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The groundbreaking science behind the surprising source of good health

Stanford University’s Justin and Erica Sonnenburg are pioneers in the most exciting and potentially transformative field of human health and wellness, the study of the relationship between our bodies and the trillions of organisms representing thousands of species to which our bodies play host, the microbes we call the microbiota. The Sonnenburgs argue that the microbiota determines in no small part whether we’re sick or healthy, fit or obese, sunny or moody—and that the microbiota has always been with us, coevolving with humans and entwining its functions with ours. They show us that humans are really composite organisms with microbial and human parts. But now, because of changes to diet, antibiotic over-use, and over-sterilization, our gut microbiota is facing a “mass extinction event,” which may explain the mysterious spike in some of our most troubling modern afflictions, from food allergies to autism, cancer to depression. It doesn’t have to be this way.
 
The Good Gut is a groundbreaking work that offers a new plan for health that focuses on how to nourish your microbiota, including recipes and a menu plan. The Sonnenburgs show how we can keep our microbiota off the endangered species list and strengthen the community that inhabits our gut and thereby improve our own health. In this important and timely investigation, they look at safe alternatives to antibiotics; dietary and lifestyle choices to encourage microbial health; the management of the aging microbiota; and the nourishment of your own individual microbiome.
 
Caring for our gut microbes may be the most important health choice we can make.

Review

"Virtually every aspect of health and vitality is influenced by the collection of microbes living within us. The Good Gut empowers the reader with the opportunity to embrace this leading edge science in an actionable, user-friendly way." — David Perlmutter, MD and author, #1 New York Times Bestseller, Grain Brain: The Surprising Truth About Wheat, Carbs, and Sugar: Your Brain''s Silent Killers

"We are facing a mass genocide threatening the lives of billions of people across the globe. It is the killing and harming of our own inner garden, our gut bacteria, by our processed diet, antibiotics, acid blockers and other gut busting drugs.  The Good Gut for the first time connects the dots between the health of our gut flora or microbiome and our health. A bad gut causes heart disease, obesity, diabetes, cancer, autoimmune disease and more, while a good gut can prevent and heal most of what ails us in the 21st century.  If you want to learn how to cultivate your own inner garden and create abundant good health, read The Good Gut!"—  Mark Hyman, MD, Director, Cleveland Clinic Center for Functional Medicine, and author, #1 New York Times bestseller, The Blood Sugar Solution

"Microbes in our gut outnumber the cells in our body by more than 3 to 1.  We’d better make peace with them.  The Sonnenburgs show us how in their fascinating book, The Good Gut.  I recommend it to everyone who eats."— David S. Ludwig, MD, PhD, Professor, Harvard Medical School and author, Ending the Food Fight

"Sonnenburg are two rising stars in the field of microbiology and immunology research. Lucky for us, they are willing and able to put scientific jargon aside and offer us a fascinating, funny, and easy-to-read book about the latest human microbiome discoveries and how these discoveries might help us  tend to our inner microbes so as to optimize our overall health."— Daphne Miller, MD author of Farmacology: Total health from the Ground Up and The Jungle Effect

"In The Good Gut, Stanford researchers and authors Justin and Erica Sonnenburg explain some of the mysteries of the invisible world inside us. Thanks to their insight and research, the rest of us can now benefit from understanding how to improve our health by taking care of the microbes living within us."—  Mark Liponis, MD, corporate medical director, Canyon Ranch

"The 100 trillion bacteria that make up our gut microbiota represent the next great frontier in medicine and our understanding of how to obtain and maintain health. The Good Gut is a must read for anyone who struggles with health issues, from obesity to depression, and anyone looking to truly optimize their health and well-being."— Adam Perlman, MD, executive director, Duke Integrative Medicine at Duke University

About the Author

Justin Sonnenburg, PhD, is an associate professor in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology at the Stanford University School of Medicine. In 2009, he was the recipient of an NIH Director’s New Innovator Award.

