For some time now, we have both been very interested in the topics of health, happiness and how to get the most out of our bodies. Our journey down the health rabbit hole that seems to be gripping the world right now; think the banishing of refined sugars, paleo diets, high fat / low carb, different types of training techniques, started some time in 2015 when Lachlan got hit by a stomach ulcer caused by Helicobacter Pylori. The ulcer inevitably resulted in weight loss, stomach pain, and a massive course of antibiotics to get rid of it. This experience peaked our interest in all things health and we started delving into personal research on how we can get peak performance out of our bodies so we are healthy, happy and ready to take on all of our epic adventures! Our intention is to use this blog to share with you some of the research, interesting findings, life hacks that we have discovered in our quest.
As we are over 80 days into our adventure now (crazy right??), there have been a lot of healthy discoveries, happy moments, endless fun finds & epic adventures. So here is the beginning of the health & happiness side to our blog.
This post is about a book that we read over six months ago, called “The Gut” or “Darm mit Charme” in German (translating as Charming Bowels), it’s a must read! It’s a book Hana stumbled across with her ongoing searches for good foods for the gut & how the gut actually works one night in London.
Gut: The Inside Story of Our Body’s Most Underrated Organ, is written by an incredible young German biologist, Giulia Enders, and endeavours to tell the story of how the gut works from a simple and somewhat comical perspective that is easy for any layperson to understand. Let’s be honest, the gut is not an immediately interesting topic to most people. With the farting and belching that it can sometimes create it’s at times a rather embarrassing body part. Although the subject of defecation, constipation & general bodily functions is covered the message is far more important than this; ‘our gastrointestinal tract is not only the body’s most underrated organ’, as Enders puts it, but it’s the brains most important guru.
The magic of The Gut is that you are enchanted by Giulia’s story telling along with creative illustrations from beginning to end, and as a result soak up a lot of information that would otherwise perhaps be dull and tedious to read about.
Illustrations by Guilia’s sister – Jill Enders
A couple of the key takeaways, learnings and quotes from the book are:
- In an experiment conducted with cleansed mice scientists found that when planted with certain bacteria they could:
- develop problems metabolising sugar when planted with the bacteria from a type 2 diabetic.
- start to become obese when given bacteria from obese humans
- When bold and timid mice had their gut bacteria switched they started to show personality traits of the other mice. i.e. the bold grew timid and the timid grew bold.
- The gut nervous system is massive, second only to the brain, and can work in conjunction with the brain sending packets of information to the brain. Enders uses an example; ‘think of the feeling you get in your gut before a big exam’ or for some of us before a bungee jump, etc. The gut holds onto this feeling & will remember it for future experiences too.
- ‘I like to compare the gut flora with a forest. It’s really an ecosystem; diversity makes it more resilient’
- ‘1.2 billion people around the world who squat have almost no incidence of diverticulosis and fewer problems with piles. We in the west, on the other hand, squeeze our gut tissue until it comes out of our bottoms’ – This is an astonishing fact & something that has now influenced the way that we go to the toilet, it helps while on the road that squatting over a bucket in the van is sometimes the only option. You could try this at home with a little stool, pop it in the bathroom & pop your feet up on top of it when you are going to the loo, & see if you notice the difference!
- The reference to the different types of stools that there are; another great reference is the ‘Bristol Stool Chart’.
With so much study & research going into the importance of gut health & how this could directly influence our mental health, our wellbeing, our motivation, this drives the importance to know more. Enders’ enthusiasm is contagious and will change your view of your insides, as she states; ‘the more you know about the gut, the more beautiful it appears’. It really has opened up a new curiosity for us and we have so much interest in learning more about this topic; the brain & the gut.
Another quirky illustration by Jill Enders
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