Category Archives: The Kurang Manis Podcast

[Korean Version] 덜 단 The Kurang Manis (Sugar,Less) Podcast by

Hello 2022! We welcome the new year with a special Korean podcast version of highlights from Season 1 of The Kurang Manis (Sugar, Less) Podcast, voiced by four students of one of South Korea’s oldest private universities, Chosun University in Gwangju. The students were mentored by podcast co-hosts Nikki Yeo and Jasmine Low over a month, where they spent hours researching the topics, discussed as a group, translated articles from English to Korean ( and lent their voices to this recording. We hope this outreach will play a significant role in halving NCDs in the Asia Pacific region – as per Asia Fitness Today’s MISSION 2030.

We hope you’ve enjoyed these bite-sized pieces of information on lifestyle diseases. Learn more about The Kurang Manis (Sugar, Less) Podcast here:


Produced by Podcasts.

Producer and Editor Jasmine Low & Nikki Yeo.

Korean Version recorded by the individual students using their mobile devices.

English Podcast recorded at Sydney Podcast Studios.

All Rights Reserved, Go International Group Dotcom Sdn. Bhd.



Originally published in English between February – May 2021.

AFT Interviews: Dentist Dr. YokeLi Ling on crooked teeth, sleep disorders and systemic health

Oral myofunctional therapy and dental sleep medicine for both children and adults.

Team AFT met with Dr. YokeLi Ling, a dentist based in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia on 20 March 2021. What ensued is a chat between The Kurang Manis (Sugar, Less) Podcast co-hosts Jasmine Low & Nikki Yeo with the good doctor about how she’s been able to assist her patients breathe better and live better. Her passion and dedication as a Sleep and Airway Centric Dentist shows in her work in providing a holistic patient management approach. 

In this interview, Team AFT speaks to Dr. Ling about:

  • Minimal, non-invasive interventions in dentistry
  • Prevention and rehabilitation of poor facial and jaw growth development that results in dental misalignment, sleep disordered breathing, and compromised systemic health.
  • Oral myofunctional therapy, incorporating it into the treatment of orofacial myofunctional disorders, and dental sleep medicine for both children and adults. 

In this interview, Dr. Ling speaks at length about her field of specialty. She shares, “I would like to introduce a broader concept of the dentist as an oral physician, a gatekeeper to the wellness of systemic health through the mouth.”

AFT: You practice minimal, non-invasive dentistry to achieve sustainable outcomes for your patients. We’re curious what that means, what is non-invasive and why this kind of specialty? 

Dr. Yoke Li elaborates on Malocclusion, Sleep & Airway and compromised health.

AFT: What causes a child or adult to have crooked teeth? 

Some people have an upper or lower jaw that is too far in or out? What has resulted in that? Is it in our genes that some of us are born with a smaller jaw hence the overcrowding of teeth?

Having a small jaw with crooked teeth are signs that a person’s sleep may be compromised.

“Once sleep is compromised, health is also compromised” – Dr. Ling.

When we sleep the body is restored and our immune system is generated to protect the body. When sleep is interrupted, the lack of oxygen during obstructive sleep apnea would lead to a diminished quality of life, mood swings, irritability, hypertension, even metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes.

AFT: Why is our jaw too small to accommodate all our teeth? Surely it should be perfectly balanced, unless it’s changed over time?

The standard practice now is for most people to remove their wisdom teeth. Dr. Ling shares her thoughts thoughts on this. 

AFT: Do our food choices contribute to misaligned teeth, jaw and the structure of our face?

We don’t seem to be chewing enough in this era with foods. Archeologists have shown that the hunters and gatherers had a full set of teeth, continuous stimulation of the jaw bone.

AFT: How about people who grind their teeth at night? Can that be cured?

Ever heard about singing as a cure? Dr. Ling elaborates on some situations where spouses have reported positive improvement after their partners undergo treatment in merely exercising upper body, tongue and facial exercises as well as a diet change.

Put your tongue on the top of your mouth palette and breathe. Try it.

Don’t under estimate the power of the tongue and the power of breathing through your nose, chew your food, eat foods that require you to chew and that’s when your body starts to becoming more effective overall.

