Oven-baked ratatouille with Prawn

If exercise now can be prescribed as medicine, wouldn’t foods also be prescriptive? I’d like to share this list of must-watch videos that has helped my team and I at Asia Fitness Today in our search for interventions for non-communicable diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, hypertension, lung disease, dementia and many many more. This (re)search has taken me seven years ever since I lost my father to blood cancer or leukemia unexpectedly in 2015, and witnessed too many friends and clients fall ill with lifestyle diseases. As a fitness coach, I was determined to find a solution for myself and for my clients who wanted to lose weight, build muscle and be healthy. All this while, I was convinced that illness was brought about by sedentary lifestyles, but I soon realised that it was more than that. It wasn’t about how much we moved. Food was also a major factor in our health outcomes. I hope you will enjoy watching these videos and that it can bring about change in your life or for someone you know.

1. Reversing Type 2 diabetes starts with ignoring the guidelines

By Dr. Sarah Hallberg

AFT Ed: We write this article celebrating Dr. Sarah Hallberg’s life. A pioneer educator in metabolic disease, a Doctor of Osteopathy from Des Moines University as well as a Master’s and Bachelor’s of Science in Kinesiology and Exercise Science from Illinois State University, her twitter account profile reads, “Medical Director at Virta Health. Physician, all-patient advocate, researcher, mom and wife living with stage 4 cancer. Tweets are not ind medical advice.”

Dr. Sarah Hallberg gave this life-changing talk at TedxPurdueU on 5 May 2015 and this video has been viewed 8.6 million times to date, helping trigger countless interventions with messages flooding the comments section from people who have benefited from her talk around the world including us at Asia Fitness Today. May Dr. Sarah rest in peace. We thank her for her work.

Video Summary: This video has taught millions of people how food affects our bodies and our health, and many have followed the nutrition advice she gave.

“Obesity is a disease, not something created by lack of character. It is a hormonal disease. There are many hormones involved, and one of the main ones is a hormone called insulin. The vast majority of obese individuals are resistant to insulin and that causes a lot of trouble. So, what does being insulin-resistant mean? Insulin resistance is essentially ‘pre-pre-type 2 diabetes.’ Insulin’s job is to drive glucose or blood sugar into cells where it can be used. In a nutshell, when someone has insulin resistance, they are having trouble getting glucose where it needs to go, into the cells. It can’t all hang out in the blood after we eat, or we would all have a diabetic crisis after every meal. When there is resistance to insulin, our bodies will just make more of it. The insulin levels rise and rise and for a while, years usually, this will keep up and blood sugar will stay normal. However, eventually it can’t keep up, and even elevate insulin levels are not enough to keep blood sugar normal, and blood sugar rises. And that is diabetes”.

― Dr. Sarah Hallberg

2. [UNCUT] Interview with Jasmine Low on Kurang Manis (Sugar,Less), runner-up of the Motion Picture Association Int’l Script-to-Screen Competition.

By Jasmine Low

AFT Ed.: Asia Fitness Today cofounder, Jasmine Low goes on a quest to uncover what makes Malaysians tick, and why so many are on the verge of a lifestyle disease like herself (she’s diagnosed a pre-diabetic). Her mother is diagnosed with chronic kidney disease and her grandmother died from complications of kidney disease. Scientists she’s interviewed for The Kurang Manis (Sugar,Less) Podcast have given her hope that chronic diseases may be genetic but it’s more likely habit and with the right interventions, she can save herself from the same path of her mother and grandmother.

Video Summary: First time writer, producer and director Jasmine Low talks about how it feels to win the only runner-up prize awarded in the region for her documentary pitch at the “SCRIPT TO SCREEN” Film Competition organised by FINAS, Snapper Films and Motion Picture Association International in Feb 2019. “Kurang Manis (Sugar,Less)” is a 60-minute documentary that seeks to unravel the stories behind six ordinary Malaysians, their hopes, fears and dreams for New Malaysia a year after General Election #14, of which 82% turned up to vote and toppled. Also, what it feels like to be among one in two of the most obese population in Southeast Asia. Filming has been put on hold since 2020 and this has been converted into a podcast hosted by Jasmine Low and Nikki Yeo, cofounders of AsiaFitnessToday.com. Read the full interviews or listen to the The Kurang Manis (Sugar, Less) Podcast: https://www.asiafitnesstoday.com/kurang-manis or via Apple Podcast, Google Podcasts, Spotify and more.

