Heartburn & Reflux

I quite frequently receive a comment similar to Mary’s today, noting a history of heartburn or reflux, with a degree of it hanging in or even becoming exacerbated -like any previously existing symptom can- in early healing. Personally, I had always experienced heartburn upon eating garlic or raw or partially cooked onions. It felt so awful I aimed to avoid these foods as much as possible. Shortly into GAPS, though, this symptom resolved completely and I became able to enjoy these foods freely, whether raw or cooked. I’d love for everyone to experience relief from this symptom!

Heartburn/reflux can be due to high or low stomach acid; in GAPSters it is most often the latter. For many, this symptom will resolve simply by doing GAPS. For those for whom this issue persists upon starting GAPS, I suggest the following:

1. Upon waking, throughout the day, and ten to fifteen minutes before each meal take:

-one tablespoon Apple Cider Vinegar in half a cup or more of not-cold water, OR
-sauerkraut juice, OR
-sauerkraut juice mixed with a bit of meat stock

These will increase your stomach acid levels and aid a reflux-free digestion. Over time you will be able to reduce the frequency of this practice, ultimately requiring none.

2. Chew your food (and even liquids, in a sense) very thoroughly.

3. Dr. Natasha’s FAQ page (http://www.gapsdiet.com/uploads/FAQS_Listing.pdf) has additional tips for resolving heartburn (at least one of which supports an internal use of baking soda).

If after a week of consistently applying these the issue continues, try Betaine HCL with pepsin. International Nutrition at www.gapsdiet.com (US and Canada) and www.nutrivene.com (all other countries) offers an excellent brand -at the ratios suggested by Dr Natasha- with no fillers. Samples are available upon request direct to this company.

ETA September 14, 2011: Mark Sisson has also created a wonderful post about this topic. To view it, click here.

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51 thoughts on “Heartburn & Reflux

  1. I couldn’t resist responding when noting the title of your blog entry. I developed reflux after going through some serious stress and my Dr. RXed protonix which I took for ~ a year until I read about plain, natural, wonderful aloe vera juice, (available for ~ $11.00 a gallon. I took ~ 1/8 cup 2x a day for ~ 1 month and my reflux was GONE! It came back ~ a yr later, I took a couple days worth of the juice again and haven’t needed it for about a year now:) Hope this helps someone:)

  2. I have recently started the GAPS introduction diet to help heal my digestive tract. My main symptom is gastroparesis (severe delayed stomach emptying leading to vomiting and reflux). My dietitian had already introduced me to betaine HCL and I noticed it helped a bit. Since I have started the GAPs intro stage one (5 days) I am doing very well and I was very surprised that the apple cider vinegar does not irritate my stomach or cause vomiting as other vinegars have! After having had vomiting or reflux symptoms nearly daily for 2 months these 5 days have been a blessing. Thank you for your website and book (and also a big thanks to Dr. Campbell-McBride and Elaine Gottschall)!

    • Yay, Claire! What wonderful news! I’m so glad things are coming around for you!

      Thank you for your appreciations, too!

      All my best,

    • Claire, have you had much success healing your gastroparesis with GAPS?!? I have a friend with advanced gastroparesis, now living off of intravenous nutrition! A testimony would mean the world to her. Please let me know! Thanks, Amber

      • Hi Amber
        I have had gastroparesis for a number of years and started the Gaps diet a year ago. I predominantly cook my own soups, using lamb shanks, green vegetables, carrots etc and then blend together. I have noticed a distinct improvement in my digestion/motility as soups and liquids are much more easily digested by the stomach. I also take digestive enzymes before each meal and have found that my condition is slowly turning around.

        I have found that with gastroparesis, maximising nutrition is essential and the best way we can do that is via liquids…juices, soups etc

        I really hope your friend’s condition improves. I think that if you have a good team working with you..eg naturopath, Dr….it makes a great difference.

        Kind Regards


  3. Hi Baden–
    I don’t normally get heartburn…but have it everyday now that I’ve started GAPS diet (an Intro that I modify for breastfeeding). Would this be due to low HCl or some sort of reaction to the food? (I’m eating mostly stage 1 foods). I didn’t seem to have it as much when I started for a few weeks on the full GAPS

    • Hi Colleen,

      It could be either, but generally the base issue (even in food reaction) is low stomach acid. Have you tried all the tips on this post?

      All my best,

  4. Hi Baden,
    I started gaps intro a year ago because of a series of digestive problems, reflux included. The reflux has gotten somewhat better but I’ve suffered it daily -especially nightly, for a whole year. It’s like a wall I am unable jump over! I cannot tolerate vinegar or lemon yet. I tried HCL and didn’t notice a difference. I’m slowly building up my tolerance to sauerkraut juice -I take three drops of it in broth before meals, together with 3 drops of beet kvass. I hope this problem gets better soon, as it would make my journey through GAPS much more tolerable. It is hard to deal with the fear and frustration that arise from dealing with this one symptom.
    Thank you for your blog and your help.

  5. Hi Mar,

    I’m concerned that after a year on GAPS you are only at six drops of ferments before each meal. Sufficient probiotic levels are absolutely critical to healing; the body can only get so far without them and any initial healing -achieved through dietary changes- will plateau. Can you tell me more about your healing journey please, that the probiotics are so limited so far in?

    Also, what happens when you take Apple Cider Vinegar? And how much Betaine did you build to?

    All my best,

  6. Hi Baden,

    Thank you for your reply. I take other probiotics and lactoferments: 100 billion dose of Klaire’s multi-strain probiotic daily, plus a tablespoon and a half of fermented cucumber brine per meal -4 meals a day. I am currently working on adding a wider variety and quantity of lactoferments, especially sauerkraut brine. I react to sulfur foods so I build up very slowly -if I take more by mistake I get painful upper intestine bloating, and more heartburn.

    Apple cider vinegar burns my esophagus going down, even diluted, so I avoid it. I also react very strongly to lemon juice. I built up to 6 tablets of 324 mg (I am in Europe and couldn’t find capsules). Eventually they started to burn my esophagus and throat when swallowing them. I finally bought capsules from the US but by then my acupuncturist noticed my stomach was so tense when I took them that she couldn’t get the needles in! My Dr. also said I wasn’t ready for HCL so I stopped. Now I am taking mebendazole and anti-parasitic herbs.

