14 Best Healthy Living Documentaries On Netflix Right Now

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14 Best Healthy Living Documentaries On Netflix Right Now

As humans, none of us are perfect all of the time, and it’s far too easy to get off track when it comes to healthy living. Sometimes, we just need a little inspiration to get back into the game, and get serious about our health.

Whether you’ve been “off track” for days, weeks, years, or were never on it in the first place, these great Netflix documentaries focused on a variety of healthy living subjects, are sure to get you inspired to get you where you need to be.

Do you need a push? Just grab a bag of healthy popcorn, check out some of these documentaries and you’ll be on your way!

Hungry For Change

Released in 2012, “Hungry For Change” asks how we’ve gotten to a place where our government looks the other way at a food industry that’s killing us, and a diet industry that is primarily concerned with squeezing us for every last dime, rather than helping us lose weight. As per the Netflix description, the documentary “exposes the secret the diet, weight loss and food industries don’t want consumers to know about,” and reveals what’s really keeping people from the health and body they want.

While the film isn’t perfect, such as the strong anti-meat message (a vegetarian diet can be a good one, but it’s not for everyone and they failed to mention that grass-fed meats can be healthy), there are a number of great takeaways. It promotes eating lots of veggies, which most of us can use more, as well as talking about the mental aspects of eating, such as how to reframe thoughts about food in your mind. Rather than “I want that cake, pie, burger or what have you and can’t have it,” reframing that to “I could have that cake but I don’t want it,” helps to change your outlook on food so that you won’t crave it even more. It also addresses the importance of letting go of shame and guilt surrounding food and weight loss – that’s a key element as it can increase stress, including cortisol and other stress hormones that makes losing weight even harder than it already is.

This is a great one for those who are tired of feeling tired and ready to make a shift toward clean eating.

Food, Inc.

This 2008 Oscar-nominated documentary is still very applicable today. Food, Inc.  looks at the “food industry and its detrimental effects on human health and the environment,” to get you seriously thinking about where you get your food, including  how meat and crops get to your dining table.

It’s graphic and reveals some scary truths about the use of growth hormones, animal abuse and “corporate-controlled food sources.” Since its release, it has driven countless consumers to their local organic food stores, co-ops and farmers markets.

From large-scale production of veggies to industrial meat, this doc tells you everything you need to know about how big business has quickened and cheapened food production over the last half-century or so. If you have any health-focused friends, this is probably one they’ve seen, and maybe even claimed that it “changed their lives.” That may not be an exaggeration either.

In Defense of Food

2014’s “In Defense of Food” is a PBS documentary that follows best-selling author Michael Pollan as he seeks to answer the question we’re all asking: “what should I eat?” Pollan travels the globe as he attempts to rediscover the pleasures of eating healthy, whole unprocessed foods, while dispelling common misconceptions the general public have been fed through “faulty nutrition science and deceptive marketing practices.”

This film gives a refreshing human face to the issue, allowing us to truly step into Pollan’s shoes as he discovers the answers to things many of us have wondered about for ages. Through interviews with food activists, physicians and nutrition experts, the documentary examines how a variety of diets, including a plant-based diet, can be healthy as well as providing advice on how we can avoid the rising concerns of chronic illness that have been connected to today’s modern Western diet.

“In Defense of Food,” cuts through all of those ridiculous and often contradictory messages we get when it comes to food and diet, to make eating simple again.

Cooked

Chef and writer Michael Pollan, who has been asking people to pay closer attention to what they eat for years, also brings us “Cooked.” The  2016 documentary is divided into four episodes that looks at what we eat, why we eat and how we can all eat better. You’ll learn a lot about food, from its history to how to cook, as well as everything from sustainably-raised meat to gluten.

Cowspiracy: The Sustainability Secret

The Leonardo DiCaprio produced documentary “Cowspiracy: The Sustainability Secret” chronicles filmmaker Kip Andersen’s journey to become an environmentalist as he investigates animal agriculture, which is said to be by many experts, one of the most destructive industries currently affecting the planet today. It’s leading to the extinction of species, significantly contributing to global warming, water depletion, and more.

The film focuses more on environmental damage than animal agriculture, however, including not only climate change, but deforestation and global warming. Andersen’s charming personality, as well as the crazy obstacles he’s challenged with, make this one that is sure to cause you to think twice of picking up meat at the grocery store.

What the Health

If you’ve already seen Cowspiracy and are looking for more, “What the Health” was created by the same team behind that doc to explore the corruption involved between the government, pharmaceutical and health companies, as well as the food industry conglomerates that do everything it takes to withhold information and keep us sick so that they can keep pulling in trillions of dollars in healthcare revenue every year.

