Book Review: “Gut: The Inside Story of Our Body’s Most Underrated Organ” by Giulia Enders

Giulia Enders, the author of this book Gut, really spilled out her gut about our gut, which by her words was the most underrated organ in human bodies. And if you read this book like I did, you’ll agree.

I learned many things about our gut or gastrointestinal systems. For examples,
– Pooing involves quite a few plumbing and process steps; the coordination between the inner sphincter and outer sphincter (the anus) is quite an amazing feat. The book also has a chapter on feces – shapes, types and colors. Everything you want to know about it.
– The two little bumps on the cheeks and two below your tongue secrete saliva to digest the food. The saliva contains pain killer that may explain why we get comforted or analgesic effect when we chew gum or anything at all.
– Bad breath is often caused by tonsil stone.
– The shape of the stomach is such that the food can go down smoothly without backing up when we laugh or talk and liquid food can get out to the small intestine on fast track. But as a result it traps gas that we need to burp out.
– The surface area, especially the small intestine, is roughly 100 times larger than our skin. This is so we can absorb every bit of the nutrients.
– Cooking breaks down or “unfold” the protein to save our stomach from doing the work.
– Our appendix provides immunity cells to fight bad bacteria and also store good bacteria.Of course, it often become a victim of infection that resulted in appendicitis.
– Medicine can take effect faster when absorbed through the last few inches of our large intestine (colon) through the use of the suppository because it won’t go through liver to get filtered out.
– Fat goes through the lymphatic vessels straight to the heart before gets pumped into the blood before getting to liver to be absorbed. This is why eating “good” fat like extra virgin olive oil helps to reduce blood vessel clotting.
– Don’t use olive oil on frying pan as the heat may alter its fine characteristics. Use butter or coconut oil instead because they are most stable under heat despite its saturated fat.
– Soy and quinoa are two plants that contain complete amino acid.
– There are two nervous systems: one controlled by our brain and the other of the gut that control the “smooth” muscle system without our knowing it. Reflux is a symptom of the two nervous systems stumbles upon each other.
– Vomiting is an act that takes coordination of all the organs within our gut in reverse order. Not many animals are capable of vomiting. It’s one of our survival advantage.
– Extra risk taking behavior could be attributed to a certain bacteria in our gut. This could be a frontier for the insurance industry and privacy issue.
– The gut receives a lot of sensor information and provides us the “big picture,” hence playing a huge role in how we perceive the world through insula- sometimes more so than our brain. Also, it plays a huge role in how we feel emotionally.
– Part III covers the microbes in our gut system. There is a lot of information. But it boils down to good and bad bacteria. Good bacteria help us digest the food and convert to vitamins and keep the bad bacteria at bay. The bad bacteria made us sick but it also train our body to come up with a defense mechanism – the immunity cells.
– The book was written in humorous ways especially the illustrations by her sister.

There are three parts to this book:
1) Gut Feeling, where she covers an overview of the gut system and quickly discussed how things go in, and come out and what happen in between.
2) The nervous system of the gut: the amazing orchestration between the gut, the brain and the rest of the human organs.
3) The world of the microbes: the microbes play huge roles in human’s absorption of nutrients and immunity system. Many of the causes and effects are still unknown and under research.

Though the author is German, the book is well written in English and with good humor and great illustration from her sister. I highly recommend this book.