    I have been eating GAPS intro for a year, and have fat malabsorption so regularly have to go back to almost no fat. I also need to avoid simple carbs or fiber vegetables. Low fat and low carb means being hungry. I am also underweight.

    I worry that my diet has been too limited for a long time. I see some healing, since last year I was in critical shape, and this year I’m “only” in bad shape. Sometimes I lose hope. But I belong to the GAPS yahoo help list, which is wonderful. I wish Dr. NCM was available for consultations!

    • Hi Mar,

      Great! I’m relieved to hear you are getting other probiotics, too!

      You sound very aware of your body, and very wise. And I’m so glad you’re involved in the GAPShelp list!

      Yes, intro for a year is too long. I strongly recommend seeing a practitioner knowledgeable in and supportive of GAPS. These are linked to via this blog’s ‘Support’ page. Sometimes a practitioner “sees” an issue and with one or two recommendations can really turn things around for a person!

      Please keep in touch, Mar…

      All my best,

  7. Thank you, Baden! I wish you and your son the best in your recovery. I know you’ve worked so hard for it!

    I am currently under the care of one of the GAPS-knowledgeable physicians. I guess I’ve done everything that’s on my hand and just need to keep going. Up with the sauerkraut then! 😉

  8. What about people with Fat Malapsorption issues? Is GAPS o.k. for them? I have had oil floating at the top of the toilet water whenever I consume fat, so is this for me?

    • Hi Suzy,

      Yes, GAPS is helpful for people with fat malabsorbtion issues. Some people, for example those who’ve had their gall bladder removed, find they can only tolerate tiny amounts of fat initially, and must take time to build their capacity (much like those very sensitive to probiotics).

      Many people coming to GAPS notice oil floating at the top of the toilet water. In most cases, this simply resolves in time, as the body heals and becomes more able to do its intended jobs.

      You might also appreciate this note from Dr Natasha’s FAQ page:

      What does it mean to have fat in stools and how should one proceed with the diet?

      Fat in stools means that not enough bile is being released from the gallbladder to emulsify fats. The most common reason in GAPS patients is gallstones. A gallstone is a clump of infection or a fragment of a worm, coated by bile: this is a defence reaction the liver has, when pathogens get into the bile ducts. Bile stones form all of our lives, and in the initial stages they are small and soft and pass easily through the bile ducts into the duodenum every time we eat fats. Once in the duodenum, the stones go all away to the bowel and get eliminated in stool. If the person has been eating processed carbohydrates and low fat foods for a while, then the liver does not get enough stimulation to empty the bile into the duodenum, so the bile stones stay in the bile ducts too long and become calcified. As the stones accumulate calcium salts on their surface, they get larger and their surface becomes hard and rough, so they cannot be easily passed through the bile ducts (they get stuck). When enough bile ducts are obstructed by stones, the bile flow gets impaired; hence the person cannot digest fats very well. GAPS diet is rich in fats, which stimulate bile production and excretion into the duodenum at every meal. It may take time for your liver to get into full gear, but it will do so. When juicing is introduced, the active substances in juices dissolve calcium salts in the stones and make them softer, so they can be eliminated from the bile ducts with the next fatty meal. It takes time, but in the majority of patients this situation gets resolved naturally, without any special measures (particularly in children). In some severe adult cases following Dr Hulda Clark’s Liver Cleanse Protocol may help to eliminated gallstones.

      All my best,

  9. Honestly before I had any issues I was on a raw food diet, eating mostly greens, seeds, nuts and fruits. There were HUGE benefits at first, but then my health started declining and I started to lose too much weight. Worried, I started soaking oatmeal and eating that. Well it gave me massive heartburn. I tried to incorporate more meat and other food into my diet, but it compounded my problem. Instead of gaining weight I have lost more and I eat a lot of fat and protein. I take high powered digestive enzymes (which helps) but I am exhausted, constipated, dehydrated..etc. I have candida and a heavy metal problem,but I don’t know where to begin first. I am 110 lbs and 5’6″ and declining. I want to start GAPS but I am afraid my liver/gallbladder can’t handle it. In order to do a cleanse I know many cleanses you must fast to do them or drink lots of oil. I haven’t got the GAPS books yet and I know they recommend juicing, but can it be a cheap juicer? I have no money for a nice one.I also worry about the carrots aggrivating candida. I don’t know which problem to tackle first. I feel as if I must detoxify, but I am already so tin. I feel like I will have to buy SO many supplements in order to digest food, even though I chew it throuroughly I feel as if it sits in my stomach forever. Even two hours after a meal if I drink water, I am burping consta I am really overwhelmed at this point, if you could lead me in a direction or things I must buy in order to get ready to take this thing on.

    Also I did want to say that consuming so much meat has made me much more tired and sluggish and my breath is getting horrid. I have also seen others on the web having problems with GAPS when they have fat malapsorption. I wish someone else similar could guide me through their experience because when I was on raw food I kept getting told, it’s the detox it will get better. I fear that is what will happen with GAPS as well and I may really get to where I can’t function. It’s tough when you can’t eat raw vegetables (digestion) fruit (candida) meat (hard to digest) grains (autoimmune disease) etc. I’m running out of options!!! As always thank you Baden as this is coming at a point of desparation. I know it sounds crazy but I just don’t know where and how to begin.

    • Hi Suzy,

      I definitely hear your overwhelm, and it doesn’t sound crazy at all!

      Some points:

      -on GAPS it is recommended we use very few (almost no) supplements
      -detoxification as well as early GAPS -even with lots of fats- brings weight loss for many and it is frightening for people who were already thin; as the body balances, though, they gain the weight back
      -for excessive burping, the main GAPS tips are to: chew lots and lots and lots; take ACV in water or sauerkraut juice 15 mins before and with a meal; if burping is persistent, take Betaine with pepsin (see nutrivene.com); Betaine with pepsin may also help that sense of food sitting in your gut, as might the ACV, sauerkraut juice; Stage 1 of intro; etc
      -many people doing GAPS had or have fat malabsorption issues, with or without gall bladder removal; hopefully you will be able to connect with some of these folks on the yahoo support lists linked to on this blog’s ‘Support’ page
      -yes, a cheaper juicer will be fine; some people even just blend the produce then squeeze it through cheesecloth or a nutmilk bag
      -if you worry about a food aggravating candida, you can skip that food; however, many people have been able to balance their candida even while including sweet veggies, etc

      On the one hand, you’ve noted that you eat lots of fat and protein yet are losing weight; on the other hand you’ve noted that you’re not sure your gall bladder can handle the GAPS fat quantities. Are you eating a good cup of animal fat (that from insides of animals, plus butter or ghee) each day?

