the magic pill
Something is off about the health of the people on this planet. Domesticated humans suffer from a wide array of illnesses not seen elsewhere in the wild animal kingdom. Autism, diabetes, seizure disorders, Alzheimer's, heart disease, cancer, obesity -- the list goes on and on and the only hope the medical industry offers is a shortened lifespan full of wallet-gouging, pill-popping and suffering. What if there was another way of living? What if, as Hippocrates said, we let food be our medicine and medicine be our food?

Today on The Health and Wellness Show we'll discuss 'The Magic Pill' documentary where the subjects involved did just that. By ditching the Standard American Diet and adopting a ketogenic, whole foods diet the subjects of the film experienced amazing and life-changing results which were nothing short of 'magic' compared to their conventional medicine treatments.

And stay tuned for Zoya's Pet Health Segment where she discusses the longevity of different animal species.

Running Time: 01:17:47

Download: MP3

Here's the transcript of the show:

Jonathan: Welcome to the Health and Wellness Show everybody. Today is Friday, June 29, 2018. My name is Jonathan and I'll be your host for today. Joining me in our virtual studio from all over the planet we have Doug, Gaby, Erica and Tiffany. Hey guys.

All: Hellos.

Tiffany: No Gaby.

Doug: Gaby's not here though.

Jonathan: I thought she was here. This is the hazard of not being in the same room I suppose. {laughter} Today we want to talk about food as medicine, "Let Food Be Thy Medicine" and specifically we're going to focus on a documentary called The Magic Pill that is currently on Netflix and available in other places as well. But if you have Netflix it's easy to find.

So I guess just to recap, overall what we're talking about is the history of our diet as a species, which is kind of weird because you can't really put it all under one umbrella but you can look at indigenous people and what they ate versus what they started to eat as Europeans were spreading across the globe and how that affected the way our bodies operate and the rise of chronic illnesses and all sorts of maladies for all sorts of civilizations all over the place.

So that's pretty much what The Magic Pill is about but it's focused on the idea that a high fat, low carbohydrate diet is much more healthy and sustainable long-term for the avoidance of chronic disease. That's the gist of things. I thought it was quite good. Some of our listeners may have seen it already and if you have, we'd welcome people to call in and give your opinion on the film. What did you guys think? Did you feel it was informative enough?

Doug: Yeah. I was very impressed by it, I have to say. To anybody who is a regular listener on this show, we talk about this kind of stuff all the time so there wasn't really anything where it was like "Oh my god, I didn't know that!" This is stuff that we've covered quite a bit, but just the fact that it is in a mainstream documentary and that it's not just YouTube clips of this or that, that it's actually a fully produced Netflix documentary, I was pretty impressed by it. The fact that it's actually out there and that a lot of audiences are getting to see it, that really impressed me.

Tiffany: And unlike reading a book, it has that feel good factor to it because it showcases a few people - the girl and the boy that both had autism and then the diabetic woman and the aboriginals in Australia - there were a lot of touching moments.

Jonathan: Yeah, I guess we could sum up, because I have to admit that when I went into it - sometimes I go into documentaries with a little bit of a preconceived notion like it might be kind of boring, depending on what's in it.

Doug: Yeah.

Jonathan: And I was wondering that when it started. But it's not. It's very engaging and by the time I got into it, when it was over I thought "Oh wow, that was over really fast" because it's extremely engaging. But it follows the stories of a number of different people. One is a group of indigenous women in Australia. Then like you said, the autistic children. The woman who takes 20 medications and all these people are going to change their diet and see what happens and the improvements that they run into are really staggering.

Doug: Yeah. And it also...

Jonathan: I mean it...oh, go ahead Doug.

Doug: No, go on.

Jonathan: I thought the child's story was the most impressive. I thought the indigenous people's story, the aboriginals in Australia was the most fascinating because of the way they were talking. In the interview at the beginning when they say "When did this disease come and when did this disease come and how about before the Europeans?" and they were like, "No, we were fine."

Doug: Yeah.

Jonathan: So I thought that was very interesting. But the most impressive and staggering was the result on this girl who has autism and the fact that she began to speak and the young boy too. They were completely non-communicative and then began to speak and operate. Obviously they are still autistic, but their condition is so improved that the parents are weeping and saying "We don't have all these problem that we used to have". Of course the quality of the children's lives is much better. It was really impressive and it's really just from changing their diet.

Doug: Yeah, it's pretty amazing.

Tiffany: The little girl who had autism, her diet was horrendous before.

Erica: Chicken McNuggets and Goldfish.

