We are on day 14 of social distancing and self-isolating in the midst of Covid 19.
If you’re like our family, you’ve probably already been through all of The Walking Dead, Outlander, Black Sails, Grace & Frankie, The Ranch, Ozark, Orange is the New Black, Russian Doll, and Master of None.
Perhaps you’ve even revisited The Soprano’s, Six Feet Under, and Veep.
If you’re at this point, you need some non-fiction in your life.
Thinking About Your Health?
I like to think of these films as bonafide research for how to live, regardless of your diet or lifestyle. There are a few movies here that’ll help vegans understand carnivores better, and help carnivores understand vegetarians and vegans better. There’s one film that explores the mind-body connection in healing, and another that takes a look at the current explosion of prescribed and street amphetamines
There’s no harm in learning something new, right? It’s especially appropriate as we all hope our immune systems will fight off the coronavirus.
So, pick a film you haven’t seen and give it a look-see. If you have time (hah — almost all of us have little but time these days!) let me know what you watched in the comments below.
If you have a favorite documentary not on this list, let me know so I can check it out.
There is no magic in the order listed. Check out the one that piques your interest and settle in with some popcorn and a beverage.
Forks Over Knives (2011, 90 Mins)
Despite scientific and technological advances, the United States is sicker than ever. Half the population takes at least one prescription drug for a chronic illness that is not only preventable but reversible.
This fascinating movie follows the pioneering work of Dr. T. Colin Campbell and Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn. At the same time and without knowledge of the other, they both concluded that our Western diet was killing us.
Supported by gobs of science, Campbell and Esselstyn along with many other doctors and researchers, assert that we can live healthier and more fulfilling lives by paying attention to what we eat.
If you have a chronic illness, e.g., type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, thyroid disease, a painful autoimmune disease, see this movie. It’s enlightening information for everyone, but for those of us in pain or trying to control a chronic illness, it’s a must-watch.
Forks Over Knives is available on Netflix and Prime Video. Occasionally it’s available for free viewing on YouTube.
What The Health (2017, 97 Mins)
This one is pretty damn eye-opening. How can it be that major non-profit health organizations recommend nutrition that is contrary to modern research? How are industries, governments, corporations, and non-profits working together to maintain the western diet status quo?
The filmmaker, Kip Andersen examines the industrial meat-making machine from the perspective of consumers and producers. He looks at everything from agribusiness to non-profits and the entire supply chain in between.
This film is more sensationalistic than Forks Over Knives but enlightening just the same. Definitely worth the time.
When I watched this movie, there was a brief moment or two of images I’d rather forget, but, overall, this is very watchable and intriguing.
It’s especially fun for those of us that enjoy a good mystery with a slight conspiracy-theory bent.
What The Health is available streaming on Netflix, iTunes, and Vimeo.
The Game Changers (2019, 108 Mins)
Truly compelling and directed straight at athletes that questions the wisdom of an all-plant diet, this movie is all about elite athletes that, for various reasons, only eat plants.
The science presented here is real!
The athletes featured in this film are elites at the peak of their training and have achieved that on a completely 100% whole food plant-based diet.
The film features competitive bodybuilder Nemai Delgado.
Raised vegetarian by Hindu parents, Delgado was the first vegan bodybuilder to compete in the IFBB Professional League Men’s PhysiqueOpen. Not just a musclehead, he holds a degree from LSU in mechanical engineering.
Bryant Jennings, a world-class fighter, is also featured. The movie is worth watching just to hear Bryant’s story.
Arnold Schwarzenegger, the famous former athlete, and actor, endorses his plant-based diet here as well.
If you’re an athlete and convinced you cannot possibly build muscle on a plant-based diet, this movie is especially for you.
The Game Changers is available on Netflix, Prime Video, Vimeo, and YouTube.
Take Your Pills (2018, 87 Mins)
Once you watch this one you’ll be glad your college kids are on Covid lockdown at home!
Every era since the dawn of pharmaceuticals claimed its favorite pill. From cannabis to heroin to cocaine to methamphetamine, there have always been mind-altering drugs.
So what’s the choice of today’s youth?
Legally-prescribed amphetamines, in the form of Adderall and other ADHD treatments, have evolved into the drugs of choice among high school and college students and early career professionals.
Are we in a brave new world of cognitive-enhancing drugs for getting a performance boost? According to many of the young adults interviewed in this film, the answer is yes. The pressure to excel in our hyper-competitive environment means doing what it takes to gain a leg up on your peers, both in education and in career performance.
The movie also touches on the newest craze of micro-dosing hallucinogenic drugs for performance enhancement.
The “kids” featured in this documentary make compelling arguments for off-label drug use for increasing focus and productivity. And since our social environment values those traits, it’s hard to argue.
Perhaps the alternative solution to our competitive 70-hour workweeks of peak focus and productivity is to revisit our values.
Take Your Pills can be seen on Netflix.
From The Ground Up (2017, 92 Mins)
This is another look at the effectiveness and wisdom of meat and dairy-free diets from the perspective of an athlete preparing for his first New York City Marathon. Santino Panico interviews athletes from endurance runners to world-class climbers to NFL football players.
Notably included are ultra-endurance athlete Rich Roll, Ed Templeton — one of the original skateboard athletes of the 1980s, and boxer Cam Awesome.
The primary theme is diet as a performance enhancement practice. But it also touches on the inhumane practices of factory farming as well as the ecological implications of diet and lifestyle.
Easy to watch and an interesting line-up of characters makes this an easy 90-minute watch.
Currently streaming on Prime Video.
Heal (2017, 106 Mins)
This movie will blow you away!
We’ve all heard or known of stories of people who have been spontaneously cured of horrible diseases. This film looks at a few of those cases.
And while the subject matter is a little woo woo, the exploration of these cases is rooted in the science of emotion and brain-body connection.
With recent revelations in the exploration of biology at the cellular level, it’s possible to accept how these remissions could have occurred.
Sit down with an open mind and give your attention to this one. The ideas presented can be life-altering, and, if nothing else, make for great bar stories.
Available on Netflix.
Fed Up (2014, 92 Mins)
Veteran journalist Katie Couric and filmmaker Stephanie Soechtig bring this hard look at the American food industry, weight loss, and the insidious lengths corporations and marketers will go to make you want to be skinny. And they also want you to believe that the food they’re manufacturing is helping to that goal.
I can’t decide which marketing goal is more disgusting.
Remember when fat in our food was the devil? Every manufacturer raced to get low fat and fat-free products on the shelf and touted them as healthy.
They weren’t healthy. Most manufacturers realized that to actually sell the fat-free products they’d have to replace the fat with large amounts of sweeteners — everything from sugar to corn syrup to cancer-causing aspartame. Oy.
This film will likely make you angry. If nothing else, you will no longer accept “facts” as such, especially from food manufacturers!
This was a nominee for the Grand Jury prize for documentary film at the Sundance Film Festival. In addition to starkly highlighting some of our bad sides, the production itself was expensive and well-done.
Fed Up is currently available on Prime Video and iTunes.
Whatcha Gonna Watch?
I have watched all of these documentaries and recommend them all. Do you think you’ll give one or a couple a try? Which ones appeal to you?
Let me know in the comments. Promise to respond to every single one!