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Most people learn about ancestral health through books and blogs, which makes sense—Primal folks tend to be big readers, and the complexity and depth and constant evolution of the knowledge almost requires the written word for proper transmission. But a well-produced, beautiful film with great content has a unique effect on viewers. The combination of video and audio are more convincing than prose to our lizard brains, making documentaries a great vehicle for the introduction of a radically new idea. Skilled creators in the paleo space have taken note, producing some excellent ancestral health documentaries.
Doesn’t hurt that we’re right, of course.
And though “ancestral health documentary” is definitely a sub-genre that’s on the smaller side, trends are emerging. Earlier documentaries were celebrations and explorations of (and introductions to) the relatively young lifestyle, intended for individuals hoping to gain control of their own health. Future documentaries are looking at the bigger picture—how ancestral health can help the entire world and the natural environment get healthier. In today’s post, I’ll go through some of the standouts, explain what they offer, look to some upcoming movies, and track the trends.
Pigeonholed by critics as a satirical response to Supersize Me, Fathead begins by disproving the other film’s tendency to infantilize the public and lay the entirety of the blame for the obesity epidemic at the feet of fast food conglomerates. But the real meat of Fathead lies in the second half, when director Tom Naughton skewers the Lipid Hypothesis and low-fat orthodoxy, drawing on interviews with experts like Dr. Mike Eades and running a personal experiment where he loses weight eating nothing but fast food.
Even though it’s not a “paleo” or Primal documentary, it’s a great entry point for beginners to the whole low-carb/high-fat way of eating, especially those skeptical of the scientific underpinnings.
Perfect Human Diet
This was the first explicitly paleo film, and it was groundbreaking. Director CJ Hunt lays out the rationale for the paleo diet, going from archaeological digs to human genome labs to Dr. Loren Cordain using a football field to give one of the better paleo analogies I’ve heard on a football field.
Perfect Human Diet is still the best introduction of these concepts I’ve seen on the big screen.
Tim Noakes, the South African professor under constant fire for his heretical views on health and nutrition, guides Donal O’Neill through a month-long low-carb, high-fat, wheat-free, sugar-free, whole foods-based diet to prevent the diabetes and heart disease his genetic history had seemingly ordained for him. I don’t want to give the end away, but the diet doesn’t kill him, doesn’t give him heart disease or diabetes and, in fact, makes him healthier and more resistant to both.
And man, how about that title? “Cereal Killers” is perfect.
The Big Fat Fix
Donal O’Neill’s followup to Cereal Killers enlists the help of Dr. Aseem Malhotra, the British cardiologist who made waves several years ago when he came out against refined carbs and vegetable oils. The two travel to Pioppi, Italy—where Ancel Keys discovered a long-lived, healthy population and created the modern notion of the Mediterranean diet to explain it—and find the good doctor may have misinterpreted or overlooked some factors. It’s much higher in fat, for one. Two, there’s way more to the Mediterranean lifestyle than diet.
In The Big Fat Fix, Malhotra and O’Neill dig deeper than Keys, uncovering and exploring all the hidden secrets of the Mediterranean lifestyle, like community, stress, sleep, sun, movement, and, yes, diet.
We Love Paleo
Millions of people love paleo. To people who follow the lifestyle, the reasons why are obvious. There are many millions more who either haven’t heard of paleo or have some bastardized version of it involving loincloths and luddism in mind. Those are the people who need to hear from people (like me) who love paleo why paleo is so lovable. We Love Paleo (Amazon Prime link, free for members) is precisely that, offering a host of practitioners, chefs, trainers, and other experts explaining why they’re paleo, what it did for them, and what it could do for you.
In the coming months and years, more excellent documentaries will likely come down the pike. I know of at least three upcoming films I’m looking forward to….
Perfect Human Diet 2: Dispelling the Lies
Just about every month, it seems like your vegan friend sends you the trailer to some new screed railing against the evils of meat, saturated fat, and animal agriculture. They’ve got the wind at their backs. They’re winning. Most people take their claims as common sense. “Oh, of course meat’s bad for the environment. Doesn’t a cow fart a ton of methane every day and require 100 pounds of grain to produce a pound of meat or something like that?” They won’t win, though. Not if ancestral documentary pioneer CJ Hunt and his upcoming documentary have anything to say about it.
If you want to help nudge Dispelling the Lies past its funding goal and enjoy the trailer, go here.
We Love Paleo 2
Even more people love paleo this time around, including me. I make a longer appearance in this one. But that’s not the only reason the movie is being made.
Instead of just telling everyone why paleo will make you healthier, happier, and more productive, WLP2 also explains why animal agriculture doesn’t have to destroy the environment and is probably quite crucial for its continued existence.
Max Lugavere, author of the fantastic (and NY Times bestselling) Genius Foods, is producing a documentary on Alzheimer’s prevention called Bread Head. He immersed himself in the topic for the same reason I got involved in ancestral health and fitness way back in the day: to scratch an itch and address a personal need. Lugavere’s itch was his mom developing cognitive symptoms at age 59 despite no family history of the disease. Perplexed and understandably worried about his own future, Lugavere talked to the leading experts in the field and began to uncover a potential solution to the scourge.