Erica Sonnenburg, PhD
, is a senior research scientist at the Stanford University School of Medicine in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology, where she studies the role of diet on the human intestinal microbiota.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

We all know that much of our health is predeter­mined by our genes. We also know that we can gener­ally improve our health if we eat right, exercise, and manage our stress. But how to do those things is a matter of great debate. Many well-meaning health programs are focused solely on weight loss or heart health, but what if there was a second genome, one that held the key to much of our overall health, but one that we could influence by very specific (and often surprising) lifestyle choices? Well, this second genome exists. It belongs to the bacteria that inhabit our gut and is vital to our overall well-being, in countless ways. The details of how these intestinal bac­teria, known as the microbiota, are hard-wired into health and disease are starting to come to light and they are reshaping what it means to be human.

As scientists try to unravel the causes behind the prevalence of predominantly Western afflictions such as cancer, diabetes, allergies, asthma, autism, and inflamma­tory bowel diseases, it is becoming increasingly clear that the microbiota plays an important role in the development of each of these conditions and poten­tially many others. Our bacterial inhabitants touch all aspects of our biology in some way, directly or indirectly. But the modern world has changed the way we eat and how we live, and as a result, our in­testinal microbiota is facing challenges that it has not experienced in the entirety of human evolution.

Our digestive system is much more than a col­lection of human cells that surround our last few meals—it also contains a dense colony of bacteria and other microorganisms. In fact, for every one human cell in our body, we house an additional ten bacte­rial cells that amount to a filibuster­proof majority that legislates much of our biology. But before you start thinking of yourself as a human being with bacterial cells inside, it may be more accurate to consider yourself as a bacterial being with a human cell coating.

More than we ever expected, the gut microbiota sets the dial on our immune system. If the gut bacteria are healthy, it’s likely that the immune system is running well. Much is being learned about how the microbiota impacts our brains. The brain-gut axis impacts our well-being profoundly, far more than just letting us know when it’s time to eat. Gut bacteria can affect moods and behavior and may influence the progres­sion of some neurological conditions.

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4.6 out of 54.6 out of 5
561 global ratings

Top reviews from the United States

Quantum Leap!
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Great book. At first i thought I had wasted ...
Reviewed in the United States on November 27, 2017
Great book. At first i thought I had wasted my money learning about something I have researched on the web many times, however, there is a key insight in this book that I have not encountered anywhere else: the importance of adequate fiber in the diet to make probiotics... See more
Great book. At first i thought I had wasted my money learning about something I have researched on the web many times, however, there is a key insight in this book that I have not encountered anywhere else: the importance of adequate fiber in the diet to make probiotics more effective. I never really understood the fiber link until I read this book. I have been eating fermented vegetables and taking probiotic supplements with less than stellar success for quite sometime. What I discovered from reading this book is that my fiber intake was well below where it needed to be to make my probiotics vital. In fact, unless you are a raw vegan, you are unlikely to get adequate amounts of fiber in your diet. I upped my fruits and vegetables and also started to take a fiber supplement several times a day. Things started to work much better!! I definitely recommend reading this book if you are new to the microbiome or if you want a further understanding of what is needed to optimize your gut. Easy to read and informative. Don''t forget the fiber....!
156 people found this helpful
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didemarslan
1.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Not for vegans
Reviewed in the United States on November 11, 2018
Dont buy this book if you are vegan. I just downloaded it in my kindle and just going through the pages I immediately noticed all the recipes are non-vegan and non-vegetarian. I think this should have been stated in the description section.
78 people found this helpful
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Gill Wong
4.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Take a broad spectrum good quality pro-biotic
Reviewed in the United States on January 11, 2016
Interesting read but the authors really take their time getting to the point. TL:DR Eat lots of fruits and vegetables. Lots of fiber. Take a broad spectrum good quality pro-biotic. Eat Yogurt, miso, Kefir, Kambucha, and other fermented goods. Avoid... See more
Interesting read but the authors really take their time getting to the point.

