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Paleo, Primal, SCD, GAPS: Which Diet Is Best for Autoimmune Illness?

Don't lie. When you first heard about the "predator diet", you were joking right? Or maybe you're teasing a bit. It must sound like another fad diet. I would personally name him the Encino Diet with Brendan Fraisier as the posterboy to make him more competitive with Atkins, but hey fight marketing is a bit primitive.

Fortunately for us, this does not appear to be a fraud. Many patients with autoimmune or autoimmune conditions seem to benefit by switching to diets based on evolutionary principles. No doubt you've heard of some of the most popular: Paleo, Primal, Specific Carbohydrate Diet (SCD), GAPS. There are a ton of sources beyond each diet, so I will focus on the main differences between these 4 most popular diets & investigate success metrics, where available, rather than the details of each diet.

Hey McFly I borrow DeLorean to take a closer look at this food explosion from the past:

1. Paleo Diet

So far the most popular, led by Loren Cordain & Robb Wolf. The focus is on animal fats and natural fats (ghee, avocado, etc.), and low carbohydrates (starchy root vegetables, white rice, and other starch without antinutrients). The basic principle is that we simply do not evolve to optimize the digestion and absorption of agricultural products.

Success: There are no controlled studies on this diet, but many> 90% success rates are reported by various doctors internationally. Dr. Jean Seignalet in France conducted an experiment on autoimmune patients, with success defined as a 50% reduction in symptoms, and here are the results:

Rheumatoid arthritis: 200 (sample size), 80% (success rate)

Expired: 13, 100%

Multiple Sclerosis: 33, 97%

Fibromyalgia: 41, 97%

IBS: 220, 98%

Crohns: 40, 100%

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome: 11, 85%

2. Primal Diet

Mark Sisson is a major supporter. It's basically the same as Paleo except it allows full fat dairy. According to Mark's picture, clothes should also be avoided. Don't mind having that body though!

Chris Kresser is a big supporter of Paleo that has incorporated dairy such as butter fed grass and kefir into its protocol with great success. He talked about not tolerating more than one teaspoon of kefir at first, but slowly building up to a pint a day. I have heard similar stories from ME / CFS patients who have benefited from dairy products. His theory is that taking probiotics through infidelity actually alters the microbiota or gut flora to allow your gut to tolerate dairy.

Success: I can't find any specific statistics for Primal Diet, but because of its similarity to Paleo I would suggest that you can tolerate dairy, statistics for Paleo may be a good reference.

3. Special Carbohydrate Diet (SCD)

It was developed by Sydney Valentine Haas, MD. At first glance it sounds like a low carb diet, but the basic principle is that carbohydrates feed too much yeast & bacteria in the gut, so limit the amount & type of carbohydrates to be absorbed properly. The main difference from Paleo: nuts are provided as well as allowed nuts, and like Primal, dairy is allowed.


A study by the Autism Research Institute found that with 71% of parents recording an increase in their children from SCD.

"Supporters of the diet claim that there is an 80% cure rate for Crohn's disease and a 95% cure rate for diverticulitis." -

And, most surprisingly, the results of a pilot study of Irritable Bowel Syndrome:

"In particular, 9 out of 11 patients can be managed without anti-TNF therapy, and 100% of patients experience their symptoms." -

4. Gut Diet And Psychology (GAPS)

Based on the SCD diet, and developed by Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride. The main difference from other diets is concentration healing intestines, as opposed to eating only the most digestible & absorbable foods. The main differences from SCD: emphasis on bone broth and processed foods, less peanuts, the implementation of casein milk gradually to tolerance starting with Ghee (which is almost lactose free).

Success: Because this diet is the latest list, statistics are not so. In my personal opinion, based on what we know about the bowel leak though, the use of bone broth to provide digestible nutrition and seal intestines on the way to building endurance products made this diet particularly attractive to the LGS.

Final Thoughts: There are more similarities in this diet than different ones. GAPS is mostly developed as an upgrade to SCD, and Primal is mostly developed as an upgrade to Paleo. Finally, many practitioners agree that end up with a dieting diet where you lose 30 days of food and then add one thing at a time (and monitor how you feel) is a way of knowing what foods and how much food you eat in response to your body.


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