The hot documentary on everybody’s lips at the moment is “What the Health” (it’s on Netflix) it’s got online chat groups divided, and many people questioning everything they know about food after an already wave of confusion about whats the best diet for us all in the last few years.
I go into every documentary I watch with an open mind, I’ve been vegetarian, vegan, low fat, carnivore, low carb, high carb, paleo, wholefood, you name it I’ve been it and had quite a negative relationship with food for many many years in my teens and early 20’s despite coming from a family that didn’t do processed foods, and ate a very varied home-cooked Mediterranean diet, a far cry from the SAD (Standard Australia/American diet) most of Western society grows up on.
I agreed with many points WTH raised, the way conventionally grown animal products have basically no nutritional value, that the farming practices used to raise them hugely impact our already struggling environment, all causes I am strongly passionate about educating people on how to reduce our footprint on the world by the choices we make daily.
I did however see a lot of holes in the research presented, some bias in having predominately vegan based Dr’s being interviewed (with the exception of some) and also not going into the background of the SAD (Standard American diet) the majority of the test subjects consumed prior to going “vegan” which the majority of us know if we all know if you eat from the dollar menu, your health isn’t going to be great to start with.
The first 10 mins or so is dedicated to the overconsumption of processed meats. I will repeat “processed meats” this is things like smoked deli meats, bacon (I’m going to have many people hate me for typing bacon!), sausages and man made products that come from places – some of those with big golden arches that some people consume daily, sometimes more than once a day.
It’s not rocket science to assume that a processed foods diet high in sodium, nitrates, preservative and more numbers than real food ingredients aren’t going to be a healthy option for any of us.
The demonization of saturated fats seems to also be a big focus of the documentary despite leading cardiologists & MD’s with studies around the world (also peer reviewed, I wouldn’t’ place too much emphasis on studies that have not been peer reviewed when doing your own research) dispelling the cholesterol & saturated fat data that has predominately been at the forefront of the information available to us and our GP’s for the last 40-50 years. Claims that cholesterol levels drop on a plant based diet, if you were eating Big Mac’s and had high cholesterol levels to begin with of course your cholesterol levels would drop on any healthier option diet.
There is no doubt in my mind plants are medicine, 3/4 of our plates at every meal should be plant based. The more the better! This is what we aim for in our house at every meal.
Does the average person in the Western world consume 3/4’s of their plate as vegetables/fruits? From my research and day to day workings with families, hardly. Unless you consciously follow a wholefoods diet focused on eating in season, the average family is eating masses of processed, nutrient deficient food which are causing a host of lifestyle diseases which are in epidemic proportions in the Western world, we are also starting to see this come into underdeveloped countries with food aid programs, the introduction of high calorie packaged foods, drastically changing the ancient diets eaten by these cultures.
The term “low fat vegan” comes up quite a lot too in the movie, given our brains (especially that of growing children) need fats to develop properly and have our hormones functioning at optimum levels low fat is not a world that should be associated with anything we eat. The 80’s and early 90’s saw the low fat craze take over our supermarkets, healthy fats where demonised and low fat everything filled with carbs & sugar (to make them taste semi decent) where the trade off for the fats that were taken away.
Now I’m a Mum, i’m not a Dr and I don’t advocate anything other than a wholefood diet – food in it’s closest to natural form, unprocessed & organic where possible. Eating in season, something our society has moved so far away from and supporting local farmers who raise ethical meats and trying to reduce their impact on the environment as best they can.
We personally choose to avoid dairy and pork & it’s by products including bacon and we don’t eat processed smoked meats by choice, not because of a documentary, or a study, it’s what works best for us and makes us our most vibrant selves. listen to your body, if it’s screaming at you, then it’s time to have a look at what you are putting in and not forgetting onto it. Our personal care products and toxins also play a large part in our overall health.
I’d love to hear your thoughts and comments if you have seen the film.
Has it changed your views on what you feed your family? Did it shock you? Scare you, make you even more confused?
I have to say it doesn’t have to be confusing, as Michael Pollan says ‘Eat food, not too much, mostly plants”. I personally don’t think this means going strict vegan but increasing our intake of plant based foods is a huge priority for the greater good of society as we cannot sustain this health epidemic we are currently facing.