Four Gut Healing Diets

GAPS, SCD, FODMAP, AIP – What Will You Choose?

With the copious amounts of different dietary theories and specialized diet protocols out there, even us health coaches are prone to getting confused. With so much noise on the internet, it’ our duty to stay up to date on the latest research to properly educate our clients.

When it comes to healing leaky gut, here are four diets in particular that have been shown to address gut dysbiosis, pathogenic overgrowths such as yeast and bacteria and intestinal permeability. Today this is so important for all health practitioners, nutritionists, and health coaches to learn since more and more research is pointing that most disease starts with poor gut health and leaky gut. GAPS, SCD, Low FODMAP, and AIP diets are promising tools to help address many gut and brain-related issues as well as subsequent illnesses.

All of the following diets emphasize incorporating nutrient-dense whole foods while eliminating processed foods, sugar, refined carbohydrates and other foods that promote inflammation and gut dysbiosis. We all know clients respond differently to different dietary approaches so having a few different protocols in your toolbox is necessary. Each diet protocol has a unique approach; we’ll compare them below.


Stands For: Gut and Psychology Syndrome
Created By: Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride, MD
Ideal For: Neurological and psychiatric conditions such as autism, ADHD/ADD, schizophrenia, depression, OCD, bipolar disorder and other neuro-psychological problems.

This progressive diet protocol establishes a connection between the functions of the digestive system and the brain. Focuses on removing foods that are difficult to digest and damaging to the microbiome, replacing them with nutrient-dense easy to digest foods giving the gut lining a chance to heal and seal. The meal plan includes six stages, stage one being the most strict. As the patient’s symptoms resolve they move to the next stage and more foods are added back into the diet.

What it recommends:

  • Eliminate all grains, starchy vegetables and refined carbohydrates
  • Replace with easily digestible nutrient-dense foods
  • Add foods back in as patient moves through the 6 phases

GAPS Stages*

Stage 1

  • Meat, chicken or fish stock
  • Well boiled broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, onions, leeks
  • Baked squash, winter, and summer
  • Boiled meats
  • Sea salt
  • 1-2 teaspoons a day of sauerkraut juice with food

Stage 2

  • In addition to the above, you may add:
  • Fermented vegetables, such as sauerkraut, kimchi, and pickles
  • Fermented fish
  • Egg yolk: be sure to separate completely from the white (preferably pastured)
  • Ghee
  • Stews and casseroles made with meat, vegetables, stock, and fresh herbs
  • Soft boiled eggs if no allergy to the white is suspected

Stage 3

  • In addition to the above, you may add:
  • Ripe avocado to be eaten with broth, starting with 1-3 teaspoons a day
  • Nutbutter pancakes mixed with squash and eggs and cooked in fat or ghee
  • Scrambled eggs

Stage 4

  • In addition to the above, you may add:
  • Freshly made vegetable juices: start with a few tablespoons of carrot juice
  • Bread made with nut flour, eggs, squash, fat, salt
  • Cold pressed olive oil

Stage 5

  • In addition to the above, you may add:
  • Raw legal vegetables, peeled and deseeded
  • Applesauce from cooked and pureed apples
  • Raw honey, up to a couple of tablespoons a day
  • Boiled, roasted, or grilled meat
  • Juiced apple, pineapple, and mango (avoid citrus)

Stage 6

  • In addition to the above, you may add:
  • Peeled, raw apple
  • Introduce other raw fruits slowly

** For a complete protocol and list of what’s included in each stage see

Potential Benefits:

  • Balance Blood Sugar
  • Seal Leaky Gut
  • Reduce Inflammation
  • Help Symptoms Associated with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and other Neurological Illnesses


Stands For: Specific Carbohydrate Diet
Created By: Dr. Sidney Haas, Pediatrician
Ideal For: Treatment for celiac disease

The SCD is a type of elimination diet that focuses on eliminating particular hard to digest carbohydrates that encourage the overgrowth of yeast and other pathogenic bacteria. The goal is to consume foods that require minimal digestion and to repopulate the microbiome with good bacteria.

What it Recommends:

  • Certain carbohydrates are allowed based on their molecular structure that is easier to digest and absorb
  • Soaked beans and legumes, in moderation
  • Fermented dairy is allowed
  • Reducing pathogenic bacteria in the gut
  • You will find a full list of what foods are legal and illegal here

Potential Benefits:

  • Help treat digestive disorders like Crohn’s, Ulcerative colitis, etc.
  • Eliminates gas and bloating
  • Improves nutrient absorption by repairing the intestinal lining
  • Lowers inflammation


Stands For: FODMAP stands for Fermentable Oligosaccharides, Disaccharides, Monosaccharides, and Polyols.
Created By: Monash University
Ideal For: Treatment of IBS and SIBO

FODMAPs are short-chain carbohydrates that can sometimes be hard to break down and be absorbed by the small intestine. This diet eliminates foods high in these compounds that have been known to contribute to the symptoms of IBS and SIBO by causing fermentation of these fibers in the gut.

What it Recommends Eliminating:

  • You will find a full list of low FODMAP and high FODMAP foods here

Potential Benefits:

  • Eliminate IBS symptoms (stomach cramps, diarrhea, constipation)
  • Eliminate extreme bloating
  • Eradicate SIBO (in combination with strict supplement regimen)


Stands For: Autoimmune Protocol Created By: Dr. Loren Cordain</br Ideal For: Reducing the symptoms associated with autoimmune diseases

The AIP diet is a different version of the paleo diet designed to heal holes in the gut, reduce inflammation in the body calm down the symptoms associated with autoimmune disease. AIP is similar to the paleo diet but has more restrictions including the elimination of nightshade vegetables, eggs, dairy, and all nuts and seeds.

Use AIP as an elimination diet. Clients are guided to eliminate inflammatory foods for 30 days to allow the inflammation to calm down. Once symptoms subside they are instructed to reintroduce the eliminated foods one at a time. The elimination diet is considered the gold standard for identifying underlying food sensitivities and intolerances that could be creating an inflammatory response.

What it Recommends Eliminating:

  • Eggs
  • Dairy
  • Nuts (including nut-based oils)
  • Seeds (including coffee and cocoa and seed-based oils)
  • Nightshades (both vegetables and spices)
  • Fresh Legumes (green beans and green peas)
  • Alcohol
  • Managing Stress
  • Spend time Outside
  • Getting Enough Sleep

Potential Benefits:

  • Resets the immune system
  • Prevents autoimmune response
  • Reduces the symptoms of autoimmune disease
  • Prevents the occurrence of secondary autoimmune diseases

Personalizing your diet

We all know that what works for one person doesn’t necessarily work for another. The AIP elimination and reintroduction is a self-experiment in healing to discover what foods your body needs and from what foods you should stay away. The Paleo idea, with or without animal products, can be a starting template, from there you’re encouraged to add back things that you miss (white rice, soaked legumes or grains) it is trial and error, and our goal is to get you eating the widest variety of foods possible!

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