Despite the recent debacle of HBO’s The Weight of the Nation, my brother and I are big fans of food documentaries. You just can’t beat relaxing on the couch for 2 hours and learning more about health and nutrition then most people have learned in their entire lives. Some of our must-watch favorites include Food Inc., FatHead, and Food Matters, but a recent food documentary has arrived that may be the last and only one you will ever need to watch.
Its called In Search of the Perfect Human Diet, and this is my review of this amazing documentary.
The “search” initiates way back in 1978 when producer and host of the documentary, CJ Hunt, had a near death experience at the age of 24 while simply jogging around a track. This incident left CJ a diagnosis of a 50% chance of dying within the next 2 years, and ignited him on a motivated quest to take control of his health.
Right off the bat, I had to stop and admire CJ’s will not to accept his circumstances and do what he could to take control of his health. It seems too often today that people look at their health like winning the lottery; a situation that they have no control over but can only hope for the best. Personally, I am not willing to leave my health to chance, and it inspires me to see others who take control of their lives in the same way.
And as the documentary quickly proves, taking control of your health is something we all need to be concerned with. I have included 2 of the most startling statistics below:
It’s estimated that between 300,000 and 400,000 deaths occur every year as a result of obesity related diseases. This is equivalent to an incident like September 11, 2001 occurring every 3 days for an entire year.
Michelle Obama stated on Regis and Kelly that we spend $147 billion as a country every year on obesity related conditions and diseases.
Obesity is taking our money and killing us at the same time. But how do we solve this problem?
Much like CJ’s personal transformation, the search of the documentary starts by visiting a vegetarian and vegan conference. I became a little worried about where this film was headed as several clips of vegetarians and vegans were shown promoting and sensationalizing the value of fruits and vegetables, as they scolded people for including animal products in their diet. But just as this conference and documentary were appearing to be a lost cause, a very interesting point was brought up. One of the ladies who was there selling soy jerky (I know, I can hear your mouth watering at the sound of that), stated that our biology and digestive systems prove that we were meant to be herbivores.
Herbivores huh? Well I know from studying dinosaurs back in elementary school that an herbivore is an animal that only eats plants and doesn’t eat other animals, but is this really true for humans?
Luckily for me the documentary went right into taking a closer look at what this lady was claiming.
It turns out that our GI tract looks a lot more like that of a carnivorous lion (one stomach) than that of an herbivore like a cow (multiple stomachs for digesting large amounts of fibrous plants). We can go long periods of time without food, unlike a cow which grazes all day, and we have a biological need for Vitamin B12, which is mostly present in animal products.
And this is where the documentary gets really good…
CJ then meets up with Dr. Loren Cordain as they walk end-to-end of a 100 yard football field using it as a timeline for the evolution of modern humans. Dr. Cordain explains that the first anatomically similar humans, known as homo erectus, first appeared 2 million years ago at the zero yard line.
He points out that they lived in an area of the world where the weather meant that parts of the year only allowed them to have animal foods available to them (meaning meat was a big part of their diet). As they continue to walk across midfield and discuss the timeline of evolution, Dr Cordain talks about fossils of hunting weapons, and art representations of hunting that continue to represent the strong connection to meat eating throughout our genetic history.
It’s not until they get to the last ½ yard line of the football field that we finally see grains, dairy, and legumes being consumed regularly with the onset of the agricultural revolution. And they have to go as far as the last 1/5 of the last inch of the field, at the start of the industrial revolution, to finally see where processed foods become a regular staple of the diet. So after 99.5% of our human evolution relying on wild plants and animal foods, we finally hear the statistic that the average diet today is made up of 70% processed foods, foods that have only existed for about 100 years.
The documentary continues to expand on this evolutionary premise by visiting anthropological museums, fossil dig sites, and talking to biochemical researchers. Everyone that they talk to reiterates that everything from the structure of our teeth and bones, to the size of our brain, proves that we evolved as healthy humans and we were meat eaters. Take a look at some of the quotes from the people who are digging up the fossils and studying the bone chemistry, the people who live and breathe the science of evolution every single day.
“Expansion of the brain is due to meat.”
“We believe meat eating made all the difference. If we stayed vegetarians, I wouldn’t be speaking to you with this high level of intellect.”
“We would not be here today if our ancestors were not healthy.”
“(Based on bone chemistry), this diet HAS to be the best diet for humans.”
It was amazing to see and hear people from all different backgrounds — doctors, anthropologists, researchers, and chemists — acknowledge that the development of the brain was directly related to the consumption of meat, protein, and animal products in the diet. I think intuitively most of us know this to be true, but we tend to forget our evolutionary history as we go through our daily lives and get bombarded with convenient packaged foods and billions of dollars worth of food marketing. This simplified model of thinking is something I have always appreciated about the paleo way of eating, and this documentary presents it in a way that is more powerful than I have ever seen.
I recommend everyone buy a copy (or ask to borrow mine) of In Search of the Perfect Human Diet and watch the movie with someone that you care about. I included the trailer below for you to preview and you can click here to purchase your own copy.
The last thing I want to leave you with is a great quote from Doctor and Author Boyd Eaton…
“If this is a fad diet, then it’s a 2 million year old fad.”