Tiffany: Yeah. Chicken McNuggets and little Goldfish crackers was all she ate. They didn't go into this part in the movie but I guess she probably just threw major fits trying to change her diet. There wasn't much detail about that but they said that she was probably just really, really hunger and after about three or four days she started eating what they gave her to eat and she ended up just loving it and she could actually pick up a fork and feed herself.

Erica: And then the reduction of the drugs that she was on. One thing that I found really emotional was the father sharing that they were spending $1,000 a month on her medication and his insurance only covered about 70% of that. But that it was pretty intense morphine-based anti-psychotic medication and you could see in her face in the beginning, how she just looked very different on the standard American diet.

Tiffany: She looked dazed.

Doug: And after the diet change you could even see it just from them showing her before and showing her after, she was way more engaged and looking people in the eye, looking people in the face and engaging with them and laughing and all this kind of stuff. It was really a remarkable transformation.

Tiffany: And not climbing all over the furniture.

Doug: Yeah.

Jonathan: But it is an extreme example because her diet was so atrocious. It's not like it was just having a lot of bread and potato chips. Like you said, it was Doritos and Goldfish and then chicken nuggets. So when you transition from that to a clean diet, for anyone, even for a "healthy" person, the transition would be staggering. I'm not trying to discount it. I'm just saying they picked a really good example for this film.

But I thought the other example, the young African American boy, almost became articulate - at least from what I would tell - I thought that was pretty incredible when they were running him through a battery of tests to see where he was at after a certain amount of time, he began to be able to articulate concepts in whole sentences, which for him was a 300% improvement, right?

Tiffany: And they showed him making his food. He would just put gobs of coconut oil. {laughter}

Jonathan: Just in case some people who might come across this who aren't familiar with what we're talking about, I have a feeling we're kind of half preaching to the choir, but what is this diet change that we're talking about? I wanted to go over the basic of that quickly even though it might be boring for some people who know this already. When you eat a lot of carbohydrates, your body needs fuel, right? So your body burns primarily glucose in that state because it's converting carbohydrates into glucose. That's the simplest view of that. So you burn glucose. So you combine fat and sugar, that's where you get a lot of the chronic illnesses that we see today. That's the middle. There's a rich carbohydrate diet by itself. It's not good for your body. What's even worse for your body is carbohydrates and fats together. But when you knock out the carbohydrates or go down to a very low percentage and have the majority of your calories from fat, your body switches to burning ketones instead of glucose or carbohydrates and that is a much more efficient long-term energy source for the body.

And it's not just that but because of that a whole host of other benefits come about. So we see a reduction in inflammation. We see an increase in neuron connectivity, all sorts of things. Alzheimer's, diabetes, they're all beaten down by this diet. The interesting thing I think about it is that it's not a new thing. It's a very, very old thing. In fact what's new is this carbohydrate, sugar-rich diet that we have. That was an interesting point I thought that they made in the documentary; in terms of human history, this - pardon my French but - shitty diet that we have right now is not that old.

Erica: It's less than 100 years.

Jonathan: Right. For the extreme aspect of it, but even when they're talking about the widespread use of wheat and grains, even that didn't come about until about 4,000 or 5,000 years ago which again, in the span of human history is the width of a hair.

Doug: Yeah, totally.

Jonathan: So that's the overall synopsis of course, the layman's view of it. I've gone in and out - just to share my own personal experience - I've gone in and out. A number of years ago I did the transition into full ketosis. I went through the flu and everything. That was the first time I had done it so what they call a keto flu is when your body is basically flushing while you're doing this transition and you feel like you have the flu. It lasted about a week for me. I haven't had a recurrence of that since even though I've gone in and out of ketosis a number of times, twice in a "bad" way where I fell off pretty bad and then had to use willpower to knock down carb cravings in order to get back into that mode of eating.

So it's not good to fluctuate back and forth. My fluctuations is a result of me struggling with my willpower, if I'm quite honest about it. Every once in a while I'll have a little bit of a sweet potato and I think "That was really good". So then {laughter} a potato doesn't sound as bad and then French fries don't sound quite as bad and then later potato chips might come into the picture. {laughter}

Tiffany: Yeah, that's the bad thing about carbs. It's like a slippery slope. Once you have a little bit you start wanting a little bit more and then the next thing you know you're out of control.