3. I Quit Sugar: Your Complete 8-Week Detox Program and Cookbook

By Sarah Wilson

AFT Ed: At time stamp 14:00, Sarah Wilson tells about the time in 1955 when Eisenhower’s heart attack spurred the search for causes of heart disease. Biochemist Ancel Keys conducted a study and claimed that saturated fat was the major culprit of coronary attack. This sent the message that everyone should eat a low fat diet and it set forth the food pyramid. 70 years on, many in the industry are starting to question that study and his message. Sarah Wilson was formerly a journalist and opinion columnist, editor of Cosmopolitan Australia and host of Masterchef Australia before founding the largest wellness website in Australia. In February 2022, Sarah sold the business and gave all proceeds to charity. She now builds and enables charity projects that “engage humans with each other”. Learn more about Sarah here.

Video Summary: Sarah Wilson thought of herself as a relatively healthy eater. She didn’t realize how much sugar was hidden in her diet, or how much it was affecting her well-being. When she learned that her sugar consumption could be the source of a lifetime of mood swings, fluctuating weight, sleep problems, and thyroid disease, she knew she had to make a change. What started as an experiment to eliminate sugar–both the obvious and the hidden kinds–soon became a way of life, and now Sarah shows you how you can quit sugar too.

4. Intermittent Fasting: A Two-Month Experiment. Does It Work?

By Channel News Asia Talking Point

AFT Ed.: Channel News Asia’s Talking Point journalist Steve Chia looks into the intermittent fasting phenomena that’s been adopted by so many even across Asia Pacific. He tests this method out on himself! Talking Point investigates a current issue or event, offering different perspectives to local stories and revealing how it all affects you.

Video summary: After drinking sugar-laden bubble tea three times a week for a month for an earlier Talking Point episode, host Steve Chia is ready to lose the weight he gained and to improve his health. He goes on a two-month Intermittent Fast – eating his meals between 12pm and 8pm daily. As he tries to cope with skipping breakfast, he documents his fasting experience and finds out how fasting helps us to burn fat more effectively. He also discovers some of its potential pitfalls. Will Steve succeed in shedding the extra kilos he gained?

5. Food as Medicine Documentary

By Nutritional Therapy Association

AFT Ed.: We enjoyed this documentary and found it very enlightening listening to the interviews with North Americans who have transformed their own lives by looking for answers and finding that it was their diet that needed changing. We meet with academic and Professor of Medicine from the University of Iowa, Dr. Terry Wahls who speaks about how she dealt with a diagnosis of a chronic progressive neurological disorder and secondary progressive multiple sclerosis. She says that she redesigned her diet with ‘functional medicine’ and within six months she started walking again.

“We’re clearly in a epidemic because the quality of our diets is definitely declining,”

Dr. Terry Wahls

“It’s hard to make dietary changes when you’ve been eating a poor diet your whole life. If nobody’s told you hey, this is actually putting you at an increased risk of disease. We’re not there to tell people that they’re doing something wrong or that it’s even their fault. We’re just providing the information and giving them with some guiding principles so that when they do make the changes, it can come from within,”.

Julie Briley ND, Food as Medicine Institute, National University of Natural Medicine

Video summary: Food As Medicine is a documentary film that follows the growing movement of using food to heal chronic illness and disease. Directed by Lenore E Eklund, Produced by Mark Eklund, Executive Producer: Nutritional Therapy Association.

6. Trendy foods: Salmon and avocados

By DW Documentary


AFT Ed: Two of the most popular foods in the Western diet are salmon and avocados. This documentary shows how salmon raised on fish-farms are treated with anti-biotics which can cause health problems. Avocado production on the other hand, uses a lot of water and raises a climate change eyebrow. Yet these are the two foods that have high demand because of its brand promise – that it’s healthy and sustainable foods. Are they?

Video summary: Salmon is usually found in the oceans of the northern hemisphere — but they also grow well in fish farms off the coast of Chile. In the 1980s, salmon was considered a luxury, but now, it’s become trendy. Avocados have also become more popular — especially with vegans, vegetarians, and hip young people in big cities. But the mass production of salmon and avocados is causing a lot of problems. Salmon produced on fish farms in Chile are given massive amounts of anti-biotics. Norway, by comparison, has all but eliminated the use of them. Environmental protection laws are tougher in Norway than they are in Chile. Salmon are predatory fish — but in Chile, they are fed largely on soybean meal. The soybeans are imported from Brazil, where they are grown on huge farms. A lot of forest in Brazil has been converted to agriculture. Also, the soy pellets that are fed to salmon in Chile have been treated with harmful substances that are banned in the EU and the US. Mexico is the world’s leading producer of avocados. José Gonzalez has been working in the avocado business for 35 years, and it’s made him a wealthy man. But it’s also changed his life dramatically, for the worse. Gonzalez has been threatened by criminals. His son was kidnapped — and now, when Gonzalez visits his plantations, he travels with armed bodyguards. Organized crime gangs are trying to take over the avocado business, particularly in the state of Michoacán. Cartels are fighting each other for access to this “green gold.” Violence is common, up to and including murder. Globalization and the boom in food production have now spread to Latin America, and it often has serious consequences. People and the environment are being exploited — simply to provide food for those who live in the northern hemisphere.