Q: At Asia Fitness Today, we advocate movement as therapy. What is the one thing that you have been able to use your Fitness for Good?

Married to her childhood sweetheart and blessed with 3 children, Dr. Ling loves hiking, traveling and playing tennis. She shares that fitness activities is how she gets herself out and up and encourages her family and friends to join her. Through sport, it’s not just about being fit physically, but also about being mentally and emotionally fit because good hormones are released.

Dr. Ling’s credentials include:

  • Doctor of Dental Surgery from University Science of Malaysia (Honours, 2006)
  • Recipient of the USM Chancellor’s Gold Award, USM’s University Gold Award and Conference of Malay Rulers’ Royal Education Excellence Award
  • Postgraduate training and certifications on Orthotropics from London School of Facial Orthotropics
  • Mini Residency on Guiding Craniofacial Growth and Development in Children
  • Mini Residency on Orthodontics and Dentofacial Orthopedics
  • Craniofacial Epigenetics
  • Oral Myology from Coulson Institute of Orofacial Myology
  • Myobrace from MRC Australia
  • Implant Training Program University of Southern California

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AFT Interviews: Dr. James Muecke AM Australian of the Year 2020 wants to put diabetes in remission

Listen to the full interview on The Kurang Manis Podcast, Season 1, Episode 7

Type 2 Diabetes could be put into remission, says opthalmologist Dr. James Muecke AM. Almost as soon as he was named Australian of the Year 2020, Dr. Muecke started advocating for the implementation of a tax on sugary drinks in an effort to save more eyes. Dr. Muecke speaks to about his proposed change to Australia’s dietary guidelines, he expresses why there’s a need for government to impose a sugar tax and talks about his work in raising awareness about diabetes – a lifestyle disease that could lead to the loss of sight.

Dr. James Muecke with his team in Vietnam. Photo credit: Sight For All foundation

He began his career in Kenya, then returned to South Australia to become an eye surgeon and blindness prevention pioneer, starting both Vision Myanmar at the South Australian Institute of Ophthalmology in 2000, and Sight For All, an organisation which uses Australian and New Zealand eye specialists to train overseas doctors, a social impact organisation “aiming to create a world where everyone can see”.

Has sugar blinded our reasoning?

A few months ago, we featured a story about a patient of Dr. Muecke’s who woke up one morning Blinded by Sugar. Neil Hansel is sadly a victim of the debilitating disease which has not only taken his eyesight, but also his limbs.

In his address at the National Press Club in Canberra last year, Dr. James Muecke gave an immensely moving account about having had to remove a patient’s eye. He wanted to be an eye surgeon to give the gift of sight and not to take it away from someone, especially when someone has been needlessly blinded by an avoidable, man-made Type 2 Diabetes he said.

Sugar toxicity can be solved

Humans were for the first time in history “overfed and undernourished” with sugar and refined carbohydrates, he affirmed. We met with Dr. Muecke in person at a studio in Sydney this March 2021, one square year after the Australian border closures and he summed up our conversation to this, “When the mother is pregnant with the baby and if she’s consuming a diet high in sugar, that sugar crosses the placental barrier to the foetus but insulin doesn’t cross, so you’re already metabolically priming the child for health problems in the future. So gestational diabetes is a big big problem so people should be aware of that, that it be picked up early in pregnancy and wind right back on your consumption of sugar and refined carbohydrates,”.

Dr. Muecke spoke to us at length about a strategy he came up with, which he calls the 5As of sugar toxicity.

  • Addiction
  • Alleviation
  • Accessibility
  • Addition
  • Advertising

It’s so hard to kick the habit. If you’ve ever tried to detox from sugar, it’s quite an unpleasant process. And even if you’re able to succesfully do it, everywhere you go, all the foods you eat, you’re just bombarded with sugar, so it makes it very difficult. So having a tax on sugary drinks, we know that it’s been shown to reduce purchase and consumption in 17 countries with Mexico being one of them.

Let’s say in Australia, we put a 20% levy on sugary drinks, that would raise about A$600million which could then be used to fund health awareness initiatives and about 77% of Australians agree with this in principle,” added Muecke, giving light into his call for a sugar tax.

Back home in Adelaide, Dr. Muecke continues his advocacy work in awareness building and has called for a crackdown on sugar in drinks and processed foods, also a change in Australia’s dietary guidelines.

