What the Health

What the Health

WTF What the Health?

I can’t tell you the number of texts, emails and in-person freak outs I received from friends and clients after watching What the Health. Nothing makes me happier than when nutrition is in the forefront of the news and the topic of water cooler conversations everywhere.  BUT not this time.  I have a beef (pun intended) with the shock tactics, fear-mongering, selective storytelling and down-right unethical biased research used in this documentary.  I am hard-pressed to call it a documentary because typically they are rooted in truth or at least a journalistic search for the truth.  So let me begin...

  • When an author goes into a story with a very strong bias it is almost impossible for them to objectively look at all aspects of the truth.  The producer and on-air mouthpiece is trying to lead us to believe this is his first dip into the world of veganism.  Left and right he is “shocked” by what he discovers and how these findings will change the way he eats in the future.  Kip Anderson, the face of What the Health, is also the man behind Cowspiracy, a documentary that aims to shed light on the harsh reality of factory farming.  He is not newly vegan.  Sadly he should have stopped at his first movie which had some valid points on the dangers to our health and the safety of the animals subjected to this kind of farming. Instead he leaped to sensationalism because lord knows shock sells.
  • “Sugar doesn’t cause diabetes.”  Are you kidding me??? You thought you could just slip that in and not expect a giant backlash from everyone educated in the field of nutrition.  Large epidemiological studies in the Journal of Clinical Nutrition, and The Stanford Medicine Newsletter (just to name a few) have shown correlation between excess sugar consumption and the overproduction of glucose in the liver. The pancreas can’t create enough insulin to stop the flow of glucose thereby raising blood sugar and creating insulin-resistance (aka Type II diabetes).
  • Almost every expert interviewed in this story profits from veganism.  They’ve written books and run plant-based health centers.  Truly unbiased journalism requires both sides of the story.
  • Eggs are not the enemy.  Study after study has debunked the myth that the cholesterol in eggs correlates to the bad LDL cholesterol in our bodies.  Our bodies need dietary cholesterol – it is essential for hormone production.  Eat the eggs – the whole egg!
  • Give the poor receptionist a break.  In my 12 years of public relations it is pretty common knowledge that the folks answering the phones are not authorized spokespeople for the organization.  Treat them with a little more respect – a kind “hello, could you direct me to the right person to talk to” will get you a lot further and might help your credibility.  The look of disdain on the security guard’s face when he blathered away was the best part of the movie
  • Cherry-picking of nutritional research is hurting us all.  The source of the conflicting advice we read, sensational headlines, and profit-driven marketing often comes from the very same studies.  Let me break it down in an oversimplified matter.  Researchers will ask 100 overweight or disease-stricken people to recall what they ate over the last day, week... month.  Here’s the problem with data collection in this matter.  Who can remember every bite they ate, and has the time to document it.  Also, people are selective – they’ll tell you what you want to hear even if it goes against their best interest.  The researchers will then take this data and pull one item out of it - eggs, processed meats, dairy, sugar, trans fats, alcohol...and say that the majority of overweight and ill participants in the study eat ‘X’.  Of course they do.  They likely eat a lot of everything.  They might also eat a ton of cucumbers or drink gallons of water.  

So here’s the take-away:

  • We all need to open our eyes to the way we grow and raise our food.  When we blindly allow the toxic spraying of our fruits, vegetables and grains the ability of our body to absorb the vital vitamins and minerals is jeopardized.  Sadly the non-organic produce of today couldn’t hold a nutritional candle to what was grown in our grandparents’ generation.  Why do you think the supplement industry is booming?
  • The way we raise our food matters.  Grass-fed organic meat has been proven to contain more beneficial Omega 3 fatty acids (brain food) and Conjugated Linoleic Acid (CLA = the good fats) than factory farmed meats.  It is good for the animal and good for us.
  • We cannot expect to pay so little for our food.  A commitment to organic farming and ethical animal treatment requires a significant investment by the farmer and the companies behind these practices.  We need to commit with our pocketbook.  Buy the best and use it sparingly.  You’ll save money in the long-run when it comes to the cost of long-terms statins and other drugs fuelling the billion dollar pharmaceutical industry.
  • A plant-based diet can benefit us all.  This does not mean we all need to become vegan or vegetarian but if the majority of the foods we eat come from the earth (fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds) are supplemented (if chosen) by grass-fed meat, free-range eggs, wild-caught fish and organic poultry the incidence of degenerative disease, obesity and type II diabetes would plummet.  Nutrition seems far more complicated than it truly is.  In the wise words of Michael Pollan – Eat Mostly Plants.

You’re vegan, paleo, vegetarian, pescatarian, keto...I love it!  What works for one does not work for all.  Eat real food, educate yourself on where your food comes from and love what you eat if you truly want to thrive.  Food is not always the cure but it most certainly goes a long way towards prevention.

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