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The Inside Story of Our Body’s Most Underrated Organ

Regular price $19.95
  • ISBN: 9781771641494
  • Tags: Giulia Enders, Health & Wellness, Jill Enders,
  • Dimensions: 5.5 x 8.5
  • Published On: 04/10/2015
  • 288 Pages
  • ISBN: 9781771641500
  • Tags: Giulia Enders, Health & Wellness, Jill Enders,
  • Published On: 4/24/2015
  • 288 Pages

"Enders’s wonder at the strange ways of the gut is matched only by her incredulity at the limited public knowledge on the subject." —The New York Times

A cheeky up-close and personal guide to the secrets and science of our digestive system

For too long, the gut has been the body’s most ignored and least appreciated organ, but it turns out that it’s responsible for more than just dirty work: our gut is at the core of who we are. Gut, an international bestseller, gives the alimentary canal its long-overdue moment in the spotlight. With quirky charm, rising science star Giulia Enders explains the gut’s magic, answering questions like: Why does acid reflux happen? What’s really up with gluten and lactose intolerance? How does the gut affect obesity and mood? Communication between the gut and the brain is one of the fastest-growing areas of medical research—on par with stem-cell research. Our gut reactions, we learn, are intimately connected with our physical and mental well-being. Enders’s beguiling manifesto will make you finally listen to those butterflies in your stomach: they’re trying to tell you something important.

Giulia Enders is a two-time scholarship winner of the Wilhelm Undelse Heraeus Foundation and is studying medicine at the Institute for Microbiology in Frankfurt. In 2012, her presentation on the gut won her first prize at the Science Slam in Freiburg and went viral on YouTube. She lives in Mannheim and Frankfurt.


"Gut's probe into the human digestive system might be seen as an earnest younger sibling to Gulp, Mary Roach’s 2013 investigation into the same subject. The comparison isn’t meant as a slight; Enders swaps out Roach’s knowing wryness with a kind of puplike enthusiasm for the complex mechanisms that convert food into a body’s energy and waste without our even thinking about it." -The National Post

". . . a truly bottoms-up approach to our digestive health, smoothly moving us through the inner workings of our gastrointestinal tract." -Anish Sheth, MD, author of What’s Your Poo Telling You

"This primer is everything you ever wanted to know about the gut (and then some), chattily and accessibly written in a uniquely Millennial and matter of fact way. An unexpected page turner. ...Her excitement about the subject matter is infectious. The fun yet informative black and white drawings throughout are her sister’s handiwork. Refreshingly devoid of recipes, or any self help-y language." -Self Magazine

"To dismiss Giulia Enders' work as a 'toilet book' would do it great injustice…its message is far from flippant." -The Guardian

"With a great sense of humour and ample enthusiasm, Enders explains everything readers did and didn't want to know about their innards…this book defies boring." -Publishers Weekly

"Enders’s wonder at the strange ways of the gut is matched only by her incredulity at the limited public knowledge on the subject." -The New York Times


From How Does Pooping Work? And Why That’s an Important Question

Are You Sitting Properly?

It’s a good idea to question your own habits from time to time. Are you really taking the shortest and most interesting route to the bus stop? Is that comb-over to hide your increasing bald patch elegant and chic? Or, indeed, are you sitting properly when you go to the toilet?

There will not always be a clear, unambiguous answer to every question, but a little experimentation can sometimes open up whole new vistas. That is probably what was going through the mind of Dov Sikirov when the Israeli doctor asked twenty-eight test subjects to do their daily business in three alternative positions: enthroned on a normal toilet; half-sitting, half-squatting on an unusually low toilet; and squatting with no seat beneath them at all. He recorded the time they took in each position and asked the volunteers to assess the degree of straining their bowel movements had required. The results were clear. In a squatting position, the subjects took an average of 50 seconds and reported a feeling of full, satisfactory bowel emptying. The average time when seated was 130 seconds and the resulting feeling was deemed to be not quite so satisfactory.

Why the difference? The closure mechanism of our gut is designed in such a way that it cannot open the hatch com¬pletely when we are seated. There is a muscle that encircles the gut like a lasso when we are sitting or, indeed, standing, and it pulls the gut in one direction, creating a kink in the tube. This mechanism is a kind of extra insurance policy, in addition to our old friends, the sphincters. Some people will be familiar with this kinky closing mechanism from their garden hose. You ask your sister to check why there’s no water coming out of the hose. When she peers down the end, you quickly unbend the kink, and it’s just a few minutes until your parents ground you for a week.

But back to our kinky rectal closure mechanism: it means our feces hit a corner. Just like a car on the highway, turning a corner means our feces have to put on the brakes. So, when we are sitting or standing, our sphincters have to expend much less energy keeping everything in. If the lasso muscle relaxes, the kink straightens, the road ahead is straight, and the feces are free to step on the gas.

Squatting has been the natural defecation position for humans since time immemorial. The modern sitting toilet has existed only since indoor sanitation became common in the late eighteenth century. But such “cavemen did it that way” arguments are often met with disdain by the medical profes¬sion. Who says that squatting helps the muscle relax better and straightens the feces highway? Japanese researchers fed volun¬teers luminous substances and X-rayed them while they were doing their business in various positions. They found out two interesting things. First, squatting does indeed lead to a nice, straight intestinal tract, allowing for a direct, easy exit. Sec¬ond, some people are nice enough to let researchers feed them luminous substances and X-ray them while they have a bowel movement, all in the name of science. Both findings are pretty impressive, I think.