Why your wind smells of roses – The Life of Poo book review

Well now, a book all about poo, why would anyone want to read this you may ask, surely the grim subject of poo is not something to read about – certainly not in public or polite company, I imagine you thinking. This thought briefly entered my head as I picked up the book in the bookstore and I do confess, even as a professional working in the area of digestion and more than happy to talk about poo in clinic, I purchased it online – it came in a brown package. If you are wondering whether to read on – this is not a post for those with a ‘delicate’ disposition (who perhaps belong in the eighteenth century) or one to read on your tablet at the breakfast table. You have been warned.

It might surprise you to know, you really ought to read this book. How can I persuade you to take a quick peek? How about the post title? Have you ever said, with an air of superiority, ‘my wind smells of roses, that smell cannot possibly be down to me’? You are correct it seems, at least in very small doses anyway. The ‘flower’ odour usually appears at much lower doses than is produced by a ‘silent but deadly’ however, but I’d bet you didn’t expect that did you? Adam writes that skatole and indole, the gases found in malodorous wind, smell of flowers in small concentrations.

A very surprising incident happened whilst out walking yesterday, my hubby stated this very fact when smelling hawthorn blossom. Wow, I thought, how does he know that? I really couldn’t believe it, I had only read this fact in Adams book the day before.  Well the story behind his knowledge is a bit more grim than Adam’s fascinating publication. So now I have told you about my husbands experience you want to know about it, don’t you? My husband is a chemist, he worked in a company making pharmaceutical products, one of which utilised the chemicals indole and skatole – “oh, good grief”  I exclaimed, “what sort of pharmaceutical product uses those?” “dog trainer liquid” was the response – the mind boggles. My husband had the unfortunate experience of contaminating his lab coat with these very chemicals and not only that, then proceeded to wander down to the restaurant in said lab coat, at lunch time. Chaos ensued, this had the effect of teaching him the very good lesson of removing his lab coat before dining, which one should always do, to prevent ingestion of nasty chemicals and nauseating diners. He showed absolutely no sense of embarrassment though, surprisingly enough and regaled the story with a good degree of relish.

Now, back to the topic in hand. This book is factually correct, very amusing in places and does have a small reference to irritable bowel syndrome and inflammatory bowel disease in it’s chapters – something for everyone then! It discusses the microbiota, antibiotics, prebiotics, probiotics and the microbiota’s relationship with health and disease. Very topical and containing everything of interest to me. I really like the examples used in the book to describe some complex concepts in simple easy to read form. If you want to know more about poo – yes you really do, think of it this way, it’s like looking in the bowl before flushing, you know you really should (but DO put the lid down before the flush, read a lot more about that in the book) – then I can’t think of a better book to buy.


This book was purchased by myself.

Why does asparagus make your wee smell? – Book Review

My husband has received this book as a Christmas present and I am afraid he has not had much chance to read it yet! I am a bibliophile and I also have a passion for graphic design and chemistry (I gained a degree in polymer science and technology before I studied dietetics.) This book covers all my passions and as such I’m afraid I pinched it on the very day he received it and have not put it down yet. Of course he can have it back 🙂 – but he doesn’t usually settle down to read a book present immediately he has opened it (unlikely a bibliophile then!) and he does know I have it, so I am not being that mean!

Now back to the book, it is written in a very clear and understandable way, very important for a book covering the chemistry of popular food science and the info-graphics are a great way of showing the compounds involved. I wish info-graphics were available when I learned about chemistry, as my method of learning is very much visually I would have found this process a little easier. The author Andy Brunning is a chemistry teacher in Cambridge who is also the author of the website http://www.compoundchem.com/ which has similar blog posts, the website is really worth a visit if you have an interest in chemistry. I cannot find any negative aspects to this book, even the price is affordable for a hardback.

Some of the questions that particularly attracted my attention were:

Why do some people hate Brussels sprouts? – this might not be the reason you are thinking of!

Why do beans give you flatulence? Yes, this is the very reason you are thinking – I have also written about this very problem here, they are a fodmap!

Why are some people allergic to nuts?

Does MSG cause Chinese restaurant syndrome?

