Book review: Gutfull by Dr Joanna McMillan

Gutfull by Dr Joanna McMillan is an audiobook with a wealth of information about how to keep a healthy gut in an easy to understand format.

The author

Dr Joanna McMillan is a nutritionist and dietitian born in Scotland. She is very well known in the Australian dietetics community and the general population as she is very busy with professional webinars, TV shows, etc. She is an author, nutrition consultant and ambassador for many food, nutrition and health organisations and food businesses.

Gutfull by Dr Joanna McMillan

This audiobook is structured in podcast format, i.e. divided in episodes rather than chapters. The episodes are short and, as mentioned before, in a colloquial language aimed at the general population.

Each episode ends with a “get your gutfull” section which is a set of recommendations for optimal gut health.

Who is this book for?

Everyone! This book is designed for the general public, in particular those interested in improving their gut health. Given that gut health is important for pretty much every aspect of health, everyone can benefit from listening to this audiobook.

Book contents

Episode 1: What the Fork?

The audiobook starts trying to clear up the controversy and confusion over what constitutes a healthy diet. Not surprisingly, Dr McMillan suggests there are many healthy dietary approaches as long as they are based on whole foods and avoid ultra-processed foods.

The take-home message is the recommended amounts of vegetables, fruit, nuts and seeds and whole grains per day/week for good gut health.

Episode 2: A Tale of Two Meals

In this episode, Dr Joanna explains how digestion works, starting from before we start eating and including the action of the gut microbiome.

As indicated by the title, this episode is about how our bodies processes two very different meals: a Mediterranean-style tuna & bean salad vs a cheeseburger with fries and soft drink.

The take-home message is eat less junk food and more vegetables (not just salads!).

Episode 3: You’re Not Alone

This episode is about the gut microbiome, why diversity is important and how resistant starch is key for improving diversity and serving as input for the bacterial production of butyrate, a short-chain fatty acid beneficial for multiple aspects of health. Dr McMillan lists food sources of resistant starch and highlights the CSIRO’s recommendation of 15-20 grams of this type of fibre per day to promote good gut health.

Episode 4: Diversity Is King

This episode deals with another kind of diversity: that of the plant foods we eat. Diversity is important for a broad nutrient intake including that of different type of dietary fibres. There is an explanation of the the types of fibres, where to find them and the importance of proper hydration to avoid constipation.

Episode 5: To Eat or Not to Eat

This episode is about fasting. Fasting can improve the composition of the gut microbiome and allow the gut to rest. Dr McMillan recommends a minimum of 12 hours overnight fast, up to 16 hours if desired. She also indicates that prolonged fasting might not be a good idea because it can deprive our gut bacteria from fuel.

Episode 6: It’s Not You It’s Me

This episode deals with food allergies and intolerances, including the differences in diagnosis. There is also mention about antinutrients and the flawed argument that some plant foods are to be avoided based on their antinutrient content, because this is reduced with cooking and preparing methods. This section also covers the definition of prebiotics and probiotics and the main sources of probiotics.

Episode 7: That’s Mental

As hinted by the title, this episode explains the gut-brain axis, the influence of the microbiome on food choices and the impact of the diet on brain function, mood and cognition. Mediterranean-style diets take the centre stage as they limit ultra-processed foods and emphasise the whole foods that have been shown to have a positive impact in mental health.

Episode 8: It’s All hot Air

This episode is about bloating and gas. It normalises farts, a normal aspect of digestion that unfortunately is often misunderstood and made fun of. There is mention of other lifestyle factors such as physical activity and behaviour while eating on how much gas we have.

Episode 9: Blocked & Burned

This section discusses the complications of constipation, including diverticulitis and haemorrhoids. It also discusses the factors that influence constipation, including diet (fibre + water), physical activity and defecation position. Finally, it touches and heartburn, its causes and factors that exacerbate it, plus some tips to help.

Episode 10: Ouch

This section talks about irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), a gut-brain disorder. It explains why gluten-containing grains can cause symptoms, dietary strategies (low FODMAP diet), non-diet strategies (e.g. stress management), herbal medicines and probiotics.

The take-home message to improve IBS symptom is to avoid ultra-processed foods, excess alcohol, spicy foods, and added sugars.

More info

To learn more about the fabulous Dr Joanna, please head to her website.

If you want to read more about gut health topics, please check my articles linked below:

1 thought on “Book review: Gutfull by Dr Joanna McMillan

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this:
search previous next tag category expand menu location phone mail time cart zoom edit close