Gut was originally published in Germany and then translated a few years later. It does lose a little in translation (the humor works better in German). Overall this is a good introduction to what’s going on from the spoon all the way to the bowl, so to speak.
At the time Ender’s wrote this book she was a medical student. As a teenager she’d had health issues that were difficult to diagnose, which spurred her interest in the gut. Since this book was published there has been a lot more attention to our digestive system and the bacteria it includes, although Enders is probably right that the cardiac and nervous systems are still given more attention. Nevertheless, given all the books sold on diets of every type and claims why one is better than the other, it’s a good idea to know what’s inside our bodies doing all the work to process what we ingest. When I have suggested this book to friends, their first reaction is usually a grimace, who wants to read about spit, the small intestine, bacteria and poop? Fear not, Enders makes all of these digestive functions and organs interesting and relevant, consider it an owner’s manual of sorts.
I learned a lot of things in this book: saliva includes a painkiller, without which we probably would have mouth pain all the time; the surface area of our digestive tract is greater than our skin; humans can vomit, horses can’t (if only cat’s couldn’t). After covering the organs of the digestive system, Enders moves on to the more recently “discovered” superstars: bacteria. Enders covers a lot of ground, explaining the broad groups of bacteria found in our guts, and what they may or may not do. Enders includes many claims about the gut with quick references to studies or individuals without getting into a lot of details. Some of the things she asserts may not actually be true. For example: blood types being determined by bacteria, reptile feces in chicken feed being the source of salmonella bacteria in eggs in Germany, and several others. That said, claims about our bacteria illuminate that there is a lot about our bacterial companions we don’t know and will likely learn more about in the years to come. It will be interesting to learn what some of studies being done into autoimmune diseases and our bacteria reveal, as well as connections between our bacteria and our emotions.
Overall, this is a light and breezy look into our digestive system. If you’re interested and don’t want to read a medical tome or two, I recommend it.