The Good Gut: Taking Control of Your Weight, Your Mood, and Your Long-term Health – Justin Sonnenburg, Erica Sonnenburg
The Good Gut: Taking Control of Your Weight, Your Mood, and Your Long-term Health – A groundbreaking guide to the surprising source of good health
Genetics and lifestyle are thought to be the two most important determinants of good health. But that is not the whole story. We have a second genome, our gut bacteria, that sets the dial on our bodies. Unlike our DNA, we can influence the gut bacteria, or microbiota, to optimize all aspects of our health.
In The Good Gut, noted Stanford researchers Justin and Erica Sonnenburg, who are doing cutting-edge research on the microbiota, investigate how the trillions of microbes that reside in our gastrointestinal tract help define us, affecting everything from our immune response to our weight, allergic reactions, aging and emotions; how they are under threat from the Western diet, our antibiotics, and our sterilized environment; and how we can nurture our individual microbiota.
This is urgent news. The recent change in our gut microbiota is linked to the alarming increase in obesity and autoimmune diseases. Our intestinal microbiota play an important role in the prevalence of predominantly Western afflictions, such as cancer, diabetes, allergies, asthma, autism, and inflammatory bowel diseases. These gut bacteria are facing a mass extinction, and the health consequences are dire.
How can we keep our microbiota off the endangered species list? How can we strengthen the community that inhabits our gut and thereby improve our own health?
Your prescription for gut health is unique to you, and it changes as you age. The Good Gut offers a new plan for health that focuses on how to nourish your microbiota, including recipes and a menu plan. Drs. Sonnenburg look at safe alternatives to antibiotics; dietary and lifestyle choices to encourage microbial health; the management of the aging microbiota; and the nourishment of your own individual microbiome.
By AnAmazonCustomer VINE VOICE on March 13, 2015
As middle aged, active adults, we try to exercise, eat right and take good care of our health but unfortunately, we both have long-term chronic conditions from childhood – one that landed the spouse in the hospital with a very serious illness including pneumonia. After being put on 7 (yes seven!) IV antibiotics going 24/7 via a drip, the doctors said to expect some serious gasto symptoms. As soon as he was able to eat/drink, we also started him on probiotics 3x per day and continued for 6 months after. He never once got the dreaded gastro symptoms but we were under no illusion that he was back to his pre-illness level.
In order to reduce the risk of long term damage – we set out on a very deliberate routine to rebuild gut health. I researched everything I could get my hands on and we upped the amount of home fermentation products we consume – we’ve switched to several store bought varieties years ago but also made our own bread, wine and other items from time to time. We added even more products both in variety and type – including store bought and homemade. Kimchi, krout, pickles, wine, bread, kumbuchi tea and even fermented black beans, olives and other harder to find items became standard in our diet. We also eliminated most non-natural sugar (raw honey and maple syrup being the exception) and eat fresh fruits, veggies and roots regularly. Additionally we added good gut growth items like sunchokes simply for their ability to help rebuild flora.
Why do I mention all this? Because I literally spent days – maybe weeks – trying to locate all the information needed to make those changes. Trying to find out the true impact of antibiotics on gut flora, what repeated doses meant for long term health, what items helped the most, which things actually hurt or hindered? What foods promote and which foods kill off? These and many many other questions took so much time and effort to locate – and they are all in this book (or nearly all…there were a few questions like the impact of oral antibiotics versus IV antibiotics that were not mentioned but since spouse also went home with oral antibiotics for several weeks after the initial 7 different IV antibiotics it was just a matter of “how bad”). So, first of all, I would consider this book time and money well spent for the simple fact that it puts everything into one place in an easy to understand manner. No hunting through academic journals, no trying to compare this study to that study…just plain information in an easy to read and engaging style.
Next, the addition of the resources and index were also a great touch – once again, something I really wish were available 18 months ago.
The readability is great – the author assumes the reader has minimal background and makes this entirely accessible to non-academic readers.
Limitations, Irritations & Other Problems with the Book
It’s entirely reader friendly but at times, perhaps overly so…there were a few areas which I personally would love to have seen more science and less description but that is personal preference. There was also one glaring deficiency that could give the wrong idea entirely – the author takes great pains to make sure readers consult with their physician…but from our experience, physicians know next to nothing about this and some are openly hostile to it. Another glaring problem was the emphasis on things like hand washing with chemicals but next to zero about the IMMENSE amount of antibiotics fed to livestock – considered by many to be one of the prime reasons and sources for antibiotic super bugs. Indeed, placing all the blame at the hands of average consumers without taking the diet and practices of agriculture into account does little to nothing to dispel one of the most common sources.
All in all, a well written book – interesting, informative and useful especially for those attempting to take control or regain control of their health
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