"I saw few die of hunger; of eating, a hundred thousand." -Ben Franklin

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Food Matters

This week, you can watch the documentary Food Matters online for free! Click here. It's absolutely worth watching simply for its main theme: just eat real food. As I watched it, I took notes, and I'd like to share some of the information I learned, as well as some pretty awesome quotes (and you know how much I love good quotes!).

The documentary opens with one of my favorite quotes by Hippocrates, "Let food be thy medicine and let medicine be thy food," and we are soon shown a rather ironic statistic, "Less than 6% of graduating physicians in the USA receive any formal training in nutrition." This is scary-- the people who take the Hippocratic oath don't know how to treat patients using food as medicine! This is also the basis of our "sickcare" system; one alarming statistic the documentary then presents is, "26% of patients who are discharged from hospitals are more malnourished than when they went in. And the reason they go in, in 80 or 90% of cases, is related to their poor state of nutrition." Imagine what our country would be like if the other 94% of doctors were educated in nutrition! Oh, that's right, it won't happen-- as the movie states a few times in various ways: there is no money in health, and "the medical profession just treats disease; they don't go back to the primary causes because they can't. They don't understand... what chemicals come out of your food."

It then goes on to explain something we know quite well: that cardiovascular disease is a disease of civilization due to the "Western" diet, and that it can be "arrested or reversed" without surgery by just eating real food. While I completely agree with the movie's idea that eating "too much of the wrong thing and not enough of the right thing" is the underlying issue here, I do not like the fact that they mentioned meat and fat in the following phrase about foods that are the "wrong thing": "fast food and meat and fat and sugar and starch and processed food that has few vitamins." Meat and fat don't belong in that sentence, unless it said "bad/trans fats" or "factory-produced meat" or something of that sort-- meat is the best source of Vitamin B12 and other necessary nutrients, and (good) fat is crucial for survival. Oh, and there are good starches too, such as sweet potatoes-- not all meat, fats, and starches are bad!
But I digress. The main theme of this part of the movie, which I agree with 100%, is that processed/unhealthy/frankenfoods are the main cause of Western/neolithic diseases. This can be best summed up by the following graphic by Dr. Kurt Harris in the "Paleo 2.0" post over at archevore.com:

The film then covers a topic that is incredibly important in our health-- sorry, sick--care system: prescription drugs. Here's a frightening bit of information: according to the journal of the American Medical Association, "approximately 106,000 Americans die from pharmaceutical drugs each year... these are people who took the medication as directed (doesn't count overdoses or misuses)." In ten years, that's over a million people, and that is scary. And this is simply because the drug companies "pay the regulators, who are supposed to overseeing the drugs. They pay the academics, who are meant to be researching the drugs. And very often, the trials that they run will be run by people who are part of the drug company. They also put adverts into the medical journals... most [of which] are supported by drug company advertising." This isn't surprising at all, of course-- we've become a drug-dependent nation. Or, in the words of the movie (and I love this quote), "The whole country has come to expect the idea of taking a pill to fix an ill." Sad, but true. It's not okay that we're a "Fast Food Nation," but it's perfectly acceptable that we're a "Drug Company's Dream Nation"? Health is health is health-- and "giving the body drugs doesn't really promote health." (Note: Life-saving drugs such as antibiotics, for conditions that cannot be treated by altering dietary/lifestyle habits, are a completely different story.)
I think this is my favorite quote from the movie: "When in doubt, use nutrition first." So many diseases of civilization can be cured by proper nutrition! Why screw up your body (or, god forbid, be one of those 106,000 people who die per year because of drugs) when you can help yourself through food? Oh, that's right, because 94% of doctors don't understand proper nutrition, and there's no money in making people healthy. Sigh.

