Approximately 70 percent of your immune system resides in your gut.

In January 2020, Mayo Clinic published an updated fourth edition of “Mayo Clinic on Digestive Health.”

Overall, I was impressed with this book. The format is very straightforward and logical – it almost reminds me of a modern middle school or high school science textbook and could probably be used as such for those who homeschool or for anyone who wishes to understand gastrointestinal anatomy, function, testing and treatment options.

It is a moderately sized paperback with pleasant photos and high-quality paper. Although the content of this resource is very conventional or allopathic (there are very few references to supplements with the rare mention of probiotics and supplemental fiber), I still recommend this reference book for its wealth and breadth of information.

The first section of the book covers “digestive health basics,” including a succinct glossary of medical terms related to gastroenterology. This initial part provides a chapter on guidelines for what to eat for healthy digestion (with which I mostly agree), contains another chapter on common conditions and simple treatment suggestions, and lastly provides a thorough, yet understandable explanation of diagnostic tests which might be ordered for different intestinal issues.

Chapter two is devoted entirely to the emerging gut microbiome. The author uses a great analogy that compares the gut microbiome to an ecosystem. Within this chapter, he also devotes a page to a novel and fascinating treatment called fecal transplantation.

Astonishingly in the second section, “digestive diseases,” the first topic addressed is obesity, which I found extremely progressive. The author explains earlier in the book that “considerable research has linked an unhealthy gut microbiome to the development of obesity in humans.”

The portion of the book which excites me the most is the FODMAP Eating Plan. This diet can be used for any type of dietary distress (bloating, gas, pain, diarrhea, constipation), but it is most frequently recommended for those people who suffer from Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), as up to 76 percent of people with IBS who implement this diet will experience symptom improvement. The author does emphasize that “this diet is not a diet for life. It’s a tool to help you learn which foods agree with you, and which don’t.”

If you give this plan a try and it helps, I encourage you to investigate further, as most people with IBS suffer from a disorder called SIBO, aka small intestinal bacterial overgrowth. The website www.siboinfo.com provides a tremendous wealth of valuable and reliable information on this complicated topic.

The 11-page appendix is a hidden gem, a most concise yet thorough guide that walks you through the elimination, reintroduction and maintenance phase of the low FODMAP diet and gives an extremely complete list of foods allowed and food to avoid. I have already recommended this section to several patients and anticipate I will continue to recommend this entire reference book when appropriate.

Rachel Oppitz has lived in Park Rapids with her husband, daughter and dog since 2006. She is a naturopathic doctor and owns Itasca Naturopathic Clinic in Park Rapids and Bemidji. In her spare time, she loves to read, workout with friends, play games, do jigsaw puzzles, camp, hike, bike, canoe, travel, do guided meditations on Insight Timer, try new recipes, listen to music and journal.