      Horrible breath is common in detox. (It’s not specific to meat.)

      On GAPS we anticipate a person feeling awful for up to a few days. Beyond that, we try to review a person’s program to tweak it. The sections in GAPS Guide under die-off relief, etc, will be very helpful to you. Suzy, I think the GAPS Guide overall will be a boon to you -it was created precisely to reduce overwhelm, let folks know what to buy (and thus what to not bother buying), etc.

      All my best,

  10. Hi Baden

    I sympathize with Suzy as while I do not feel in the same dire straits I have done intro twice this year and never noticed any improvement. I too am very underweight and have been vegetarian in the past (with a shorter period as a vegan). For me I am rarely saited and feel constantly hungry living from one meal to the next.

    To date I am still off grains, legumes and nightshades. I only have the odd nut as I ate copious amounts in the past and do not think they are now particularly healthy. I have just increased my carbs (more squash, turnips and some chestnuts) in an effort to put some weight on. I eat fatty meat (and raw liver), lots of fish, raw egg yolks, homemade stock and kraut, coconut oil (particularly creamed coconut) and from the shell. I had not had dairy for a number of years and now have raw kefir, butter, sour cream. and cheese. I have just introduced raw goats milk kefir. I still adore vegetables and wonder if I am eating too many of them owing to the oxalate and phytate content. I also make green juices daily and eat a little fruit. I have a very sweet tooth and in the past would eat 3-4 packages of dates in one sitting. I temper this now with creamed coconut (re-introduced about 4 weeks ago) as I do not eat any regular sweets, chocolate or dried fruit. Everything is homemade so where am I going wrong?

    Supplement wise I am using CLO, butter, MSM, Kelp and Suma. I was going to order some superfoods to try to kick start my mitrochondria but I do not know if this will help or hinder me. Is barley or wheat grass allowed in the programme? Also they are all so expensive.

    I have NCM book but not yours as it is difficult to source in the UK and I have read a lot online.

    Thank you


    • Hi H.

      I have had some thoughts in the past week about my own situation that might give you a few directions to look for answers (Baden, I hope it is all right with you if I add in here).

      I started GAPS last February after being a raw food vegan for five years. I was not doing well and answers had to be found–find them I did. I have delightedly seen much healing on GAPS over the past few months but a few of my health issues, while improving, seem to remain, namely really intense PMS symptoms, insomnia, and weight fluctuations that seem completely unrelated to what or how much I eat. I too have been wondering “what I am doing wrong?”. At first, I thought time was just needed but I have recently realised that my quest to resolve some of my issues is not quite over yet.

      This past week, Ann Marie at Cheeseslave (she is a Weston A. Price Chapter leader) posted on magnesium defieciencies. She has recently been posting and blogging about her journey with adrenal fatigue and thyroid issues and what she is doing to resolve these. I mention this because thryroid hormones can really affect weight gain or loss and you had mentioned that you are having trouble gaining wieght. I have also just read this article here: http://www.westonaprice.org/metabolic-disorders/low-metabolic-energy-therapies. It was published in a WAPF journal and it discusses in detail the relationship between the adrenal glands and the thyroid.

      So, this past week, I considered the possibility that even with the copious amounts of bone broth I consume–almost a 1 litre most days, I was still not getting enough magnesium. Ann Marie’s discussion on her blog points to why this might be the case. I am going to stay with GAPS as I still have issues to work out with grains in particular. However, I have added using topical magnesium, adding magnesium to my baths (apparently, while epsom salts are great, there are other forms that are even easier for us to absorb and I am still looking into that). While I truly agree with Baden and NCM that supplements are not the way to go, I am also looking into taking an ionic magnesium.

      I have already seen huge changes this week just with the topical magnesium. My issue is not being able to lose weight, and I have lost a few pounds, also I am finally sleeping! I have been taking my waking temperature every day for the past month and it has been stubbornly low–not a good sign. In the past few days it has risen closer to normal, with today being the highest. Hurrah!

      So, while my symptoms seem totally un-related to yours, I thought that offering suggestions on where I have found some answers might be helpful. I am sure that GAPS has so helped any hormonal, thyroid/adrenal issues that I have but it also seems that a bit more concentrated healing may need to happen in that direction. Maybe for you too?

      Wishing you well on your journey,

      • Hi A

        Thank you for taking the time to respond. I had my thyroid checked last year and it was okay. I also thought I might be magnesium deficient so I have been taking a mineral supplement (forgot to mention it in my last post) for a few months – but I sadly have not noticed any improvement. In the past I have taken copious vitamin pill but now prefer to use real food. However, like you I think maybe I am missing something and need a supplement to get me to the next stage. I would prefer to take a food grade capsule but I have not found one yet that ticks all the boxes.

        If anyone could recommend a good brand that you can purchase in the UK I would be very grateful.

        I hope you continue to improve…


      • Dear A,

        Thank you *so much* for sharing your knowledge, research (including links) and experiences here! I’m sure this information will be very helpful to many.

        It’s only initially that GAPS recommends limiting supplements. (I think I’ll do a post soon about this.) If after a few months of doing GAPS, a person finds they have a specific need which cannot be met by food and would be well served by a quality supplement, that is certainly supported (more on this in the upcoming post). I’m excited about the path you’re taking yourself on.

        Please input here any time, yes!

        All my best,

    • Hi H,

      Are you on intro now? Full GAPS?

      Are you eating a lot of fats from the insides of animals? I would aim for a good cup of this over the course of each day. Saute in it, add it to soups, spread it on celery, etc.

      Also, are you eating upon waking, at least every 1.5-2 hours, then again just before bed?

