[Book Review] Healthy Gut Healthy You by Dr. Michael Ruscio
As many of you know, I've spent A LOT of my time over the past two years researching gut health (more specifically healing leaky gut). Like many other wellness practitioners, my initial interest in gut health was borne of my own health issues, which I continue to address. A few months ago, I wrote my Gut Health series (and, naturally, I already want to rewrite the whole thing -- stay tuned), but the research hasn't stopped. I've been following Dr. Michael Ruscio for probably about six months now, mostly via his podcast, "Dr. Ruscio Radio," and I was super excited to get my copy of his new book, Healthy Gut Healthy You, last week. I loved it. Here's my review:
Rather than really start comparing this to a bunch of other specific protocols, I’m just going to tell you what I really l love about the book:
- Objective, scientific approach: Dr. Ruscio uses (and cites) the highest level research possible and is always looking for clinical trials conducted with humans whenever possible. He will occasionally reference and observational study or animal study, but is always careful to point out the limitations that come along with these lower-quality studies. At the same time, he is not limited by lack of quality research in certain areas, but is willing to proceed with caution if there is solid anecdotal evidence or a given theory seems reasonable and is safe. He also provides background info on the different types of study which is really important for most folks as they attempt to navigate the sea of information that is available regarding gut health, autoimmunity, nutrition, and whatever else had led us all to this group.
- No shortage of information: he provides tons of in-depth but easily digestible (pun intended) background knowledge including information on how the gut functions, the importance of recognizing that everyone's microbiome is unique, and why it doesn’t necessarily make sense to try to “copy” the diets of other healthy cultures.
- Dogma-free: I love the ancestral health movement and I'm happy to be a part of it, but like all dietary and fitness ideologies, we are not free from dogmatism. In each of the 22 chapters leading up to his “Great-in-8” protocol, he is constantly providing top-level scientific research to support both sides of each point. For example, certain treatments may show conflicting evidence for the same symptom or issue; Dr. Ruscio breaks down why this occurs, and how you can figure out which treatments are going to work best for you. He is also quick to point out when research on a given treatment is inconclusive or of a lower-quality, and what that means for practical application. While he does encourage the use of paleo, AIP, and low-FODMAP diets, he even admits that a grain-free existence might not be necessary for everyone *GASP.*
- Eschewing unnecessary (and expensive) testing: he discusses why the majority of tests are both inconclusive and unnecessary; most should only be used as a last resort. This alone could potentially save folks thousands of dollars!
- Finding the right ally: he also provides tips for choosing the right healthcare professional (health coach, nutritionist, or doctor) for your needs and red flags for when it is time to find a new doc.
Essentially, he covers virtually every important topic relevant to gut health in incredible detail without making it too dense for those without training or background education to understand. It’s comprehensive, practical, and easily digestible. By the time you get to the 8-step protocol, you understand WHY each phase is so important (personally, I found the details on probiotics absolutely fascinating), WHY such a comprehensive approach is necessary, and WHY the steps occur in the order that they do.
I’m not going to go into the details of his "Great-in-8" protocol. Dr. Ruscio and his team have clearly put a ton of work into creating this book and making high-level information available to all of us, and I think that those who are interested in improving their health should purchase the book. In my opinion, the real beauty of this protocol is that it is set up to provide each individual with the lowest effective dose. Yes, he does end up recommending a supplement protocol for those who do not respond to lifestyle changes alone, but by following the step-by-step plan, you will only spend as much money as you absolutely need to. Is it a instant cure? Of course not. But I think it provides an incredible foundation for building your own personalized protocol.
Personally, I wish I’d had this book two years ago; nevertheless, I am excited to begin incorporating this information in my work with clients as well as my personal health journey. That’s my review, I hope you found it helpful and I’d love to hear other opinions from anyone who decides to read it for themselves!
Lastly, to Dr. Ruscio and his team: thank you for all of your amazing work! People like you inspire me to keep learning and getting better every day!
Disclaimer: I am not a doctor and although I am a certified health coach, I am not your health coach. This information is given solely for educational purposes and is not meant as diagnosis nor treatment of any medical conditions.
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