Is Alzheimer’s disease a kind of “type 3 diabetes” of the brain? Could the decisions we make as 20-year-olds in the checkout line have ramifications for our cognitive function 30 years down the line? Check out the teaser trailer, donate to the crowdfunding campaign, and find out!
Kale vs. Cow: The Case for Better Meat
Diana Rodgers is a dietician, organic farmer, and now filmmaker whose upcoming Kale vs. Cow: The Case for Better Meat will represent a huge salvo against the misguided and frankly wrong idea that animal agriculture cannot coexist with a healthy environment. Not only is environmentally-friendly animal agriculture possible to achieve, this movie will argue that we can’t have a healthy environment at all without animals—especially the most vilified ones of all, cattle—in our food system. They’re actually necessary. You just have to do it right.
If you can, watch the trailer and donate a few bucks to help them reach their funding goal.
Are you noticing a trend?
Earlier documentaries were personal and prescriptive, offering a set of dietary guidelines that upended what many people thought was the right way to eat, train, and live. And it worked—paleo has captured the hearts, minds, mouths, and digestive tracts of millions. But many remain resistant, either swayed by the authoritative power of conventional wisdom about the health and environmental effects of animal foods, or unwilling to give that weird fad diet a try. The opposition isn’t letting up, either, releasing cinematic diatribe after cinematic diatribe that only buttress the conventional stance.
These upcoming documentaries are taking the fight to the opposition. They’re facing down the big challenges, the major criticisms and claims that, if taken to their logical conclusion, threaten our access to healthy animal foods. Nothing is more important than that.
Did I miss any? What are your favorite paleo/Primal/ancestral-friendly documentaries?
Thanks for reading, everyone. Take care and be well!
The post 8 Recommendations: Insights and Trends in Ancestral Health Documentaries appeared first on Mark’s Daily Apple.
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Change is in the air.
As the rest of the country engages in the same old partisan bickering about how best to rearrange the Titanic’s deck chairs, we have a chance to redirect course and avoid the iceberg. The USDA is considering some major changes to its dietary recommendations, and they’ve put out a call for comments from the public—an unprecedented request. Even better, they’ve requested comments on specific nutritional topics that they’re presumably interested in amending for the upcoming 2020 guidelines, including the safety and efficacy of low-carbohydrate diets and the current maximum recommended intake of saturated fats.
If you’re wondering why you should care whether an overbearing governmental agency thinks you should eat saturated fat or eat fewer carbs, it’s not you I’m thinking about. I’m thinking about the people who don’t know better, who assume what they read in doctor’s office pamphlets is the unvarnished truth.
The USDA dietary guidelines are designed for professionals who administer and recommend diets to their patients. They’re used to develop federal food programs and health policies. State and local governments, schools, businesses, charities, and dozens of other organizations with the power to shape the food and food-related information we consume all use USDA dietary guidelines as, well, guidelines.
You may have a good grasp on the science of food and the diet that works for you—but millions of people do not. Millions rely on the experts and the medical professionals and bureaucrats to make their decisions for them. If those authorities are operating with bad information, what do you think happens?
The obesity epidemic happens. The type 2 diabetes epidemic happens. Low-fat chocolate milk in the lunch line happens. Statins for toddlers happens. Fat acceptance (not the same as self-acceptance) happens. An exploding mobility scooter market happens.
This isn’t a magic fix. This information—the right stuff, the helpful stuff I and other folks in the community have been doling out for years—is readily available, and not everyone wants to listen or buy in. That isn’t going to transform just because the USDA changes their tune. And the tune isn’t going to change dramatically no matter what happens. You won’t see the USDA recommending bone marrow and keto anytime soon. But it will start shifting things in the right direction. And it’ll expose a large number of people who’d never heard anything but the official line about low-carb diets and saturated fat to a radically new position that could really improve their health and make eating both more enjoyable and more effective.
And there’s an even bigger reason to get involved and submit a comment: Vegetarian activists and passionate defenders of the status quo (yes, they exist) are out in full force submitting comments arguing against low-carb diets and the relaxation of limits on saturated fat consumption. They already wield a home court advantage—everyone “knows” vegetarians are healthier and holier—so we need to push back.
***But you only have until THIS Friday, March 30, to submit your comment.
Most of the other luminaries in the ancestral health community are also asking their readers and followers to participate. This has the chance to be a big wave of influence, provided everyone willing and able follows through and makes a comment.
Nina Teicholz and Dr. Sarah Hallberg, who are spearheading this effort, have provided some excellent suggestions for the content of your comments, including relevant scientific references. Copy and paste what they wrote if you prefer, or write your own.
Just get it done. Let’s make a change.
Thanks for reading and commenting, folks. You know what would be cool? Sketch out what you’ll write to the USDA in the comment section down below, then submit it as a document for consideration. That way everyone gets inspired to submit.
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