He spoke about how diabetes, one of leading causes of blindness among Australian adults could be sent into remission. Diabetes is a metabolic disease, caused by the over-consumption of sugar, refined carbohydrates and ultra-processed foods which are cheap and accessible. He mentioned the dangers of seed oils, and that we should be aware of the types of oils we’re consuming daily.

Australia’s dietary guidelines was last updated in 2013 and in a Facebook post, Muecke suggests a certain biasness that 80% of the recommended foods were plant-based. He came up with this proposed diamond (see diagram below), shifting sugar and heavily processed & grain fed meats to the opposite tips of the healthy eating diamond.

A 7News report quoted Dr. Muecke saying, there were three successful ways to place type-two diabetes in remission – low calorie diets, low carbohydrate diets or bariatric surgery. Of these, he said the low-carbohydrate diet was the easiest solution. also attended a webinar in November 2020, organised by the Australian Society of Opthalmologists. In that webinar, Dr. Muecke shared an imagery about glucose metabolism likening it to a packed train at peak hour. When too much glucose is ingested, insulin level rises and tries to push glucose into the blood stream, but it’s rejected. It’s then stored as glycogen instead in the liver, giving rise to fatty liver. Fructose – when taken up by the liver, almost a third of it is converted to fat so fructose is far more toxic than glucose! 

Dynamic duo

Dr. James Muecke was awarded a Member of the Order of Australia in 2012, then in 2015 he was EY’s Social Entrepreneur of the Year for Australia, and in 2019 received a Distinguished Alumni Award from the University of Adelaide. It was the year of the Covid-19 pandemic, that Dr. Muecke was named Australian of the Year for 2020 and appropriately so, considering he is not going to be silent anymore and will be carrying the torch to highlight the fact that non-communicable lifestyle diseases like diabetes can be put into remission, and one of the ways to achieve that is to intervene with awareness first, followed by a change in lifestyle and importantly, diet. Partnering Dr. Muecke in advocacy and stewardship of the non-profit work is spouse Mena Muecke OAM, who also plays a vital role in the marketing and publicity of Sight For All and is a co-founder of the Vision 1000 social investment initiative. She was awarded a Medal of the Order of Australia in 2018. The Mueckes run private consultancy,

Follow Dr. Muecke on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube or LinkedIn

The podcast also features:

Dr. YokeLi Ling

In this 7th episode of Season 1 of The Kurang Manis (Sugar, Less) Podcast, we also speak with Dr YokeLi Ling, based in Kuala Lumpur who is passionately advocating Sleep and Airway Centric Dentistry and Oral Myofunctional Therapy. Dr. Ling shares more details in the 8th episode of the podcast (click here) with co-hosts Nikki Yeo and Jasmine Low. 

Mia Palencia

Our tradition continues where we introduce music from this region and we’ve chosen a song titled SUPERMAN by Tassie-based Mia Palencia who launched her career in Malaysia at the age of 14 as the other half of Sabahan jazz duo Double Take. The song reflects the advocacy work that’s being undertaken by Dr. James Muecke AM – Australia’s SUPERMAN. Mia composed, produced and performed the opening night theme song for the Southeast Asian Games 2017, and continues her PhD research in Songwriting at the Conservatorium of Music, University of Tasmania and released her 7th album with her Australian jazz quartet, In Good Company. Visit

Available wherever you get your podcasts:

Public advocacy

We welcome messages from our listeners, and invite you to send us a voice message if you have comments or feedback for our guests.

Feel free to share and repost these visuals via your social media pages or messages. Thank you.

Now streaming – Dr. James Muecke AM, Australian of the Year 2020 wants to put diabetes in remission. Listen to the podcast on or wherever you get your podcast: “The Kurang Manis (Sugar, Less) Podcast”
Now streaming – Dr. James Muecke AM, Australian of the Year 2020 wants to put diabetes in remission. Listen to the podcast on or wherever you get your podcast: “The Kurang Manis (Sugar, Less) Podcast”
Now streaming – Dr. James Muecke AM, Australian of the Year 2020 wants to put diabetes in remission. Listen to the podcast on or wherever you get your podcast: “The Kurang Manis (Sugar, Less) Podcast”

More opinion pieces by Dr. James Muecke AM:

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AFT Interviews: World Vision’s Marilee Pierce Dunker

#RunForChildren in 2021 is a 42-minute virtual run to raise awareness and advocate for the 42 rights of children.

