Wellness

Documentary to Watch: The Magic Pill

Documentary to Watch: The Magic Pill

Shot in both Australia and the US, The Magic Pill follows five individuals who are struggling with their health. Over the course of the documentary, they each change their diet to be high-fat and low-carb, including both plants and meats. Their stories are designed to make one thing very clear: Low-fat diets can deprive the body of essential building blocks we need for optimal health. The film weaves in interviews with a variety of medical experts, chefs, and farmers who share their perspectives on the influence the food industry has had on what we eat. They explore the potential links between low-fat diets and many modern diseases. And they’ll leave you thinking harder about the health consequences of the food you eat, as well the environmental impact of what you put on your plate.

The documentary had great personal significance for Pete Evans, the Australia-based chef, restauranteur, and cookbook author who experienced a profound shift in health after cleaning up his own diet. Evans stars in the documentary, which is directed by Rob Tate and available on Netflix now.

A Q&A with Pete Evans

Q
What inspired you to do this documentary?
A

As a father, this has been a passion project for a long time. Nearly a decade ago, my family and I were having problematic health issues. We adopted the simple premise, conveyed in the film, to eat food as nature intended for us. This includes good quality vegetables, seafood, meat, fruit, eggs, healthy fats, nuts, seeds, herbs, and spices. After making this change, we each witnessed massive changes in our health. I wanted to share this and help people experience their own ah ha moments.

I also wanted to demonstrate the powerful effect that choosing nutrient-dense food has on our bodies and the planet. I want viewers to question what they’re eating, and think about the impact that their food choices have. Another goal of the film was to educate people about the lies that health organizations have promoted around eating guidelines. The hope is that we can create a healthier, safer world for future generations.


Q
Did you encounter food issues that were unique to Australia? What applies across countries and cultures?
A

This is a vital discussion for everyone around the world to have. We filmed the majority of The Magic Pill in the US, and the other portion in Arnhem Land, Australia. This is where we filmed and worked with an indigenous community, alongside the amazing organization Hope for Health. This organization hosts a two-week retreat for indigenous Australians, based on the dietary principles of the Australian aboriginals that flourished for tens of thousands of years. After two weeks of eating a low-carb, healthy fat diet, all eleven of the participants who were on insulin, successfully came off it, and half of them returned to normal blood glucose levels. We saw something similar in the US, where we followed a woman named Patti. After adjusting her diet to a low-carb, vegetable- and meat/seafood-based diet, she was also able to come off of insulin.


Q
Who are some of the noteworthy experts and theories you came across that we should know about?
A

Joel Salatin from Polyface Farms in Virginia talked to us about the regenerative power of holistic farming methods on the environment and animal welfare. To learn more about the issue of animal welfare, we interviewed Lierre Kieth, author of The Vegetarian Myth, and Nora Gedgaudas, author of Primal Body, Primal Mind. Their work looks at the future of the planet and is a much-needed discussion for all of us to have.

In the film, we feature Nina Teicholza, author of The Big Fat Surprise, who tackles how the low-fat dogma originated. She discusses how this belief was never based on science, but rather falsehoods fabricated by the food industry.

We also worked with a variety of experts who promote eating a low-carb diet paired with healthy fats, such as neurologist Dr. David Perlmutter and cardiologist Dr. William Davis. There is abundant evidence demonstrating the importance of good fats in our diet. Fats are essential building blocks to sustainable health. However, as Dr. Cate Shanahan illustrates, it’s important to eat the right types of fats. These include avocado, coconut, olives, nuts, seeds, animal fats—if it’s coming from a healthy animaL—among many others.

There is mounting evidence suggesting that health benefits may result from pairing a healthy fat, low-carbohydrate, anti-inflammatory diet with intermittent fasting. These dietary and lifestyle changes may impact everything from your gut biome to your emotional health.


Q
What dietary changes made the biggest difference for the people you interviewed?
A

It’s important to note that if you have an existing health issue or concern, you should only make dietary changes under the supervision of a health professional.

With that in mind, the great news is that you can start putting these simple principles into place gradually. Many people start by slowly removing common inflammatory foods from their diets, such as grains, dairy, or legumes.

In terms of what to add to your diet, let’s celebrate the most nutrient-rich foods on the planet! This often includes a colorful array of fresh seasonal vegetables, followed by a side of well-sourced seafood, meat, or eggs. If you’re suffering from an autoimmune disease, talk to your doctor about removing nuts, seeds, eggs, and nightshades for a period of time, to see if this can help restore the gut. Some other favorite additions for overall gut health are bone broth and fermented vegetables.

