The Gut Makeover is a 4 week plan to help you “Nourish Your Gut, Revolutionise Your Health and Lose Weight”.
As soon as I started the book I knew it was going to be an interesting read as Jeannette Hyde has reviewed all the latest scientific literature on the gut microbiome and has a passion for applying it to real life so that more people can understand what the science is showing.
In the first half of 2015 there were over 1000 papers published on the gut microbiome, this really is an exploding and extremely exciting field of health research.
Scientists are starting to realise that the gut plays a role in everything from immunity, weight, mental health, skin health, allergies and of course the digestive system.
Jeannette’s plan claims it will make improvements of all of the above, and since the plan is based on a paleo-style template for eating (i.e don’t eat processed foods), then I am sure that will be the case, because even without focusing on gut health, eating a paleo diet for most people brings improvements in all of those mentioned areas.
Jeannette’s plan is not a diet but a lifestyle that will allow you to achieve and maintain good gut health, and therefore to achieve and maintain good overall health, since these two things are so closely linked.
Jeannette talks us through her eating journey, through calorie counting, eating low fat foods, binge eating, before she finally came to the realisation that good health would only come from eating a wholefoods diet and focusing on the microbiome.
One of the quotes I enjoyed from this book was “putting good eating into practice every day is something you have to keep focused on, not just the week before a holiday, or in January after Christmas. Self-care is ongoing, and if you’re doing it right, you get better and better at it, adding new techniques here and using new knowledge and better tools there.”
This is so true. It’s easy to do a 30-day reset diet but then return to old eating habits; it’s much harder to stick with good eating for a lifetime.
It requires ongoing effort and it’s important to keep learning about why good nutrition is important to keep your motivation to take care of yourself high. Reading new books like The Gut Makeover are a part of that process.
One of the simplest ideas in the book is that we need to provide fuel for our gut bacteria, so that they can produce butyrate for us. Butyrate is involved in the production of mucus, which is needed to protect the gut lining.
Without fuel for the gut bacteria, there is less butyrate, less mucus and a less protected gut. This can eventually lead to ill health.
Some of the health problems that can arise from poor gut health include:
• Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) and Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD)
• Food Intolerances
• Autoimmune Disorders
Jeannette explains how a gut dysbiosis is at the root of many of these health problems. A dysbiosis can involve too many pathogenic bacteria in relation to ‘friendly’ probiotic bacteria.
It can also involve low diversity of bacteria. A diverse gut microbiome has been linked with healthy weight, and obese individuals tend to have a lower number of different species living in their guts compared to non-obese individuals.
Increased intestinal permeability or ‘leaky gut’ is also a big contributor to ill health. If undigested food particles make it through the lining of the gut and into the bloodstream this can lead to food intolerances and an overactive immune system.
A healthy microbiome has been shown to help prevent leaky gut and to reverse it.
What’s Wrong with the Western Diet?
Jeannette identifies 5 main problems with the standard Western diet:
1. Low vegetable intake (average is 4 servings per day, we should be aiming for a LOT more)
2. Lack of diversity (many people eat wheat and dairy 3 times per day)
3. Too much sugar and/or artificial sweeteners
4. Too much caffeine
5. Overexposure to antibiotics
The Gut Makeover 4 week plan aims to address all of these problems, and allow you to rebuild a healthy microbiome.
There are two phases to the plan, each lasting two weeks. In the first phase you repair the gut, and in the second phase you reinoculate the gut. The first phase is essentially a strict paleo diet as it removes grains, pulses and dairy, sugar, alcohol and caffeine and focuses on eating wholefoods and a large variety of vegetables. Dairy is reintroduced in the second phase in small amounts. In the second phase there is a focus on pro and prebiotics.
The second half of the book contains a good selection of delicious sounding recipes, as well as some sample meal plans for both phases of the plan.
The book concludes with a section on “Eating for Life”. Jeannette recommends continuing with several of the healthy habits you will have picked up over the course of the month following The Gut Makeover such as limiting caffeine and alcohol and including fermented foods daily. She recommends adopting a Mediterranean style diet for the long term but one based on real, whole foods with plenty of plants, fish, olive oil, nuts and seeds, some meat and some dairy and wholegrains. This is a delicious and sustainable way to eat for long-term health.
We recommend this book. It’s a very easy read and a great starting point for anyone wanting to learn more about gut health, or who wants to give The Gut Makeover plan a try to lose weight and gain more energy.
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