The World Vision Virtual #RunforChildren is back! Author and World Vision Ambassador Marilee Pierce Dunker is daughter to American missionary Dr Robert Pierce who founded World Vision in 1950 when he returned to America after travelling to China and Korea. There, he encountered people living without food, clothing, shelter or medicine. Team spoke to Marilee Dunker in Kuala Lumpur in May 2019 at the launch.

Under the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC), children have 42 rights. These rights are based on what a child needs to survive, grow, participate and develop their full potential. They apply equally to every child, regardless of ethnicity, gender or religion. Learn more here.

Proceeds from the World Vision annual #RunForChildren are channelled to child protection efforts in Malaysia and overseas to support children’s safety, to call out violence when it occurs, and to work with survivors to heal and recover so children can experience a safe and secure childhood that will advance their sense of well-being.

When you sign up for #RunForChildren, you’ll be running for the child on your bib – to ensure that their rights are protected! Your participation helps give children a safe and secure childhood 👧👦🧡 It Takes You & I

Click here to visit the World Vision Malaysia page to join.

AFT Interviews: Malaysia’s “biggest” comedian Papi Zak: high uric acid got your tongue?

We captured some curious questions from Malaysia’s “biggest” standup comedian and debut wrestler, Papi Zak (, to Australia’s gastroenterologist and Instagram educator Dr. Pran Yoganathan (IG @dr_pran_yoganathan) – he spoke with us on Episode 3. Dr. Pran elaborates on the expensive tissue hypothesis (ETH) which relates brain and gut size in evolution (specifically in human evolution). Listen in to the trailer below for information on gout, uric acid on a high protein diet, our gut and metabolic health. 

The full episode of Ep. 4 with Papi Zak – listen below.

TV host & celebrity entertainer

Introducing Papi Zak, well known in the comedy circuit in Malaysia and the “biggest” Malaysia has to offer, states his website. For over 12 years, he’s written and performed material for his shows, and has fast established his quirky brand of humour and witty observations on the absurdities of every-day life. Zak was a former LiteFM and REDFM radio broadcaster and his comfortable presence in front of a camera has landed him screen work as the host of two television lifestyle programs – ‘The Halal Foodie’ and ‘Happy Endings’. Zak is currently the brand ambassador for Mr. Potato.

In doing our research on Papi Zak’s The Halal Foodie show, we found this bootleggish version translated and dubbed in Thai!

Papi Zak speaks to co-hosts Jasmine Low and Nikki Yeo in Episode 4 about his fitness journey – how he shed over 30kg from his 160kg stature, his childhood as a third culture kid, his mother’s amazing cooking, his new foray into wrestling and his quest to inspire others on the path towards fitness – just as he has. He also indulges us in his relationships… with food!

In this same episode, you’ll hear the voices of Dr. Pran Yoganathan, gastroenterologist featured in Ep. 3 and Dr. Desmond Menon, medical lab scientist from Ep. 2. Papi poses some curious questions Dr. Pran and together, we learn about gout, gut health, satiety, cholesterol levels and gout.

In the tradition of’s methods of using rhythm and movement as therapy, we introduce a comedy skit by Papi Zak at a TimeOut Kuala Lumpur show to seal off the episode. Tune in to the podcast to listen now.

Learn more about The Kurang Manis Podcast, click here:

AFT Interviews: Dr. Pran Yoganathan Gastroenterologist and passionate educator uses IG memes to drive understanding on satiety

Gastroenterologist and hepatologist based in Sydney, Dr. Pran Yoganathan is an extremely passionate educator, a Mathematician-turned doctor who aims to empower his patients with data that can help them on a journey of self-healing using the philosophy of “let food be thy medicine”.

Dr. Pran who has innovatively harnessed creative technology and 14,400 followers on Instagram @dr_pran_yoganathan, stresses that his educational memes are not medical advice or recommendations, simply his opinions — and rather strong science-backed opinions they are too!

