Sunday, August 13, 2017

Thoughts on the Sonnenburgs' Good Gut - Great combo of hardcore microbiome science & practical tips for your diet

I read with great enjoyment Justin and Erica Sonnenburg’s book, The Good Gut. This is a rare work that combines solid science with practical help on dieting and wellness. On the scientific front, the book provides information about the bacteria that live in our gut (the microbiome), how they were first discovered, and how various properties were ascribed to them. It talks about the process of digestion and how the bacteria in the gut feed on molecules that are indigestible in the framework of human metabolism, in particular long-chain oligosaccharides, and how they produce short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs), which we can combine with oxygen to get small amounts of energy from. Furthermore, the bacteria in the gut are very important for tuning our immune system; they are also connected, in a sense, to our nervous system and to making us feel good. The book gives practical strategies of how we can help these bacteria do their job better. In particular, it talks about the distinction between probiotics, prebiotics, and symbiotics, with the former consisting of bacteria (eg in yogurt), the second, the food to feed these bacteria (eg leafy vegetables), and the later being great combinations of these two – eg yogurt with an inulin-containing banana. Finally, it discusses how we can intelligently expose our children to microbes, for instance, by letting them play in the dirt (but still washing their hands after touching door knobs and handles that are exposed to urban germs). Altogether, I found this a great read that talks about hardcore science in a practical context.

The Good Gut: Taking Control of Your Weight, Your Mood, and Your Long-term Health
by Justin Sonnenburg (Author), Erica Sonnenburg (Author)