Reviewed by Poppy Johnson
If you are interested in learning more about your gut, this book was written with you in mind. According to Dr. Mayer, the gut communicates with the brain, and when there is a miscommunication, it can lead to psychiatric issues, chronic diseases, and other physical problems–all of which can be prevented.
Today, there is a never ending supply of books telling us how to change what we eat, lose weight, balance our bodies, and so on and so on. I found The Mind-Gut Connection to be different. It focuses specifically on the gut in its role on a variety of things that happen in our bodies. Dr. Mayer does try to explain everything carefully, and I mean in precise detail. This is a book that is best read with a notebook on hand because you will want to take copious notes if you want to understand and remember the topics covered. And you will want to know what’s being said since scientific studies show that your gut and your brain are pretty much running the show in your body and control its various bodily functions each and every day.
The book is set up in three parts. The first part talks about our bodies as intelligent supercomputers; the second part reviews our gut feelings, as well as the gut and the microbe connection; the third part discusses how to benefit from a healthy brain-gut relationship. Each section includes information on our gut, pullouts for additional discussions, scientific studies, and a copious number of references. Readers who want to explore the topic further are definitely given plenty of opportunities to do so.
Dr. Mayer stresses the point that gut microbes are beneficial to our overall health and well-being. Gut microbes have a symbiotic relationship with our GI tract, nervous system and our brain. Here is the issue: if we keep too much fat around our middle, we coat our gut and organs with this fat, and it actually blocks information from flowing freely from the gut microbes to the brain, resulting in gut-based diseases. The worst part about this is that it’s preventable.
Of course, stress will also alter the gut microbes in a detrimental way, negatively changing the living conditions in the gut to make that area less hospitable to beneficial microbes. Stressful events experienced early in life can also imprint a person’s gut, and can lead to depression and anxiety. Who knew that stress can turn a normal gut into a hypersensitive or hyper responsive gut? Studies indicate that stressed out mothers may give birth to babies who become stressed out children, and their guts will carry the stress throughout their lives and work against them as they age.
But that’s not all. The book not only highlights how our emotions affect our lives and our gut, but also how the brain and neuro-biological processes affect what happens after we eat a great meal, for example. In general, our feelings, including our gut feelings, are really sensory signals that come from the gut and brain communication. Apparently, our guts and brains are always chatting, and unbeknownst to us, they’re working a lot of things out. We can either make these “chats” easy or hard and unfortunately, most of us make it difficult for the gut to function properly.
I would say that the writing in The Mind-Gut Connection is highly technical but easy to digest–pun intended. I think most of us would benefit from reading this book–if nothing else, it will be a good supplement to other books you may already have on weight loss, better living, better eating, etc. I would also suggest starting the book when you have the time to take notes and truly digest the information offered. After reading it, I am much more conscious and aware of what I eat, why I am eating it, and understand its benefit for my body.
After a decade of working in several NYC law departments and teaching, Poppy decided she enjoyed writing full-time. She currently works as a freelance writing consultant, and lives with her husband and sons on the East Coast.
Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Harper Wave. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.