In the podcast interview, Dr. Pran speaks about his diet of choice, which comprises predominantly of grass-fed steak and eggs and why that has raised eyebrows and temperatures not just in the oven, but in conversation with peers as well. We ask him about butyrate and got him all fired up and excited! Now, are WE ready to absorb the fact that we’re meant to burn fat for energy and not glycogen? Let’s save that for perhaps another conversation. 

Joining co-hosts Jasmine Low and Nikki Yeo in this same episode are Dr. Desmond Menon, medical lab scientist featured in Ep. 2 Do Our Genes Predispose us to Diseases of our Parents and Malaysia’s “biggest” stand-up comedian Papi Zak who’s in training to be a wrestler.

Together, we pose our numerous curious questions to Dr. Pran and have a content-packed conversation that’s science-based yet entertaining and revealing at the same time! Dr. Pran’s message is to “eat a diet that is not rubbish, move your body”, and he shares science in between some of his Instagram posts.

We ask him why he got into gastroenterology, his inspiration behind the Hippocrates’ philosophy “let food be thy medicine” and his personal dietary habits.

On the table, we discuss hunter gatherer societies in our modern world where Dr. Pran shares about the Hazda ethnic group from Tanzania and how they forage for food today.

Dr. Pran sheds some light on high fibre diets – a push by the standard Western Diet and how excess fibre can slow down gut motility, cause reflux and bloating and fundamentally IBS.

“If you’re going to deal with fibre, you need the machinery. That is why you see our primate cousins, like the chimps and gorillas tend to have a thick hind gut, a very big belly, that’s not visceral fat, it’s simply machinery to deal with rough fibrous tissue. That’s not my theory, that is a scientific fact and it’s called the expensive tissue hypothesis. It’s what makes us special in terms of our species; our brains grew in response to a shrinking gut.

Dr. Pran Yoganathan, gastroenterologist

Incidentally, on a side track, if you’re interested to deep dive into the Expensitve Tissue Hypothesis by American paleoanthropologist and professor emeritus of the University College London Leslie Crum Aiello – click here. She co-authored the textbook, “An Introduction to Human Evolutionary Anatomy”, which uses the fossil record to predict the ways early hominids moved, ate, and looked. 

We hope you’ve enjoyed these bite-sized pieces of information. Keep reading below for more about Dr. Pran’s credentials and to listen to the full podcast.

Click to view Dr. Pran’s posts on Instagram

More about Dr. Pran Yoganathan

Graduating from medicine from the University of Otago in New Zealand, Dr. Pran is a Fellow of the Royal Australian College of Physician (FRACP) and a member of Gastroenterological Society of Australia (GESA). He has accredited expertise in Upper Gastrointestinal Endoscopy and Colonoscopy as certified by the Conjoint Committee for the recognition of training in Gastrointestinal Endoscopy. Working across the public and private sectors in Greater Sydney, Dr. Pran has a strong interest in the field of human nutrition. He practices an approach to healthcare that assesses the lifestyle of the patient to see how it impacts on their gastrointestinal and metabolic health. Dr. Pran believes that the current day nutritional guidelines may not be based on perfect evidence and he passionately strives to provide the most up to date literature in healthcare and science to provide “Evidence-Based Medicine”. 

Dr. Pran has a special interest in conditions such as Gastro-oesophageal Reflux (GORD), Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) and abdominal bloating. He takes a very thorough approach to resolve these issues using dietary manipulation In conjunction with an accredited highly qualified dietician rather than resort to long-term medications.

Ready to digest the podcast episode with Dr. Pran? Listen here:

In this BONUS edition for Spotify Listeners only – In the tradition of’s methods of using rhythm and movement as therapy, we introduce a song to seal off this episode. We have selected a mash-up song made popular by Yohani De Silva – a Sri Lankan singer songwriter and rapper, a social media star herself. Yohani did her Masters in Accounting at a Queensland university.