The next part of the film covers the link between poor nutrition and depression. It explains that depression can be treated with Vitamin B3 supplementation (or eating foods that contain it, such as animal products, vegetables, and seeds)-- there's a lot of evidence showing the poor nutrition/depression link, so this isn't surprising at all. What I found particularly interesting, though, is that Bill W., the founder of Alcoholics Anonymous, wanted to use niacin (B3) and vitamin therapy for the people in his program because he knew that it helped with depression and sobriety-- however, "AA, which had already been infiltrated by the medical profession, rejected it." Once again, the medical profession failed at holistic treatment... which brings me to the next interesting fact: "Two handfuls of cashews gives you the therapeutic equivalent of a prescription dose of Prozac." While cashews have a mixed status in the Paleo/Primal community (click), this quote still demonstrates how proper food can be so much more beneficial than a drug with a ton of side-effects... and it's cheaper too!

The documentary then discusses the link between poor nutrition and cancer. It cites the study of Japanese, who have the lowest rate of cancer due to their tradition diet, and how the "Western diet" can completely change that: "You take a Japanese woman from Japan, where the incidence of breast cancer is very low, and transplant her into America, and she changes her lifestyle, the incidence of breast cancer starts creeping up to that of the American woman, which is roundabout up to 30% now." We once again see crappy foods being the cause of neolithic diseases-- "with good, healthy, normal, rich, organic food, you can reverse these diseases," and the film shows many examples of this!

The final section is a fabulous wrap-up of many of the points stressed earlier. I love this quote: "We must make nutrition the primary prevention strategy for the population. And we have to be as zealous on nutrition as we are apparently on global warming. What we need to be able to do is persuade the public that you are what you eat, food can change your mood, you are whatever you've ever done to yourself, and the choices you make directly affect the outcome of your life."
I also really love this one: "People should stop being patients and start being people. Why not be healthy and happy? Why not!?"

I really enjoyed this documentary-- it provided a lot of great information and stressed the good nutrition-good health/bad nutrition-bad health connection. My only issue with it is that it really only promoted plant-based and raw-food diets. As I stated earlier, it lumped fat and meat in with crappy food in that one section-- even though we know that fat and meat are very good for you!-- and only mentioned the health benefits of vegetables and fruits. For example, one of the main guys interviewed is a raw foodist, and constantly stressed raw, plant-based stuff (as well as "super foods" like goji), such as in this quote: "When we choose raw, organic, plant-based foods, we take the power back and we decide that we are going to have quality..." While that is true, grass-fed/free-range meat and healthy fats (like coconut oil!) give us "power" and "quality" as well. However, I'm glad that this movie didn't vilify meat or fats (except in that one little section) by saying silly things like "Meat causes cancer" or "Fat makes you fat and causes so many health problems," but instead just focused on cutting out processed crap, not taking drugs, and taking control of our health by eating real food. I'm totally on board with those ideas!

So definitely watch this movie this week-- it runs for only about an hour and 15 minutes, so you can certainly squeeze that into your day! The information is fantastic, and it's something you can share with your friends and family members who truly believe that taking drugs is making them healthier. Just eat real food.

Speaking of watching things:
"I, Caveman," a new two-part series on the Discovery Channel, premiers tonight at 8PM, and it features Robb Wolf! Here's the commercial for it:

Quote of the Day:
"Wheat can also reach deep down into virtually every organ of the body, from the intestines, liver, heart, and thyroid gland all the way up to the brain. In fact, there's hardly an organ that is not affected by wheat in some potentially damaging way." -Wheat Belly by Dr. William Davis (which I'm currently reading-- it's awesome, and I highly recommend it!)


  1. Great Post!!! I have personal experience with the medical Industry handing out pills as the be all end all solution. The sad part is when I finally saw a nutritionist they hit me with the "Conventional Wisdom" i.e. fat is bad, red meats will give you a heart attack, and whole grains are good routine! So after many years wasted, and stumbling upon Marks Daily Apple I now realize how simple it can be. Keep up the good work spreading the message.

    I love a good quote...so I'll share one that I am sure you know:

    ""It does not take a majority to prevail...but rather an irate, tireless minority keen on...setting brushfires of freedom in the minds of men." --Samuel Adams, American patriot

  2. Congratulations on finding health through MDA/Primal Blueprint-- this is the way to live! And that is a fantastic quote-- thanks for sharing!

  3. Awesome info Leigh! It's so awesome to see other young people get it about nutrition and to be sharing that information with others. We need more great people like you sharing the truth!

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