'The Clever Gut Diet' by Dr. Michael Mosley (Atria Books)

Written by Nancy Sayles Kaneshiro

Oh good, I thought, when my OnTrack Diabetes editors asked me to review a book entitled The Clever Gut Diet (Atria Books, $25 Hardcover).  Just what I always wanted, a book about guts.  But then, when I saw that the author was Dr. Michael Mosley, author of The 8-Week Blood Sugar Diet, I remembered thinking that his theory was like chicken soup – it might not help, but it couldn’t hurt.  Turned out that there was a lot of new and different information–and plenty of recipes–in that book. So I approached this new book with a slightly different attitude, sort of a gut reaction, as it were.

It took me all of about two minutes to see that this book also has a gut-load of interesting information that is worth considering, specifically the notion that the gut actually has a brain! (I bet the Scarecrow in the Wizard of Oz wishes he knew that…maybe his song would have been “If I Only Had a Gut!”)  Anyway, as Dr. Mosley explained, buried deep inside our intestines is a very thin layer of “brain” called the enteric system, made up of neurons, the same cells which are found in the brain! Rather than sitting in a big lump on top of your shoulders, however, the neurons in your gut are spread out in a thin mesh that extends all the way from your throat down to your–well, all the way down. (Aren’t you glad you asked?)

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Now that you’re thoroughly engrossed, or maybe just grossed out, you can proceed to the encyclopedic plethora of information that will leave you never thinking the same about your insides. We get an easy-to-understand rundown of all the maladies that can afflict the gut—from celiac disease to lactose intolerance to irritable bowel syndrome—and more. We learn about the complicated ecosystem called the microbiome that regulates body weight, protects the guts from invaders and regulates the immune system. We come to understand why different people react differently to the same foods. And we find out what we need to eat for a healthy gut, and why.  Just as importantly, we learn what to avoid…and why. (As you can tell, I really like the “why” rather than instructions to “just do it!”)

After reading this book, I’m not sure I’d like to have dinner with Dr. Mosley, but  I am impressed by the sheer number of what appear to be delicious recipes that affect your gut and, specifically, your blood sugar levels (are you listening, fellow diabetics?). Menus, checklists, and tips abound so that the reader can zero in on the best combination of foods for individual situations.

Dr. Mosley promises that we are on the cusp of a whole new way of understanding nutrition and how what we eat can affect a wide range of diseases. Tread lightly, he advises. Eat unprocessed “real” foods. Explore fermented foods. (The recipes in the book help to make that notion interesting and palatable.) He assures us we’ll be hearing more from him in the future.
One suggestion, however…don't read this gut book while you’re having lunch.  Just sayin’…

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