AFT Interviews: Dr. Desmond Menon on genes & if we’re predisposed to diseases of our parents

Team speaks with medical lab scientist and founder of R3Gen Dr. Desmond Menon based in Perth, Western Australia. Dr. Menon consults on medical and sports medicine projects, but what’s most interesting was his early days as a researcher, where he was his own experiment. Growing up as a kid with asthma, Dr. Menon looked to science to get himself fit and healthy after a string of allergic reactions to prescribed medications. Today, he supports a number of University-based sports medicine projects, one of which looks at the effects of the menstrual cycle on the performance of elite female cyclists.’s The Kurang Manis Podcast co-hosts Jasmine Low and Nikki Yeo met Desmond at The Fit Summit in 2019, and have been keeping in touch about DNA testing methods, genetics and our predisposition to diseases our parents had/have.

We asked Desmond to explain what his job entails, and he shared that his work in Medical Laboratory Science is an area specialising in ensuring that the appropriate biomarkers are collected and analysed the correct way to ensure that the results obtained are valid and provide accuracy. Nowadays, most medical/sports science projects, especially multidisciplinary projects have very complex agendas and hope to investigate multiple variables within the study. When there is blood work involved, often there is not enough understanding within the team or enough funding within the project to thoroughly consider the requirements to ensure that appropriate markers are taken and measured at the appropriate timeframe in an appropriate protocol to ensure validity of the results obtained from the analyses.

I have seen projects where the principal investigator was essentially experimenting with varying centrifuging speeds to find out what would provide him with a ‘good sample’ to analyse for blood markers studied within his study.

There are procedures already established in medical laboratory science, such as the rotational speed and gravitational force required, depending on the analyte to be measured, when centrifuging blood collection tubes.

Additionally, when blood is collected for storage as well, there are variables that will also need to be considered to ensure the integrity of the sample is maintained throughout the storage period and how it is treated to ensure that results obtained from analyses thereafter are still valid.

In some studies, samples require immediate analyses as the results dictate the following steps for the participant within the project. 

What I do at R3Gen, is to help to meet these requirements by ensuring that samples are analysed ‘STAT’ to accommodate the project protocols, organising the process from pre-analytical blood collection, all the way to post-analytical result provision and sample storage if required for future analyses, cost effectively.

What this does for projects is to help investigators dedicate their focus and time on the actual project instead, and freeing up their limited resource to ensure the proposed intent of the project is not short-changed.

As the work of a Medical Lab Scientist can get technical with jargons, we asked him more questions from a ‘layman’ to gain more understanding into his work. This is what we discovered…

Understanding genetics and lifestyle

AFT: Can a couch potato be transformed, coached and guided into the fastest runner on the track and field?

DM: The intervention. As an experiment, one has a protocol requiring them to lay on the couch, eat whatever they want and be as sedentary as possible. The other has a protocol requiring them to have a regimented diet and planned intense activity during their day. Each therefore, as a result of their interventions, encourage very different genetic expressions to meet the demand set out.

It’s not that complicated if we wanted to encourage a positive/healthy change. It’s a issue of mind over matter, and thereafter, it’s really an endurance race to see how long you can keep your new intervention going.

Maximising performance is ultimately about a body’s propensity to enhancing its plasticity. With training, plasticity is attained. Looking at it simply, it’s about effecting an underlying lifestyle change.

Understanding your body’s physical baseline

AFT: So what you mean is we are able to increase and improve our baseline with the correct training and interventions in lifestyle and diet?

DM: Interventions – from a scientific perspective, it’s an intervention. For an everyday person, it’s a lifestyle habit. 

There was a study done on 70,000 nurses who were in the 40-65 years age range. They were selected to participate in a Nurses Health Study. They found that there was a huge correlation between chronic diseases and their movement patterns, there was a direct link on those who moved more and those who didn’t. 

AFT: Do our genes alone predispose us to a particular health condition? 

DM: Looking over a broad time frame, the Centre for Disease Control USA (CDC) reports that genes do not predispose us to the health condition. Therefore, while our genes provide us with a blue-print, a lot of what is expressed from our genes is actually quite plastic and is a reflection of the intervention that we provide.

AFT: In a recent conversation, we discussed habit and culture at home. Our health is not merely a physiological or gene makeup, it’s very much a cultural and habitual makeup too. Imagine a child growing up at home where his father imposes his eating beliefs, lifes and dislikes upon his child. It’s what the father brings home, what he eats, or snacks that the child will learn and adopt.

