confuses me though (if I am accurate) is that bad bacteria and yeast can travel up into the small intestine and grow there too.
    Please help me understand this! You seem to have a good grasp on GAPS and SCD is why I ask you.

    Thank you ever so much,

    • Hi Tara,

      There are different schools of thought about what triggers candida overgrowth. Some communities say it’s fats, some say mushrooms are a trigger, some say fruits are, etc.

      GAPS follows the premise that anything quickly and easily digested (eg. simple sugars) are fine for most people. (This said, most of us do need to limit them.)

      As you note, some people have a specific experience of small intestine bacterial overgrowth (SIBO). One leader is this field specifically recommends the GAPS diet. You might enjoy Dr Siebecker’s website, or a direct consultation with her, here: http://www.siboinfo.com/diet.html

      All my best,

    • Those foods are only “allowed” after the GAPS Intro Diet, which is strongly suggested, because much gut healing is done during that stage. I suspect that after the Intro Diet, those foods are ok to use because the gut has healed enough. The following recommended 2 yrs or so of the reg. GAPS diet is to further healing (not begin the process) plus replenish the body.

  5. hi there,
    wow, this post has raised even more questions for me! I have a 3 year old son on the classic ketogenic diet for epilepsy. This is a primarily dairy diet, the poor lad reacts to a teaspoon of dairy now, and is ill for 3 weeks following the exposure. obviously I am now doing this classic diet, dairy free. I am currently following up on the GAPS and SCD diets and trying to get a handle on them, so I can convert his classic diet to an SCD/GAPS one ( whilst staying in the ketosis state), in the hope of speeding his brain recovery and gut. I have all the books! Can you recommend more information regarding the simple sugars and candida? Fat and candida? love your website,

  6. I am confused. From what I have read in Natasha Campbell – McBride’s book the GAPS diet strongly supports the use of fats to heal the gut. Whereas, what I read about the SCD diet online sees fats as a problem. You don’t appear to mention this difference in your overview and I am wondering if you can comment and give me some clarity here.
    With thanks

  7. Nope still confused about which one is right for me! lol holy sch-moly this is racking my brains ! what’s left of em!

    • Hi Binda,


      It doesn’t matter too too much -if you choose SCD, which is the basis for GAPS anyway, I would just transition to GAPS a few months in, no worries.

      All my best,

  8. Hi
    I’m lookinginto using the GAPS diet for my child who has autism. In our community,i.e.Facebook many parents have experienced increase of ammonia from eating much protein in their Child diets.I am also concerned that oxalates may become an issue.any advice would be appreciated

    • Dear Jenny,

      A few thoughts…

      1. The SCD (the diet part of GAPS) has successfully resolved symptoms of autism in countless children over the decades. It is very much worth doing.

      2. There is no mininimum protein requirement, so if one has symptoms of excess protein intake (rare), the protein amount can be adjusted. Most people doing the SCD/GAPS do not have an issue of increased ammonia.

      3. Similarly, most people do not experience oxalate processing challenges. For those that do, oxalates can be reduced. In this blog’s search engine, you can enter the word oxalates to find a few posts discussing the practical aspects of this.

      4. If you do decide to do GAPS, be sure to get the GAPS Guide 2nd Edition and read the entire thing before beginning even the transition to GAPS. Taking this route will prevent many issues. Among many other things, it discusses how to approach food intolerances, including those related to oxalates.

      5. If you do have concerns at any point in your GAPS journey, you will be able to consult with a health practitioner familiar with GAPS. These are linked to from this blog’s Support for You page.

      All my best,

  9. My son is 6 years and affected by autism,he is under GFCF, SCD diet,,sure we did find lot of positive changes and also taking homeopathy treatment,we have been giving camel milk for nearly one year,,no doubt camel milk do wonders,,he drinks 3 glass every day and so much improvements

    • Srikanth, thank you so much for sharing this with all of us! Another member of our community shared lots of enthusiasm about camel’s milk a while back. It’s really great to know what else is helping people!

      All my best,

    • Hello Srikanth,

      I just found this website, I was looking for info on the GAPS Diet. I also have two kids on the spectrum and have heard good things about Camel milk. Can you tell me where I can find it here in US?

      Thank you,

      • Hi Su,

        I don’t know if Srikanth is still watching this thread, so I just wanted to respond to say I personally don’t know where one gets camel milk in the US, but hopefully someone who does know will respond here soon.

        In the meantime, please know that many, many children on the spectrum are able to tolerate fully fermented goat’s milk. Goats milk is available in most grocery or health food stores, and the SCD-fermentation process is available in my book and also in many places on the internet, including my website.

        All my best,

        • Thank you Baden for your response. I am giving my kids homemade yogurt with full fat, grass fed, organic cow’s milk. They seem to tolerate it fine.