Doug: Yeah, it's kind of crazy because lately, actually watching this movie and a few other things have kind of made me get back on the bandwagon. For a while I was not being super strict about the diet and definitely a lot more carbs were sneaking in. Lately I was looking at my middle thinking it's a little more padded than I have been in the past so maybe it's time to get back on that. So watching this movie and a few other things made me decide to do that again. The other night I had some potatoes and it wasn't very much, very little actually, but after dinner I was sitting there going, "Hm, I could really go for some chocolate. {laughter} I just need a little sweet snack" and I was like, "No! That's not good." Clearly I pushed the limit there.

Tiffany: "But I've already had potatoes already! I might as well have chocolate. Chocolate is good for you."

Doug: Exactly. {laughter}

Jonathan: I think that's the thing that might scare some people off. To a lot of people who are in the standard American or western diet, the idea of eating a lot of butter or eating that strip of fat that's on the corner of a pork chop is nauseating. I remember feeling that way and I know a lot of people that do feel that way. They cut fat off, not because they think they should but because they really don't like it or they don't think they like it. I think that's a function of the state that their body is in because when you transition to a ketogenic diet you find yourself really enjoying all different manner of fats in many different ways and preparing them differently.

But I wonder if that's similar to the way candida will affect the brain and actually cause cravings. So in a weird way it almost thinks for you and I wonder if that could be a result of a carb-rich diet being an overgrowth of candida. So it's actually convincing you that you think something is gross.

Doug: Could be. I think it's programming as well. I think it's also from so many years of media programming about fat being a bad thing. You can't even buy cuts of meat very often anymore that actually have the full fat on them. People are using these spreads instead of actual butter and if they do use butter, it's "Just a little bit. Just a taste." So I think that people have been programmed to be disgusted by that idea. Should we actually go to a clip? Our first clip is about fat and the fear of fat and it's narrated by Nina Teicholz, hopefully I'm pronouncing her last name correctly. She wrote the book The Big Fat Surprise.

That's one thing about this movie is that it is star-studded as far as the low carb community goes. It's got Nina Teicholz, Nora Gedgaudas, Tim Noakes. They were able to cover some of Tim Noakes' trial.

Tiffany: Lierre Keith.

Doug: Yeah, Lierre Keith is in it, Joel Salatin. It's got a whole bunch of really great people but this one specifically is Nina Teicholz so why don't we listen to that?

Nina: In the 1950s the nation was really in a panic about the rising tide of heart disease that had come from pretty much out of nowhere to be the nation's leading cause of death. In 1955 President Eisenhower himself has a heart attack and he's out of the oval office for 10 days. So the nation is fixated on this urgent public health problem and nobody really knows what causes heart disease, right? There's a number of different explanations, maybe lack of vitamins. Maybe it's car exhaust.

So into this vacuum steps Ancel Keys, a pathologist from the University of Minnesota and he says it's saturated fats. Saturated fats and cholesterol cause heart disease. "Of 10 men we can expect five to get it." And that was his hypothesis. He had an unshakable faith in his own beliefs. He was called a bully, even by his friends and he was able to get his belief inserted into the American Heart Association.

So the first ever dietary recommendations telling people to cut back on saturated fat and dietary cholesterol to avoid heart disease were issued by the American Heart Association in 1961. That's the beginning of the story. It's the tiny little acorn that grew into the giant oak tree of advice that we have today and that we can't back out of.

What was the evidence for that recommendation by the American Heart Association? It amounted to one study - coincidentally performed by Ancel Keys. That's the seven country study where he went to seven countries around the world, mainly in Europe but also the US and Japan, and he sampled nearly 13,000 men and he looked at their diet and their cholesterol. Then he waited to see who had a heart attack or who died of heart disease. He had a hypothesis that saturated fat caused heart disease and he was out to prove it.

For one, it's very clear that he cherry-picked his countries. He had done a number of pilot studies. He knew where people were not eating much saturated fat and had low rates of heart disease like Yugoslavia and Italy and he ignored other countries, also low rates of heart disease like Germany, Switzerland and France where they ate a lot of saturated fats. He didn't go to those countries, which would have disproven his hypothesis.

His study showed that low saturated fat intake was associated with low rates of heart disease. Associated. But that doesn't mean that reducing saturated fat is what caused those people to suffer less heart disease. It was also true that these people ate very little sugar. In fact they also found in that study that what correlated best with cardiovascular death was sugar. Then what ensued was a tremendous amount of science to try to prove Ancel Keys' hypothesis right. Billions of dollars were spent in large clinical trials, the most rigorous kind of science you can do, and they were done in mental hospitals and veterans' hospitals, the kind of experiment that you can't do anymore because it's considered unethical.

And at the end of billions of dollars of research they could not prove Ancel Keys' hypothesis.

Jonathan: So that was pretty pernicious, how that came about and how that made its way into the zeitgeist so to speak.

