The Good Gut by Justin Sonnenburg and Erica Sonnenburg

The Good Gut is a book I’ve been looking for quite awhile – a knowledgeable, friendly, and non-biased discussion of everything we know about how the gut works. The authors take pains to give differing sides of issues – contradictory studies and test results, differing opinions in the scientific community, and advice to not rush out and react spontaneously to the latest findings. There’s a lot of useful information in here.

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The first part of the book describes how the gut works and all the cultures to be found in there.  The middle section is the latest on what we know about the gut and how we are learning that so much of our health is tied to what’s in there – the bacteria colonies (or lack thereof) and their diversity/health. While links to everything from obesity and diabetes to cancer can’t be directly tied to gut health, startling evidence is suggesting that the health of the gut is the key to so much of the body’s health in so many ways.  The last part of the book is advice based upon what we know for sure these days.

The tone of the book is friendly and the science is palatable and easy to understand. It is heavy on the science, which is nice, since the authors respect readers’ intelligence and don’t try to dumb it down too much.  At the same time, you don’t get a lot of scientific babble, either.

For me, I really liked that the authors discuss the latest findings but don’t make blind assumptions from them – they caution each time how preliminary the research is and how much more is needed to make conclusive findings. A great example is all the research that if you take ‘skinny’ gut bacteria from a thin person and put it into an obese person, they begin to lose weight. But the caveat is that the research is finding it to be a temporary measure and the ‘skinny’ bacteria soon disappears from an obese stomach.  Also interesting is ‘fecal transplanting’ to put healthy bacteria from one person to a next – but again finding that the bacteria stays for a bit but then disappears.

Even with the lack of knowledge about what bacteria does for us in our gut, the tips and suggestions were useful, though obvious. E.g., drinking more fermented products such as kefir or yogurt. The authors also break down the different type of commercial bacteria, such as in Yoplait, and the good and bad of the different types of yogurts. They give honest opinions and lay it all down for the reader to make good choices with their own health.  In all, highly recommended.  Reviewed from an advance reader copy provided by the publisher.

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