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Neglecting your gut can destroy your health. Here’s what you need to do

Gut health affects everything from your mood and weight to your chances of contracting deadly diseases. So how do you optimise your gut microbiome - the tiny organisms that have such a huge impact on your wellbeing? We went to Dr Emeran Mayer, the world’s leading gut health expert, to find out
Dr Emeran Mayer, MD
Dr Emeran Mayer, MD

Dr Emeran Mayer, MD, is a world renowned gastroenterologist and neuroscientist with 35 years of experience in the study of clinical and neurobiological aspects of how the digestive system and the nervous system interact in health and disease. He is a distinguished research professor in the Departments of Medicine, Physiology and Psychiatry at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA. He has published 415 scientific papers and authored the best-selling books The Mind Gut Connection; The Gut Immune Connection; and the recipe book Interconnected Plates. Follow him on Instagram and X. Visit emeranmayer.com.

Dr Emeran Mayer: How to fix your gut

The gut is often called our “second brain” for the huge role and influence it has in our physical and mental health and wellbeing.

But it should really be known as our original brain. Go back far enough on our family tree and you’ll find a common ancestor of all vertebrates alive today who had a digestive system long before the cerebellum, parietal lobe or thalamus evolved.

It’s little wonder then that our gut is intrinsically involved in so many bodily functions outside of its core remit of extracting nutrition from the food we eat and getting rid of the waste, not least its role in managing metabolism, modulation of the immune system and creating hormones. What’s more, the bacteria that call your gut and digestive tract home have a huge say in how good you look, feel and perform.

What is more surprising is how little we still know and understand about how the gut works, and the myriad intricate and interconnected ways it works with other parts of the brain and body.

Improve your gut health

At the current leading edge of our knowledge is Dr Emeran Mayer, distinguished research professor in the Departments of Medicine, Physiology and Psychiatry at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, and Founding Director of the UCLA Brain Gut Microbiome Center.

His work and research have hugely advanced our understanding of optimising gut health and combating increasingly common gut-related health issues, including Crohn’s disease and Irritable Bowel Syndrome.

In our exclusive interview with Professor Mayer we discover the latest state of play on our understand of how the gut works and uncover why debilitating conditions such as IBS, which often begin as a slight physical ailment before advancing into a major psychological health risk, are on the rise in all parts of the Western world.

We also learn what simple steps you can take, starting today, to improve your physical health and mental happiness by taking better care of your gut and digestive system, and ask whether expensive big budget advertising campaigns purporting the gut-health benefits of dietary supplements, prebiotic drinks and probiotic yoghurts are worth your hard-earned cash.

Dr Emeran Mayer: Put your gut health first!

How to eat for a healthier, happier gut

The best supplements for a healthier gut

The mind tricks, tools and hacks to improve your gut health

The next generation of gut health management and treatment

The Mind-Gut-Immune Connection: Understanding How Food Impacts Our Mind, Our Microbiome, and Our Immunity by Dr Emeran Mayer (£14.99, Harper) is out now.

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