      MSM, kelp, Suma and commercial superfoods are not part of the few supplements recommended for GAPS, so these particular expenses may not be necessary for you.

      All my best,

      • Hi Baden

        Thank you for taking the time to reply.

        Yes, I am still mainly on intro but I did have a bag of chestnuts over the course of last week…..

        I do not have any grains, nuts (rarely), nightshades, legumes or processed foods. Any dairy I have is raw (goats milk kefir and cheese) and I have just started cycling this and fruit – one week on and one week off. I have a tendency to overindulge on foods that I like – also as I am always hungry I overeat a lot. This is one of the reasons why I stay away from nuts.

        I eat 3 very large meals per day prefering this to 6 small ones. Its too difficult to manage the latter at work and I am too tense to snack.

        Animal fats are delicous in particular butter and beef dripping both of which I use. I have also taken to blending coconut into my soups; prefering this to just using the oil. However the coconuts are the mature ones and not organic; too difficult to get in the UK.

        For the last 2.5 months I have been taking small abouts of a probiotic S Boulardii. I also have a vegetable juice daily and juice kraut – prefering this to eating the kraut in its solid form – less windy.

        I am disappointed that while I have been on Gaps since early in the year I have not noticed a single improvement. If anything I have added more symptoms to the list – cracking joints……my low weight is also causing a lot of concern.

        Any advise you can offer would be appreciated.

        Thank you


        • Hi H,

          On the one hand, you note that you are underweight. On the other, you note that you are ‘always hungry’ and that you tend to ‘overeat’ and that you try various things to limit that. Where a person is underweight and hungry, with cravings to eat more, I would suggest going with those cravings. I always eat as much as I want on GAPS. In the first two months, this was an enormous amount of food. When the amount naturally shifted down a bit, it plateaued at that new level for a few months before shifting down again. I saw the same thing in my son. It’s important on GAPS that we eat: as often as we are hungry, frequently, and without limits imposed by anything except our own body’s physical signals that we are satiated. Snacking is so helpful to some bodies and can make a world of difference. My son, for example, could not have survived GAPS without eating every 1-2 hours for the first months.

          It sounds like your work has stress and tension associated with it. This is a double-whammy: a stressful life/workplace will in itself have the result of impeding healing; if additionally the stress prevents us from eating as frequently as we need to, we have double the challenge.

          S boulardii is not a probiotic per se, but a yeast. It’s friendly and helpful but can also trigger intense die-off. It also cannot replace a probiotic.

          Ten or so months into GAPS, one should be well into hefty doses of probiotics -commercial, homemade or both. Is your kraut homemade? How much of its juice are you drinking daily?

          I’m intrigued that the kraut solids are, so many months in, still triggering gas in you and that your diet has remained somewhat limited.

          H, my sense is that there are some critical pieces in your program that need tweaking. These may be difficult for me to explore over the ‘net. I suggest that you consult with a practitioner.

          All my best,

  11. I will get both books, in the meantime I get major anxiety about what to eat. Thank you for your words, you are very kind and reassuring. I just hope it works because I’ve got 3 kids that need me.

  12. Hi Baden

    Thank you for reviewing my post and I apologize in advance for my lengthy response. I hope that maybe someone else will be off a similar elk as me and maybe have some advice to offer.

    While I have consulted a nutritionist a couple of months ago I was unable to get a second appointment . The cost was very expensive and I am no longer in a position to pay for future consultations elsewhere so I am trying to work through it all myself.

    Baden, I think one of my problems is that I do have issues with food in general. I think about it all the time. I am always on the web trying to locate the most nutrient dense food and when I am not doing this I am traipsing around farmers markets or cooking. There is no time for anything else. Having also been vegan and vegetarian I have been brainwashed with respect to the negative aspects of animal produce and cooked food (was also raw for a while). I have read countless books on the subject and while I enjoy eating meat, when I have it I feel guilty afterwards and sometimes want to cry (I feel really pathetic writing this)…

    When I was a raw foodie by diet felt, looked and tasted clean. Yesterday I made a big pot of stock from some marrow bones and a piece of shin on the bone (couldn’t get any other animal parts). I tend to cook my stock for about 36 hours on a very low simmer; in keeping with the recipe in Nourishing Traditions. At the end I remove the ligaments and gobble them up as I find them really tasty. However I then wonder how anything that has cooked that long could possibly do me any good and then the anxiety sets in…….

    Yesterday I had two large meals as follows:

    Late Morning:

    X2 vegetable juices – pak Choy, carrot, ginger, homemade kraut, calvero nero, celery, cucumber, X1 egg yolk mixed in.

    Ox tongue (simmered overnight), avocado, cauliflower, celeriac, turnip, rocket, watercress.

    Mid Afternoon:

    X2 homemade vegetable juices – as above with clarified butter mixed in.

    Small salad – lettuce, watercress, and rocket mixed up with one raw egg yolk

    X2 large bowls of thick soup – coconut meat, onion, courgettes, celeriac, turnip, lettuce. After blending I put cut up chunks of the shin meat that had been simmering overnight in the stock pot.
    A plate with the rest of the shin meat, some stock pot ligaments, avocado, turnip and cauliflower.

    The afternoon meal left me feeling full and a tad uncomfortable so I probably overate.

    Having read a lot there are many who say that overeating puts unnecessary strain on the body and thus your enzyme become used up? Others believe that fasting gives the body a chance to heal itself………..so you see for every side another facet appears. I find it all very confusing and worry that I am doing myself more harm than good. Interestingly when I was preparing for my first intro I over come with hunger and I hadn’t even started the programme yet; I had only begun to withdraw no, no foods like grains. I also have not, to my knowledge, experienced any die off yet.

    My anxiety is worsened by my emaciated physical appearance. I have so little fat on my body that my veins are visible. I hide myself in copious layers of clothing which is adding to my low self esteem……Also trying to source grass-fed, soy and grain free animal produce is impossible. I feel I am always compromising. I spend most of my salary on food (after rent) and still feel and look awful. Other people that I know can eat an ordinary diet, are having fun and have money to spend on holidays……it’s just not fair…….

