Lillian Wilson

The Gut-Immune Connection by Emeran Mayer

Find out how to optimise your physical and mental by enhancing your gut microbiome diversity with the book 'The Gut-Immune Connection.'

The Gut-Immune Connection

The book has gotten 3.76 ⭐️ on GoodReads.

“In Medicine, the ‘Holy Trinity’ means something different: the brain, the gut, and the immune system. Each contributes to health through its effects on the others. We’re lucky, because Emeran Mayer is an expert in each. And he knows the only way to fix all three at once is to fix the food.” 
– Robert Lustig, MD., author of Fat Chance and The Hacking of the American Mind

In today’s world, numerous gut-related problems, such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and other gastrointestinal disorders, have become increasingly prevalent. Recognising the need to address these issues, Emeran Mayer, a renowned author and expert in the field, has written a book titled ‘The Gut-Immune Connection.‘ Mayer’s extensive background in medicine and his own personal experiences have uniquely positioned him to explore the intricate relationship between gut health and overall well-being.

Author’s background

Emeran A. Mayer, MD, is an accomplished medical professional and researcher who has dedicated his career to studying the intricate connections between the mind, brain, and body, with a special focus on the bidirectional communication between the brain, the gut, and its microbiome.

Emeran A. Mayer (r)

He currently serves as the executive director of the Oppenheimer Center for Stress and Resilience and the Co-director of the Digestive Diseases Research Center at the University of California, Los Angeles.

With over 40 years of experience, Dr. Mayer has authored numerous scientific publications and books. His contributions and expertise have been featured in various media outlets, including NPR, PBS, the Atlantic, Scientific American, and the New York Times. Dr. Mayer currently resides in Los Angeles.

Dr. Mayer’s work has been recognised and honoured with prestigious awards, including the 2016 Paul D. MacLean Award from the American Psychosomatic Society.

What is the book about?

In his groundbreaking book, ‘The Gut-Immune Connection,’ esteemed microbiome expert Dr. Emeran A. Mayer presents a compelling argument for the critical role of the gut microbiome in the health crises of the 21st century. Dr. Mayer explores the profound impact of diet- and lifestyle-induced changes in the gut microbiome on neurological, emotional, and cognitive health.

Dr. Mayer’s extensive research and evidence reveal that the intricate connections taking place between the trillions of microorganisms in our gut and our various organs and bodily systems are fundamental to human well-being.

‘The Gut-Immune Connection’ sheds light on the link between alterations in the gut microbiome and the development of chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, brain disorders, cancer, and even susceptibility to infectious diseases like COVID-19. Moreover, Dr. Mayer emphasises the interconnectedness of the gut microbiome, food production practices, and the health of our planet.

The book covers a wide range of topics, including:

  • Exploring the impact of stress on gut health and its potential transmission from one generation to another.

  • Unveiling the effects of stress during pregnancy on gut function.

  • Examining the intriguing connection between gut microbes and brain health.

  • Delving into the role of the microbiota in relation to depression.

  • Understanding the influence of stress on gut health.

  • Uncovering the significance of positive emotions in overall well-being.

  • Investigating the allure of comfort foods and their impact on the gut.

  • Strategies to enhance and maximise gut microbial diversity for improved health.

Dr. Mayer provides strategies to reverse the alarming rise of these illnesses, including a nutrition model that prioritises the health of the microbiome. The book also includes a delightful section of recipes, offering a variety of options. While Dr. Mayer generally recommends a plant-based diet, there are also recipes for chicken and salmon dishes.

