Simple changes to your diet can lead to radical results, a concept that several of the films focus on. (Image via Time)

Despite its seeming simplicity, food can be one of the most complicated subjects to understand. What makes that complexity problematic, however, is that people have to buy food and feed themselves multiple times a day, meaning simple misunderstandings can turn into significant health problems over time.

Plus, big food is a big industry, and marketing agencies the world over have good reason to try to get you to buy their product. Combine capitalist fervor with a deceptively complicated product and what do you get? A population that lacks the ability to feed itself and has very few people telling them the naked truth about their diets.

However, not all hope is lost. If you want to hear stories from the opposite side of the spectrum, a number of documentaries have been created within the last two decades that do just that. Check out these films to learn more about what’s really in our food, how we can avoid disease through diet and how food can act medicinally.

1. Food, Inc.

“Food, Inc.” was created by Robert Kenner to expose the terrifying secrets of the food industry, including the unsanitary conditions of meat processing. It follows Eric Schlosser and Michael Pollan as they work to uncover the truths about the food on our table.

In the film, the producers show why food in grocery stores can be inexplicably both large and inexpensive, as animals are pumped with chemical and hormones to increase their size. This, in turn, lowers the price for farms and companies and increases the profit.

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“Food Inc.” explores how corporations have affected all aspects of the food chain in the U.S. (Image via Center For Ecoliteracy)

While the world is seeing “bigger-breasted chickens, the perfect pork chop, insecticide resistant soybean seeds and even tomatoes that won’t go bad,” the modern diet has made modern America historically unhealthy. The film then presents a detailed analysis of how those two phenomena relate.

To do so, they present examples of how corporate intervention has negatively impacted American agriculture, pointing to the creation of new strains of E. coli that have arisen from the unsanitary conditions in meat-processing factories. Many corporations refused to allow cameras in the animal-holding areas, while others refused to speak to Kenner altogether.

2. What The Health

Did you know that there are about 350 million people worldwide with diabetes? Or that animals are administered about 450 drugs before being served on the table?

“What The Health,” which was created by Kip Anderson and Keegan Kuhn, reveals the terrifying truths about the correlation between food and disease. Specifically, Anderson explores the dangers of eating processed meat.

With the help of professionals, Anderson reveals how nutrition and a plant-based diet can help to prevent and even reverse certain health conditions, such as heart disease, hypertension, diabetes, asthma, rheumatoid arthritis and other autoimmune diseases.

Anderson also investigates health organizations such as the American Diabetes Association and the American Cancer Society. It turns out that they are pretty unwilling to discuss the link between nutrition, diet and disease.

3. Forks Over Knives

This documentary has been impacting the world of nutrition since 2011. “Forks Over Knives” emphasizes the importance of eating fruits, vegetables, whole grains and legumes — essentially a whole food, plant-based diet rather than a diet based on animal products and processed foods.

It also discusses the declining health of younger generations. Processed foods lack nutrition and contain large amounts of fat, sugar and salt, which, by appealing to the pleasure circuits in the body, can lead consumers to become addicted to them.

The American diet has led to rampant obesity, and the documentary explores how food should be used in a medicinal manner to prevent and cure illness, rather than relying on pills.

4. In Defense of Food

Journalist Michael Pollan takes his book, “In Defense of Food,” to the screen in this documentary, focusing on the Western diet and how processed, packaged foods have taken control of people.

Processed food is easy, convenient, cheap and delicious because it has been modified to taste that way. Pollan discussed how people are deceived by products to think they are eating healthy. In reality, some of the foods that are supposed to be healthy contain high amounts of fat and sugar.

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Journalist Michael Pollan wrote “In Defense of Food” as a response to his first book, “The Omnivore’s Dilemma.” (Image via PBS)

In one specific example, Pollan shows an audience that there is the same amount of sugar in a Coca-Cola and a Yoplait yogurt. According to the documentary, processed foods account for 60 percent of people’s diets.

Pollan discovers how the chemicals in processed foods are ultimately making people sick, along with the lack of nutrients from fruits and vegetables.

5. Food Choices

“Food Choices” was created by Michal Siewierski and is available in over 190 countries. The film features 28 health professionals and experts as they try to reveal the negative consequences of the foods behind the creative, colorful packaging and catchy slogans.

The general population is misinformed about nutrition and the proper ways to stay healthy, as companies often manipulate consumers into believing that their products are nutritional. In less than two years, the filmmaker lost 50 pounds on a plant-based diet and saw his overall health improve.

His journey did not stop here. Siewierski is determined to learn more about nutrition, plant-based diets and the best ways to keep his family healthy for many years to come.

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