DM: Here’s some information I have found to be interesting. Grandparents have a big part to play in the grandchild, especially from the maternal side. Here’s the explanation from a physiological side. If a female child, whatever a grandmother goes through in her life, has an impact on her genetic expression (that’s her lifestyle intervention). These expressions invariably have an effect on her eggs she is carrying. If one of those eggs contribute to a conception of a female child, during the development of that fetus, the eggs in the fetus also start to develop 8 to 20 weeks after it has started to grow. As such, whatever the grandmother is exposed to in her lifestyle in essence has an impact on her future child, and that of her grandchild. 

AFT: Tell us a little about the types of fitness interventions.

DM: Exercise movements can basically be split up into different modalities. Concentric moves for example a flex going up stairs or eccentric moves for example a controlled extension like when you’re going down stairs. These are antagonistic moves and give an idea how your muscles work.

It requires a certain amount of energy or resource from our bodies when applied. How much exactly we don’t know, but if we understood that, we could then prescribe it better. They found that participants going down the stairs had a more significant benefit seen in their health markers – insulin sensitivity increased, bone density increased and cholesterol decreased. 

It provides some insight into how exercise could be prescriptive. So by understanding this kind of exercise, one could then prescribe more efficient options to patients.

AFT: Hypothetically, can we transform a couch potato into the fastest man on the planet? Imagine Usain Bolt or Nicol David, an athlete whose body is so efficient, and if we turn them into a couch potato with bad habits, what would then happen? Desmond suspects that scientific evidence suggest that we can definitely provide an intervention to transform the couch potato participant into something closer to an Usain Bolt.

DM: An elite swimmer expands less energy to swim across the pool as his body is fine tuned to it as compared to a less than healthy individual.

GLUTS 4 gene, expressed based on lifestyle

DM: GLUTS 4 gene is considered one example of a lifestyle gene. It’s expression is altered by the level of muscle contraction. Failure to be active enough, could lead to the body being predisposed to diabetes by storing a lot of insulin. 

In the video above, I shared a photo from my school days – I was an avid distance runner weighing in at only 69kg in my competition weight. I injured my knee (torn ACL and partial torn meniscus) in the army, and had to change sport. I got addicted to lifting weights in the gym as a result of seeing gains from physiotherapy on my legs post knee surgery. I had to undergo surgery to reconstruct my ACL. In that short amount of time that I was off my feet or on crutches, the loss of quad muscle was very visible. It is almost like an intervention experiment on myself, where the intervention here is the removal of as much muscle activity in my left quad over that period. It was shocking to see how fast your body decides to remove that musculature as a form of conservation of energy and resource. 

After a few years of weight lifting, I managed to weigh in at 110KG with 12% body fat. While Dr. Desmond considered it an improvement, his mom’s was of the opinion that he had ruined her good work by looking “buff” like that. What it was for him, was a science experiment. He diligently weighed what he ate and how he trained to better understand the correlation between the intervention and the epigenetic expression.

Coming from an active family, Dr. Desmond’s mother was a runner for the state of Perak, Malaysia. His maternal great grandmother lived up to 100 and his maternal grandmother will be turning 100 soon. It seems health & fitness is a natural state of being for his family.

At one point, he collected data of his own blood work to determine the impact of his training and diet on his health markers and was able to see how his body was responding to what he was doing. It took a good number of years, but progressively trained the body to accept 8 meals a day from 3 to 4 meals before, while still maintaining an average 12% body fat. (At that point he was eating 8 meals a day like a gym fanatic. Also knew what he was doing with exercise.) In pathology, he learnt about the association between high CK and CK-MB (proteins present in heart muscle, also in skeletal muscles) with cardiovascular episodes. He found that the intense gym training produced abnormally high levels of CK and CKMB in his blood that looked like he was having small little cardiac episodes, but were actually attributed to the high amount of skeletal muscle tearing (hypertrophy) from his intense gym sessions. 

AFT: How do we then measure a person’s baseline, or maximum exercise intervention before the body shows a high or overly high CK/CKMD level. Is there a sweet spot between exercise and too much exercise? 

DM: Essentially, we need to understand that our baseline changes according to our lifestyle (intervention protocols).

