Book Review of “Happy Gut” by Vincent Pedre, MD

Happy Gut

The Cleansing Program to Help You Lose Weight, Grain Energy, and Eliminate Pain

Below please find a summary of the recent book Happy Gut: The Cleansing Program to Help you Lose Weight, Gain Energy, and Eliminate Pain by Vincent Pedre, MD, a functional medicine internist and clinical instructor in medicine at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine. In his book, Pedre stresses that everything a person eats, drinks and consumes can either create or fix digestive issues. Happy Gut contains gluten-free, low-fat and vegetarian recipe and meal options, a twenty‐eight day full gut cleanse, yoga postures to help with digestion, and examples from Dr. Pedre’s patients to help readers transform their gut and improve health.

Overall, though Dr. Pedre in Happy Gut does say gluten found in wheat and other foods is likely a big contributing factor in people’s digestive health issues, he does allow for the reintroduction of wheat and gluten in the diet if people do not react negatively to them following his cleanse. In addition, a large portion of the book focuses on recipes and relaxation practices rather than the negative health effects of gluten. It’s also worthwhile to note that, like Wheat Belly, Dr. Pedre does not tend to cite hard evidence that supports his negative wheat claims. GFF should continue to leverage its strong grain-positive evidence to refute Dr. Pedre’s stances against wheat and gluten in the diet.


In Happy Gut, Dr. Pedre reveals he suffered from digestive problems that left him feeling stick to his stomach for years before learning he had irritable bowel syndrome, or I.B.S. Dr. Pedre discovered cutting dairy and gluten from his diet and eating organic meats, fresh vegetables and fermented foods reversed many of his digestive issues. According to Dr. Pedre, chronic health problems are therefore linked to a troubled digestive system, which can be fixed through lifestyle and diet choices that influence a person’s microbiota, or the ecological community of microbes residing in the gut. A person’s gut is crucial to overall health, both physically and mentally, because it is responsible for the digestion of food and absorption of nutrients. A healthy gut is one where the digestive surface is able to absorb micronutrients while blocking the entrance of larger, partially digested food particles, bacteria, yeast and parasites. To achieve a happy gut, Dr. Predre explains people must identify any food sensitivity disorders and which foods to eliminate from their diet, including dairy and gluten. Dr. Pedre then takes readers through his step‐by‐step twenty‐eight day Gut C.A.R.E. program (Cleanse, Activate, Restore and Enhance). The C.A.R.E. program eliminates food triggers, clears the gut of unfriendly pathogens and replaces them with healthy probiotics and nutrients to repair and heal the gut through proper supplementation and food suggestions. Dr. Pedre concludes the book by outlining meditation and yoga practices and recipes to healthily feed the gut and calm the brain, leaving the reader feeling better.

Key points:

  • Gut-associated inflammation may cause common symptoms and be a causing factor in more serious illnesses, all of which include:
    • Bloating
    • Indigestion
    • Constipation/ diarrhea
    • Fatigue (through malnutrition)
    • Weight gain (partly due to water retention)
    • Cancers such as:
      • Breast cancer
      • Lymphoma
      • Liver cancer
      • Bladder cancer
  • To achieve a healthy gut, readers should follow the “Happy Gut Diet” and “Gut C.A.R.E. Program” for twenty-eight days, which discourages eating:
    • Sugar, including refined cane sugar and high-fructose corn syrup or any other sweetening derivatives
    • Gluten products
    • Dairy products
    • GMO Soy
    • GMO Corn
    • Legumes such as:
      • Beans, chickpeas, lentils, peas, soybeans, tamarind and peanuts
  • As an integrative physician, Dr. Pedre believes in the innate ability of the body as a whole to heal itself when given the opportunity, and gut health can be restored through the Gut C.A.R.E. Program, which stands for:
    • Cleanse: remove gut irritants, infections, food sensitivities and toxins in food
      • Eliminate high‐sensitivity foods and environmental toxins that rob the body of energy, including wheat and gluten, white rice and potatoes, fruits, coffee and alcohol.
    • Activate: encourage healthy digestion by replacing essential nutrients and enzymes
      • Reactivate the healthy function of the gut by bridging any gaps or deficiencies in the digestive process using supplements that replenish digestive enzymes, bile salts, stomach acids, minerals, vitamins, hypoallergenic proteins, healthy fats and fiber.
    • Restore: reintroduce beneficial bacteria for a healthy gut flora
      • Use probiotics and prebiotics to regulate the intestines with friendly flora (microorganisms that are beneficial to health) and promote their proliferation
    • Enhance: repair, regenerate and heal the intestinal lining
      • Repair damage to the gut lining (the network of cells forming the interior wall of the intestines that help keep pathogens out and allows nutrients to pass through) by eliminating foods, toxins and unfavorable microbes that damage the intestinal lining and introducing appropriate enzymes and nutrients to the gut.
  • The program will heal a person’s gut, get rid of bloating and gas, restore proper digestion, gain energy and eliminate pain. It will also leave people with clearer skin, no more allergies, weight loss and an overall happier mood and clearer mind.

