By Jody McCutcheon
With all of the sitting and passive viewing, consumption of yummy junk food and slurping of soft drinks, movie watching isn’t always the healthiest experience for you. The least you could do is watch a film with a health-conscious message. While the term “health” is wide-ranging, here we will focus on the main players involved in contemporary human well-being, specifically food, lifestyle and medicine.
Here are, for us, the Top 10 Health Films of All Time. We believe so strongly that they all deserve to be watched and their content at least considered in the context of human health and welfare, that we’ve even provided free links to each. To your health!
Basically the idea here is “let food be your medicine, ” with the main point being how processed food and too much protein are forcing North Americans to turn to medicine and surgery for survival, which is exactly what Big Pharma wants. But according to the two different doctors whose careers are followed in the film–as well as the patients they saved–almost all modern illnesses (e.g., type two diabetes, heart problems, even cancer) can be avoided and even cured by eating properly.
What would you do if you knew some forms of cancer could be cured, but the FDA, National Cancer Institute and other powers that be in America and beyond were conspiring to prevent the public from knowing this? So begins the story of Dr Burzynski, a Texan based medic whose non-toxic antineoplastons have been found to give those with the worst kinds of cancer a better shot at living than any other possible treatment. However, as news of his success grew, so did the state’s animosity towards him…you’ll be amazed at the levels of corruption within the medical community, and inspired by the tireless doctor fighting to save lives.
Through testimonials from patients, scientists, physicians and nutritionists, this doc presents the story of Gerson Therapy, a controversial–yet surprisingly effective–cancer treatment. Many believe Gerson Therapy to be a wonder cure of kinds for cancer and other degenerative diseases, while many more dismiss it as bunk. The question left for the viewer to answer is, why was this therapy swept under the proverbial rug over seventy-five years ago? And even more so–who poisoned the firmly anti-cancer establishment Dr Gerson, and why?
This film has a slightly irritating, incoherent narrative by a father whose boy goes on a journey to discover what makes people sick, which consumed toxins are the most dangerous yet least questioned in that regard, and how the medical establishment cures people of diseases caused by these toxins. The boy learns about the controversial Gerson Therapy, the dangers of dental treatments and processed foods, and the absurdity of medical cancer treatments.
Based on the 2001 book of the same name, and directed by indie-movie king Richard Linklater, the 2006 Palme D’Or–nominate takes a dramatic rather than documentary approach. Boasting a trademark-Linklater ensemble cast and multiple intersecting storylines, this is a health film firmly aimed at Generation X. Among other (dramatic) purposes, the film critiques the American fast-food industry: how potentially unhealthy fast food can be, not only for the consumer, but for the factory worker as well.
Interviews with Pink-Ribbon campaign critics, researchers and cancer patients outline the insidious art of “pinkwashing,” or a company’s practice of increasing public image (as well as sales) by exploiting breast cancer awareness and claiming to donate a portion of sales to breast cancer research. In reality, often only a tiny fraction of the sales gets donated, quite often to a large, multinational pharmaceutical company that hardly needs the ‘charity’. But perhaps worst of all is the revelation that many companies that contribute to ‘Pink Ribbon’ month sell or manufacture products (e.g., cosmetics, fast-food) associated with actually causing breast cancer.
7. Food, Inc.
This earnest exposé of US agribusiness and corporate farming suggests that current practices are unhealthy for the environment, consumers, animals and employees. From the inhumane nature of the industrial production of meat, grains and veggies to near-ubiquitous US Government subsidies for corn, from the proliferation of GMO foods to the oligopoly-like economic and legal domination of three or four large food corporations (with Monsanto being Enemy Number One), the film studies the forces that shape American dietary habits.
Speaking of Monsanto—the company that brought us Agent Orange, highly cancerous polychlorinated bisphenols (PCB’s) and genetically modified seeds—this 2008 film documents director Marie-Monique Robin’s three-year investigation into the US food company’s dodgy corporate practices through interviews with US FDA and EPA reps, politicians, lawyers and victims of Monsanto’s practices. Robin exposes Monsanto’s plays for global agricultural domination through collusion with governments around the world, pressure tactics and suppression and manipulation of scientific data, which helps the corporate giant fool the public into thinking their products are beneficial to humanity at best, and benign at worst–when in fact, nothing could be further from the truth.
This rather amusing award-winning film lies somewhere on the spectrum between an infomercial and a documentary—but its main thrust is legitimised as a feel-good story about how an obese individual can wage a successful struggle to regain health from the imperious ravages of the food and pharmaceutical industries. An empowering film for anyone who’s thinking of turning their life around in terms of health and diet.
10. Statin Nation
This frank report on statin drugs asks some heavy questions. Statins lower cholesterol levels by blocking the liver enzyme responsible for creating cholesterol, in hopes of reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD). Widely prescribed, they’re Big Pharma’s number-one seller. But are they really a good solution to the problem of CVD? They’ve been shown to produce adverse effects ranging from muscle pain to diabetes to increased cancer risks. Furthermore, does cholesterol really deserve so much blame for CVD and other cardiac problems? Note: the title link allows for a preview of the film for free. To see it in its entirety, click here.
Once dominantly an American phenomenon, obesity is now a global epidemic, argues this brass-tacks film, which no longer discriminates between developed and developing nations. Due to the proliferation of sugary, cheaply produced fast food, corpulence has replaced starvation in many developing countries. The facts that we barely cook our own meals anymore, or eat much basic, unpackaged produce are but two poignant examples made in the film about how suppliers and producers determine modern consumer dietary habits.