TL:DR

Eat lots of fruits and vegetables. Lots of fiber. Take a broad spectrum good quality pro-biotic. Eat Yogurt, miso, Kefir, Kambucha, and other fermented goods. Avoid antibiotics when possible, refined sugar, and artificial preservatives etc.
145 people found this helpful
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Jena' Hatchett
3.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Keep looking
Reviewed in the United States on May 31, 2019
I found this book to be very disappointing. I was looking for ways to improve my gut health. Some of this info is there, but it gets lost in the stories and the studies. Lots of info on child birth and children which is useful to parents of childbearing age. I did not... See more
I found this book to be very disappointing. I was looking for ways to improve my gut health. Some of this info is there, but it gets lost in the stories and the studies. Lots of info on child birth and children which is useful to parents of childbearing age. I did not find a clear cut lay out of what I can do for my health. I expected more from a book introduced by Andrew Weil.
33 people found this helpful
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She Loves Amazon
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Explains why everyone in America is cranky, crazy & constipated
Reviewed in the United States on January 13, 2017
I''ve been confounded as to why most people I know are in a cycle of bad health, bad decisions, and bad moods (especially young people), and I think this book nails it. I''ve discreetly recommended it to lots of friends, although I suspect most people in the middle of mind... See more
I''ve been confounded as to why most people I know are in a cycle of bad health, bad decisions, and bad moods (especially young people), and I think this book nails it. I''ve discreetly recommended it to lots of friends, although I suspect most people in the middle of mind bloat don''t have the motivation or the focus to read a helpful book. Regardless, it''s been helpful to me, reinforced a lot of habits that frankly, I was on the verge of abandoning because I didn''t think they mattered. (For example, I''ve been growing my own wheatgrass for juice, but since it''s a tedious process, I had decided to opt for powdered wheat grass; but the Sonnenburgs'' assertion that people need to keep their hands in dirt to acquire certain helpful microbes changed my mind.) And I realize now that while taking oral probiotics is a healthy habit, I need to add more fermented foods to my diet for a long-term boost. Would like to see the Sonnenburgs turn the material in this book into an extended documentary series with PBS, similar to David Eagleman''s 6-part series on the brain, to get this vital information out to a wider audience.
38 people found this helpful
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matsteman
3.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
If you''re looking for practical tips, save your time by skipping this book and searching the web.
Reviewed in the United States on July 22, 2018
I expected a book with the subtitle "Taking Control of Your Weight, Your Mood, and Your Long-Term Health" would have more practical tips describing how to do just that. The majority of practical tips are in one chapter (the last one) and the menus. The... See more
I expected a book with the subtitle "Taking Control of Your Weight, Your Mood, and Your Long-Term Health" would have more practical tips describing how to do just that. The majority of practical tips are in one chapter (the last one) and the menus.

The focus of the book isn''t on how to control your health with your diet--the focus is the science of how our diets can affect our weights and moods. While this is interesting, this information offers me no advice on improving my gut.

The book was written a few years too early. There is an overabundance of hypotheses and unknowns. The info that is there is repetitive. It could''ve been condensed to three or so chapters.

I commend the authors for their research and passion, but if you''re interested in practical ways to improve your gut microbiome, I''d suggested googling the subject and reading a couple of articles instead of spending time and money on this book.
20 people found this helpful
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Kim H
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Really will help you understand the gut enviroment, it''s relationship with you and your body and your improve your health!
Reviewed in the United States on February 20, 2017
This has been very informative especially the suggestions to get the kids to eat the healthier food, I have littles so I can''t do anything too drastic. The book also explains all the hype in the media lately about eating healthy and microbes. I now understand what a... See more
This has been very informative especially the suggestions to get the kids to eat the healthier food, I have littles so I can''t do anything too drastic. The book also explains all the hype in the media lately about eating healthy and microbes. I now understand what a probiotic really does. I like the scientific backups to health connections, the microbes and the gut and brain function. I''m generally a healthy person and until last year didn''t have any issues. Then our family had a bout with a nasty stomach flu bug around Easter time and stress, I had some adult onset food allergy attacks with little on no really connections for about 9-12 months and with 3 ER visits and no answers, I was pulling my hair out. My daughter has 6 UTI in like 4-5 months and some not so fun tests that resulted in there shouldn''t be any problems with her. I then read this book and I have been slowly implementing the doctors'' suggestions into my family''s meals. We all feel so much better now. We now talk about microbes and feeding those microbes to get the kids to buy into the healthier food. When we go off track and over indulge on junk/treat food we really can tell and get back to the suggestions. We feel more in control or actually more in sync with our bodies and microbes now. The authors don''t advocate any diet trends such as South Beach, Paleo or Vegetarian but do explain how the microbes react and produce chemicals that interact with our body based on what we eat. They also go into details about the brain/gut relationship and how stress impacts the microbes environment and reaction to our stress which in turn impacts our bodies. They don''t hype anything and are actually conservative in most claims if the research is limited but promising.
22 people found this helpful
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sb-lynn
5.0 out of 5 starsVine Customer Review of Free Product
Very informative and well-written.
Reviewed in the United States on March 11, 2015
I have had some significant health issues the last few years and I have been reading everything I can about the various theories on health, diet and exercise and how those things can effect us. There are so many different points of view - go gluten free? Paleo? Grains are... See more
I have had some significant health issues the last few years and I have been reading everything I can about the various theories on health, diet and exercise and how those things can effect us. There are so many different points of view - go gluten free? Paleo? Grains are bad for our brains? What to do?

