Maryann Bucknum Brinley

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Upper Montclair, NJ 07043-1810

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Extraordinary at Ordinary

Searching for extraordinary science and understanding in the everyday ordinary of life

Gut Wisdom

Maryann Bucknum Brinley - Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Buy this book! Gut: The Inside Story of Our Body’s Most Underrated Organ by Giula Enders, a 25-year-old doctoral student at the Institute for Medical Microbiology in Frankfurt, Germany, is absolutely wonderful. I know. I know. Who really wants to read about Charming Bowels (or Darm mit Charme the title of her book before it was translated and marketed for U.S. readers)? We all should.

Interviewed for the New York Times by Jesse Coburn, Enders sounds delightful and even credits her grandmother who helped raise her, for helping to make her so creatively curious about life. (Go Grammies of the world!) “Intellectuality doesn’t have to be so serious,” she says. Coburn’s profile, “A German Writer Translates a Puzzling Illness Into a Best-Selling Book,” published on June 19th, is beautifully written.

As a teenager, Enders got sick and ended up with sores covering her body. Nothing doctors recommended cleared up her dermatological nightmare and it got so bad that the lesions weeped “through her pants.” She tried everything, “pretty crazy experiments on myself.” Meanwhile, official diagnoses were vague, calling it “some kind of nervous eczema.” A C-section baby, she began to suspect that her skin was the sign of someone with “an intestinal condition.” Eventually she was able to get it under control on her own, realizing that “knowledge was power.” Thus began her fascinating journey into gastroenterology.

“The intestines are totally charming,” Enders says, pointing out the “sophisticated communication between our inner and outer sphincter muscles and the some hundred trillion bacteria in our guts that facilitate digestion” to Coburn. Did you know that our digestive tract produces more than 20 kinds of hormones and accounts for two-thirds of our immune system? Studying medicine led Enders to question whether her C-section birth and bottle, not breast-feeding had left her gut ill prepared for life. “The influence of the gut on our health and well-being is one of the new lines of research is modern medicine,” she writes. Look at all the research now into the body’s microbiome! Enders says, “I know there are many patients suffering from unpleasant conditions, frustrated by the medical world…What I can do is show why the gut is so fascinating” and share “exciting new research currently underway…to improve our daily lives.”

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