Years ago I read the Brain Maker: The Power of Gut Microbes to Heal & Protect Your Brain for Life and ever since then I have been fascinated by gut health. Did you know scientists think that 90% of diseases can be traced back to gut health and microbiome.

This book is broken into 4 parts: Gut Feelings, The Nervous System of The Gut, The World of Microbiome & an updated section on the Brain-Gut Connection.

There were so many cool facts about our body. Note: it was written in 2018 & I am sure there has been more research done on this.

Here are a few:

- Tooth enamel is the hardest substance produced by our body and each molar can take up to 180lbs of pressure.

- By the age of 7 our immune system is fully formed. For those of you who grew up on Kraft macaroni and cheese along with the cheese and cracker packages like myself I hope you are now investing in a good probiotic.

- An adult swallows somewhere between 600 to 2000 times a day and swallowing involves more than 20 muscles.

- The most important phase of our digestion takes place in the small intestine. This is where the decisions are made. Are you lactose intolerant? Or do you have other allergies? All decided by the small intestine.

- Who showers every day? It wasn't until the 1950’s the weekly yes I said weekly bath routine was a thing. And large companies built bathhouses providing free towels and soap to encourage their employees to bathe.

The book finishes with the benefits of probiotics and experiments on how your mood and gut bacteria are connected. It is always interesting to learn about your body & your gut. Another highly recommended book.

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This book addresses everything from what is whiteness to fighting institutional racism. The language is easy and clear to read and provides really great questions on what you should be thinking about to work on being anti-racist.

This book is from an American perspective and I look forward to reading more about racism in Canada. However as Canadians we tend not to discuss racism and if you ignore it then you can't deal with it can you? (My view: The longer we don't discuss it the worse it will be)

The book is broken down into 6 parts however I will share insights from Part 1, 3 and 5.

Part 1: The section on entitlement is interesting because I don't often read about this. He shares examples of how entitlement for white folx shows up:

  1. (white) People taking up more time and space in conversations at schools and at work.

  2. (white) People speaking for others

  3. (white) People feeling ok to pay less than a living wage for childcare workers, gardeners, etc.

It makes sense as privilege can sometimes bring about entitlement.

Part 3: Paul discusses allyship and provides tips on how to talk with white people about racism. He tells the readers to listen more and to frame issues using shared values. He covers what an ally is and how it is an action not a noun as well it is important to keep working towards being anti-racist even if you make mistakes.

Part 5: In the section on Fighting institutional racism the author explores the usual topics around work and the police but the one topic that was really interesting was on environmental justice. He talks about environmental racism that refers to any policy, or practice that differentially affects or disadvantages individuals, groups or communities based on race or ethnicity. We see this in Canada with reserves not having clean drinking water. Read more here: Too many First Nations lack clean drinking water and it's Ottawa's fault, says auditor general | CBC News. I will continue to learn about environmental racism and I am curious if anyone can share some good book recommendations? Thanks

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In 2020 Vancouver BC my home was called the anti-asian hate crime capital in North America. With 1 out of 2 asian descendants reporting a hate crime.*

Cathy Park Hong takes the time to provide personal stories from her early 20s in university to today in her 40s stating how she started thinking about writing this book because of her daughter.

The book title came from theorist Sianne Ngai who wrote extensively about negative emotions, and how minor feelings are "non-cathartic states of emotion." Another example is when she is told that "Things are so much better here" and "Asians are so successful," when she feels like a failure.

In the chapter called “The end of white innocence” she shares how there was a lot of shame in her life. She also provides an example of living in the USA and not realizing the cultural nuances. Cathy was in grade 4 when she went to school wearing a red shirt with a white silhouette of a bunny. During school a student came up to her to ask "do you know what that means?" The author said no and saw the student smirk and walk away. Cathy is filled with shame and doesn’t know why. It was a playboy bunny shirt. This is common for immigrant children to be made fun of over something that is beyond them.

I discussed this book with my partner Alex who is Filipino and he shared how he was told to always be good and don’t cause a scene. These comments stick with us and start to affect our identity as "the good asian student."

This book is raw and real and I am grateful for the author to share her experience with the world.

*Vancouver Is the Anti-Asian Hate Crime Capital of North America (bloomberg.com)

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