Book Review: The Gut-Immune Connection
How Understanding Why We’re Sick Can Help Us Regain Our Health
The Gut-Immune Connection: How Understanding Why We’re Sick
Can Help Us Regain Our Health
By Emeran Mayer, MD
How do we protect our immune systems? During the COVID pandemic, we’ve been washing our hands, wearing masks, and getting vaccinated. But our bodies have been under siege for much longer—more like 75 years—according to Emeran Mayer, MD. Mayer is a distinguished research professor at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA and a world-renowned gastroenterologist and neuroscientist who has spent decades studying brain-gut interactions.
Mayer notes that Americans have been living longer, yet by many measures we aren’t experiencing our elder years enjoying radiant health and vitality. In his new book, he explains why. We have disrupted our gut microbiomes—via the use of antibiotics, by reduced contact to soil and farm animals, by an increase in C-sections, and many other factors—with wide-ranging consequences. He explains how health problems such as obesity, cardiovascular disease, neurodegenerative disorders, depression, allergies, and autoimmune disorders are all actually connected to the vitality (or lack thereof) of our gut microbiome.
“The microbe population rapidly adjusts to changes in the gut environment,” Mayer explains, responding to the diet we are eating and any stress we are feeling. Some of the book’s most interesting parts are where Mayer talks about the gut’s mucus layer and how it can be compromised by our lifestyles.
So, what is an actionable plan to take better care of our microbiome? Mayer suggests eating a wide variety of high-quality, mostly plant foods—and the book includes plenty of recipes, such as Moroccan Lentil and Chickpea Stew. He also encourages the reader to exercise moderately and to practice time-restricted eating. Throughout, the book teaches us how to make ourselves less vulnerable both to chronic illness and to any nasty viral epidemics that may come our way.