We GAPS™ people are often more toxic than we realize. In a GAPS gut our digestive system has been a source of toxicity for us, as the harmful microbes that are overgrowing in our intestines add their metabolic waste products to our system. And we, like everyone, absorb toxicity from the outside too – from things we breathe, put on our skin, and ingest.
The GAPS Diet aims to restore our natural detoxification system and allows us to release all of these stored toxins over time. GAPS food, baths, juicing, and ferments all play a role in enhancing your natural detoxification system.
A detox reaction happens when any toxin in your body gets dislodged and overwhelms your body’s capability to release it quickly. You might experience temporary unpleasant symptoms from this release.
In many GAPS people, the ‘detox pathways’ of our liver, kidneys, skin, and lungs become congested and backed up. If they’re not working efficiently and you start dislodging aluminum from your brain, for example, it can’t be neutralized and excreted easily by these organs, so it may recirculate and cause symptoms, and then resettle in another part of your body.
A detox reaction can manifest as an increase in a symptom that you experienced prior to GAPS, like skin issues or joint pain, or it may be a new occurrence like headache, brain fog, other mental symptoms, itching, overwhelming fatigue, or in children, an increase in bedwetting or tantrums, or a regression in speech or learning.
My skin was my ‘issue,’ so every time I had a reaction I would break out with acne.
Some detox reactions are caused by the things that you’re doing to aid in detoxification, like juicing, and other times your detox symptoms will begin when your body gains enough healing energy to start dealing with your backlog of pesticides, old medications, and food additives.
Constipation exacerbates detox reactions on GAPS because our number one way to release waste is through our stool. It’s not uncommon for children and adults to get very agitated, emotional, have nightmares, or even experience hallucinations, or the feeling of a crawling sensation under the skin. These are all signs that toxicity has built, and you’ll notice that they’ll subside after a bowel movement.
While it’s normal to have a detox reaction on the GAPS Diet, you don’t want to feel them strongly all the time. A strong reaction tells you you’re overdriving your detox pathways. When you have a big reaction it’s a sign that you need to scale back on what you’re doing and work back up slowly.
It can take a little bit of experimentation to find a manageable pace of detox for you, and you’ll adjust your juicing and bath additives accordingly. Natural detoxification can take several years. It’s an ongoing process, because even if you do a significant amount of detox and you remove as many toxic products from your life as possible, you’ll always be exposed to pollution in the air you breathe, man-made materials you touch, and the building materials you come into contact with every day.
Detoxification can’t be rushed through. It needs to be supported with a steady supply of nutrients that help our organs to do their best work. If you feel that your detox pathways are congested and you feel terrible, I recommend learning more about infrared sauna to increase sweating or coffee enema to manually flush the toxins from your liver and out with your stool.
Detoxification is something that happens all the time and you can expect that a detox reaction isn’t just a one-time event. It may occur early in GAPS, weeks or months in to the program, and they may come in waves. Riding theses waves through the GAPS Diet is where I see great gains in health over time. Getting “clean” on the inside allows your body to function optimally all the time.