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10 Controversial Documentaries That Will Change Your Perspective On Health

KriszRokkMay 14, 2020, 7:30:39 AM
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There are many reasons why I would write about health even though my profile is all about business. The main reason is that health is my number one priority in life. I understand that when the magical relationship between health and business gets shattered, you’re in for some serious trouble. For those of you who care as deeply about their own health and the health of their loved ones as I do, watch these documentaries and transform your lives.

Health documentaries help us look at the current epidemic of chronic inflammation diseases from a different perspective. As cancer, Alzheimer’s, diabetes, hypertension and cardiovascular diseases continue to decimate our global population, the call for looking into the actual cause that triggers illness instead of treating symptoms has never been more warranted.

The following movies that were all launched in the last decade have exposed the food industry, pharmaceutical companies and governments to the responsibility of spreading misleading information and being more concerned about their own profits instead of the wellbeing of public health.

10. Hungry for Change (2012)

The documentary “Hungry for Change” challenges the diet and weight loss industry, which has increased significantly from $60 billion in 2012 when the movie was released to $72 billion in February 2019. [1] This is the amount of money Americans pay annually for all kinds of new dietary regimes, gym memberships and special meal plans in order to lose pounds.

By compiling various expert interviews, the movie addresses the mental aspects of food and dieting without hesitating to slam processed foods, sugars, artificial sweeteners and preservatives. Furthermore, the documentary puts a clear emphasis on the fact that the entire dieting paradigm is flawed.

9. Fed Up (2014)

In “Fed Up” filmmaker Stephanie Soechtig delves into the reasons behind the obesity epidemics, which often leads to an increase in diabetes and heart disease. While the experts that are interviewed in the documentary highlight multiple underlying causes to this alarming problem, it turns out that the most compelling one is the consumption of large quantities of sugar, which is prevalent in many processed foods due to a lack of regulation.

According to the New York Times, the documentary provides answers, which “can be reduced to the ugly truth that it isn’t always in the best interests of both big business and the government to keep people healthy.” [2]

8. In Defense of Food (2015)

Based on Michal Pollan’s book, a New York Times best selling author, the public health documentary “In Defense of Food” sets out to answer one of the most critical questions of Western societies: What should we eat to be healthy? On his quest, Pollan visits grocery stores from around the world in order to shed a light on today’s global food crises.

One of the most memorable quotes in the movie is the one made by former FDA Commissioner Dr. David Kessler, describing Buffalo wings as follows: “We’re eating fat on fat on fat on sugar on fat, sugar, and salt.”

Despite being criticized for providing elementary advice on nutrition and not matching his health claims in the documentary with actual sources, unlike the citations in his book, Time magazine named Michael Pollan one of the most influential people in the world. [3]

7. What’s With Wheat? (2016)

Australian nutritionist Cyndi O’Meara is joined by world-renowned experts from neurology, biology and physics on a pursuit to investigate the causes of the growing number of people affected by wheat and gluten intolerance. Furthermore, the documentary is looking to identify whether there is a direct linkage between consuming genetically engineered wheats along with the introduction of herbicides and pesticides and the myriad of autoimmune diseases so many people suffer from these days.

While an estimated 1% of the U.S. population has celiac disease, an immune reaction that causes damage to the small intestines when eating gluten, up to one-third of Americans are purchasing “gluten-free” products in the hope that it will have positive effects on their health or prevent disease altogether. [4]

6. That Sugar Film (2014)

“That Sugar Film” exposes the sugar industry and uncovers some of the biggest health risks that come with an overconsumption of sugar. The main character of the documentary is the Australian actor Damon Gameau, who also happens to be the director of this film. He embarks on a sugar journey, as he wants to ensure that he will be able to take more informed food decisions once his baby is born. Damon starts eating foods that are perceived as “healthy” for several weeks in order to highlight the damaging effect that hidden sugars have on the body and mind. His daily intake of the allegedly “healthy” diet includes 40 teaspoons of sugar a day, which is the average intake of an Australian. A team of doctors, nutritionists and researchers monitored his performance and results during the experiment.

