I read The Good Gut with keen interest. The gut microbiome is only beginning to be studied and understood in the context of human health. Anyone who has multiple, seemingly unrelated health issues would do well to read up in this area. This book would be a good start. Justin and Erica Sonnenburg are married PhDs who are raising two kids based on their gut research, and the tone is relatable and relaxed. Let your kids play in the dirt, let the dog lick their face, quit using antibacterial soap, and eat some vegetables. The advice is simple and straightforward, and the book has a selection of recipes at the back.
"What is the Microbiota and Why Should I Care?" That's the name of the first chapter, and it's a good place to start. The Good Gut is focused on the basic science of gut flora. By the time we get to the personal dietary recommendations, a solid foundation has been laid. It makes sense when connections are made between gut health and antibiotic use, asthma, eczema, obesity, serotonin levels, autoimmune diseases, and possibly even autism. The connection with inflammatory bowel disease is more obvious. A skeptical attitude toward commercial probiotic products prevails, and I agree. Why not just eat vegetables like our ancestors did?
Gut problems are the secret that can't be named. People are understandably mortified to talk about these issues, even with a doctor. It surprises me, though, how incredibly common they are. The reason it surprises me is that it's not a problem in my world. I'm 41 and I've never had food poisoning. I accidentally drank a glass of tap water in Cancun, and all that happened was that I felt nervous all evening. When I pick up something, such as a norovirus that went around my office for a week or so, I lose my appetite and sleep more, but that's it. The difference between me and most people is that I eat a high-fiber diet and I haven't eaten meat since 1993. I've been vegan since 1997. (I was also delivered naturally and breastfed, two factors that, according to the book, are relevant to gut health). When The Good Gut mentioned the American Gut Project, I decided to participate later this year. The question of gut flora is testable. We can obtain objective, measurable data and compare them to other samples. I am very curious to know more, just as I'd like to know more about my DNA.
My one issue with The Good Gut is that almost all the recipes rely on dairy products. It's been my observation that my acquaintances with the most digestive issues tend to be heavy dairy consumers, and this seems to be supported by research indicating that not everyone has the genetic ability to digest milk into adulthood. What a weird idea anyway; no other animals besides humans eat the milk of another animal, or consume it past infancy. Anyway, the book's recommendations to eat a high-fiber diet are clear and frequent.
I've been working with chronic disorganization, squalor, and hoarding for over 20 years. I'm also a marathon runner who was diagnosed with fibromyalgia and thyroid disease 17 years ago.
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