Table of contents

  • Dedication
  • Introduction Chapter One: America’s Silent Public Health Crisis
  • Chapter Two: A Deeper Connection
  • Chapter Three: The Emerging View of a Healthy Gut Microbiome
  • Chapter Four: Stress and Brain Disorders
  • Chapter Five: How Diet Regulates the Brain-Gut-Microbiome Network
  • Chapter Six: A Broader Connection: How Exercise and Sleep Affect Our Microbiome
  • Chapter Seven: Restoring the Gut Microbiome
  • Chapter Eight: The Key to Gut Health Is in the Soil
  • Chapter Nine: The One-Health Concept
  • Chapter Ten: A New Paradigm for Healthy Eating Recipes
  • Mains
  • Wild Rice with Mushrooms
  • Moroccan Lentil and Chickpea Stew with Candied Walnut and Chia Seed Garnish
  • Candied Walnut and Chia Seed Garnish
  • Seared Sea Bass with Cauliflower “Rice” Pilaf
  • Reinvented Shepherd’s Pie
  • Pasta Dishes
  • Pasta con Sarde
  • Cauliflower Fettuccine Alfredo with Homemade Cashew Cheese
  • Homemade Cashew Cheese
  • Pasta del Frutta di Mare
  • Spaghetti al Funghi
  • Walnut Dukkah-Crusted Salmon with Lemony Kale
  • Lemony Kale
  • Burrito Bowl with Yogurt Cilantro Dressing
  • Spinach and Cheese Frittata
  • Breaded Chicken with Vegetables
  • Cauliflower Chickpea Couscous
  • Saag Paneer
  • Super Bowls
  • Power Bowl T
  • ropical Bowl
  • Fiber Bowl
  • Polyphenol Bowl
  • Chia Oat Bowl with Fruit
  • Seed Parfait
  • Smoothies
  • Pomegranate Chocolate Smoothie
  • Mango Ginger Tango
  • Green Machine
  • Berry Fantasy
  • Salads
  • Ancient Grain Salad
  • Braised Red Cabbage
  • Spinach and Broccoli Salad with Sauerkraut Dressing
  • Garlicky Kale Caesar Salad with Flaxseed Croutons
  • Flaxseed Croutons
  • Neuro-Niçoise Salad
  • Butter Lettuce, Avocado, and Citrus Salad
  • Beet Salad with Goat Cheese
  • Mung Bean Sprout Salad
  • Avocado Hummus Dip
  • Kale and Lentil Salad
  • Sautéed Vegetables with Mustard Vinaigrette
  • Sandwiches
  • Avocado Egg Toast
  • Spanish Mackerel Salad Sandwiches
  • Veggie Burger
  • Desserts
  • B-RAW-nie
  • Cacao Yogurt with Mixed Berries
  • Pressure-Cooker Blueberry-Millet Pudding
  • World’s Healthiest (and Easiest) Pecan Pie
  • Meal Plans
  • Nutritional Values for Gut-Healthy Food
  • Acknowledgments
  • Recipe Resources
  • Notes
  • Index
  • About the Author
  • Also by Emeran Mayer, MD
  • Copyright
  • About the Publisher

Key takeaways from ‘The Gut-Immune Connection’

1Imbalance in gut microbiota can lead to poor mental health and depression

The gut microbiota plays a vital role in mental well-being, specifically its influence on serotonin production. A surprising 90% of serotonin is produced by enterochromaffin cells in the gut, and the remaining 10% by brain cells.

Serotonin, responsible for regulating optimism and happiness, is primarily produced in the gut. Consequently, an imbalanced gut microbiome can contribute to depression, alongside other factors like genetics and environmental stress. Research on rats indicates that altering the gut microbiota to an unfavourable composition can result in depressed behaviours, emphasising the importance of maintaining a healthy gut for optimal mental health.

The book highlights the crucial role of gut microbes in various aspects of our health, including mental well-being. It emphasises that imbalances in gut bacteria can contribute to conditions like depression, anxiety, and neurodegenerative diseases. Understanding and nurturing the gut-brain connection is essential for overall health.

2There is a potential connection between gut health and Alzheimer’s disease

The book states that there is a potential link between gut health and the development of Alzheimer’s disease. Chronic activation of immune cells in the gut lining can lead to the release of inflammatory molecules.