Doug: Yeah. I think people who have been looking into this for a while, probably have heard that story before but it's the first time that I've seen it in a mainstream movie, that's for sure. And it was a nice three-minute summary of the issue. If anybody's interested in looking further, Nina Teicholz's book The Big Fat Surprise goes into a lot of detail on that whole sordid story.

Tiffany: One of the chatters said that he has a local grass fed butcher that gives him loads of free fat because like you said earlier, a lot of the butchers will cut the fat off and they just throw it away. If you can find a source of some good fat, grass fed would be preferable.

Jonathan: Yeah, that's a really precious resource.

Doug: Or if you say to your butcher, "Listen, don't cut off any of the fat. Don't trim it. I know that's how everybody else wants it. I don't want you to do that. Just leave it on." I get some pretty nice fatty pork chops from my butcher.

Jonathan: It's the same thing around here during hunting season. A lot of the butchers will mix in - it's very strange. I think it just comes back to tradition. I'm not sure how it started, but they'll make venison sausage by mixing in pork sausage, but they throw away all the venison fat and bones! To be fair, not all of them do that, but a lot of the guys who are really busy will, because some average Joe shoots a deer, brings it down, they just want a pack of burgers back and they don't really care.

It's unfortunate but you'd be surprised. Piles of bones and fat.

Erica: They even address that in the movie when the family of the autistic child bought a whole cow because they wanted to cut down on the price of what it was costing them to buy healthy food, and they actually labelled it, "These bones are for your dog" {laughter} and they made a point that "Well we'll make bone broth out of it".

Doug: Yeah, bone broth is an incredibly nutritious food and it's really a shame that it has really fallen out of favour. Of course it's making a comeback now but the idea that people were throwing away their bones or giving them to their dog, it's like, no, no, no! You've got to make broth with that. You've got to get all that nutrition.

Jonathan: Sadly, it had to be made cool again somehow. Now it's kind of hipster to be a conscious carnivore, which is fine, I think.

Doug: Yeah.

Jonathan: If there's a social meme attached to it that makes it spread around, I think that's fine.

Doug: Absolutely.

Jonathan: To your point, I was going to bring up the transition and the idea, if anybody's listening to this is or has been eating a carb-rich diet and is feeling like crap and wanting to try something - and I've talked to other people about this and don't know if it needs to be so important - but the idea that it really is a struggle when you get into it and that you need to steel yourself for this transition and that it's not like you're going to tear your hair out or anything, but the process of getting off of glucose as an energy source can be pretty hairy.

Tiffany: It can be like going through withdrawal, which is basically kind of what it is.

Doug: Especially considering all the grains that people are eating have these opioid properties to them so it literally is kind of like kicking a drug when you're getting off that stuff.

Tiffany: Well the thing about eating lots of broth and eating lots of fat, it's very satisfying and it really, really cuts down on cravings.

Erica: And the amount of food that you eat.

Jonathan: Oh totally.

Erica: And that's what I thought was really good about the movie, was how they followed those certain people and they went into their homes and they rid their cabinets of everything. {laughter} I was really fortunate to be raised in an environment where my parents cooked everything from scratch. They didn't use a lot of packaged food and when I raised my kids it was kind of the same thing even though we did go through the vegetarian diet. But especially with these parents with these autistic children, if you don't know and you don't have information and you're watching TV or advertising and go to the supermarket, you think because it says "healthy" on it that you're buying healthy food. To me that was where the documentary really was shocking - about how uneducated people are about the processing and the packaging and the easy access means dangerous to your health.

Doug: Yeah, it's true. It's like we live in a bit of a bubble because we all understand that you read your labels. If anything looks completely processed, that's definitely a no. But so many people out there don't know that stuff. It was actually kind of shocking that the people would have stuff in their cupboard that said, "Low in fat"...

Erica: "Heart healthy".

Doug: Yeah, heart healthy. That's the thing I was trying to think of. "heart healthy". They actually said to them, "Listen, if it says this stuff on it, you can be sure that this is actually really bad for you".

Tiffany: Yeah, and the lower they go on fat the higher they go on sugar just to make it taste good.

Doug: Exactly.

Jonathan: I remember a short anecdote from a friend of mine who, of course, will remain anonymous, but trying to get her partner and their son to eat vegetables and the closest thing that she could come to was a broccoli flavouring for mac and cheese.

Doug: Oh my god!

Jonathan: That they would stomach.

Tiffany: What is broccoli flavouring?!

Erica: Sulfur. {laughter}

Doug: Yeah, sulfur.

