Genetics and lifestyle are thought to be the two most important determinants of good health. But that's t the whole story. In The Good Gut, Justin and Erica Sonnenburg, who are doing cutting-edge research on the trillions of microbes living in our gastrointestinal tract, reveal how our gut affects everything, from our immune response to our weight, allergic reactions, aging and emotions; how they are under threat from the Western diet, our antibiotics, and our sterilized environment; and how we can nurture our individual microbiota. This is important news. Our intestinal microbiota plays an important role in the prevalence of predominantly Western afflictions, such as cancer, diabetes, allergies, asthma, autism, and inflammatory bowel diseases. These gut bacteria are facing a mass extinction, and the health consequences are dire. The average person in the Western world has around 1,200 different types of bacteria residing in his or her gut. That may seem like a lot until you consider that the average Amerindian living in the Amazon has approximately 1,600 species and is much less likely to develop Western illnesses. How can we keep our microbiota off the endangered species list? How can we strengthen the community that inhabits our gut and thereby improve our own health? Your prescription for gut health is unique to you, and it changes as you age. The Good Gut offers a new plan for health that focuses on how to urish your microbiota, including recipes and a menu plan. Drs. Sonnenburg look at safe alternatives to antibiotics; dietary and lifestyle choices to encourage microbial health; the management of the aging microbiota; and the urishment of your own individual microbiome.
JUSTIN SONNENBURG, PhD, is currently an assistant professor in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology at the Stanford University School of Medicine. In 2009, he was the recipient of an NIH Director's New Innovator Award. ERICA SONNENBURG, PhD, is currently a senior research scientist at the Stanford University School of Medicine in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology, where she studies the role of diet on the human intestinal microbiota.