For more ideas and recipes, you can check out my cookbooks: The Complete Gut Health Cookbook, The Paleo Chef, and Fat for Fuel Cookbook, which I wrote with Dr. Joseph Mercola.


Q
What surprised you while working on the documentary?
A

We followed a young autistic girl who saw huge improvements in her communication and concentration, and a decrease in the amount of seizures she was having after changing her diet, which was incredible to witness. We also saw a woman go off her diabetes medication after changing her diet.

As gratifying as it was to see these improvements, I honestly wasn’t too surprised since over the past seven years, I’ve read thousands and thousands of personal success stories that people have shared with me. These are people from all walks of life, who adopted simple dietary and lifestyle changes and had remarkable outcomes. Many of these individuals are now pain-free for the first time in their lives, and are able to do things that before, they only dreamt of doing.

These success stories are what excites me about this film and continues to motivate my work. As humans, we are capable of so much. When people are functioning without pain, and have self-love and self-care practices, magic happens. That’s the magic pill.


Q
How has The Magic Pill changed you as a chef?
A

I’ve always loved the craft of cooking and being able to make food that tastes bloody delicious, so nothing has changed in that respect. One way I’ve evolved is that I’ve removed bland foods from my repertoire. They rob space on the plate from nutrient-dense and flavorful ingredients.


Australia-based cookbook author Pete Evans is dedicated to educating people about nutritional food and wellness. He was the co-host and judge of the Australian TV show My Kitchen Rules for nine seasons. Evans also hosts the award-winning PBS series Moveable Feast, where he cooks with leading chefs in the US and learns where to source amazing local produce. His latest project is the documentary film The Magic Pill, which shows the impact food can have on people’s health. It’s now streaming globally on Netflix.


The views expressed in this article intend to highlight alternative studies. They are the views of the expert and do not necessarily represent the views of goop. This article is for informational purposes only, even if and to the extent that it features the advice of physicians and medical practitioners. This article is not, nor is it intended to be, a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment and should never be relied upon for specific medical advice.


RELATED RESEARCH

Obesity and Type 2 Diabetes:

Hussain, T. A., Mathew, T. C., Dashti, A. A., Asfar, S., Al-Zaid, N., & Dashti, H. M. (2012). Effect of low-calorie versus low-carbohydrate ketogenic diet in type 2 diabetes. Nutrition, 28(10), 1016-1021.

Paoli, A., Rubini, A., Volek, J. S., & Grimaldi, K. A. (2013). Beyond weight loss: a review of the therapeutic uses of very-low-carbohydrate (ketogenic) diets. European journal of clinical nutrition, 67(8), 789.

Westman, E. C., Yancy, W. S., Mavropoulos, J. C., Marquart, M., & McDuffie, J. R. (2008). The effect of a low-carbohydrate, ketogenic diet versus a low-glycemic index diet on glycemic control in type 2 diabetes mellitus. Nutrition & metabolism, 5(1), 36.

Yancy, W. S., Olsen, M. K., Guyton, J. R., Bakst, R. P., & Westman, E. C. (2004). A low-carbohydrate, ketogenic diet versus a low-fat diet to treat obesity and hyperlipidemia: a randomized, controlled trial. Annals of internal medicine, 140(10), 769-777.

Epilepsy and Other Neurological Disorders:

Gasior, M., Rogawski, M. A., & Hartman, A. L. (2006). Neuroprotective and disease-modifying effects of the ketogenic diet. Behavioural pharmacology, 17(5-6), 431.

Neal, E. G., Chaffe, H., Schwartz, R. H., Lawson, M. S., Edwards, N., Fitzsimmons, G., Whitney, A., & Cross, J. H. (2008). The ketogenic diet for the treatment of childhood epilepsy: a randomised controlled trial. The Lancet Neurology, 7(6), 500-506.

Pfeifer, H. H., & Thiele, E. A. (2005). Low-glycemic-index treatment: A liberalized ketogenic diet for treatment of intractable epilepsy. Neurology, 65(11), 1810-1812.

Rho, J. M., & Stafstrom, C. E. (2012). The ketogenic diet as a treatment paradigm for diverse neurological disorders. Frontiers in pharmacology, 3, 59.

You may also like