Jonathan: Anyway, that was leading me to say that I think what a lot of people think of as cooking is basically making mac and cheese or making pasta at home or heating up a jar of spaghetti sauce and that kind of thing. I think a lot of people haven't explored making food themselves and it doesn't even have to be a new hobby, although I think for a lot of people it would become one, the way it has for me. But it's really not that difficult. You will find that you're much less ambivalent about spending three hours in the kitchen when the outcome is really good. You feel good. You start to notice that you feel healthier. You're learning so your mind is engaged.

Doug: There's even one guy in the film when they were there with a camera watching him prepare something and he was frying up some vegetables and stuff and he said "Oh, it smells really good with the garlic in there" and he's frying stuff up and they said, "Have you ever made anything like this before?" and he was like, "Uh, no." Fried vegetables? You've never fried up some vegetables before? But yeah, that's the reality of the situation.

Jonathan: Yeah. I think a lot of people haven't. I was also fortunate, Erica, to grow up like you mentioned, having most of my food cooked and my mom was an old world housewife. She was a mom, so she cooked all our meals. There was a period of time during high school where our whole family ended up eating a lot of McDonalds for a number of years, I think because my parents owned a book store and it was right down the street from McDonalds so it was easy for me to come home from school and then we'd get McDonalds. But I also, coincidentally got fat during that time. {laughter}

Doug: Yeah, coincidentally.

Erica: Well I think times have changed.

Jonathan: Yeah, I remember, it was always a roast and vegetables. That's pretty much it. Then once in a while we'd have ice cream or something.

Erica: I still get anxiety going to the grocery store trying to shop for food. I think it was Michael Pollan that said "Stay on the periphery of the store" and I know we've mentioned that on this show before. But you can imagine if you've never been around people who were cooking or had that environment growing up, that it can be very overwhelming. Once you get lost in the middle of the grocery store, sometimes just for entertainment purposes, I'm like, "Oh my gosh! Everything is white!" White bread and cereal and grains and it can be hard, but just keep walking and not say, "Oh I'm just going to buy this packaged food. I don't have much time to cook tonight".

Tiffany: Well especially considering the guidelines that most people are given, like the food pyramid. I know they got rid of it and they call it My Plate now, at least in the US, but it's still completely wrong and if you picture the food pyramid with the grains on the bottom, the biggest part, is what they recommend, you should be consuming the most, but really you should turn the food pyramid upside down and eat the fats and the oils and meats more. It's really no surprise that people don't know quite what to eat. Even the former chief of the FDA came out recently and said he doesn't know what to eat and that the FDA has failed abysmally in instructing people on nutrition.

Jonathan: Yeah. At this point now you have to educate yourself. If you just follow what people say you can end up with gout and diabetes and all sorts of stuff.

Erica: That's why I think this movie is a good kind of primer for people because, especially on the show, we've read a lot about it and people ask all the time, "Well what do you eat?" So now I'm just going to say, "Well just watch this movie and then we can talk about it". {laughter}

Doug: Well speaking of the dietary guidelines, should we go to the Tim Noakes clip?

Jonathan: Yeah.

Doug: Because he talks about that. Tim Noakes was a scientist, a sports physician in South Africa and he actually ended up almost getting his licence taken away. I'll play the clip. It's a longer one, about five minutes but it's a very interesting story.

Tim Noakes: We have lived a lie for 50 years.

Marika Sboros: Professor Timothy Noakes is one of the very few scientists in the world who have an A1 rating.

Narrator: Sports scientist Timothy Noakes begins his defence against unprofessional conduct. The charges against Noakes were laid by the Association of Dietetics in South Africa after he advised a mother on Twitter to wean her child onto a low carb/high fat diet.

Marika Sboros: The health dietitian tweeted "Don't listen to him. It's a terrible thing to say. I'm going to report you!"

Other Party: This would seriously harm our profession.

Marika Sboros: The dietitian went on and lodged a complaint with the Health Professions Council of South Africa that the regulatory body for unprofessional conduct. That is the most serious charge you can level against a medical doctor.

TN: It's time for us to take charge of our nation's health.

Marika Sboros: This is a modern day trial of Galileo.

Council: Good morning. It's the 16th of February 2016. We continue with the professional conduct hearing against Dr. T. Noakes. Professor you are still under oath.

TN: Thank you madam chair. This is a unique event in the history of modern medicine, that a scientist has been charged with giving unconventional advice and can get up there and say, "Actually it is not unconventional. It has been in the literature."