7. Vegucated (Trailer)

AFT Ed.: This 2011 vegan experiment between three friends is one for the plant-based fans and continues to be relevant a decade on. Writer and director Marisa Miller Wolfson, producer Demetrius Bagley who is known for cooking show Vegan Mashup and for organising vegan Meetups and theatre-maker and plant-based culinary artist, Laura Delhauer who was hired by Wolfson to help develop recipes for The Vegucated Family Table, a resource for parents and child care providers wanting to nourish children with more plant based foods. Vegucated was selected best documentary at its worldwide premiere at the Toronto Independent Film Festival and has done well at the film festivals circuit, it is also on Netflix. There is another pro-vegan flick on Netflix that made headlines pre-Covid, with the backing of Hollywood giants like James Cameron, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jackie Chan, Lewis Hamilton, Novak Djokovic and Chris Paul. The Game Changer promo states that it’s a revolutionary new film about meat, protein and strength and has in effect converted quite a few into its quest.

Video Summary: Vegucated is a feature-length documentary that follows three meat- and cheese-loving New Yorkers who agree to adopt a vegan diet for six weeks. There’s Brian, the bacon-loving bachelor who eats out all the time, Ellen, the single mom who prefers comedy to cooking, and Tesla, the college student who avoids vegetables and bans beans. They have no idea that so much more than steak is at stake and that the fate of the world may fall on their plates. Lured with true tales of weight lost and health regained, they begin to uncover hidden sides of animal agriculture and soon start to wonder whether solutions offered in films like Food, Inc. go far enough. Before long, they find themselves risking everything to expose an industry they supported just weeks before.

But can their conviction carry them when times get tough? What about on family vacations fraught with skeptical step-dads, carnivorous cousins, and breakfast buffets?

Part sociological experiment, part science class, and part adventure story, Vegucated showcases the rapid and at times comedic evolution of three people who share one journey and ultimately discover their own paths in creating a kinder, cleaner, greener world, one bite at a time.

8. CSIRO’s new diet that could help with diabetes remission

By A Current Affair

AFT Ed: We love A Current Affair‘s investigative style of video journalism. Coupled with research from the CSIRO, Australia’s national science agency, it seems like this discovery episode is indeed good news for the 1.5 million Australians living with diabetes.

Video Summary: A look at the CSIRO’S new diet that could help with diabetes remission. A Current Affair covers the realms of politics, crime, human rights, science, technology, celebrities and entertainment – all investigated by a dedicated team. A Current Affairs airs weeknights 7.00pm on Channel 9 Australia.

9. Take Back Your Health – with Dr. Robert H. Lustig

By Dr. David Perlmutter, The Empowering Neurologist EP. 122

AFT Ed.: This vodcast is a true gem as you have two of North America’s most motivational speakers and leaders in neurology speak about metabolic disease. Dr. David Perlmutter, the interviewer, is the author of Drop Acid, Brain Wash & his 2013 book Grain Brain which discusses how gluten causes neurological conditions and is an advocate of using functional and holistic treatment of brain disorders. He is also a medical advisor for The Dr. Oz Show and Men’s Health. Listen to these two men speak about insulin, protecting your liver, non-alcohol fatty liver disease, dementia and more. The vodcast reveals that “It turns out there are more thin and sick people than fat and sick people in America,” exclaims Dr. Robert Lustig. And interestingly, Dr. Lustig continues that “…sugar causes gout. It’s because it raises uric acid…”.

Video Summary: The Source of Our Most Challenging Epidemic. As you may recall, the last time we had the opportunity to interview Dr. Robert Lustig was when he published The Hacking of the American Mind, elucidating how the processed food industry has hacked our bodies and minds to pursue pleasure over happiness, fueling widespread addiction and depression. I’m excited to let everyone know that we again have the opportunity to feature Dr. Robert Lustig on the podcast talking about his new book METABOLICAL. This new work addresses nutrition, food science, and global health, and explains how by focusing on real food we can reverse chronic disease and promote longevity. For the first time, all strands of this pandemic—the medical, the economic, and the environmental—are pulled together into one clear narrative. And to be sure, the pandemic we are referring to is the pandemic of chronic, noninfectious, preventable diseases, not COVID-19. Describing the eight pathologies within the cell that belie all chronic disease, Dr. Lustig illustrates how they are not “druggable” but rather “foodable” (i.e. medication can’t cure what nutrition can) by following two basic principles: protect the liver, and feed the gut. He uses this science to chronicle the breakdown in our current healthcare paradigm, which has succumbed to influence from Big Food, Big Pharma, and Big Government. In the special chapter “Food in the Time of Corona,” Dr. Lustig addresses the way “pre-existing conditions” (i.e. diet-induced chronic diseases) make us vulnerable to succumbing to acute infectious diseases like COVID-19. He also argues that the Nutrition Facts label hides information from the consumer by omitting what’s been done to the food, which is more important than what’s in the food. Weaving together the interconnected strands of nutrition, disease, medicine, environment, and society, METABOLICAL provides the scientific bases for a series of iconoclastic revelations, among them: Medicine for chronic disease only treats symptoms, not the disease itself You can diagnose your own biochemical profile Processed food isn’t just toxic, it’s addictive The war between vegan and keto is a false war—the combatants are on the same side Big Food, Big Pharma, and Big Government are on the other side.

