Spector (Genetic Epidemiology/King’s Coll. London; Identically Different: Why We Can Change Our Genes, 2013) asserts that essential digestive microbes are major determinants of body composition.
Following a jarring health scare that led to a personal “wake-up call,” the author began investigating how to improve his own health through a proactively healthful food plan and wound up juggling confusing, conflicted “quackery” with a bounty of counterintuitive diets (Atkins, Paleolithic, South Beach, etc.). Spector’s employed groups of 50 individuals along with thousands of adult twins he’d already been studying for two decades, supplemented with his own personal biology, all in an effort to “separate the effects of diet and environment from the effects of our genes.” After delineating the details of human microbe colonization, Spector analyzes key dietary macronutrients like fat, protein, carbohydrate, sugar, and fiber components and how they correspond to the accumulation or decimation of human gut bacteria, which primarily thrive on the kind of natural, nutrient-dense, diversified food sources many avoid. Alongside discussions of sugary drinks and unsavory yet prevalent “chubby” cheese mites, Spector bolsters his arguments with anecdotes from exceptional experiments akin to his own short-lived unpasteurized French cheese diet (“to test the best variety of French cheeses to provide a wide variety of microbes”). The author fully supports the idea that a healthy amount of stomach flora naturally wards off harmful microbes, while a diet rich in highly processed food destroys scores of these organisms, leaving the body susceptible to deteriorative disease. While Spector’s skepticism about calorie counting and probiotics may raise eyebrows, serious foodies and wellness experts will best appreciate his urgency at addressing what he deems a burgeoning global “nutritional disaster.”
A concise, entertaining book that demystifies the benefits of balanced microbes through healthier eating.