In many professional athletes, part of their routine is having blood test done to identify how well their body is coping with their interventions and ensure that their body is showing signs of being in optimum performance. There are a whole barrage of markers that can be capitalised on if need be. For the everday athlete, perhaps these are not necessary or available but there are more basic markers readily available that can be capitalised on by anyone concerned about their health to ensure that their body is performing well to their lifestyle interventions. When monitored over time, these can provide a good indication over time of how we’re coping.

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Special Bonus Edition on Spotify Only features “Lorna’s Kitchen” by Singapore’s Jazz Great, Jeremy Monteiro

We are pleased to feature a song written by Singapore’s great Jazz muso Jeremy Monteiro, dedicated to his aunt Lorna. Titled Lorna’s Kitchen, we know for a fact that her Debal curry is divine. This episode is dedicated to Lorna – an amazing person whose fiery curry speaks volumes for her passion for life. We love you, Lorna!

This interview was recorded live with special guests in the panel:

  • Datuk Nicol David, World No. 1 Squash Champion, voted The World Games Greatest Athlete of All Time
  • Dr. Pran Yoganathan, Gastroenterologist & hepatologist
  • Papi Zak, Standup comedian

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AFT Interviews: Nicol David, The World Games G.O.A.T.

Livestreamed Interview with Datuk Nicol David, World No. 1 Squash Champion, named The World Games Greatest Athlete of All Time.

The Malaysian retired professional squash player is currently in her second base Colombia, South America and met with Asia Fitness Today co-hosts Nikki Yeo in Kuala Lumpur and Jasmine Low at the studio in Sydney on 5th February 2021.

With a huge total number of votes, 318,943, Nicol David 🇲🇾 was voted as the greatest of the 24 sports legends that started the race on 8th January 2021. Tug of war legend James Kehoe 🇮🇪 is the first runner-up with 113,120 votes, and Larysa Soloviova 🇺🇦, The World Games Champion in powerlifting 2005-2017, second, with her 80,790 votes. Marcel Hassemeier 🇩🇪, victorious lifesaver, with 79,760 votes got very close to 3rd place. All in all, 1,204,637 votes were cast in the poll. Read full article about The World Games Greatest Athlete of All Time here:

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The Kurang Manis Podcast, Season 1, Episode 1 (9/2/21): Datuk Nicol David

Listen to the interview with Datuk Nicol David, World No.1 Squash Champion voted The World Games Greatest Athlete of All Time | Listen All Platforms

The Kurang Manis (Sugar, Less) Podcast

AFT Podcasts present The Kurang Manis (Sugar, Less) Podcast featuring interviews with sports, fitness & wellness personalities from Asia and the Pacific.

A documentary, “Redifussion-inspired”, raw as can be chit chat show with athletes, medical doctors, allied health professionals, the fitness & wellness world – could it be you, perhaps? We tell your stories as they happen in our lives. Join podcast co-hosts Jasmine Low & Nikki Yeo and bring your cuppa tea! In Malaysia, it’s the Teh Tarik, made frothy by swift hand movements of a tea-pulling expert but 8 tsp of condensed milk?! Kurang manis ya, boss! Sugar, Less…

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    AFT is on a mission; MISSION 2030 — to halve NCD rates in the Asia Pacific region by 2030 read more… If we could ask if you could please share this podcast on social media or with someone you know and care about so we can perpetuate this ripples of awareness in the community. It begins with a whisper, a drop in the ocean and slowly, change can happen. It begins with us.


    KURANG MANIS is a documentary in the making and was first awarded a special prize at the 2019 Script-to-Screen Workshop Malaysia co-organised by Motion Picture Association – Asia PacificWildsnapper TV & FINAS with judges, U-Wei Bin Haji Saari, Stephen Jenner & Jason van Genderen and guided by filmmaker Tan Chui Mui. A production by, co-produced by Jasmine Low & Nikki Yeo, filmmaker mentor Jules Ong, sound engineering mentor Werner Theunissen, technical engineer Sydney Podcast Studios.

    The Kurang Manis Podcast is created, written, produced & co-hosted by Nikki Yeo in Kuala Lumpur & Jasmine Low in Sydney – two everyday people who just want to make a change in the world starting with themselves.

    Read more about KURANG MANIS impact project here.

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    Small bites, large strides!