Book review: The Mind-Gut Connection by Emeran Mayer, MD


About The Mind-Gut Connection

• Hardcover: 320 pages
• Publisher: Harper Wave (July 5, 2016)

Combining cutting-edge neuroscience with the latest discoveries on the human microbiome, a practical guide in the tradition of The Second Brain, and The Good Gut that conclusively demonstrates the inextricable, biological link between mind and the digestive system.

We have all experienced the connection between our mind and our gut—the decision we made because it “felt right”; the butterflies in our stomach before a big meeting; the anxious stomach rumbling we get when we’re stressed out. While the dialogue between the gut and the brain has been recognized by ancient healing traditions, including Ayurvedic and Chinese medicine, Western medicine has by and large failed to appreciate the complexity of how the brain, gut, and more recently, the gut microbiota—the microorganisms that live inside our digestive tract—communicate with one another. In The Mind-Gut Connection, Dr. Emeran Mayer, professor of medicine and executive director of the UCLA Center for Neurobiology of Stress, offers a revolutionary and provocative look at this developing science, teaching us how to harness the power of the mind-gut connection to take charge of our health and listen to the innate wisdom of our bodies.

The Mind-Gut Connection describes:

• Why consuming a predominantly plant-based diet is key for gut and brain health

• The importance of early childhood in gut-brain development, and what parents can do to help their children thrive

• The role of excessive stress and anxiety in GI ailments and cognitive disorders

• How to “listen to your gut” and pay attention to the signals your body is sending you

• and much more.

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About Emeran Mayer, MD

Emeran A. Mayer, MD, has studied brain-body interactions for the last forty years. He is the executive director of the Oppenheimer Center for Stress and Resilience and the codirector of the Digestive Diseases Research Center at the University of California at Los Angeles. His research has been supported by the National Institutes of Health for the past twenty-five years, and he is considered a pioneer and world leader in the areas of brain-gut microbiome. He lives in Los Angeles.

Find out more about Dr. Mayer and his book at his website.

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“The little brain in  your gut.”

Having already read literature about this subject, I was eager to read Dr. Mayer’s explanation of the relationship between our mind and our intestinal tract.

Dr. Mayer explains:  “Your gut has capabilities that surpass all your other organs and even rival your brain.  It has it’s own nervous system, know in scientific literature as the enteric nervous system, or ENS, and often referred to in the media as the “second brain”.

I also learned that the gut is the largest storage facility for serotonin in our body. Serotonin plays a crucial role in such vital functions as sleep, appetite, pain sensitivity, mood and overall well-being.

Other interesting topics covered in the book are:

  • Early stress and the hypersensitive gut
  • How stress effects can be transmitted from one generation to the next
  • Stress in the womb
  • Can your gut microbes change your brain?
  • The role of the microbiota in depression
  • The role of stress
  • Positive emotions
  • Understanding intuitive decision making
  • The lure of comfort foods
  • Maximize your gut microbial diversity

I like the advice that Michael Pollan gives in his book Food Rules “buy only things in the market that look like food.  If they don’t, they most likely will contain food additives that could harm your brain, including artificial sweeteners, emulsifiers, fructose corn syrup, and vital gluten.”

I found the book to be interesting overall.  I did find that there were perhaps too many different subjects lumped together in this one text and some of the chapters were a little dry and repetitive.  The author stressed that more research is still being conducted on this subject.

On a personal note, I did not agree with the author’s belief that the theory of evolution produced such fascinating and complex nervous systems in our bodies.  Something this exceptional could only have come from an intelligent mind.


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