I can’t recommend this book enough! Giulia Enders is the kind of teacher we all wish we had in high school. I opted out of the sciences as soon as they weren’t compulsory anymore, because to me, science was just gobbledy-gook. Unfortunately, the gobbledy-gook effect extended to all of the sciences: chemistry, physics, and biology. Well, now I’m an adult and a mum, and I want to understand better how my gut health is affecting the rest of my body and mind. Why is it that fermented foods are so fashionable at the moment? Why are food allergies and skin problems becoming something of an epidemic? Was my own experience of depression gut-related? Enders has a way of explaining the incredibly complex inner-workings of our bodies that is completely accessible to an un-scientist like me. Her chatty, enthusiastic writing style is beautifully complemented by the illustrations of her sister, Jill; together they made a 288 page science lesson fun and interesting. I enjoyed every single page of it and learned something new on practically every page right up till the last one.
One of the things I really appreciated about “Gut” was that it was incredibly balanced. Enders writes from both experience and study (both of which she has acquired enough of in this area of knowledge by the young age of 25 – enough for me to be sufficiently impressed, anyway!). Her observations and ideas are un-sensationalist, un-biased, perfectly reasonable, and so common-sense that I wondered why they haven’t been common knowledge for a long time. She doesn’t try to sell any miracle cures or quick-fixes with price tags, which I must say is very refreshing! It connected lots of dots in my thinking about health, sustainability, medicine, diet, and lifestyle.
Here are a couple of excerpts that I bookmarked along the way…
Being half-Japanese and half-Dutch I found this part incredibly interesting! The last sentence in particular.
“Bacteria do not always manufacture the tools they need; sometimes they also borrow them. In Japan, the (gut) population has entered into a trade relationship with marine bacteria. They borrowed a gene from their sea-living colleagues that helps break down the kind of seaweed used in Japanese cuisine to make sushi, for example. … Anyone of European heritage who has experienced constipation after a blow-out session at the all-you-can-eat sushi bar will appreciate the advantage of inheriting Japanese seaweed-processing bacteria from someone in the family. However, it is not so easy to infuse yourself or your kids with a few sushi-digesting assistants. Bacteria have to like living in the place where they work.” (pp.151-152)
Her analogies are superb, and she uses various ones throughout the book to explain complex ideas simply.
“Cleanliness in our gut is something akin to cleanliness in a forest. Even the most conscientious of cleaners would not dream of taking a mop to the forest floor. A wood is ‘clean’ if the beneficial plants it contains are in healthy equilibrium. We can help the forest along – by sowing seeds and hoping new plants will take root. We can identify favourite or useful plants in the forest, and nurture them to help them grow and multiply. Sometimes, there are nasty pests. Then, careful consideration is in order. If the situation is desperate, chemicals might be the answer. As their name implies, pesticides are great at killing pests, but it is not a great idea to spray them round like air freshener.” (p.209)
Ever wondered about the difference between probiotics and prebiotics? She explains that too, and why we really should take more of an interest in prebiotics for good health. Other topics covered, include: coeliac disease and gluten sensitivity, lactose intolerance, reflux, constipation, irritated bowels, depression, cholesterol, obesity, and antibiotics. Indeed, she doesn’t go into incredible depth on each subject (I don’t have time to read that much anyway!) but she is able to give us a broad overview of how these increasingly common health disorders are related to gut function and health.
If you buy this and read it, or if you have already read it, and you have thoughts you want to share with other Mrs Goodness readers, please feel free to add a review and a rating!