In a wave of nutrition films like Fathead and The Sugar Film, Donal O’Neill goes to South Africa to be guided by Professor Noakes as he takes on an experimental approach to Noakes’ controversial nutritional ideas.
The independent documentary is inspired by O’Neill’s belief in an 80% exercise and 20% nutrition to health and puts it to the test, where he quickly realizes it’s the other way around. By adopting a high-fat/low-carb nutrition programme, he puts our current health information to the test.
O’Neill’s personal connection to the narrative that identifies his reason for a nutritional journey validates his search for experimenting with the diet himself instead of just seeking medical advice, which he admits to taking with a degree of skepticism. The story begins with a health sympathy we can all identify with; his father, a fit pro soccer player falls ill to chronic illnesses like heart disease and diabetes. He tries to understand why such a fit man could still be prone to such nutrition-based illnesses and sets to correct the lies we have been told about food and nutrition by cutting out sugar. The study that became the basis of the nutritional guidelines in 1977 was based on Ancel Keys (1958) study. The food pyramid puts grains, wheat and bread as the fundamental staple, and fruits and veggies as the least amount to be consumed. It was later found to be a fraudulent study in which Keys tampered with the evidence by leaving out the huge amount of anomalies out of his results. For 28 days O’Neill decides to reverse this food pyramid and eat solely fat, protein and fruits and vegetables.
Cereal Killers reveals interesting insight into the repercussions of a low-fat/high-sugar diet, and the health implications Keys’ study brought along when he suggested a high-carb, low-fat diet, as the fat quickly got removed and modified from products, resulting in products tasting bad, to which they compensated by adding cheap sugar to the products. ‘Low-fat’ was more fat, and as more and more people adopted this way of diet and nutrition – fearing fat, along with the rise of the wheat and corn agricultural agenda, obesity rose. In the film, Professor Noakes introduces himself by ripping out the carbohydrates section out of his previous book, ‘Lore of Running’ when explaining how wrong it is that we still adopt a low-fat and high-carb diet.
This interactive engagement with doctors and health practitioners adds an intimate technical understanding and science to the idea of high-fat nutrition, as they follow his body’s changes every week and find insight in the results themselves into the benefits of a high-fat diet. But, instead of a convoluted, over-superfluous film that confuses you with graphs, statistics and health data a layman would not really be able to understand, O’Neill undertakes the journey almost entirely nutritionally, as you follow what he eats and what his diet consists of with only the doctors as a touchstone of information on how his body is changing. This focus on food is what is refreshing about the documentary; a first time on-screen look at Noakes’ diet approach, which is still nothing new- as John Yudkin, a British nutritionist, predicted decades ago in his book, ‘Pure, White and Deadly’ in which he foresees the sugar epidemic and the results this would have on the global health. By eating a diet that consists of 500g of meat a day, lots of eggs and butter, a lot of saturated fat, and lots of fruits, vegetables and nuts, O’Neill’s body fat drops from 13.6% – 12.9%.
An interesting find when compared to what the National Health Service, UK, says:
“Eating a lot of saturated fat can increase the cholesterol in your blood. High levels of cholesterol can increase your risk of: heart attack, stroke, narrowed arteries. It is a good idea to eat less saturated fat”.
The food industry is worth 50 billion dollars and the media’s role and manipulation by PR companies reveals interesting insight into our health priorities in the capitalist paradigm – and the film is evidence into the warped understanding of health in the media.
O’Neill entirely debunks the current nutritional paradigm; fat verse sugar, with his independent, unbiased and free-from-any-agendas film that looks at political, economic, historical and agricultural motivations for keeping the sugar on the stand and scaring people away from fat. This insight into the transition from fat to sugar with high fructose corn syrup is enlightening and frightening. O’Neill asks all the right critical questions in diet, nutrition and science in understanding why high fat proves to be healthier for the body.
O’Neill’s results at the end of the film is mind-blowing; lean muscle mass increase, resting metabolic rate increased and body fat decreased. He smiles on screen looking healthy, athletic and strong, leaving you with the lasting impression that there’s a revolution happening in health thinking at the moment. O’Neill proves you shouldn’t fear fat!
Donal O’Neill’s medical results can be found online at www.cerealkillersmovie.com