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Brendan O'Connor: 'Men don't have guts like they used to'


Take steps to achieve a healthy gut

Take steps to achieve a healthy gut

Take steps to achieve a healthy gut

Will we look back on the era of the gut and laugh at ourselves? I mean, I'm buying into it for now. I'm buying into it wholesale. Right now, denying the fact that the gut is the most important part of our body that determines not only our physical health, but our mental and emotional health, would be akin to being a climate change denier. It's science innit? And you can't argue with science apparently. Until new science argues with old science. We may have to pivot at that point. But for now we need to abide by the Gospel of the Gut.

There's an element of patriotism to the whole gut thing as well. Much of the gut research seems to be emanating from Cork, a small republic on the southern tip of Ireland. So loyalty requires we don't question it.

So I have become an avid gardener. Not of the outside kind but of the inside kind. It's all about minding your man or lady garden now - the microbiome, which is mainly in the gut. So roughly speaking they tell us that there is a garden in our stomach, made up of trillions of bacteria, and we have to keep it tended and keep up the biodiversity in there. Not only will this keep your guts in good working order, it also apparently prevents depression, because it seems that depression is caused by inflammation and the gut is involved in that. Inflammation is another big thing these days. Along with the gut it's apparently the cause of all our problems. To which you might suggest that we should just take anti-inflammatories then. But you see you can't do that too much. Because in an ironic twist, anti-inflammatories are bad for the guts. When it comes to gardening, I'm one of those people who takes the easy way out and just throws money at the problem.

If you want to tend your gut garden the proper way you need to eat like 100 different kinds of greens every week, and all sorts of disgusting fermented stuff like kimchi and kefir. Kefir is like an alien thing that you can grow yourself. Someone gifts you a starter which is some kind of weird grainy life form, and then you seem to let it burp and fart in your kitchen for a while, and then you drink it.

Now don't get me wrong, but if something is farting and burping of its own accord, before hitting your stomach, I'm not putting that into me. A Glenilen yogurt is as far as I'm willing to go in the direction of kefir.

So I'm doing the shortcut, taking the probiotics. And not just one probiotic. I'm now taking the Zenflore as well, which is, as the name suggests, to keep you calm, through the gut. How they have figured out how to make the garden grow in the exact way that would keep you calm I don't understand, and I'm about as zen as an A & E department.

But obviously the question is how less zen might I be if I stop taking the zen one. I've also now added prebiotics into the mix. You can't even get them in the shop. We had to buy them over the internet, like headshop drugs. Michael Mosley mentioned them somewhere. So they're in the mix. And then there's a kind of psyllium husk powder that my wife picked up one day at a healthy festival.

I am currently in danger of being the first person to go into bankruptcy due to overspending on gut supplements. Or maybe there'll be blocky Russian guys from the internet calling around to the house to collect on my prebiotic debts.

So there you go. That is the kind of crazy middle-aged old fart I've become. Obsessing about my gut. Another few years it'll be regularity and stools.

And all for what? Generations of men have gone before me and many of them lived to a ripe old age without biotics or husks or belching blobs. And some of them didn't. Some of them were lucky and some weren't so lucky. And they knew they weren't gods who could control everything. But they got on with it stoically.

And when they talked about having guts back then, they meant something else entirely.

Sunday Indo Living