This book starts out with a foreword by Andrew Weil and he talks about this very issue. He mentions the fact that allergies, asthma and autoimmune diseases have proliferated in many developed parts of the world and that in his opinion, this is not due to gluten sensitivity problems or our consuming grains and/or wheat. Instead, we should be looking at our microorganisms and gut flora in our bodies and see what benefits and effects they have on our health.

The authors of this book are both professors of Immunology at Stanford University. In this book they discuss the importance of the microbes and bacteria in our bodies and how they can affect our overall well-being and health. One of the things first discussed is that there is too much concern with keeping our environment and our food too sanitized and sterile and that we (especially young kids and infants) need more exposure to these microbes. The widespread use of sanitizers is not a good thing and they even tell us why it''s a good idea to have a dog or family pet.

They go on to explain that gut microbes are the puppeteers of the immune system and they warn your system (i.e. sending out T-cells and B-cells) about something harmful that you''ve eaten. They''re belief is is that if your microbiota is compromised, then the you can get an under-response or an over-response (autoimmune problems.)

"The rise of autoimmune diseases appear to be more tightly tied to our increase in cleanliness, not to decreased infection."

Hence the importance of keeping our regular interactions with microbes that live in us or around us to keep up mild mini-immune responses. Too much or too little can cause the occurrence of such bowel inflammatory diseases as Crohn''s and IBD.

So what about our using probiotics? There are so many on market shelves - which ones to pick? The authors do a great job educating us about this. We learn that we each might have personal needs and we might want to try different probiotics to see how they affect us. (i.e. too much bloat or discomfort, try another.) These probiotics are not regulated and the authors explain the problems that come with that. The authors point out that if you do take them, they should be consumed regularly and consistently because they don''t stay in our bodies for very long.

So what about prebiotics? They are not living organisms like probiotics but their goal is to increase the good bacteria in our gut. Fruit and veggies are a good source for them, as well as fermented foods which contain a diverse assortment of microorganisms.

What about the current anti-wheat, anti-gluten stance we''ve read about lately? The authors do not agree with that and instead talk about the importance of our eating lots of dietary fiber - the good kind - not refined carbohydrates. They are called "microbiota accessible carbohydrates." MACs" are what gut microbes feed on. Eating more results in weight loss, lower inflammation and decreased risk of some Western diseases. So it''s good to eat your good fruit and veggies and whole grains. The authors say we focus too much on lowering fat in terms of weight loss instead of increasing these MACs.

Later on there is a discussion about the connection between our gut and our brains and how these microbes can effect such things as behavior, personality, mood, memory and even happiness and how microbiota is important to keeping a youthful vigor.

There is a lot of discussion about the problems with antibiotics, especially broad-spectrum ones like Cipro, and how they negatively impact us.These antibiotics can leave your body open to various ailments and infections (like C. difficile) that previously would have been taken care of by the good bacteria. We also find out there is strength in numbers with microbiota.We read about the benefits of fecal microbiota transplant (FMT)- read for yourself how that is done. In the future hopefully there will be more ways to have success with FMTs as well as microbiota-based therapies.