The movie uses computer animation and sketches to make the nutrition lessons easily understandable. The New York Times called the documentary timely, entertaining and informing. [5]

5. Eating You Alive (2016)

The documentary “Eating You Alive” is looking to find the correlation between food and the rise of chronic health conditions including diabetes, hypertension, stroke, Alzheimer’s and heart disease. Featuring two well-known Hollywood legends, actor Samuel L. Jackson and filmmaker James Cameron, the movie takes a deep dive into the Standard American Diet and exposes those who profit most from the status quo.

For promoting a whole food, plant-based diet, the movie was embraced by the vegan community. Due to its bold and provocative statements that you could reverse chronic disease simply by giving up on animal proteins, the director Paul David Kennamer Jr. was invited to the NBC’s ‘Today’ show to discuss these findings with NBC News medical contributor Dr. Natalie Azar. [6]

4. The C Word (2016)

The C Word is a documentary about cancer. Produced by Meghan LaFrance O’Hara and narrated by Hollywood actor Morgan Freeman, the movie follows the journey of two people fighting for their lives while undergoing traditional treatment. One of the characters is the film director herself, who was diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 38. The second character is none other than French neuroscientist and psychiatrist Dr. David Servan-Schreiber, who during his 18-year fight against brain cancer [7] has written several best-selling books about alternative approaches to treating this devastating disease.

The film challenges the status quo of conventional treatment and exposes the systemic failure of authorities to provide proper information, advice and guidance when it comes to food, cosmetics and homecare products.

3. The Magic Pill (2017)

Australian celebrity chef Pete Evans, the producer of “The Magic Pill”, blames the modern diet for the majority of chronic diseases. The documentary explores the early effects of a high fat, low carbohydrate diet, also known as the ketogenic or keto diet, for a period of 10 weeks, on people in Australia and America suffering from illnesses such as diabetes, heart disease, autism and cancer.

Some of the film’s criticism stems from confusing the ketogenic diet with Atkins or the Paleolithic diet. Dr. Michael Gannon, the president of the Australian Medical Association (AMA) slammed the film, stating that the “elements of the discussion are just plain hurtful, harmful and mean.” [8]

2. What The Health (2017)

The plant-based documentary “What the Health” from the award-winning filmmakers of “Cowspiracy” exposes the government corruption and collusion with the pharmaceutical industry and major food industry companies. Co-director Kip Anderson is followed throughout the course of the story as he tries to get interview appointments with leading health organizations such as the American Heart Association, the American Diabetes Association and the American Cancer Society in order to discuss their current nutrition guidelines.

The film was criticized by some health professionals and nutrition experts for misrepresenting science to promote a vegan diet. New York City dietitian and nutritionist Mary Jane Detroyer claims that “the film was irresponsible and could negatively impact huge groups of people” [9] because the producers only spoke to medical doctors who shared the same point of view as they did. Registered dietitian Andy Bellatti told TIME that there is a lot of lobbying from the food industry that has a direct effect on national dietary recommendations: “It’s important for Americans to know that many health organizations receive funding from companies and trade groups that are not in line with health.” [10]

1. The Game Changers (2018)

The latest pro-Vegan buzz documentary “The Game Changers” challenges the misconception that meat is essential to masculinity. It has captured the attention of different dietary groups since it features elite athletes, Ultimate Fighting Championship winners, some progressive and visionary medical doctors, professors, scientists as well as several popular celebrities such as former bodybuilder Arnold Schwarzenegger, Formula 1 racing driver Lewis Hamilton or epic filmmaker James Cameron, who have adopted a plant-based diet in recent years.

The film revolves around the story of British-born special-operations veteran and US Mixed Martial Arts champion James Wilks as he travels the world on a quest to find the optimal diet that allows him to speed up his recovery from a major knee injury.

Critics have called the movie misleading because it is “light on scientific context” [11] and lacks a “more thorough, gram-form-gram comparison of plant-based and animal proteins.” [12] Forbes on the other hand, highlights the benefits of the documentary stating that it’s “closing the information gap” between meat-advocates and individuals who are on a predominantly whole food, plant-based diet. [13]

I wish you all the best of health!

-- Krisz

PS. I published this article first on LinkedIn. (24.02.2020)