  10. Hi
    As i mention before we are giving camel milk to our 6 year old autistic son addition to that we give chia seed ,Teff flour and grain,Quinoa grain, multivitamin, fish oil, i am going to add Gaps diet soon,,but still unable to unlock the speech as he mange to tell some words,


  11. This is what confuses my too much animal protein leads to excess ammonia in the body which increase ph in the stomach causing low stomach acid . If you have meat 3 times a week max(as you should with candida or autism) what to do you eat for the other meals on gaps ?
    My diet is

    Bf: steamed vegetables or vegetable soup
    lunch: 3 days a week salmon with veg, 3 a week lentils 1 a week eggs
    Dinner : 1 litre of vegetable juice
    broth cod liver oil bio kult some pumkin seeds but it still not improving.

    I think gaps can work for other conditions but for candida it won’t be possible if you eat animal protein all the time . lots of animal protein is hard on the kidneys .

    This is why i get stuck on gaps and scd while trying to rid myself of yeast infections any help would be great..

    • Dear Tanya,

      There are many theories about what causes an imbalance in candida and about what resolves candida overgrowth or symptoms of autism. We do know that thousands of people have completely resolved candida overgrowth and autism through the SCD/GAPS as presented. Despite various theories regarding candida and honey, fats, protein, etc, we find that candida overgrowth is successfully resolved through the program. Thus, there is no reason to create the extra rule of limiting meat; it can be had multiple times per day. (Conversely, lentils caused severe symptoms in me.) Adding additional restrictions to GAPS based on theories presented by other sources will trigger several issues, including severely compromised healing, hunger, cravings, etc.

      Trying to modify the GAPS program because of other sources’ theories can create additional issues. This is one of the most common mistakes on GAPS, and is discussed in the 2nd Edition under Resolving Common Mistakes – Combining with other programs. Once we are doing GAPS as presented, the only inspiration for modifications should be our own body’s response to its nuances.

      If you do choose to follow a different program for resolving candida overgrowth, such as one that limits meat to three times per week, I would follow that entire program 100%, rather than try to mix it with the GAPS program (again, more on this topic in the book’s section mentioned above).

      Also, GAPS does not advocate drinking one litre of vegetable juice per day, nor so many fasting meals for most people. Rather, most people needing GAPS should be following its building (vs cleansing) program as presented. Doing otherwise will severely limit or compromise healing, as you have been finding.

      Finally, if the juice you are drinking includes sweet vegetables such as carrots or beets, the juice may well be exacerbating the candida overgrowth.

      For more information about resolving candida overgrowth on GAPS, please see the section Candida Overgrowth in GAPS Guide 2nd Edition. The new edition also presents the whole program, as well as issues resulting from trying to “mix and match” various healing approaches, creating additional rules, etc. I suggest simply reading the 2nd Edition cover to cover then following the steps presented in it. This will prevent or resolve most issues.

      All my best,

  12. I see that you said you should rotate detox baths. I have not seen this anywhere….what are the types of baths should I do? Thanks.

    • Hi Shannon,

      Yes, it is very important to rotate the baths and, ideally, to have one daily. This can make or break your healing journey. For details on ingredients, amounts, water temperature, and more, please see your copy of GAPS Guide 2nd Edition -pages 44-46. (If you’re working out of the eBook, look in your Table of Contents under Detoxification, then click on Die-Off Relief (Detox) Baths.)

      All my best,

  13. You mentioned casein. I tested as allergic to casein (in addition to ‘leaky gut’, candida yeast, and brain fog). Can this casein allergy be reversed over time via following the GAPS protocols??

    • Hi Steve,

      Yes! This allergy very well may resolve through GAPS. In GAPS Guide 2nd Edition I give specific approaches to food intolerances/non-anaphylactic allergies.

      All my best,

  14. Hi,
    About 2 years ago I dont know what happened to my gut but all of a sudden I couldnt have dairy anymore. I would get bloating and gas whenever I did. Was put on PPIs for about 3-4 months. Stopped them and will hopefully NEVER take them again. Now my symptoms of bloating are returning and I get lots of gas…. I am thinking of either starting SCD or GAPS diet. I know I need to start taking charge and heal myself before it gets out if hand. NOT TO MENTION IVE BEEN HAVING A LOT OF NEUROLOGICAL PROBLEMS 🙁 It started with numbness in hands and feet, and now its getting worse and worse:( Was also very deficient in Vitamin D, and low in B12. Ive just gotten my levels up again. Will these diets put my vitamin d or b12 level at risk?? Which diet would be better for me?
    Please help! Any advice would be GREATLY appreciated. Thanks a lot.

  15. Please join the “Healing with Camel Milk” Facebook user group. Camel milk, raw, and fresh or frozen, is available in the USA and most other countries. Blinded, randomized, placebo controlled trials attest to the efficacy of raw camel milk for autism. Thanks and best of health to you.

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