Part of my business is holistic health coaching, so Giulia Enders’ Gut is my kind of book. The full title is actually Gut: The Inside Story of Our Body’s Most Underrated Organ. I think that when it was written in 2014, there were many fewer public conversations about the gut than exist today. Our eyes have been opened, in part due to books like this.
Gut is written with the layperson in mind. You don’t need to be a scientist. In fact, Enders is quite funny and even charming as she describes all things gut. The beginning covers the anatomical structures of our entire digestive system, starting with the mouth. Did you know that saliva produces a painkiller called opiorphin—stronger than morphine and only discovered in 2006? Along with the anatomy, Enders explains the physiology, which is how the various organs work and work together.
I listened to the audio book, narrated by Katy Sobey, who manages the medical terminology with aplomb and a lovely British accent. Apparently though, the print editions have simple drawings created by the author’s sister. It might help to see them if you are new to this information. For my part, I can picture this stuff quite well in my head. Which might or might not be an advantage, right?
Gut goes on to discuss bacteria (and, ahem, worms), vomiting, constipation, and more. Again, Enders finds a good balance between scientific and everyday language. She make things we might normally be squeamish into some in’s pretty interesting.
Next Enders puts the gut into context. She connects it to the other illnesses it can influence like acid reflux, Crohn’s disease, and even stomach cancer. The gut is considered our second brain, due to numerous facts. Enders explains these facts and how the gut and brain interact, including its effect on our emotional and mental health.
I found it interesting to note the differences between U.S. and European approaches to gut health. Since Enders is German, her perspective is generally that of a European. In fact the book was first published in German. Enders mentions the Standard American Diet (SAD) more than once as a contributing factor to gut problems. No surprise there!
Enders herself is a little bit fascinating. She wrote this book while she was a medical student at the Institute for Microbiology in Frankfurt, Germany. It’s clear that her microbiology background informs the content of this book. Her bio in Goodreads says that, “In 2012 she won the first prize at the Science Slam in Freiburg, Berlin and Karlsruhe with her talk Darm mit Charme (Charming Bowels). This talk was also published on YouTube.” I also found that she’s given a TEDx talk.
For me, Gut was an easy listen. As I mentioned, parts of it may make you a little squeamish. But ultimately, Giulia Enders has an engaging writing style that will hopefully win you over. Your gut and digestive system will thank you for persisting and using the information to live a healthier life.