Book Review: The Clever Guts Diet by Dr Michael Mosley

Written by Guest reviewer on Wednesday, 12 July 2017.
Tagged: book review, gut, microbiome, nutrition, probiotic, resistant starch, review

Book Review: The Clever Guts Diet by Dr Michael Mosley

Love him or loathe him, you have to hand it to Michael Mosley, he does practice what he preaches. In this, his latest book - not really a diet book - he details some fascinating research (some of it done ON him) and some simple ways you can take advantage of its findings.

How to revolutionise your body from the inside out

This is the subtitle of the book and a more accurate description of its purpose. Mosley himself admits it's not really a "diet book" in his introduction, and one has to wonder if the publishing PR gurus won the title battle.

Mosley tells us that in addition to what we all know the gut does, i.e. transforms food into the nutrients and energy our bodies need, it also "... accounts for most of our immune system and produces more than two dozen hormones that influence everything from our appetite to our mood."

The book presents some interesting facts. For instance:

  1. There are 1 to 2 kg of microbes in your gut and this is what is known as the microbiome.
  2. There are over 100 million neurons in the gut forming what is called the enteric system – a sort of second brain. These neurons “communicate” with the microbiome which can affect your behaviour and feelings including eating habits, cravings, moods etc.
  3. The microbiome regulates body weight, controls hunger signals, decides which foods we crave, and how much our blood sugar spikes and which foods cause it to spike.
  4. Our army of microbes also protects the guts from invaders and regulates our immune system.
  5. The microbiome converts the indigestible bits of food into a wide range of hormones and chemicals.
  6. There is also some evidence that changing the microbiome may reduce anxiety and depression.
  7. Research has shown that the microbiome is an active participant in the yo-yo dieting phenomenon. According to the researchers “...yo-yo dieting, at least in mice, creates an unhealthy biome, rich in bacteria that are hell bent on destroying flavonoids, which in turn leads to rapid weight gain.”

Challenging the “Calories in, Calories out” equation.

M MosleyWe are often told that regulating weight is a simple matter of matching Calories ingested with Calories expended in exercise. The Clever Guts Diet challenges this notion because research shows that the "bacteria in your gut can influence how many of the Calories that go in, stay in." What's more, each person's gut treats food differently. We all know someone who can eat cream cakes with impunity yet someone else only has to LOOK at a cream cake to put on kilos.

"bacteria in your gut can influence how many of the Calories that go in, stay in."

Michael Mosley details research that shows that the Glycaemic Index, which is a measure of how quickly our blood sugar spikes after eating different foods, may not be as helpful as first thought, as different people experience the same foods differently.

In fact there is some research that shows that we need individual diets - diets that are tailored to the particular bacteria that are present in our guts. The book elaborates on some interesting research done on this at the Weizmann Institute in Israel.

A diverse microbiome = a happy gut = a healthy body

After presenting much interesting research, Mosley advises us that the more diverse our microbiome, i.e. the more different types of bacteria we have in our guts, the healthier we will be. The rest of Part 1 of the book is taken up with showing how we can effect a positive change on our microbiome.

The foods to favour – whole foods, fresh foods, fermented foods, good oil, etc and the foods and additives to avoid – processed foods, junk foods, emulsifiers and artificial sweeteners – which he says have been shown to a have a deleterious effect on the variety and health of our gut microbes. Part 2 tells you how to reboot your biome and repair any damage and this is followed by a recipe section.

My niggles

I enjoyed reading this book. It’s well-written and presents some difficult concepts in easy-to-understand language but it’s the recipe section I don’t like. Maybe I’m just being picky.

It has trendy ingredients like almond milk – hardly a naturally occurring food; coconut oil, full of saturated fat, and as far as I am aware there’s no credible research that asserts it’s healthy; and an “Anti-inflammatory salad dressing” containing raw turmeric. Dr Mosley’s own TV show “Trust me I’m a doctor” showed that uncooked turmeric had none of the anti-inflammatory effects alleged for it and that these were only to be had by cooking the turmeric.

My conclusion

If you’re interested to learn about your gut, how it works, the effects it has and the importance it holds for your overall health and wellbeing then I recommend you take a look at The Clever Guts Diet. It’s not a big book – only the first 185 pages detailing the research and its findings plus another 103 pages on the repair and reboot, and the recipes.


The Clever Guts Diet : How to Revolutionise Your Body from the Inside Out by (author) Michael Mosley , with Tanya Borowski
Paperback | 288 pages
Published by Short Books in 2017 in the UK
Available from The Book Depository with free postage.

Thanks to Munaiba Khan, a retired naturopath with an interest in nutrition.