Our guest, Robert H. Lustig, M.D., MSL, is professor of pediatrics in the Division of Endocrinology and a member of the Institute for Health Policy Studies at University of California, San Francisco. He has authored 120 peer-reviewed articles and 70 reviews. He has mentored 30 pediatric endocrine fellows and trained numerous other allied health professionals. He is the former chairman of the Obesity Task Force of the Pediatric Endocrine Society, a member of the Obesity Task Force of the Endocrine Society, and a member of the Pediatric Obesity Devices Committee of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. He is also the president of the nonprofit Institute for Responsible Nutrition, dedicated to reversing childhood obesity and Type 2 Diabetes. He consults for several childhood obesity advocacy groups and government agencies.

10. What You Know About the KETO DIET Is WRONG! This Is What NEW STUDIES Are Showing

By Tom Bilyeu’s Impact Theory

AFT Ed.: Dr. Steve Grundy is a medical professional and author that has often voiced out on diet and health. He speaks in-depth about ketogenic diets in this podcast, and that ketones are not new and were already in discussion in the late 1800s. Interestingly in the 1930s, he says, the Mayo Clinic found a link between starvation, the production of ketones and how ketogenic diets were prescribed to children with severe epilepsy. He speaks about humans and a starvation state that hardly is a case anymore today. Both interviewer and guest talk about mitochondria, an organism within our cells that carry their own DNA and create energy for the cells to use. The interview unravels at timestamp 20:02 Dr. Gundry sharing that, “…Ketones are not a super fuel, they are actually a signaling molecule that tells mitochondria to protect themselves at all costs from damage, and to save themselves at all costs if you are starving to death,”. Spoiler alert here, is that in a starvation situation, ketones will signal mitochondria to release calories. That, was quite a mind blowing reveal for both Bilyeu and to us! Dr. Gundry has his fans as he does critics, as he is best known for his controversial book, Plant Paradox Diet which claims that lectins, carbohydrate-binding proteins found in numerous plant foods that ‘agglutinates cells’, causing inflammation resulting in many modern diseases.

Video Summary: The ketogenic diet is so popular that it was searched over 25 million times in one year. Some experts support its effectiveness to help people lose weight, while others claim that it’s the worst diet to try. Research and data have advanced and proven that everyone has it wrong. Dr. Steven Gundry is with Tom explaining why he and the rest of the medical community got ketosis all wrong. He shares why mitochondrial uncoupling is really the star and this is what you need to know to make your dieting experience easier and more effortless. No need to live completely devoid of carbohydrates on a keto diet any longer.


Pseudoscience or truth?

We’ll leave that up to you, and your research to consider all of the messages shared above. Nutritional diet is a sensitive topic and we’ve realised that in our own communication in family group chats. No one person is right, and it’s a very personal journey. One thing is for sure, we end this list of AFT must-watch videos on Foods as Medicine with a quote from Mark Twain. Until the next list, eat well and be well!

“Be careful about reading health books. You may die of a misprint.”

― Mark Twain

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Photo credit: Chiva Som Wellness Resort, Hua Hin, Thailand from the article https://www.asiafitnesstoday.com/wp-admin/post.php?post=8116&action=edit&lang=en

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By Nikki Yeo

Nikki Yeo is a safe training movement advocate, co-founder of AsiaFitnessToday.com and Head of Sports Marketing at GoInternationalGroup.com. Her fitness dogma is founded on the belief that physical fitness makes the greatest impact on our quality of life. She believes that her purpose isn’t just about improving fitness, but about changing lives. Nikki is a Certified Specialist by Functional Movement System, Certified Personal Trainer by American Council on Exercise, Health & Fitness Professional of “Exercise is Medicine” awarded by the American College of Sports Medicine, Barefoot Training Specialist by Evidence Based Fitness Academy America and Board Member Of Exercise Is Medicine Malaysia. For more about Nikki, visit www.nikkiyeo.com

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