Of course, other posts might be more interest to you. The book has references at the back for all you scientists out there to do some further reading – although I guarantee this will be a little less stimulating.


Gulp, Adventures on the Alimentary Canal – a review!

gulpGulp – Adventures on the Alimentary Canal, is the perfect book for my blog! This is a wonderful lighthearted trip down the digestive tract with lots of fun, facts and interesting comments. Mary writes genuinely funny chapters on diverse subjects such as designing pet food (your pet is not like you – really, you should read this), how to survive being swallowed alive to the exploits of surgeon William Beaumont who experimented on the hapless Alexis St Martin who was left with a fistula from his stomach to the surface of his skin after a shooting – facilitating many a gruesome experiment. Sounds a bit ghastly but Mary treats each subject in such a cheerful way you really wouldn’t know it.

Just the ticket if you have some spare Christmas cash left over – I read the book in less than a weekend, couldn’t put it down and couldn’t stop laughing. I will leave you with a taster 😉 from the back of her book

“How have physicists made crisps crispier? What do laundry detergent and saliva have in common? Was self-styled ‘nutritional economist’ Horace Fletcher right to persuade  millions of people that chewing a bite of shallot 700 times would yield double the vitamins? Did Elvis actually die of constipation?”

Now – tell me you are not even a little interested?


This book was provided as a birthday gift from a friend – couldn’t resist telling everyone about it.

Book Review The Complete Idiots Guide to Eating Well with IBS Kate Scarlata RD

This book is a comprehensive guide to eating with irritable bowel syndrome. It is very user-friendly, you can dip in for a quick read or take your time. I liked the summaries at the end of every chapter and the hints and tips are very useful. The book contains lots of recipes all with nutritional breakdown and a gut fact attached to each one! Covering the fact that healthy eating – with foods that are tolerated – is very important.  The foods that can be problematic are covered and Kate does explain, in user-friendly terms, the reasons why these foods can result in symptoms, but also adds that everyone’s symptoms are individual, so it’s advisable to use the advice accordingly. She also explains how to use a food and symptom diary to identify problematic foods, which is extremely useful for those people who are managing their IBS symptoms themselves.

The book is published for the American market, red flag symptoms are discussed, however one area that does differ in the UK is the identification of people with coeliac disease. Please note that everyone (children and adults,) who have IBS should be, or have been, screened by serological testing (blood tests – endomysial antibody (EMA) IgA and/or tissue transglutaminase antibody tTGA) for coeliac disease, in the UK. At the time of the writing of the book, the emphasis on testing IBS patients for coeliac disease was geared more toward those with IBS-D in the US, the author (in her private practice) however, recommends that all of her IBS clients be tested for coeliac prior to altering their diet. These are guidelines from the National Institute of Clinical Health & Excellence (NICE) available here:-


I have seen patients’ whose main symptom of coeliac disease is constipation, so everyone is at risk and should be tested. Ask your GP and eat wheat, barley and rye (bread, pasta, chappatis, some breakfast cereals) before your test, see above guidelines. Read what Coeliac UK have to say here:-


Other differences I noticed was histamine intolerance was mentioned in the book – this is not well recognised in the UK, but it can be identified by your dietitian by using elimination diets and is likely to be covered somewhat in an additives free diet (benzoate additives for example, but substances that promote a histamine response are also found naturally in some fermented foods.) It is also advised for people on certain antidepressants – the MAOI (Monoamine Oxidase Inhibitor) diet, to help people avoid dangerous rises in blood pressure, this diet is rarely seen now in general dietetic practice.


Other food intolerances are also mentioned, it is important to see a state registered dietitian if you suspect you have histamine intolerance as identifying these rare intolerances can be challenging.

This book is certainly worth considering if you want to buy a book to help you manage your IBS symptoms, I particularly liked the chapter on travelling and eating out, often areas where it is difficult to acquire advice. The book also discussed lifestyle factors and other areas outside the area of Low FODMAP foods, which is also included, and as such it should contain advice that can help most people with IBS who feel that their diet, or eating in general is problematic.

This book was provided free of charge by the author.