The World Health Organization estimates that, by 2020, depression will be the 2nd largest cause of health trouble in the world. I myself have experienced the crippling illness of clinical depression. I’ve spent thousands of dollars over 2 decades on a hospitalization, therapy, and medications. I’ve experienced terrible side effects from many of those medications. Depression has been a struggle since my youth. Who knew that my depression could change from darkest night into brightest day with some major dietary changes.

So, why do I feel happier on GAPS?

1. I eat fat. Lots of it. The good stuff.

Cholesterol has been implicated with illness for decades; but the truth is coming out! Cholesterol can really be a good thing! Healthy fats, such as pasture-raised animal fat, coconut oil, and cold-pressed olive oil, nourish the body and the brain, rebuilding important tissue. And, they keep us in a good mood! With GAPS, I’m nourished with fat at every meal. I’m also taking the GAPS recommended supplement of daily Cod Liver Oil, which supplies DHA and EFA, as well as Vitamin D, well known for its vital role in mental health.

2. I don’t eat gluten. None. Or even any grains whatsoever.

Studies have shown that ½ of gluten sensitive people are depressed. If you are suffering from depression, it only goes to reason that you may be sensitive to grain. When your gut is injured from a food allergy, it can’t absorb the nutrients it needs. Most modern depression medications work to keep serotonin (a “happy” hormone) in the brain, but recent studies are showing that only 10–20% of serotonin is produced in the brain. The other 80–90% is produced by the gut. And if your gut is hurting (whether you feel it or not!), you can bet your mood will be, too!

3. My diet is low in toxins. And sugar.

Soy, GMOs, and pesticides are all implicated in hormone distruption. And the more toxins one consumes, the harder the liver has to work. Sugar makes the pancreas and insulin cycles work harder than they should, which in turn taxes other parts of the body. While a piece of natural fruit here and there is acceptible on GAPS, in general, sugar feeds bad bacteria. If you starve the bad bacteria of their food source, they die!

4. I eat fermented foods. And take probiotics like I used to eat candy.

Home-fermented foods are naturally rich in probiotics. Research is showing just how important and powerful these little bugs can be! Part of the role of good gut bacteria is to nourish our bodies with their waste. Yes, you read that correctly! The by-products of many probiotics include material our bodies need, including B vitamins and K2. And these vitamins are readily bioavailable to the body, much more easily absorbed than when we take a supplement or vitamin tablet that needs to be digested to be absorbed.

5. My diet is low in inflammatory foods.

To some extent, every person has different triggers for foods causing bodily inflammation, including individual food intolerances (which can run rampant in the case of “leaky gut”. But today’s Standard American Diet, high in trans fats and GMOs, affects everyone’s health. When the body experiences stress due to inflammation, it can manifest itself in several ways. For me, two prominent ways were through spiking cortisol levels which caused me to lose my temper easily, and through depression and dark sadness which I couldn’t just “snap out of”. The GAPS diet has removed most inflammatory foods from my diet and allowed my body to be nourished through the food I eat, so my cortisol levels and depression can be kept in check.

Find this hard to believe? Our culture has told us that depression can only be managed, but not cured. However, many practictioners have documented patients reversing previously uncurable illnesses, including anorexia, schizophrenia, and bi-polar disorder, with the proper nutritional protocol (generally a high-fat, low-carb diet). You can read some of these stories in Grain Brain and Brain Maker. Isn’t it worth giving food a chance?

I will probably continue to struggle with bouts of depression to some extent throughout life. Many habits of thought are still ingrained in me that I will continue to struggle with. However, the past year since starting GAPS has been not only my best year regarding depression, but 10 times better than any other year I’ve experienced since my childhood! I know that in my case, food has made a huge difference! Praise God for this gift!


Mrs. Marie K. MacPherson, vice president of Into Your Hands LLC, lives in Casper, Wyoming, with her husband Ryan and their children, whom she homeschools. She is a certified Classical Lutheran Educator (Consortium for Classical Lutheran Educators), author of Meditations on the Vocation of Motherhood (Old Testament vol., 2018; New Testament vol., 2023), and editor of Mothering Many: Sanity-Saving Strategies from Moms of Four or More (2016).

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