Some Things I Learned in Malaysia

Dr. Shawn Talbott (Ph.D., CNS, LDN, FACSM, FACN, FAIS) has gone from triathlon struggler to gut-brain guru! With a Ph.D. in Nutritional Biochemistry, he's on a mission to boost everyday human performance through the power of natural solutions and the gut-brain axis.


  • Flying from Salt Lake City to Los Angeles to Hong Kong to Kuala Lumpur takes a LONG time (32 hours with layovers)
  • You can get a LOT of reading done in 32 hours (about GM Foods and Business)
  • Cathay Pacific is a terrific airline
  • Malaysia is HOT
  • Lots of people (and media) have the misconception that palm fruit oil is “bad” or “unhealthy”
    • Palm fruit oil is about 50% saturated and 50% unsaturated fatty acids – making it beneficial for maintaining “good” HDL cholesterol and “neutral” for “bad” LDL and total cholesterol
    • Lots of people (especially media) have the misconception that palm oil harvesting leads to “deforestation” of the Malaysian jungle and displacement of the indigenous animals (especially orangutans)
      • In reality, no significant clearance of virgin rainforest has occurred in Malaysia since the mid-1950s (quite honestly, it used to be a real mess with uncontrolled clear-cutting of forest areas for timber and agriculture, but those days are largely in the past).
      • I spent several days in the jungle to witness sustainable palm fruit harvesting, including two days with rangers from the Wildlife Rescue Unit and researchers and conservationists from the Danau Girang Field Centre who are working to protect and rehabilitate orangutans, elephants, monkeys, and numerous other of Malaysia’s indigenous animals.
      • Tocotrienols (a unique type of vitamin E) is associated with myriad health benefits including reduced risk for stroke and virtually every form of cancer, including cancers of the breast, prostate, pancreas, colon, and other tissues.
      • Tocotrienols also have profound “neuro-protective” effects – keeping brain neurons operating at peak potential and providing a significant hedge against the aging process in the brain.
      • Carotenoids (the phytonutrients that give vegetables their red/orange color) and Flavonoids (the phytonutrients that give fruits their blue/purple color) are associated with health benefits including protection against cancer, diabetes, obesity, heart attack, Parkinson’s, osteoporosis, and other chronic diseases of modern lifestyle.
      • Proper antioxidant balance (including the entire Antioxidant Network of vitamin E/tocotrienols, vitamin C, thiols, carotenoids, and flavonoids) can positively influence overlapping areas of metabolism (oxidation directly influences inflammation and stress hormone balance) to improve mental and physical performance (vigor).
      • If you leave your cell phone and wallet in the taxi from the airport, your blood pressure and stress hormones will be elevated for the next 2 hours until the taxi driver is contacted (by answering your missing phone), agrees to a payoff in exchange for your phone and your credit cards, and returns to the hotel to swap the phone for a wad of cash.
      • There is more than enough science behind the MonaVie products to fill nearly 5 hours of Sunday afternoon lectures and Q&A about RVL, Essential, Active, M-mun, and Pulse – and hardly anyone fell asleep!
      • I have an amazing family and network of colleagues to support me in (frequently) traveling to the other side of the world to network with and learn from some of the top scientists, traipse thru the rainforest with rangers and conservationists, visit with and learn from the local people, and come back home with my brain bursting with new ideas for health products that can help us all feel better and live a more meaningful life.
      • Flying from Kuala Lumpur to Hong Kong to Los Angeles to Salt Lake City takes a LONG time (only 25 hours with layovers – love the tailwind! – which let’s you read tons of magazines and one really meaningful book about living and dying).


Thanks for reading,





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My books related to stress, cortisol, vigor, and Feeling Your Best:


  • Vigor Diet – The New Science of Feeling Your Best


  • The Secret of Vigor – How to Overcome Burnout, Restore Biochemical Balance, and Reclaim Your Natural Energy


  • Killer at Large – Why Obesity is America’s Greatest Threat – an award-winning documentary film exploring the causes and solutions underlying the American obesity epidemic. FREE versions at





About the Author

Exercise physiologist (MS, UMass Amherst) and Nutritional Biochemist (PhD, Rutgers) who studies how lifestyle influences our biochemistry, psychology and behavior - which kind of makes me a "Psycho-Nutritionist"?!?!

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