Combating Illness Through Diet Change

The Magic Pill: Combating Illness Through Diet Change

Directed by Robert Tate (2017)

Film Review

Although this documentary was made two years before the COVID19 pandemic, it offers a highly plausible reason why COVID19 mortality rates are much higher in patients with obesity, heart disease, diabetes, and hypertension. Given that most patients with these conditions are still eating a low fat diet high in sugar, refined carbohydrates, and processed foods.

Citing both archeological and research evidence, the filmmakers maintain that modern day humans have evolved (over 100,000 generations)* to flourish on a hunter gatherer diet high in animal fats and fresh fruits and vegetables.

They believe the hunter gatherer diet for is probably most similar to the modern ketogenic (high fat, low carbohydrate diet). Many pediatricians are successfully treating with refractory epilepsy with a ketogenic diet. Likewise a number of oncologists are using it as an an adjunct to cancer chemotherapy.

Unfortunately this high fat, low carbohydrate diet is the exact opposite of the low fat, high carbohydrate diet (aka the Food Pyramid) most Western doctors and public health officials continue to recommend for their patients. According to growing research evidence, this diet is largely responsible for an epidemic of obesity, type II diabetes, hypertension, heart attacks, strokes, cancer, and Alzheimer’s (which many diet researchers refer to as type III diabetes).

The film follows a dozen patients with a myriad of health problems (including obesity, diabetes, asthma, autism, arthritis, autism, seizures, recurrent respiratory infections, and early dementia) who switch to a ketogenic diet. Amazingly all their medical problems either resolve or improve dramatically after only 10 weeks. Even the two autistic children are markedly calmer and exhibit a big increase in verbal interaction.

The filmmakers also follow 11 Yoingu (a northern Aboriginal tribe) women experiencing similar chronic medical conditions. After only two weeks they, too, experience significant improvement when they abandon their high carbohydrate Western diet for more traditional foods. Prior to adopting the Western diet in the 1940s, the Yoingu were extremely healthy and rarely suffered from chronic illnesses.


*Evidence of tool making suggests there were ancient human living in China 2.1 million years ago https://www.theatlantic.com/science/archive/2018/07/early-humans-left-africa-250000-years-earlier-than-thought/564896/

Anyone with a public library card can view the film free at Kanopy. Type Kanopy and the name of your library into your search engine.

 

The Role of Western Medicine in the Epidemic of Obesity, Diabetes and Heart Disease

Carb Loaded: A Culture Dying to Eat

Directed by Lathe Poland (2014)

Film Review

Carb Loaded follows the personal journey of a 40 something male (one of the filmmakers) who suddenly develops type II diabetes, despite being physically fit and follow a “heart healthy” diet. What he discovers is that the low fat, high carbohydrate promoted for fifty years by Food Inc, the USDA, and the American Dietetic Association is responsible for a global epidemic of diabetes, obesity, heart disease and most likely Alzheimer’s Disease.

The Food Pyramid was an Experiment and Americans the Guinea Pigs

The documentary begins by tracing the history of the “food pyramid,” which the FDA and corporate cronies foisted on the unsuspecting American public in 1977 – without a single clinical trial supporting its safety and effectiveness. With the adoption of the “food pyramid,” doctors and dietitians induced hundreds of millions of patients to drastically reduce their intake of protein and fat and to increase foods previously associated with weight gain (bread, pasta, potatoes, high carb snacks, etc). in other words it was a vast experiment and Americans – and citizens of other industrialized nations – were the guinea pigs.

Statistically the prevalence of diabetes, obesity heart disease and Alzheimer’s began to take off in the late seventies, the widespread adoption of the low fat, high carbohydrate diet. Over the last decade the researchers have identified the mechanisms by which a high carbohydrate diet causes these conditions.

A high carb diet causes diabetes by triggering excessive insulin production, which over time leads to insulin resistance, a physiological condition in which cells fail to respond to insulin, leading to higher blood sugar levels.

It causes obesity by reducing brain sensitivity to leptin, a hormone produced by fat cells that notifies the brain when we’re full.

It causes heart disease mainly by triggering an inflammatory response in our blood vessels that increases cholesterol production. Contrary to popular belief (driven by relentless corporate marketing), most cholesterol is produced by the body in response to inflammation and is totally unrelated to diet.

Alzheimer’s: Type III Diabetes

Most ominous of all, high carbohydrate diets can cause the accumulation of “glycated”* proteins in the brain. These are linked to the development of Alzheimer’s Disease, which doctors and researchers have begun referring to as Type III diabetes.

The film goes on to explore numerous lifestyle changes which have led many residents of the industrialized world to cook less and rely more on cheap, carbohydrate-rich fast foods. It also explodes the myth that fast food is cheap, with a recent study that the average American spends $3,000 a year on fast food and $8,000 on doctors visits for medical problems caused by fast foods.

Potential Solutions

The filmmakers finish by reviewing a range of possible solutions at the government, community and individual level. High on the list of policy changes are an end to the US corn subsidy (responsible for the ubiquitous presence of damaging high fructose corn syrup in most processed foods) and a tax on sugary beverages similar to those enacted by Mexico, Denmark, Hungary and France.

On a community level, they talk about what activists can do to eradicate food deserts and increase the availability of fresh, unprocessed food.

On a personal level, they explore the importance of understanding the addictive effect of sugar and specific behavioral changes people can make to gradually wean themselves and, most importantly, their children off sugar and other refined carbohydrates.