How well do you know your own anatomy? If your last science class was a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, your understanding of your internal organs probably comes primarily from news articles, Instagram posts by fitness influencers and random visits to the doctor’s office for your regular check-in or a sinister cough. In sickness and in health, you’re committed to your body for life and you’re never going to have another one to reckon with.
It’s a fairly indisputable fact at this point: Health is at the forefront of our minds, especially in this COVID-19-conscious time, and it seems like everyone and his brother claims to have the next big not-so-secret secret to living until your 100th birthday. Celery juice, scary-sounding supplements, nontoxic skin care products ... it’s a whole new world of wellness, and boy is it a jungle out there.
There are still some unexplored frontiers, however, such as the hush-hush topics surrounding our guts. Yes, guts. Get used to reading that word, because in this roundup we’re normalizing talking about digestive issues galore and helping you to feel less bashful about your bellyaches, embarrassed by your bowels and disheartened by your digestion.
If you suffer from symptoms that you don’t discuss with your friends, and when you finally turn to your doctors you just feel awkward, ridiculous or even ridiculed, then choose one or all of these books. You’ll be armed with information to banish your discomfort and be able to get back to scrolling through some dubious advice telling you to steep lettuce leaves in your tea (please, just don’t.)
“The Mind-Gut Connection: How the Hidden Conversation Within Our Bodies Impacts Our Mood, Our Choices, and Our Overall Health’”
By Emeran Mayer
Here’s your source for beginning your discovery of a healthy mind and healthy gut so you can be your healthiest self this summer. The link between your seemingly random thoughts and your physical sensations isn’t all in your head. It’s science. Actually, it’s neuroscience, and understanding the way every bodily system fits together and affects each other will deeply impact your understanding of your health.
Have you ever felt the uncomfortable physical manifestations of stress? We can answer that for you: You have, and it’s real. Working to achieve a properly functioning body starts by working toward mental balance and stability. Likewise, healing your gut through practical steps won’t just stop your stomach pains, it will also lead to a happier mindset. Mayer’s book acknowledges the power of ancient healing traditions like ayurvedic and Chinese medicine, which are frequently discounted today, and adds the most cutting-edge scientific evidence to create a manual that mends you all the way down to your core.
“The Whole-Body Guide to Gut Health: Heal Your Gut Through Diet, Exercise, and Stress Reduction”
By Heidi Moretti, MS, RD
Holistic health is a hot-button issue and for good reason. Remember what you just read in the book description above? The part about how all our internal organs are connected and work together in a harmonious system? Well, Heidi Moretti’s intelligent book takes that concept and runs with it, showing how you can absolutely target your problem area but launch the attack from all angles. With this strategy, how can you lose?
The author is a registered dietitian with plenty of experience to bring to the table. It’s a perfect foundation for establishing your gut health; the regimen is relatively manageable and the directions comprehensive but comprehensible (dare I say ... digestible?). Moretti outlines some yoga poses that will soothe and support and which foods may help or hurt you as you manage your symptoms. You won’t be overwhelmed after reading this book, but you will be primed for success.
“The Inflammation Spectrum: Find Your Food Triggers and Reset Your System”
By Dr. Will Cole
With high marks from various reviewers, including Gwyneth Paltrow and the director of the Cleveland Clinic Center for Functional Medicine, this book by leading functional-medicine expert Will Cole hones in on exactly which foods do and don’t poke at your irritable innards. The author claims that inflammation is the true measure of not only gut health but overall health, and monitoring and managing this issue will work wonders.
The book covers a vast landscape including not only food but also empowering mantras and affirmations and enlightening quizzes that will guide you on your personalized journey to good health. And how about some quality recipes for meals that won’t make your symptoms flare up? True healing takes commitment and hard work, but Cole does his best to make it as painless as possible using a compassionate yet firm approach. Ultimately, you’ll be in much less pain after engaging with this manual.
“Cook for Your Gut Health: Quiet Your Gut, Boost Fiber, and Reduce Inflammation”
By America’s Test Kitchen
When the recipe comes from the nation’s test kitchen, you know it comes with proven results. You’re not going to follow every step and heed every word perfectly but then find that the writer let you down, so if you find yourself eating a tasteless meal you know who’s truly to blame. Sorry! While learning to trust your gut instincts and trust your digestive system to do its best work, you’ll be able to completely trust this book to get you delicious tried-and-true meals that aid you on your journey to your healthiest self.
This cookbook starts with “Lessons in Gut Health,” and this section will dovetail nicely with other books that go deeper into the function and form of your anatomy. Even if this is the only book on gut health you choose to try out, you’re getting a primer on low and high FODMAP foods, fiber ranking, inflammation and even directions to make your very own sourdough starter (because your favorite chewy and satisfying bread is also a great food for gut health. Hooray!) The stage is set for recipes to follow, broken down into Breakfast, Soups & Stews, Poultry, Beef and Pork, Seafood, Vegetable Mains, and Sides. You’ve got all your bases covered and will be whipping up delectable dishes in no time.
“Yoga Therapy for Digestive Health”
By Charlotte Watts
We all know that diet and exercise go hand in hand. When dealing with gut health, gentle diet changes can make a huge difference. As it turns out, some gentle movement can work wonders as well. We’re not talking about planks and sit-ups for toning up and showing off a six-pack ab situation; this yoga massages the internal organs and heals from deep within. Increased mindfulness and causes for reflection are amazing bonuses, too!
With helpful illustrations, Yoga Therapy for Digestive Health, like the cookbook above, doesn’t stick solely to the title. Instead of a just bunch of yoga poses and a quick postscript, the guide gives an all-encompassing view of the material, digging into “Traditional Yogic Views in a Modern World”, “A Journey Around the Digestive Tract and Its Functions”, “The Physical and Subtle Anatomy of the Digestive Tract and All Its Connections”, and “Modern Psychology Within Yoga and the Gut”. Then yes, we do get restorative poses, now from a solid foundation of knowledge and understanding. You can feel good about feeling good when you use this book.