Marika Sboros: The Association for Dietetics in South Africa is very, very much a gatekeeper of nutrition advice and the official dietary guidelines of South Africa.

TN: It's time to look at the results and the outcomes and say "Maybe we got it wrong."

Marika Sboros: Professor Noakes is building a really powerful case for what really lies behind the epidemic of non-communicable diseases around the world. That's obesity, diabetes, heart disease, cancer, even dementia that is now being called type III diabetes because of its links with diet.

TN: I'm talking about insulin resistance which is so prevalent in this country.

Marika Sboros: What actually lies at the heart of this case is the science, the wealth of evidence that supports low carb/high fat eating and equally that high carb/low fat isn't so good for you after all.

TN: One of the definitive studies of the low fat diet was done in the United States by the National Institutes of Health to prove that the low fat diet reduced the risk of cardiovascular disease and invested $700 million into it. There were 48,000 post-menopausal women who were going to be studied for eight years. They were divided into two groups, 40% were assigned to the low fat eating pattern and 60% could just eat what they liked. The low fat group were told to reduce their energy from fat to 20% and from saturated fat to 7% and increase their fruit and vegetable intake to at least five servings per day and grains to at least six servings per day. So that would be the dietary guidelines for Americans.

And what did they find? After eight years, this amazing study, the low fat diet did not significantly reduce the risk of coronary heart disease, stroke or cardiovascular disease and achieved only modest effects on cardiovascular risk factors. So after all that effort, that was the outcome.

Nina Teicholz: In the 35 years we've been following the guidelines, animal fats are down by 17%, red meat down by 17%, eggs are down by 17%, whole milk down by 73%. So everything we've been told to cut down on, we have cut down, and everything we were told to increase, we increased. Grains are up by 41%, vegetable oils up by 91%, fruit up by 13%, vegetables up by 23%. So on the whole, Americans have been following the guidelines. It leads you inevitably to the conclusion there must be something wrong with the guidelines themselves.

TN: There were parts of the study which were a bit worrying and this was women who were sick at the start of the trial with diabetes. This "healthy" diet should make them even healthier. But it didn't. Women with diabetes at risk - and what I found interesting is they never reported the eight-year data on the women with diabetes in that study and you have to ask why.

Nina Teicholz: When these study results are coming out, they're deeply inconvenient. This hypothesis has been adopted not only by the American Heart Association but also by the National Institutes of Health, the entire federal government, medical societies and a number of industries, the vegetable oil industry, ADM Monsanto, Bunge, some of the biggest companies in the world and the grain and soybean industries. So these results had to be ignored somehow or suppressed.

Marika Sboros: I've been left with a very disturbing feeling that this hearing was set up from the very beginning.

Chair: We'll adjourn until tomorrow 10:00 sharp.

Marika Sboros: There is much more at stake than a simple tweet. There are powerful vested interests. People stand to lose a lot, whether it's status, money, in accepting Professor Noakes' viewpoint.

Jonathan: So yeah, he really got run off the rails for that. Man, if you were to go out and really do an audit of all the advice that doctors give their patients...{laughter}

Doug: Yeah, seriously. It's interesting because the journalist who's talking there, narrating that part, was talking about how she was left with the uneasy feeling that it was a setup. Apparently it totally was a setup. They actually uncovered emails between the mother who was asking him for advice on Twitter and the dietitian who actually filed a complaint against him. So they totally set him up, 100%.

Tiffany: Oh god! And it's also interesting that the dietitian who filed that initial complaint against him was sponsored by Kellogg.

Jonathan: Yeah.

Doug: Yeah, big surprise.

Tiffany: So if they had won that case it would have meant that doctors couldn't give anybody any nutritional advice. You couldn't write a blog or have any articles or anything up saying what to eat, basically. Unless of course it followed the standard guidelines then it would be okay.

Doug: Yeah. I think that's exactly what it is. They could give you advice that would conform to the food pyramid or the My Plate or whatever the hell it is now.

Jonathan: Well it's kind of that way now. I say kind of because it's not codified that way, but you have doctors and nutritionists. Generally people don't go to the doctor for nutrition advice. If any of you have ever gotten nutrition advice from a doctor it's atrocious.

Tiffany: Yes, it's awful. And very vague. They say, "Just eat healthy food" and they assume that people know what healthy means and somebody goes to the grocery store and they see a bottle of canola oil and it says "healthy" on there and they go, "Oh, okay". {laughter}

Doug: Exactly. Five servings of fruits and vegetables a day. Okay. That makes sense.

