In this one-hour Humankind documentary, we hear from the growing movement of physicians and others who — concerned by the upsurge in obesity, diabetes and heart disease — are placing greater emphasis on advising patients about more healthful eating. But changing our diets is notoriously difficult, especially in a culture that heavily promotes unhealthy foods.
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We examine current federal dietary recommendations that Americans significantly increase our intake of vegetables and fruits, and – particularly for men and boys – to cut back on consumption of protein. Yet, sale of meat products is setting records. And the portion sizes served in restaurants are often twice and sometimes triple what we need to satisfy hunger.
This “toxic food culture” is reinforced by the multi-billion dollar fast food industry, which serves up industrially-processed products, in place of naturally occurring foods. Yet, our eating habits are deeply ingrained; as famed anthropologist Margaret Mead observed, “It is easier to change a man’s religion than to change his diet.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, just 1 in 10 Americans actually follows the health guidelines for consuming sufficient vegetables and fruits. So we’re eating too many of the unhealthful foods, and skimping on foods that provide us more nutrition and naturally occurring phytonutrients, which help to protect us from disease.
We also hear in the program how nutrition education receives surprisingly short shrift in medical school. And we learn how industrial livestock production abuses the environment, producing substantial emissions of greenhouses gases, that are associated with climate change, as well as contaminating our drinking water.
To explain this picture, we hear from physicians Andrew Weil and Victoria Maizes of the University of Arizona Medical School; Scott Faber of the Environmental Working Group; Susan Roberts, professor of nutrition and psychiatry at Tufts University; Dr. Aly Cohen, an integrative physician in Princeton, N.J.; and others.