In conclusion, the authors say we need more studies done and they talk about the exciting possibility in the future for the genetic engineering of bacteria - bacteria that could sense where there is inflammation and then send anti-inflammatory molecules there. Plus, once we learn more we can use microbes to help us improve age-related health decline and help us in the war against various diseases, including cancer. The treatments would be very personalized and individualized since our microbes differ so the idea of the one-size-fits-all-probiotic or treatment will vary.

The end of the book has a quite a few pages of recommended recipes and menus.

I feel like I have written a separate book here talking about this one, but it really is full of good information and it gave me a lot of think about. I like the fact that the authors talk a few times about the chicken-and-the-egg problem with so many theories and studies - i.e. are certain foods or therapies bad for people or are the group studied more likely to have problems/bad outcomes?

Recommended. I wish there had been some discussion about things like probiotics for people who don''t have a colon or have already compromised intestines, but that wasn''t their purpose. Personally, I am still conflicted about such diets as the FODMAP diet - which seems to be in conflict with this eating plan. I guess there''s still more work and studies to be done until we know the answers to all of our questions.
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Top reviews from other countries

Olga Bach
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Must read!
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on March 18, 2019
I am very grateful to come across this brilliantly written book about a human microbiota and how maintaining the healthy gut translate in a physical and mental wellbeing of every human being on our planet. This book should be a compulsory read in our schools/universities...See more
I am very grateful to come across this brilliantly written book about a human microbiota and how maintaining the healthy gut translate in a physical and mental wellbeing of every human being on our planet. This book should be a compulsory read in our schools/universities and homes. Thank you, Justin and Erica for opening (and shifting) my mind towards healthy eating habits! Olga
One person found this helpful
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Nadine Valentin
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Of great interest.
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on June 7, 2015
Excellent Book. Well written, subject of great interest opening many new ideas on the importance of the Gut. Well documented. Bravo, love it.
6 people found this helpful
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Kate Turner
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Do your microbes a favour and check out this book
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on July 10, 2015
Great book, written in accessible language without being patronising. The authors are clearly passionate about their subject and are keen to support others (and their microbiota) to a healthier lifestyle with the pleasure that brings.
2 people found this helpful
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maggie
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Five Stars
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on April 12, 2017
A great book. A very important book. Makes you think about gut health and the way we eat.
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Sue
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Really interesting book and some fun recipes at the back
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on October 18, 2015
Really interesting book and some fun recipes at the back. I''ve leant this to so many people I might need to buy myself another copy!
3 people found this helpful
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The popular online sale Good Gut: Taking Control of Your Weight, Your Mood, and Your Long-term Health outlet online sale

The popular online sale Good Gut: Taking Control of Your Weight, Your Mood, and Your Long-term Health outlet online sale

The popular online sale Good Gut: Taking Control of Your Weight, Your Mood, and Your Long-term Health outlet online sale

The popular online sale Good Gut: Taking Control of Your Weight, Your Mood, and Your Long-term Health outlet online sale

The popular online sale Good Gut: Taking Control of Your Weight, Your Mood, and Your Long-term Health outlet online sale

The popular online sale Good Gut: Taking Control of Your Weight, Your Mood, and Your Long-term Health outlet online sale

The popular online sale Good Gut: Taking Control of Your Weight, Your Mood, and Your Long-term Health outlet online sale

The popular online sale Good Gut: Taking Control of Your Weight, Your Mood, and Your Long-term Health outlet online sale

The popular online sale Good Gut: Taking Control of Your Weight, Your Mood, and Your Long-term Health outlet online sale

The popular online sale Good Gut: Taking Control of Your Weight, Your Mood, and Your Long-term Health outlet online sale

The popular online sale Good Gut: Taking Control of Your Weight, Your Mood, and Your Long-term Health outlet online sale

The popular online sale Good Gut: Taking Control of Your Weight, Your Mood, and Your Long-term Health outlet online sale

The popular online sale Good Gut: Taking Control of Your Weight, Your Mood, and Your Long-term Health outlet online sale

The popular online sale Good Gut: Taking Control of Your Weight, Your Mood, and Your Long-term Health outlet online sale