Sift through the madness with our curated reading list of the best books on gut health, digestive health books, and books on microbiome wellbeing.
The human digestive tract has become hot currency in the publishing world, and it’s not surprising. According to research by the International Foundation for Gastrointestinal Disorders, 10-15% of people worldwide suffer from irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), a collection of digestive symptoms with no obvious cause.
6 Best Gut Health Books 2020
- Gut: The Inside Story of Our Body's Most Underrated Organ
- Follow Your Gut: The Enormous Impact of Tiny Microbes
- The Doctor’s Kitchen: Supercharge your health with 100 delicious everyday recipes
- Healthy Gut, Healthy You: Personalized plan to transform your health from the inside out
- The Diet Myth: Why the Secret to Health and Weight Loss is Already in Your Gut
- The Gut Diary: food and symptom tracker
Authors are cashing in on the trend with a gut health book or be in health book to solve every conceivable, real, or unsubstantiated gut health ailment that could possibly exist, and it can be hard to distinguish well-researched, evidence-based books by experts from just any health book published by influencers with medical or scientific qualifications.
How to choose a good health book?
- abdominal pain/discomfort
That’s why it’s essential for a good health book to provide balanced and unbiased information about one or several gut health topics including, but not limited to, specific and recognised digestive illnesses, how diet and lifestyle can affect digestive health, and the role of the microbiome in maintaining gut health.
Gut health is complex
The digestive tract remains a mysterious organ, and research continues to highlight how poorly understood it is. Take IBS for instance, the symptoms can be bad enough to stay home from work, avoid social occasions, and cut whole food groups out of your diet. Yet, there is no evidence of damage to the gut that can explain it.
Fortunately, scientists and doctors have started to look outside the gut for explanations. Interest in the gut-brain axis is growing because the gut has its own nervous system that constantly talks with the brain and can sense external stimuli like food and threats. That’s why anxiety can weigh on the digestive tract too.
In addition to that, the gut microbiome - an ecosystem of bacteria that lives in the large intestine - is now recognised as an important feature in gut health, and also digestive disturbances. Food and antibiotics are important factors that can influence its composition. Gut bacteria also communicate with the brain via the enteric nervous system and substances they produce.
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Best gut book by topic
|Topic||Book to read||Author|
|The digestive tract||Gut: The Inside Story of Our Body's Most Underrated Organ||Giulia Enders|
|The gut microbiome||Follow Your Gut: The Enormous Impact of Tiny Microbes||Prof Rob Knight|
|Gut diet book||The Doctor’s Kitchen: Supercharge your health with 100 delicious everyday recipes||Dr Rupy Aujla|
|Non-gut problems||Healthy Gut, Healthy You||Dr Michael Ruscio|
|Food and diet||The Diet Myth: Why the Secret to Health and Weight Loss is Already in Your Gut||Prof Tim Spector|
|Food and symptom diary||The Gut Diary Book||The Gut Stuff|
By Giulia Enders
This book by Giulia Enders is an ode to the eighth wonder of the world: your gut, aptly described as the most underappreciated organ in your body. And she’s spot on the money. As a company specialised in microbiome testing, which requires a stool sample, we have noticed the trademark squirm when we mention the word “poop”.
For that reason (and likely others), most people are woefully unacquainted with the essential functions that enable the ingestion, digestion, and excretion of food. Before delving into gut books, this is an essential read if you want to understand how the gut works. Plus, Giulia Enders happens to be a terrific and funny writer.
By Prof Rob Knight
Professor Rob Knight is a co-founder of the pioneering American Gut Project, a citizen science project investigating the role of gut bacteria in human health, and the Earth Microbiome Project that seeks to understand how microbes shape the world around us. Who better to write a gut microbiome book bringing you on a guided tour of gut bacteria in health and illness.
In this book, he works with award-winning journalist Brendan Buhler to explain how your gut bacteria are involved in all aspects of your health, from allergies to chronic diseases, like ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease, and even heart disease He also teaches about the microbiome in Coursera’s free access course: Gut Check: Exploring Your Gut Microbiome.
By Dr Rupy Aujla
Dr Rupy Aujla runs one of our favourite podcasts, The Doctor’s Kitchen, where he brings on health experts from all backgrounds and delves into the facts on lifestyle for health. And he also cooks for his guests. That’s because Rupy Aujla isn’t just an NHS doctor, he’s pioneering Culinary Medicine in the UK too.
This isn’t just a heal your gut book, it’s a practical and delicious invitation to cook at home for yourself, your family, and your friends - something we actively support too. In this healthy gut diet book, Dr Aujla doesn’t just proclaim recipes, he explains exactly why and how different foods impact your body and boost your health with fiber, prebiotics, and antioxidants.
By Dr Michael Ruscio
Dr Michael Ruscio is a practitioner and clinical researcher specialised in alternative therapies in health and medicine. He’s dedicated his life to the human gut and the ramifications gut health has for the whole body. From probiotics and SIBO to immune health and hypothyroidism, Dr Ruscio has explored the lesser known effects of gut health on illness.
This healing your gut book helps you create a personalised plan to address many common ailments and issues without any insane diets or supplements. Basically, this is a self-help guide to take control of your health with science-backed strategies that won’t induce anxiety at the supermarket or dinner.
Prof Tim Spector
Whether you’re a diet skeptic or a chronic dieter, you’ll appreciate the balanced advice of Professor Tim Spector, better known to some as Britain’s leading scientific advocate of gut microbiome health. He started out as an epidemiologist and is now the director of the TwinsUK Register and founder of the British Gut Project.
In his book, The Diet Myth, Tim Spector brings no-nonsense arguments against junk food and processed food, but he doesn’t stop there. If you want a medical scientist’s take on low-fat diets and fad diets, this book is for you. It’s not about quick fixes, it’s about bringing a pinch of common sense to food with due consideration for your biology and gut microbes.
By The Gut Stuff
The Mac Twins are DJs-turned-gut-health advocates who organise swinging gut dinner clubs and awesome events where experts explain the latest in digestive health to the masses. Their calling to become champions of gut health started with Prof Tim Spector (yes, that’s right) who invited them to participate in a twins study on microbiome health.
Now they’ve created a beautiful gut diary to track your food and symptoms that’s particularly useful should you consult a doctor or nutritionist about any digestive problems. Whether you’re looking for a leaky gut syndrome book (even though leaky gut isn’t actually a medical thing) or just a food diary, this might be the book for you.
In short, there is no one best of health book, and don’t believe the blurb if you find one. After all, there’s a reason people dedicate their lives to medical science and are still baffled by the inner workings of the body.
Instead, opt for general education on the gut and the microbiome first, and then broaden your horizons. This is especially important if you want to find actionable daily ways of enhancing your health and digestive tract. Remember, Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither was your body.