GUT – A Great Read If You Can Stomach It
Giulia Enders has an unusual fascination, one not dialled out of her by polite society: she loves the gut and it shows in her book. From bacteria to energetic enzymes, along the way we also step into poo, that little discussed but vital chemical dumping ground – a barometer of our daily performance. But with less wind, hopefully.
Within two hours of our birth gut bacteria have spawned five further generations – nature does that every 20 minutes to help us digest everything from breastmilk to burgers. But not both, from day one. Then there’s the sphincters, those non return valves at the top and bottom ends of our digestive pipework, with the stomach the vital holding tank, in between. The sphincter valves can even reverse their role when the system software shouts “quick, vomit”. Our mouths too, commanded by the gut brain, support vomit veneration by flooding our teeth with saliva so protecting their enamel from strong stomach acids coming up.
Smooth muscles keep things moving silently along within us, whilst seeking no praise. Around us, our personal microbial signature is on everything from our patted dog to our computer keyboard, making them uniquely ‘ours’. Studying the gut is a Scientific Frontier, ever more vital with the rash of compromised immune systems and food intolerance amongst us. Things have clearly changed – we need to digest, just what? We don’t need to raise a stink about poo at polite dinner parties, even if all the lessons of life may not smell as sweet as a rose – Giulia does a great job in lifting the lid on that.