    Do you think I should start intro again? I eat coconut every day in my soups to add bulk and calories, is this better than just eating the oil? I prefer to eat the whole food rather than just the oil if that makes sense.

    I will look into getting a probiotic but I would prefer a food grade one. Are you aware of the KiKi brand? It is full of soil organisms but also contains some wheat, barley and alfalfa grasses, to name a few so I do not know if it is allowed on this programme. When I was a vegetarian I used to have a BM every day. Now I miss days and alternate between constipation and loose stools. The BM’s are usually green or orange coloured and while they are rarely smelly when I have wind it usually is. I wonder if the latter is due to having protein and carbs at the same meal; I used to food combine.

    If it is significant in any way from an ayurvedic view point I am apparently pure vata.

    Thank you in advance to anyone who can offer any light at the end of this rather long tunnel……


    • Dear H,

      I do hear your anxiety, and feel for you. I was vegetarian for 22 years (and vegan for parts of that) and wept with fear, anxiety and overwhelming sadness when I went to eat my first dish of meat. While my body loved it and I ate it regularly, I struggled for awhile about the necessity of it.

      I wouldn’t be surprised if your anxiety about food is at least in part related to your nutritional state, ie. if you can get the good foods into you, this in itself may resolve your anxiety about food.

      I don’t believe in one right way for all times. For example, I believe that a raw vegan diet or fasting can be helpful and healing in specific (and temporary) situations. In GAPS, what we’re aiming for is digestive healing and nutrient/body building. My belief is that the building cannot be achieved through raw veganism or fasting, as examples. I believe that moderation is the way to go -neither overeating nor undereating. Part of what we need to do on GAPS -and something GAPS is very helpful with- is learn to listen to our bodies. We eat regularly (even every hour or two at the beginning stages), to the point of satiation -not to continued hunger nor fullness.

      I notice you are including stronger, denser, fibrous foods in your soups, etc. Turnips are recommended only after significant healing and, personally, I still cannot eat celeriac without experiencing a very yucky feeling of “glue gut” then nausea. Intro and/or food rotations can be very helpful in determining whether a specific food is triggering a feeling of overload, discomfort, etc.

      Removing grains, etc, from one’s diet will trigger die-off in a lot of people. The transition can bring intense hunger, cravings, etc. We must not underestimate the changes that happen in our bodies (and minds) when we remove these items from our diets.

      In terms of quality of food, for most people, it is fine to compromise. In your GAPS Guide book, you’ll note that it’s only under the section ‘Progressing Further’ that I advise that, if a person is somewhat ‘stuck’ in their progress, that they consider going 100% organic. This is because going 100% organic is not an option for most people, and only some are so sensitive to the chemicals that doing so is actually necessary.

      You’re right -it’s so not fair that some people can eat cheap foods and spend the rest of their salaries on holidays, lovely houses, etc! But we also don’t know whose child (or self) will become ill down the road, and wish they’d known sooner about the importance of good food.

      Coconut is a good food for people who’ve healed to a reasonable degree. I suggest no coconut foods (coconut, coconut oil, etc) until a person has healed somewhat. The coconut is very fibrous and this can aggravate a gut condition. Coconut oil can trigger tremendous die-off.

      I’m really not familiar with any commercial probiotics besides Bio-Kult. As long as a commercial one meets the criteria set out in the GAPS and GAPS Guide books, it will be fine. It should not have additional ingredients.

      I’m curious about your statement re: combining proteins and carbs. While there are indeed carbs in our GAPS fruits and veggies, even in food-combining circles it is considered fine to eat these veggies with proteins, no?

      H, are you involved in any of the online support groups? (Just today I updated the ‘Support’ page on my blog.) That would be an ideal place for you to hear from others, some of whom will have experienced some of what you’re going through.

      All my best,

  13. You mention that coconut is too fibrous, what about the water in young coconuts and in what stage of the diet can it be introduced?

  14. Hi Baden

    You probably don’t remember me as it has taken me so long to post a response to you…been more overwhelmed than usual. I have started taking Biokult and while I am pleased that it didn’t induce any extreme bowel reaction (with the exception of a couple of loose BM’s which may have been down to potent kefir consumed at the same time) I haven’t noticed any improvement.

    I have taken your advise about the coconut and only have a little after it has been put through my juicer so the fibre has been removed. That said I am still eating turnips and celeraic as at this time of year there is little else locally to use and I am still not having any of the nightshades.

    To date there has been no improvement and I don’t know whether to start intro over again (even thought I am still off grains, legumes and nightshades and only eating nuts occasionally) or start to introduce properly fermented grains. Would you please advise what your thoughts are on this?

    I am currently eating 6 egg yolks per week raw in my kefir or soup. I have soup 1-2 daily and bone/meat stock with nearly every meal (I love the taste but despite all the write ups about it being healing I have not noticed any difference). Twice weekly I will usually have marinated wild salmon plus offal or slow cooked meat 2-3 times per week. Lots of avocados, squash, celery, califlower, brocolli, juiced vegetables and cooked roots with large amounts of fat that I skim of the stock or from suet that I render. I also eat all the flesh and ligaments from the bones that I use to make stock even thought it has been simmering for about 40 hours. It’s my most favourite food at the moment and I dream of eating the gooey parts………I do not know what this is telling me or if there is any nutritional value or harm in what I am eating. All I know is I really enjoy it.

    I still fret over eating animal products as at the moment I seem to read everywhere that these are inflammatory foods and vegetarism is the way forward………still do not know which way to turn. Having wasted so much money historically on alternative medicine consultations I cannot afford to go down this path again so I need to continue my own health research,

    If my body is trying to tell me what it wants I wish it would be a tad more direct……..at the minute it seems to be speaking either to someone else or a different language………Oh as if things were not bad enough I am sleeping really poorly and waking up around 3-4 am :-(

    Food combining is where you would not mix first line proteins with first line starches e.g. bread and cheese, fish and chips. I followed this for a long time with not noticeable benefits……..it is also very restrictive.

    Thank you


    • Hello dear H,

      Your diet sounds largely excellent! Great work!

      Sometimes a person sees no improvement -until they go *off* the program. That is, sometimes the healing is so subtle it truly seems like nothing is happening -and yet, as is shown when we go off the diet, it actually is.