That Sugar Film

If you’ve got a serious sweet tooth and want to kick the sugar habit, this film is for you. “That Sugar Film” is a 2014 documentary that follows Damon Gameau, who sets out to see what consuming the average amount of sugar the American eats on a daily basis, 40 grams, would do to his body. But, he doesn’t get his sugar from candy or soda, he gets his dose strict from hidden sources of sugar, including foods that most people think of as healthy, such as cereals and yogurt. The 60-day regimen is undertaken under medical supervision, and it ultimately produces some rather “disturbing results,” as the Netflix description reads.

Fed Up

One of the most well-made documentaries on this list, “Fed Up” is narrated by Katie Couric and offers an eye-opening look into the role sugar plays in our nation’s obesity crisis, and how big business is affecting those down-right depressing stats. This is a good one, along with “That Sugar Film,” for anybody who doesn’t completely understand just how much sugar is in the foods we eat.

This one is likely to make you angry – just thinking about the catastrophic consequences the many adults and children through the U.S. (and beyond) are dealing with because of the inability for the government to break the iron grip of big food. While big food is making a ton of money, our kids are getting fatter, and we’re all getting sicker. It delves into the organizations that have contributed to skyrocketing obesity rates – more than two-thirds of adults are overweight or obese today – and also reveals how all of the marketing messages we’re getting aggravates the problem. You’ll find out all about the detrimental effects of sugar and what you can actually do to help fight the spread of obesity.

Super Size Me

An oldie but a goodie, “Super Size Me” is a classic 2004 documentary that’s one you should certainly see if you haven’t watched it before – and, it may be worth watching again if it’s been a while. The star of the film, Morgan Spurlock, goes on a horrible diet for 30 days, eating only items on the McDonald’s menu. When it came out 13 years ago, it opened the eyes of many Americans to the dangers of fast food. Throughout it, you’ll hear a heavy dose of both commercial and political commentary in regard to obesity in the U.S and the state of the fast food industry.

You’ll not only find out what happens to Spurlock by the end of the 30-day period, you may give up ever going through the drive-thru again. It’s hilarious but incredibly frightening at the same time.

Happy

Happiness is a key component of our overall health. When we’re happy, we tend to make better lifestyle choices, and following a healthy lifestyle has been found to make us a happier too. A fabulous endless cycle to be caught up in. In fact, happiness is probably the most important human emotion we have. The 2011 documentary “Happy,” takes a look at what really makes people happy, from the poorest to the wealthiest people in the world in order to understand the secret to happiness. Everyone from Louisiana swamp-dwellers living in slums to monks and scientists chime in so that you can find your own true meaning of happiness.

Vegecated

While this one has an obvious agenda, 2010’s “Vegecated” is a great one to watch if you want to find out more about veganism, and what “going vegan” really means, along with the benefits and challenges of making this major lifestyle change. It follows three New Yorkers who have a passion for meat and cheese but decide to commit to a six-week vegan-eating plan after learning about the weight loss and health benefits, with each one getting a very different education than they planned on getting. It’s surprisingly funny as well as being educational and entertaining.

A New High

Whether you know someone who is struggling with an addiction, or you’re suffering yourself, this is an important one to watch. “A New High,” hopes to offer a new kind of recovery program, one that includes an entire year of rigorous training, aiming to enable a diverse group of people to climb over 14,000-feet-high Mount Rainier in Washington State, starting from the literal and figurative bottom. Of course, people who are in their prime of drinking and/or drugging, don’t usually have much in the way of athletic prowess, but this beautifully shot documentary shows how even those in early sobriety, or even still using, can discover new hope. It’s heart-wrenching, yet inspirational and uplifting at the same time.

Fat, Sick & Nearly Dead

If you need proof that changing your diet can dramatically alter your health, and your waistline, the 2010 film “Fat, Sick & Nearly Dead” is sure to do the trick. It chronicles Australian business  Joe Cross’ attempt to lose 100 pounds, and offset all the damage he’s done to his body by food thus far, following a life of junk food and other bad habits. The documentary also recounts the struggles of others Cross meets along the way, while investigating the effects of poor diet, and exploring our ability to reverse it. It’s lighthearted and inspiring, for anyone who wants motivation to change their lifestyle.

If you want more, “Fat, Sick & Nearly Dead 2” was released in 2014, a follow up to the original in which Cross details his eating and lifestyle changes in order to help others match his achievements. Experts were also invited to share their perspectives.

From Fat to Finish Line

Can’t get yourself motivated to exercise? “From Fat to Finish Line,” is sure to provide the motivation you need, following 12 formerly obese runners who team up to run a 200-mile Ragnar Relay race from Miami to Key West, Florida and collectively lost 1,200 pounds. The 99-minute film examines the obstacles, trials and triumphs that happen when trying to tackle a major goal, like crossing a finish line and losing an astonishing amount of weight to get find a new path in life through better fitness habits.


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