How the Hidden Conversation Within Our Bodies Impacts Our Mood, Our Choices, and Our Overall Health
By Emeran Mayer, MD, PhD
Emeran Mayer – MD, PhD, Professor of Medicine at UCLA and Director of the Oppenheimer Center for Neurobiology of Stress and Resilience – is one of the leading scientists in the world advancing the idea that our microbiome and our brain are inextricably linked. For nearly 25 years, he has been the go-to researcher in the area of brain gut interactions, and his work has played a major role in the recent “gut” revolution. At last, he has written a book for the general public, THE MIND-GUT CONNECTION: How the Hidden Conversation Within Our Bodies Impacts Our Mood, Our Choices, and Our Overall Health (Publication Date: July 5, 2016; Harper Wave; ISBN: 9780062376558; Price $27.99). His book not only details the fascinating and complex relationship between the gut and brain, it also offers a practical plan for harnessing this connection to improve our physical and mental health.
The gut converses with the brain like no other organ. If you’ve ever felt queasy as you walked into an uncomfortable situation or based a life decision on a “gut feeling,” then you know that sometimes our bodies react faster and often wiser than our minds. Most of us have also experienced the same phenomenon in reverse, where our mental state has affected our digestive systems – the butterflies in our stomach before a first date, or the anxious rumbling we feel when we feel stressed out or upset. But while the dialogue between the mind and the gut has been recognized for centuries, until now Western medicine has not fully realized just how powerful and wide-reaching this connection is.
As Dr. Mayer explains, the connection between the mind and the gut is bidirectional: the gut talks to the brain and the brain talks to the gut every minute of our lives. One of the most intriguing aspects of this dialogue is the fact that the microbes living in our gut play a crucial role in it. When this communication channel is out of whack – due to diet, lifestyle, stress, excessive antibiotic use or illness – we experience mental and physical health issues including food sensitivities and allergies, digestive disorders, obesity, depression, panic disorders, anxiety, and fatigue. THE MIND-GUT CONNECTION teaches us how we can enjoy a happier mindset, reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression and often associated digestive symptoms, and even decrease our risk of developing neurological diseases such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s. Dr. Mayer’s recommendations include:
- Learning to get in touch with your gut feelings
- Being mindful about what and how you eat
- Adopting a largely plant-based, whole foods diet that includes plenty of probiotic-rich and fermented foods
- Managing pre and postnatal stress to help decrease the risk of mind-gut axis disorders in children
- Early childhood nutritional interventions to build microbiome diversity
- Implementing mindfulness-based anxiety reduction strategies to decrease stress and sharpen cognitive ability
- Reducing low grade inflammation in the body to prevent the onset of neurological disease
With simple, practical advice drawn from his vast clinical experience and the latest research, Dr. Mayer shows us that paying attention to the mind-gut balance is key to unlocking optimal health.
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Advanced Praise for THE MIND-GUT CONNECTION
“Dr. Emeran Mayer exquisitely leverages the leading edge of neuroscience that links all manner of brain function to what goes on in the digestive system. The Mind-Gut Connection presents the incredibly humbling reality that our very perception and interpretation of the world around us is virtually dictated by the microbes living within us. This book redefines what it means to be healthy and eloquently provides the means to manifest that goal”
–David Perlmutter, MD, author of the #1 New York Times bestseller Grain Brain and Brain Maker
“Microbiome research is revolutionizing our understanding of the human body and the brain. In The Mind-Gut Connection, Dr. Emeran Mayer uses his wealth of knowledge in brain-gut interactions to provide authoritative insight into this rapidly expanding field. Synthesizing recent groundbreaking research with patient stories and personal anecdotes, he offers practical, evidence-based recommendations to keep the dialogue between the brain, the gut, and its microbes flowing smoothly.
-Rob Knight, author of Follow Your Gut and Director of the Center for Microbiome Innovation, UC San Diego
“Drawing on his vast experience as a practicing gastroenterologist, Dr. Emeran Mayer writes about the connections that our brains have with our guts, especially with the microbes that make the gut their home. Describing a rapidly advancing realm of knowledge, this thoughtful and easy-to-read guide provides practical advice to improve health.”
-Martin J. Blaser, MD, author of Missing Microbes
“After a long period of neglect, the enteric nervous system has been recognized as the ‘second brain.’ Dr. Emeran Mayer, a true expert of this topic has now written the best lay-public guide yet to this spectacular part of ourselves. Recommended reading.”
-Antonio Damasio, author of Descartes’ Error, The Feeling of What Happens, and Self Comes to Mind
“Dr. Emeran Mayer has synthesized his vast clinical experience of working with patients with an in depth scientific understanding of brain-gut interactions into this fascinating book about health and disease. The Mind-Gut Connection is a revolutionary new holistic view of what keeps us healthy, ranging from the food choices we make to the ways we can train our mind, with the ultimate goal of attaining optimal health.”
-Kenneth Pelletier, PhD, MD, Clinical Professor of Medicine and Professor of Public Health, University of California School of Medicine (UCSF)
About the Author:
Dr. Emeran Mayer has had a major role in the development of one of the world’s pre-eminent clinical and research programs in digestive diseases over the past 25 years, previously serving as the Founding Chair of UCLA Collaborative Centers for Integrative Medicine, and more recently functioning as the Executive Director of UCLA Center for Neurobiology of Stress, and the Co-Director of the CURE: Digestive Diseases Research Center. He has joint appointment in the Departments of Medicine, Physiology and Psychiatry/ Dr. Mayer has published more than 300 peer reviewed scientific manuscripts including Nature and the New England Journal of Medicine. He has been interviewed for major publications on brain gut interactions, including Psychology Today, the New York Times, the LA Times, Sunday Times of London, The Globe, The Guardian, The Scientific American, and the European magazines Die Zeit and Der Spiegel. His research was recently featured on NPR’s “Morning Edition,” and will be the topic of a PBS Special on gut microbiota brain interactions in the “Natural Health Breakthroughs with Brenda Watson” series, and was the subject of his Ted Talk, “The mysterious origins of gut feelings.”