      Unfortunately, I don’t have ideas as to why you are sleeping poorly and waking at 3-4am. Various holistic practitioners have different ideas about why one would wake at this time (liver, lungs, etc). Sometimes, though, it can be remedied by a simple step such as, for example, eating some protein right before bed. (The remedy will be different for everyone.)

      How are your bowel movements? Are you doing all the daily detox and supplement aspects of the program?

      Only in a very rare case would I support the combining of various diets -I agree with you that combining GAPS with a food-combining diet would be too restrictive. It would also rarely if ever be necessary.

      All my best,

  15. Baden, or anyone else who knows this. I am reviewing your latest forage into intro and wonder why you waited so long to introduce ghee. You introduced kefir before ghee right? Do I have this right? At what point did you introduce it?

    • Hi Katherine,

      In terms of our first (and truest) go at intro, I can’t remember when we started ghee -probably end of Stage 2, so a couple of weeks in- but it was definitely our first dairy. We didn’t introduce yogurt or kefir for about six months. (I don’t recommend waiting for so long -in the GAPS community, we knew less then than we know now, and I tended to err on the cautious side.)

      Please view this post for my current recommendations: http://gapsguide.com/2009/02/21/introducing-dairy/

      All my best,

  16. Hi Baden

    Thank you for your reply. My BM’s are very loose at the minute and I do not go every day. This upsets me as I fear I may not be absorbing all the food that I’m eating. Also I wonder if I am having two much soup and maybe would be better with more solid food.

    I have wondered if I should eat something before getting into bed and that it may be hunger that is waking me but I have also read about the importance of going to bed on an empty stomach as it can otherwise prevent the body from healing; so I avoid it. I usually eat at least 2 hours before bedtime. However I do eat very early in the morning.

    I only have access to a shower so do not do the bath soak nor is it feasible for me where I live to have enemas.

    When I started intro about 1 year ago I introduced dairy as outlined in NCB book ie. stage one. However I am confused that a lot on this forum seem to recommend avoiding it. That said I have only had raw fermented dairy with the exception of butter which was only raw. I also cycle dairy in and out i.e. a few days without it. However given my high animal diet I worry that I am now making my body too acidic……….:-(

    Thank you for all your help.


    • Hi H,

      I think that a key piece for you will be to choose one program and go with it 100%. If we try to mix programs (GAPS + low carb, GAPS + food combining, GAPS + not eating before bed, GAPS + vegetarianism, etc), we will become overwhelmed and our program will become unnecessarily restrictive, cumbersome, and burdensome. It also is unlikely to work. I would say to choose one program, do it 100% and as presented, then after three months evaluate the results to date. At that point, you might continue with the program chosen or commit 100% to a different one. I believe that each program is synergistic, with each aspect of it contributing to its overall results. Doing one aspect of one program, one aspect of another, one aspect of another, etc, is unlikely to bring strong results.

      Loose stools can be a way for the body to release toxins and to cleanse. When experienced over too long a period, this can result in too-low hydration and nutrients, yes. Experienced shorter term is the equivalent of the flu which, with the support of electrolytes, is totally survivable and helpful to the body in its ‘releasing’.

      There is no need to restrict solid foods at any point on GAPS, and every reason not to. One should be having solid meat, plus fat, right from the start along with the broth and perhaps veggies.

      With no access to a bath, be sure to do a daily foot soak (a bucket will suffice) with the additives listed in your book.

      Fermented dairy should not be avoided -and should be included- unless a person shows a direct reaction to it.

      All my best,

  17. Dear Baden, Thank you so very much for your quick reply and helpful information. Have started taking HCI pills and that seems to have made a difference with the burning. Hopefully the Gaps Book will arrive this coming week and I can get started. I will let you know how I go in due course. Out of all the sites I have been on (and there have been a lot I can tell you) your site is the most helpful and informative. Just reading the blogs is so good and at long last there are people with very similar problems to me and suggestions. Thank you so much.
    Kind regards Wanda

    • Wonderful, Wanda!

      Thanks for letting me know the HCI is helping, and for all your encouraging thoughts about what we’re doing here!

      All my best,

  18. Hi,
    I have sorta started the GAPS diet. I had a really hard time with my blood sugar and eating enough on the Intro so I went ahead to the Full Diet. I always have issues with my chest and digestion when I do not eat enough. The last few days of cutting out carbs has caused major heartburn in the back of my throat and after I eat I feel as though there is a stone at the base of my ribs and then after I get swollen feeling down low on my stomach (almost makes me feel like I have to pee) I don’t know if I am having all this from the diet or from my old issues. The symptoms are worrying me and I don’t know what I am to do as far as making an appt to be looked at or wait it out. I am so frustrated with my body. I have no idea what it is wanting. I did have a lot of coconut oil the first day so I have no idea if that did something…
    when you say to eat animal fats what are you talking about? tallow? I get grass fed beef and pastured chickens but I never really notice any fat. I never take anything off so I am assuming that we eat it…
    how many times a day should I be eating and does it matter what I eat? I have been filling in with yogurt and cheese as I get, not hungry, but dizzy and headachy if I don’t eat enough (that would be on and off the diet).
    I also have had a hard time drinking water with all the broth I consume. I have been drinking VERY little water so I wonder if that makes the heartburn worse?

    • Hi Jackie,

      1. Anytime symptoms worry you, please do contact your health practitioner.

      2. For heartburn, this post may be helpful to you: http://gapsguide.com/2011/05/14/heartburn-reflux/

      3. Coconut oil should be avoided for the first two months or so of healing. It is a powerful, healing food thus can trigger issues for people. In early healing, that can be more than we can cope with.

      4. Fats from the insides of animals include, yes, tallow among other things. If using meat (no bones) you will get some fat but not a lot. When you simmer bones with or without meat, including a whole chicken, and then cool the liquid, fat should appear. There will be different amounts -ranging from very little to very much- depending on the animal parts used. You can also buy from a butcher or online duck fat, etc, by the litre.

      5. Eat a fatty-protein upon waking, then every hour or so all day long, then right before bed. On full GAPS, cheese and full-fat yogurt are good options. Meat with fat added is even better. The fat and protein will help stabilize blood sugar, reduce cravings, quicken healing, etc. Don’t force yourself to eat, but offer yourself this food this often.