Research suggests that the presence of certain types of bacteria, such as Gram-negative bacteria, particularly in abundance due to a high-fat animal diet, can trigger immune cells and cause the release of cytokines, which are inflammation molecules. These molecules can travel through the bloodstream and reach the brain, activating glial cells and contributing to the production of inflammation molecules within the brain. This process can lead to the deterioration of brain cells associated with Alzheimer’s disease.

3It is vital to pay attention to gut microbiota development from the earliest stages of life

Throughout the book, Dr. Mayer emphasises the importance of prioritising the establishment of a healthy microbial community in children from birth to age three. Human gut microbe diversity reaches a stable state by the time a child turns three years old. Beyond this age, it becomes challenging for adults to significantly increase microbial diversity through probiotic supplementation.

Dr. Mayer gives several recommendations that can help to develop diverse microbiota in children. For instance, natural delivery allows for the transfer of beneficial bacteria from the mother’s vagina to the baby, establishing a favourable starting point for the infant’s gut. Breastfeeding until the age of three, if possible, provides the child with the mother’s milk containing prebiotics known as HMOs, which support the growth of beneficial bacteria and aid in healthy brain development. Additionally, chronic stress in childhood can disrupt the balance of the gut microbiome, creating an environment for pathogenic bacteria to thrive and potentially leading to gastrointestinal issues in adulthood.

Strengths and weaknesses, according to readers’ reviews


  • Provides accessible information about the functioning of the digestive system and its relationship with the brain, making it suitable for general readers interested in physical and mental health.

  • Offers practical suggestions and lifestyle recommendations to improve gut health. It provides dietary guidelines, stress management techniques, and tips for fostering a healthy gut microbiome, making it accessible for readers looking to implement changes in their lives.

  • Addresses a topic that is often overlooked but culturally recognised, bridging the gap between cultural beliefs and scientific understanding of the gut-brain connection.

  • Resonates with readers who have digestive issues, offering potential explanations for immune system problems and practical solutions for self-help, leading to improved health and functionality.


  • Contains filler writing, repetitive information and a layout that is hard to follow.

  • Lacks proper referencing and quotations, making it challenging to track the sources of the author’s claims.

Best quotes from ‘The Gut-Immune Connection’

"The longitudinal studies on breast-fed infants have shown the longer an infant is breast-fed, the larger his brain is, a trait associated with improved cognitive development." 
"What we experienced first-hand in our few days of living in this environment showed that the close interdependence of historical, spiritual, environmental, and biological factors contributes significantly to the impressive health benefits of the Mediterranean diet." 
“Traditionally, a large part of our healthcare system – a more appropriate name for it would be our disease care system – has focused almost exclusively on treating the symptoms of the chronic disease, maximizing its efforts on expensive screening diagnostics and equally expensive long-term pharmacological treatments.”

Final takeaway

Overall, ‘The Gut-Immune Connection’ provides valuable insights into the relatively new field of research on the impact of gut health on overall well-being. As Dr. Mayer highlights, scientists are only scratching the surface of understanding these complex interactions. This informative book serves as a stepping stone for further exploration.

People seeking a deeper understanding of gut health and its impact on various aspects of well-being would definitely enjoy reading it. It is particularly valuable for those dealing with gut-related problems such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and gastrointestinal disorders.

Where to buy

You may purchase ‘The Gut-Immune Connection’ on Amazon at the best price. It is available in Kindle, paperback, hardcover and audio versions, so you are free to choose the format that suits you best.

Healthypedia FAQ

Yes, the book offers practical recommendations and lifestyle suggestions for improving gut health. It provides dietary guidelines, stress management techniques, and tips for fostering a healthy gut microbiome. These practical suggestions make the book accessible and actionable for readers looking to implement positive changes in their lives.

The book primarily focuses on the author's perspective and does not extensively cover alternative viewpoints or conflicting research. While it provides a comprehensive understanding of the gut-brain connection, readers who are interested in exploring a range of perspectives on gut health may need to supplement their reading with additional sources.

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