Author: Giulia Enders
Publication Date: 1st June 2015
Pages: 244 (262 including references)
Rating: 4/5 stars
The key to living a happier, healthier life is inside us.
Our gut is almost as important to us as our brain or our heart, yet we know very little about how it works. In Gut, Giulia Enders shows that rather than the utilitarian and – let’s be honest – somewhat embarrassing body part we imagine it to be, it is one of the most complex, important, and even miraculous parts of our anatomy. And scientists are only just discovering quite how much it has to offer; new research shows that gut bacteria can play a role in everything from obesity and allergies to Alzheimer’s.
Beginning with the personal experience of illness that inspired her research, and going on to explain everything from the basics of nutrient absorption to the latest science linking bowel bacteria with depression, Enders has written an entertaining, informative health handbook. Gut definitely shows that we can all benefit from getting to know the wondrous world of our inner workings.
Informative and incredibly funny, this is a brilliant book to introduce us to an underrated and often reviled organ – the gut. As The Times described it this is a book which ‘sets out to free toilet talk from its taboo’.
My absolute favourite moment in the book falls on page 15:
Japanese researchers fed volunteers luminescent substances and X-rayed them while doing their business in various positions. They found out two interesting things. First, squatting does indeed lead to a nice, straight intestinal tract, allowing for a direct, easy exit. Second, some people are nice enough to let researchers feed them luminescent substances and X-ray them while they poo, all in the name of science. Both findings are pretty impressive, I think.
This sets the tone for the whole book. Enders effectively informs us about the intricacies of the gut and keeps us highly entertained with her unique form of humour. There are occasional problems with translation – the book was originally published in German with the much better title of Darm mit Charme (Gut with Charm – doesn’t have the same ring to it in English….) but for the most part it is absolutely excellent.
I learnt a lot about my inner workings and will be looking to take better care of myself. Although it is not a topic most people enjoy discussing, Enders truly is making an effort to bring it to the public’s notice. In a world with rising mental and physical health problems, the gut and its care appears to play a major role. Looking after the gut properly could be the best defence for our future health.
Everyone with a gut will benefit from a read of this book. Enders is not only a marvellous scientist but a fantastic communicator – I can’t wait to see what she does next!