“It takes a complete breakdown for you to build something up”


This conversation on “The Feels with Charmian Tan” where I talked about the Gut-brain axis and how it interlinks to the “gut feeling” was an appealing opportunity for me. I for one have always been someone to follow my gut feeling and have made numerous decisions based on just “that” feeling. Whether you call it a positive mindset, intuition or just being aware of your body, your gut talks to the brain and vice versa. We used to think of the gut as an entity of its own, but through years of research, we now know that what goes on in the brain is very much linked to the health of our Gastrointestinal Tract and vice versa. Our gut contains its very own set of nerves known as the “Enteric Nervous System”. If you ever have had a nervous tummy, you will understand the implication of the gut-brain axis even more.

The gut-brain axis is an axis that travels bidirectionally, through a set of nervous, endocrine and immune communications. The brain and the gut are interconnected through the “vagal nerve”, vagal meaning “wanderer”. Since these two organs are so deeply influenced by each other, the gut is also known as the “second brain”. The gut and its existing microbiome are the epicenter of health and vitality and really is the core of everything in Nutritional Therapy. Almost all chronic diseases, apart from genetic disorders can be linked back to disruptions in the Microbiome.

Our microbiome is an ecological community of the commensal, symbiotic and pathogenic bacteria that live within and on us. Microbes residing in our gastrointestinal tract outnumber us by 10-fold and our microbial genome is hypothesized to be 100 times larger than our own. Nearly all or almost all chronic diseases, eliminating those that have genetic origins, can be linked back to our gut microbiome. It is this very vital microbiome that is responsible for keeping the harmony in the gut-brain axis through the vagal nerve. A compromised microbiome is implicated in many different ailments such as diabetes, metabolic syndrome and many other neurological diseases such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, epilepsy. There is adequate amounts of research to state that our gut microbiome is responsible for keeping harmony amidst the different organ systems as well. Amidst the numerous functions of the gut microbiome, the most vital ones are the proper digestion and absorption of nutrients, the release of calming neurotransmitters i.e., Gaba, melatonin, serotonin. Amidst numerous other roles it plays, our gut microbiome is responsible for keeping our gut mucosal and the lining intact, for the detoxification of hormones and xenobiotics, and the release of short chain fatty acids. These short chain fatty acids, being acetate, propionate and butyrate are by products of the breakdown of fiber that we consume through our diet. Research has shown that these short chain fatty acids regulate the health of the host in many diverse ways. They have positive implications in gut barrier function, glucose homeostasis, immune modulation, appetite control and obesity. Butyrate in particular, has gained popular attention through its role in modulating neuro-inflammation.

One of the things that I constantly preach is keeping our microbiome diverse. This can be done by eating a variety of foods including different fruits and vegetables and introducing some fermented foods with every meal. Diversity and variety can also be brought in my trying different cuisines if the body allows it. Our bodies don’t want to be fed the same things repeatedly and it’s vital that we give our bodies a change. This is probably why we feel great on holidays, as our body gets to discover a world of different foods.

This conversation on this podcast briefly touches on gut health, immunity but most importantly relationships, and how to make the wise choices based on that gut-feeling. I wish we could have spoken more in detail about food and neuro-inflammation but that would be for round 2. Charmian is not only a friend but someone who’ve I’ve shared multiple conversations with. Our conversations have been introspective and almost futuristic. We both strive on self-improvement and the desire to better ourselves. Self-care has become such a priority for me, especially as I’m navigating life in this post covid world. I’m not sure how much we can say “Post Covid” here in Singapore as I still walk around in my mask however I do know that in my own mind, getting covid myself has brought a shift in my own mentally around this fear-based thinking. I personally am not afraid of the virus and wish the same for others. Everyone by now, knows how to care for themselves. I do hope amidst all the turmoil, angst and depression this pandemic brought; we have learnt through our own judgements how to make the right decisions going forward. I do hope you enjoy my conversation with Charmian.

Listen to the Podcast