      6. With all the broth, veggies, etc, in GAPS, most people are getting enough fluid. It’s not necessary to add plain water over and above other fluids.

      All my best,

  19. Thanks for all the info! I felt horrible yesterday but I did not eat every hour or two so I will be trying that today! I know in the past that they had told me that I had GERD so I might try this diet for a few weeks before heading in. Thanks for all the info AND for your book!!! I just got it in the mail and it was VERY helpful!!! I get a lot of panic attacks and other things when stuff flairs up and I have been so tired of people telling me that its “in my head” or “maybe you are depressed”. So nice to have a reason, a group of people who know and a healing option!!!

  20. Hi there!

    I am on day 2 of the GAPS diet. I feel extremely nauseous, am constipated, and am having acid reflux that I had finally gotten under control before I started GAPS with digestive enzymes and Reglan. I had a scope done last Monday that confirmed I have Gastroparesis and chronic gastritis. I had a gal bladder test done saying that it is functioning very slowly as well. I have been diagnosed with every allergy possible so I am used to feeling awful after I eat and on most days all day. I am just curious how all the fat is supposed to help when you are told to be on a low fat diet… Is this the right choice for me? I am having a colonoscopy done next Monday. I don’t even feel like I can take one more bite of anything or I will be sick! I know God has an amazing plan for me and I am not going to give up but I would love any help please!

    • Dear Isabella,

      I recommend two things:

      1. Check out the information under gall bladder, etc, on Dr Natasha’s FAQ page, as linked to from this blog’s Support for You page. There is information there specific to absorbing fat.

      2. Join the GAPShelp email list, also linked to from that page, to connect with others who have had very similar medical issues and gone the GAPS route. They will be able to share specific tips and experiences that will likely help you!

      You are not alone.

      All my best,

    • Hi Isabella,
      I’m am fairly new to GAPS and have not done INTRO yet but have some of the problems you mentioned. (slow motility, constipation, low stomach acid and low bile production). I’ll just share a few things that i”m learning about my digestion and fat issues.
      I’m learning that even though GAPS encourages consuming a lot of fats, if I’m not digesting it, it is best to add it slowly.

      I have tried to focus on the gelatinous part of meat when fats seem too difficult to digest, then I try to eat small amounts of fat and increase in small incriments so as not to over load my body. I’ve experimented with different fats to see which ones are easiest to digest. I’ve noticed that combining my fats with cooked daikon radish seems to help them digest better. I know it’s not on Intro but I’ve discovered that coconut oil is easy for me to digest.

      I’ve been trying to include some bitter greens that are gaps legal. Bitter tastes stimulate the digestive juices to flow, especially gall bladder bile for breaking down fats. Just a little bitter taste at the beginning of meals is all that is needed. I’ve tried arugula, dandelion leaf, chamomile (in the form of tea).

      Apple cider vinegar: a couple tablespoons in water before meals. This really has helped with moving things out of my stomach. I believe that low stomach acid has made my stomach hold the food longer because there isn’t enough natural stomach acid to break food down.

      I am using magnesium to help with constipation. I know that is also not on Intro, so I don’t know if you’d want to use that while you are on intro. But the enemas are recommended to constipation. I can’t stand to be constipated, it makes me nauseous too. Then I can’t eat.

      I have found that yoga-like twisting and stretching and self massage of belly also helps with constipation and acid reflux.

      I hope things are going better for you. Good luck,

  21. Hi,

    My husband and I have been on GAPS for about 6 weeks. We are on it because my husband developed dairy and legume allergies in the last couple years, and also because he had increasing problems with a sour stomach. About a month before we started GAPS, he started getting frequent sour stomachs. He takes Tums and pineapple bromelain pills to reduce the discomfort, but they do not eliminate the problem completely. He took Prilosec for 2 weeks and again it helped some, but did not resolve the problem.

    Since beginning GAPS, my husband continues to have a sour stomach 1-2x a week. He follows the GAPS diet pretty carefully, eating meat, broth, vegetables, fruit, and eggs. We are slowly introducing biokult, but we are currently only at about 3/4 of a capsule a day. We did intro, and the sour stomach does not seem to be triggered by any particular food. After completing intro, he tried Betaine HCL, but only took one pill because it made his stomach feel bad. (He took it with breakfast).

    Is there anything GAPS legal we can do to relieve his sour stomachs as they occur? He continues to take Tums and pineapple bromelain pills, but he would try GAPS legal remedies if they worked at least as well.

    Do you think this will resolve itself in time? Before GAPS he had sour stomachs everyday, so there was immediate initial improvement as it reduced to 1-2x a week, but during the 6 weeks we have followed GAPS, we have not seen any more improvement. At what point should we take further action to eliminate the sour stomachs? At that point, what should we do?

    • Dear Katie,

      It’s great that your husband saw such a reduction in this symptom so early on! Some symptoms can take weeks or months to resolve.

      I don’t have any information specific to sour stomach. If it were me, I would have done exactly what you have done: Transition to GAPS, then do Intro, then apply the tips in this (Heartburn, Reflux) post. I need to edit this post to add that Dr Natasha’s FAQ page (http://www.gapsdiet.com/uploads/FAQS_Listing.pdf) has additional tips for resolving heartburn, at least one of which involves baking soda. Beyond that, I suggest asking on one of the free email support lists listed on this website’s Support for You page. Others may have experienced and resolved this specific symptom and have additional ideas for your husband.

      I hope any of this is helpful.

      All my best,

  22. Dear Baden,

    I have not had to email you for a while because I have been so much better since I started the Gaps diet back in January. Unfortunately over the last few weeks the burning up the oesophagus and the burning tongue have returned. I have tried taking HCI but no improvement. The only thing I have changed recently is I have not been eating as much sauerkraut as I was and also I have not always had veges or salad with breakfast. I wondered if my diet has become too acidic. I hope this is the right place to email you. I have emailed last week, but maybe it was not the right place to do it as I have not had a reply. Would really appreciate some help, can’t believe these problems have come back after not having them for so long.

