Netflix Health Documentaries

Due to my battle with graves disease i’m trying to read related papers, blogs, etc…and watch youtube video’s. I came across a ‘teaser’ for the Netflix documentary The Game Changer and decided to watch it. Based on that, Netflix recommended me ‘What the health‘ and ‘Heal‘. After watching these 3 documentaries i had some thoughts i wanted to write down and share.

The Game Changer

Afbeeldingsresultaat voor Game Changer

This documentary caught my attention because of the people involved and focussed on the question ‘do you need meat for your protein’ with an emphasis on athletisism. The conclusion was ‘absolutely not’, animals get their protein from plants and simply are a ‘vessel’ to transfer protein to us through the products we make of and are produced by animals. Let’s take out the middleman/animal and start eating plants ourselves.

There was loads of starpower involved with people like Arnold Schwarzenegger, Lewis Hamilton, Jackie Chan, etc.. It had some great points regarding the marketing power of meat and related industries how and that came about. The story about the fire-department and how changes in diet helped them, was well told. But in all honesty, getting Americans to eat a bit more vegetables and spend less time at fast food places would also have done the job (to a certain point).

Unfortunatly it didn’t go into the nutritional value of fish, just that due to pollution fish could be unhealthy. But the interviews with people from the medical and scientific field were very informative. Well made and very inspiring. Although don’t think that people like Arnold don’t enjoy a nice piece of steak now and again.


Afbeeldingsresultaat voor Heal netflix

This is more of an esotherical documentary about the power of the mind in relation to health and sickness. It showed some powerfull stories of people with diseases and/or problems. If you don’t believe in this stuff, you can still appreciate the documentary and how things are told. But if you’re looking for scientific validation of the body-mind hypothesis, then this is not the documentary you’re looking for.

What the Health

Afbeeldingsresultaat voor What the health

This documentary focussed more on the ‘ethical’ aspect of the food, and specifically, the meat industry and you get shown some pretty grewsome footage and some astounding political and financial entanglement of the organisations that should be protecting the consumers. But also some inspiring stories of (sick) people who started to cut meat and other animals products from their diet and the changes that occured.

It touched on most of the same points that the Game Changer documentary had, like ‘do you need meat’, so it felt a bit like a deja-vu. But i was more fascinated by the political aspect and showed (just like John Oliver often does) that at least in America the so called trusted organizations are not as indepedent as they might seem and have a conflict of interest. But research and science require money and that sometimes makes for ‘strange’ bedfellows’.

And i think this might be one of the most critized documentaries, and lots of critizism has been critized. Have a look for yourself first

General Feel After Watching

After watching all three documentaries i felt conflicted about what to do with them, they all had a great story to tell but i felt they were also 1 dimensional (which is of course the producers/directors prerogative) in that in my opinion health is not just about food or just about mental health.

It’s a combination of all sorts of factors, environmental, social, mental, stress, genes, etc…

Optimism and purpose, a low stress level, a natural diet and an active lifestyle…experts say these factors are three times as important as your genetic makeup when it comes to enjoying a long and healthy life

So when you go vegan after watching these documentaries and expect to live healthy to the age of 120…you’re kidding yourself. It’s also most likely not the intent of the people who make them to focus on more than 1 or 2 dimensions, but the documentaries are used in (heated) discussions about what’s right and wrong. That’s were you have to be cautious and make up your own mind.

‘Heal’ is even more 1 dimensional, although i think there definitly is something to the body-mind connection (in essence stress in my opinion), it sort of let’s you think that if you can ‘let go’ and ‘be at peace’ that you can cure cancer. And although it has worked for the person depicted in the documentary it does not mean it works for everybody. It’s like when people are shown who ‘healed’ themselves by believing and trusting, but they do not show the millions of people who believed and trusted just as hard (or even more) but didn’t make it. Again, try and judge for yourself, but be very critical about what you are shown.

Also the science behind especially what was shown on Game Changer was not very scientific. I know they have very little time to explain the science and i’ve watched some youtube video’s which shows that a large part of the science has a lot of merit and is backed by research. But when you show an experiment with 3 people eating ‘meat’-dinner 1 night, and ‘vegan’ the next, and then show a vile of blood (or time of erection during the second experiment) of which 1 was more blurry is not real science. First of all, what did these people eat and do the rest of the day? Second, what does ‘blurry’ really mean, at no point is explained that ‘blurry’=bad, that’s insinuated. The intention is good and you can learn from it and be inspired but again…be critical about what they show you and read up about it.


Regarding The Game Changer and What the Health, i was even more triggered to rethink the way i look at and deal with meat and other animal products (although i was already skipping all cow-products). So i tried looking at it from a few angles:

  • Ethical: what is the impact of the meat/animal industry on the environment and how does that effect me, my family and the world;
  • General Nutritional Value: does meat or other animals products have nutritional value (beside protein) that is usefull;
  • Do i need it: this is more about if there are enough (tasty) alternatives for meat and if they can support me with staying healthy and fit.

To make it short: i value people who produce food very highly but they are a big part of the solution regarding environmental and (drink) water issues, that is mostly because by (lazy) consumer behaviour. We live in a mass consumer/producer world which we need to change for the better otherwise our world will be a lot less ‘friendly’. And since most changes start with yourself, we decided to reduce our meat-intake and eat meatless at least 3-4 times week. Alternatives like Tofu, Tempeh, meatless meat are on the rise and get better all the time. My kids still have to get used to a selfmade chickpeas, blackbeans burger but i’ll get there.

Regarding the other dimensions, i won’t skip meat all together. I like it too much, it has nutritional value and and the foodindustry can be changed into a more ethical and conscientiousness industry….but that takes time, lots of discussions and patience. Luckily there is also hope from scientific research into things like meat from stemcells (and 1) and from companies Beyond Meat and Burger King to even convince the carnivors amongst us to give the alternative a try. I know i don’t need it for staying healhy, there are enough alternatives do create a diverse diet and i integrate them more and more so maybe in a few years we will be meatless up to 6 times a week.


At one point i got crazy about if eggs are good or bad for you, seems like half of the world is pro and the other anti. My brother, who also watched ‘What the Health’ is skipping eggs all together. I like eggs and as far as i can tell, just as with everything, if your moderate with your intake (3 to 4 eggs a week), you’re good. I like this quote from an article about egg-research:

“The main message for the public is not to select a single type of food as ‘bad’ or ‘good’ but to evaluate your total diet in terms of variety and amount.”

Final Note

These type of documentaries can be inspiring and informative but if you take what they show and tell at face value without a critical thought than you delude yourself. Always try to look at them from different angels, try to find some criticism and decide for yourself on what is true and how you want to proceed. Nevertheless, always try to learn from others and try things out. Eating less meat and more plants, less cheese and more nuts&seeds, never hurt anyone….i think.

I intend to watch some more documentaries like Fork over Knifes and The Magic Pill just to get other perspectives and educate myself on these topics. Try one of them yourself, never stop learning.

2 thoughts on “Netflix Health Documentaries

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