Relevant information to the grain industry:

  • Pages 45- 54: In “Phase 1 of the Happy Gut Diet,” Dr. Pedre explains the foods readers following the diet must avoid at least for the next twenty-‐eight days, if not for a lifetime. Dr. Pedre highlights that he tells his patients to avoid gluten primarily found in wheat. He says gluten has negative effects on the body, including that:
    • It is addictive.
      • A protein from gluten, gliadorphin, interacts with opiate receptors in the brain, mimicking the effects of opiate drugs like heroin and morphine. These compounds affect the temporal lobe, an area in the brain that is associated with speech and hearing comprehension, and is why people often feel cloudy-headed after eating a lot of bread.
    • It contains lectins and phytates, which are anti-‐nutrients found in all gluten-containing grains.
      • Lectins are sugar‐binding proteins so complex that they are resistant to digestion and may be involved in the pathogenesis of diabetes, autoimmune thyroiditis and rheumatoid arthritis.
      • Phytates interfered with the absorption off important minerals like calcium, iron, magnesium copper and zinc, leading to diseases like osteoporosis.
    • It can slow down the metabolism.
      • Gluten in the body can pose a case of mistaken identity because the 3‐D structure of gliadin, the main protein in gluten, looks a lot like thyroid proteins. This can interfere with the body’s thyroid function, leading to autoimmune thyroid disease and weight gain.
  • Between ten and thirty percent of the U.S. population has a sensitivity to gluten and two percent of the population has celiac disease. Many doctors do not believe that gluten sensitivity exists outside the diagnosis of celiac disease, though new research is showing people can become sensitive to gluten without developing autoimmune celiac disease.
    • Dr. Pedre stresses the best test to determine gluten sensitivity is by removing gluten from the diet and monitoring it for changes to occur, such as weight loss, increased focus and energy.
  • Though there are a variety of gluten‐containing grains and foods like barley, bulgur, couscous and farro, Dr. Pedre advises that many foods eaten regularly may contain hidden gluten. Examples include:
    • Couscous
    • Brown rice syrup
    • Pumpernickel
  • Page 74: Dr. Pedre outlines the grains that are included in the Happy Gut Diet, and these are:
    • Quinoa
    • Millet
    • Amaranth
    • Buckwheat
    • Brown rice
    • Rice bran
    • Gluten‐free oats (preferably steel‐cut)
    • Teff
  • Page 101: During the “Restore” phase of the Gut C.A.R.E. Program, Dr. Pedre stresses consumers must include foods rich in insoluble fibers to provide bulk to stools and prevent constipation. Because these fibers do not dissolve in water, they pass through the gut relatively intact, promoting the passage of food and waste. The best sources of insoluble fibers include:
    • Brown rice
    • Whole grains
  • Pages 137- 138: In the “Reintroduction” phase of the Gut C.A.R.E. Plan, Dr. Pedre stresses followers of the plan can add back foods they were not eating during phase one, but must be reintroduced in a specific order, with wheat and gluten as the tenth and final food allowed back in the diet.
    • If after four days followers do not react to wheat and gluten reintroduced in the diet, they may add it back to their diet.
  • Pages 157- 160: Dr. Pedre defines the differences between gluten intolerance and celiac disease and how to diagnose and test celiac disease.
    • Ultimately, Dr. Pedre says that when a person develops celiac disease, the villous lining of the small intestine suffers from inflammation and is flattened out, reducing the total area to absorb nutrients. This leads to vitamin and mineral deficiencies and destroys gut health.