    Kind regards,

    • Dear Wanda,

      My apologies for not responding sooner -some weeks are just swamped and then I cannot reply to comments. Yes, anywhere is the right place to post.

      It is common to have issues return temporarily, especially if your body has entered a deep healing cycle. In this case, the die-off relief remedies coupled with time can do wonders. This said, if these issues came up upon specific dietary changes, I would start by assuming the changes are related to those, and resume what worked.

      I don’t have information related to the return of these specific symptoms, so if resuming those dietary pieces does not resolve them, I recommend asking on one of the email support lists (someone else may have experienced and resolved this) and/or consulting with a health practitioner familiar with GAPS, four lists of whom are linked to from this website’s Support for You page.

      All my best,

  23. Hello, I have a 7 year old non-verbal, little guy who’s on the spectrum. We’ve been GAPS for a long time and 6 months ago went back and restarted. About three months ago we started on bio-kult. Around that same time frame my son developed heart-burn/indigestion. He’s not verbal, so these are observations my husband and I have made. He’s burping and gulping constantly. Is it possible that the bio-kult is causing this? I feel terrible that he could be in discomfort and unable to tell me. Any advice would be greatly appreciated!!

    Thank you!!


  24. I am hoping someone can help… I noticed a couple of years ago that removing grains from my diet removed the GERD I suffered from. I am currently about 2 weeks in and back an forth with stage 3 & 4. (try to introduce stage 4 and go back to stage 3 because it’s not quite tolerated) Well, after less than a week on intro the GERD is back? With a vengeance!! It’s awful! I struggle to believe it’s die-off, (the arthritis and cold symptoms yes, but this? I don’t know…)
    I am uncomfortable from my first Cup of broth in the the morning (post-puke acidic feeling in my throat) and by bedtime I am miserable and have woken up from a dead sleep several times hoping I would puke because it was so strong at least maybe it would end, or actually having acid spill out my nose.
    Eating my last meal earlier in the evening has not helped and I am now sleeping upright until about 6 hours after my last meal to at least prevent the acid out the nose. I wake up feeling GREAT but dread eating at all. I tried the betaine hcl, but it didn’t seem to help. I am getting about 2 Tbsp Sauerkraut (or juice from it) each meal and it doesn’t help either. Anyone have any ideas or suggestions for help?

    • Dear JP,

      What you’re experiencing sounds truly awful indeed! You are right to look for help.

      Yes, for some people GERD does increase with Intro. It may or may not be a result of die-off, as we can never know what is and is not. It doesn’t matter; the important thing is to find relief!

      My first question is this: Do you start every morning with broth? If so, rotate that out (stop taking broth) and see if your body is happy with the rest of the Stage 3 foods.

      Otherwise, in GAPS Guide 2nd Edition I offer a few tips in addition to those presented in this blog post, but let’s start here:

      1. Before starting, did you read through all of GAPS Guide 2nd Edition and start with the section Preparing for GAPS/Intro? This methodical transition to the program can make all the difference in preventing and/or minimizing various problems. (This said, some people may experience an exacerbation of GERD regardless of how carefully they lead up to Intro, but other problems are prevented.)

      2. Assuming you did the methodical Preparation stage presented in my book, have you tried each of the tips offered on this page, such as viewing the link to Dr Natasha’s FAQ page and her tips (baking soda drink, etc)?

      3. If you have tried each of these, have you linked from here to Mark Sisson’s page for additional ideas and worked through all of those?

      4. Another option which may provide fast and permanent relief (depending on when you hit upon the right one for your body) is physical manipulation. For some people, chiropractors and other alternative healthcare professionals have relieved GERD in a single appointment. You could call around your local alternative healthcare community for a referral to someone who has successfully treated this in one appointment.

      5. Have you posted to one of the support lists to ask what has resolved this in others? (It certainly has been an issue for some people.)

      JP, I’d like to see this resolved ASAP so that you are comfortable again. I don’t want to overwhelm you with tips -unfortunately, different things have worked for different people and I simply can’t know what will be the right one for you. Worst case scenario, I would recommend temporarily returning to whatever food plan has worked best for you in your life so far -for example, simply removing grains but not otherwise restricting your diet- then easing backward into Intro (i.e., following the Preparing for GAPS/Intro steps) to see what the trigger is.

      Hopefully others will see this post and chime in. If not, be sure to access the very busy support lists referred to here: http://www.badenlashkov.com/about/support/

      JP, if and when this is successfully resolved for you, I would love if you would post back so that the next person suffering can gain from your experience!

      All my best,

      • I just found you, so no on the gaps guide questions. Yes, every morning starts with broth, so I will try going without it today.
        I finally made it through the faq document so I can try some of those things. Last night I added acv and lemon to my water after dinner and until bedtime. It seemed to take the edge off and I slept well without any issues. I will check back as I figure it out.
        Oh, and the impression HAS crossed my mind that a trip to the Chiropractor will help, so I will move that up on my list of things to do. Thank you for your suggestions! I will have to look into your book. =)

      • Well, it was an interesting day. No heartburn or acid feeling in my throat except for about 2 hours immediately following about 1/4 c broth that I used to heat up some veggies and chicken [from] yesterday. I don’t get it, but I am glad to know what is the trigger. (glad it’s not everything!) What do I do with my chest freezer full of broth? Not to mention I am under the impression that broth is a very important part of the healing process. Strange, very strange…

        • Wonderful, JP!!!! I am so very happy that you had a much better day, and that you may have found the trigger! I hope a peaceful, comfortable sleep on your horizontal bed followed :)

          Hang on to that broth for now. Here’s the plan: Continue your Intro without the broth for now. Yes, broth is strongly recommended for those in whom it is tolerated -it is indeed tolerated by most people, but definitely not all. There is not a single food on Intro that has not caused problems for at least a few people; in terms of reacting to broth, you’re not alone. Excellent healing will occur even without the broth.

          As you proceed, and after you have been comfortable for at least four days, you can introduce broth just as one teaspoon full, and work slowly up from there. Basically, if broth is a trigger for you, you are going to approach it as a “very powerful food”, so just as we all would coconut oil, or probiotics.

          JP, my great hope is that the GERD remains resolved, and that you can start moving forward on Intro!

          All my best,

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