May Book Review. Gut: The Inside Story
Gut: The Inside Story of Our Body’s Most Underrated Organ by Giulia Enders
When Giulia Enders was seventeen years old, she started developing mysterious sores that spread on her legs, arms, back, and even her face. Without totally understanding the origin of these sores, her medical doctor addressed Enders’ physical enigma with default treatment: antibiotic creams.
Enders took matters into her own hands after observing little healing progress. She “stopped eating dairy products, cut out gluten almost entirely, swallowed various bacterial cultures, and generally improved [her] diet.” Eventually, she was able to get her condition under control. The results were not only encouraging, but also life changing as her newfound knowledge inspired her to study medicine.
That was back in 2007—a time when Western Medicine was just beginning to learn about the effect, the human digestive system has on our bodies. It is interesting to note that the gut is one of three vital systems needed for embryonic development. From it comes the lungs, liver, gall bladder, pancreas, mouth, esophagus, and then finally “the eponymous intestine or gut.”
So what is the relevance behind the writing of this book? Simple. Rising science star Enders succinctly states: “I want to make new knowledge available to a broad audience and communicate the information that scientists bury in their academic publications or discuss behind closed doors at scientific meetings, while many ordinary people out there are searching for answers.”
Enders’ personal experience combined with her amazing research proves that there is more to the body’s gut than one may think. Divided into three sections and punctuated with amusing personified illustrations from Enders’ talented sister Jill Enders, Ender’s purpose-driven narrative is brimming with all things medical. Although she saturates sections with medical terminology, Enders’ intention is directed first and foremost to common everyday citizens.
Her straightforward writing style covers everything one would desire to know about the gastrointestinal system and related issues. Enders consistently uses simple and often hilarious comparisons to explain medical terminology, such as how the human brain works compared to a sea squirt, for example. The process allows readers to digest easily—pun intended—the massive amount of presented material. Part one covers the story of the gut and its goings-on; part two—the nervous system and its connection with the transportation of food; and part three—the world of microbes in our gut.
Providing just a small glimpse of what part one has to offer, Enders incorporates significant yet little-known facts about the mouth, tonsils, and the structure and unique design of the stomach. She then zeroes in on the delicate and surprisingly beautiful aspects of the small intestine (the most important phase of our digestion). Eye-opening information on the large intestine follows as well as useful tidbits on the appendix and how suppositories are your liver’s best friend—bet you never saw that last part coming!
Using the example of eating a piece of cake, Enders painstakingly guides her “gentle readers”—as she calls them—on a food transportation tour beginning with the aural and olfactory senses that then lead to the mouth, pharynx, esophagus, stomach, small and large intestines, and finally evacuation. The process of eating may not seem like a big problem, but for those who have reflux, nausea, and constipation issues, mealtime might not be an enjoyable experience. Enders covers all these and other complications as she explains the close connection between the brain and the gut in part two.
You may wonder what microbes and the immune system have to do with the gut. The answer: everything. Of “all the microorganisms that teem on the inside and outside of our bodies—99 percent are found in the gut” and “each kind of bacteria has its own way of affecting the immune system.” But that’s just the beginning. Enders delves deep into the world of microbes. There is plenty of information to ruminate on, as she connects microorganisms to genetics and differentiates between bad and good bacteria.
There are still many unknowns about the gut realm, and Enders clearly states that research is ongoing. What is known Enders masterfully captures in Gut—a definite addition to those serious about health and physical well being.
~ Review Authored by Anita Lock