Jonathan: Well they should know. That's a blight on western medicine and has been for some time, that nutrition isn't a bigger part. But I think that's one of the root causes of where we're at. It's hard to trace it down to one main thing but if I were to try, I would say greed essentially. I know that that sounds like a simplistic answer but just because of the way things happened and the way a lot of this was monetarily motivated by big industry, they found out that they could produce more. You can make a lot more money off of all of these grains than you can off of a sustainable healthy diet. But of course it's a trade off. Do you want the top tier to have billions of dollars and make everybody sick or should we have a little bit less currency in the market and everybody's healthy?

Doug: I guess you could say that about a lot of industries - big pharma, big ag, even big tech to a certain degree.

Jonathan: Oh yeah!

Doug: It's interesting that Nina Teicholz was talking about the whole Ancel Keys study that started the whole thing and if you really look at that, I think that he was just an ego maniac, just really driven by his own vision and being a jerk to absolutely everybody else and fighting his way to get his theory accepted and also fudging the data to make sure that his theory did actually fly. Everything that has grown up around it, whether it was planned from the beginning, it's hard to say, but it seems like he was pushing this and people started accepting it and then along comes industry and they're like, "Well, we can work with this. This works."

Erica: Especially when you think about big ag and their high inputs of pesticides and herbicides and oil and how it fit right into their plan because now they can mass produce mono-cropping and make tons of money.

Tiffany: And big pharma just piggybacks right on top of it, making money off of all of the sick people.

Doug: Yeah! It's not hard to come at it from the perspective that it's all a diabolical plan, that it's all been put into place although I honestly wonder if it's just that when you've got something that's a lie and it grows it's like a black hole that starts to suck in all these other components and it grows bigger. I don't know.

Erica: Maybe we want to mention why this documentary caused controversy, or what the controversy is over it...

Doug: Oh yeah.

Erica: ...because I don't know if our listeners know, but apparently it's a controversial movie. {laughter}

Tiffany: Yeah, there's a bunch of YouTube videos up about "The Magic Pill documentary debunked!"

Doug: Yeah, debunked by a vegan. Almost all of them are vegans debunking the film. But yeah, it is controversial. I think it was two guys who made the film and one of them is Pete Evans who is actually a celebrity chef from Australia who's really big into paleo, big into the ketogenic diet. He has not been without controversy before because he had a cookbook that mentioned some stuff about high fat eating and I think he even recommended certain things for babies and they just pounced on him. "You can't recommend that!" I think his book ended up getting banned if I'm not mistaken.

But anyway, he made this movie and had a deal with Netflix and it's been put on Netflix Australia for a while and the Australian Medical Association I think it was, basically started petitioning Netflix to take it down. They said it was dangerous, people are very vulnerable to this kind of information and it needs to be banned. But Netflix was just like, "No, we're not going to ban it and in fact thanks for stirring up all this controversy because the views are going through the roof and we're going to translate it into other languages and we're renewing the contract for another year."

So it had the exact opposite effect of what they were hoping for it. But it is very controversial. And it's not surprising when you see the rest of the food-based documentaries that are up on Netflix. They're all vegan. It's probably 90% of the food documentaries you see on Netflix are vegan documentaries. So the fact that this one actually managed to get in there and is getting popular, is actually quite something.

Jonathan: I think that's a great point. It is a good movie for the movement, at least of getting some more awareness around this topic. It does seem interesting that I think - I don't know how to put this clearly necessarily, but I was thinking about this yesterday - that it ties into politics in a weird way, sociopolitical issues where you think of people who eat meat or who are carnivores, you would think of as being conservative, right-wing and people who are vegans or vegetarians might be liberal or more live and let live. I don't think I'm just making that up. I think that that is kind of an undercurrent perception that's associated with these political ideas because it comes down into every other area of life as well.

But I think that that comes into play where you have people who, for instance somebody who is anti-abortion and pro-life but anti war and how did they get into describing that position that they hold. When you have people who might find themselves in a circle of friends, a lot of them are vegan but maybe not all of them, but everybody's kind of left-leaning, when you start talking about a high fat diet, you actually start bringing political topics into the conversation.

Doug: Oh yeah.

Jonathan: I don't know if I'm making sense or not, but it's bleeding over into other areas of society.

Doug: Absolutely! Well the vegan thing overlaps with the SJW thing quite nicely. So I think that you actually see that a lot. Food in particular has become incredibly political. Now I don't know that the meat-eating right-winger thing necessarily exists. Maybe it's more of a reactionary kind of thing to the SJW extreme, regressive lefty kind of thing. But I think there's no question that the vegan/vegetarian/environmentalist thing is very political and its very left.

