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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