Tiffany: Was that in France, with the vegans and their vicious harassment against butchers?

Doug: Yeah.

Tiffany: I think there was another case in Canada somewhere, where vegans were harassing this meat restaurant.

Doug: Yeah, it was a restaurant in Toronto called Antler and they dared to put on one of their signs (I think it was) "Venison is the new kale". {laughter} There was a vegan riding past there on his bike and saw the sign and was absolutely outraged so he organized a protest and they started protesting out in front of this restaurant. It's a small scale restaurant and the ironic thing is that they're all about game. They're very much about sustainable farming and it's all game meats, venison, wild boar, all this kind of stuff. So they're focusing on the wrong area, although the vegans will tell you there's no such thing as sustainable farming, even though that's nonsense.

But the reason it ended up making the news was that they started protesting every week and at one point the chef/owner of the restaurant got so fed up that he came out and actually butchered a leg of venison right in the front window in front of all these vegan protestors and then disappeared into the back with it and then came out with a big steak on a plate, just by itself, a big venison steak, and sat there and ate it right there in front of the vegans. So it made the press all over the world. He was even on Joe Rogan actually.

Jonathan: In his interview, when they talked about that incident he said, "I wasn't trying to be an asshole. I was just fed up. Come on! Okay, I'm just going to cut up a leg in the window." That was where his head was at. I can't blame him. One angry person rode by on a bike and decided to make a thing about it, it caught on and this poor guy is struggling just to keep his restaurant open, which shouldn't be a thing. Yeah, if people don't want to eat there, that's fine. That's what having a restaurant is about, but when you have to deal with people actively trying to shut you down every day it's crazy.

Doug: Apparently he's actually doing better.

Tiffany: Yeah.

Doug: Their business is booming.

Tiffany: So the mad, crazed vegans would actually do themselves a favour if they just ignored the restaurant, or they ignored this documentary because the more they protest, the more they call attention to it, the more attention they attract to the documentary and to the restaurant. So they're actually doing themselves a disservice.

Doug: And if they actually drive people to watch the documentary, the documentary itself is very convincing. If you're not already possessed by a vegan ideology and you're somewhat open, it's a very persuasive argument because there is so much science behind it, there is so much evidence.

Jonathan: And the death per plate argument I think is a really interesting one. It's hard to bring up though. I brought it up once with one person and since then I've actually held off from bringing that up unless it's a really specific time because it's a sensitive thing. You come across somebody who is relatively tender-hearted and meek and they don't eat meat because they don't want to cause suffering and that's just where they're at. Then you tell them there are more death per plate when you eat vegan than there are when you eat beef or ungulates or something, then it's deeply offensive, not in the sense that they get offended but it's offensive to what they thought of themselves.

So it's a hard topic to broach, especially with somebody who is meek because you have to realize you're treading on soft ground. Now there are other people - if somebody wants to puff up and get angry vegan about it, you can bring that up but then it's really not going to do that much good because they don't believe that statistic. So it's like flat earthers don't believe that any photos from space are real. {laughter}

There's a lot of that I think is really interesting - not to get off on a tangent, but just like how the idea that reverse racism isn't real right now. There's a lot of issues about which one side believes that the other side's argument is completely false and it's not like a normal "Okay, we're on this side and you're on that side". It's like there's no room for discussion to the point that it's "You are lying to yourself and I know that for a fact", but both side of any given argument are saying that to each other all the time. I heard somebody put it in what I thought was a really succinct way a couple of days ago. The reason it feels so crazy right now - and this goes into the diet thing that we're talking about, not just the sociopolitical atmosphere - but in just talking about food or caring for your kids of which food is a part, that everybody feels threatened. The genders feel threatened, all the races feel threatened, young people, old people. Everybody feels threatened by someone and so that's why it's so heightened right now and it's just so hard to talk about things.

But back to the point, when you talk to vegans or vegetarians, although mostly vegans are the militant ones I would find, about deaths per plate, you'd just get shot down as a false statistic. "Well you're just lying." Okay, well let's look it up. Well no, I don't have time to do that. There's a lot of people you just can't have a reasoned discussion with.

Erica: Tell them to go spend a day on a farm! It won't take them long to figure out.

Jonathan: It's a convenient debate topic too because you can't really go down that road very far. You have to get them to then admit that it's worse to kill one cow than it is to kill 100 mice. Okay, now we have to graduate your value of life and where does that land and it gets really complicated and a lot of people who base their ideals on what they tout as being a value for life and living, can't explain why they hold the beliefs that they do. I think this very firmly, but again I don't want to get off on a tangent, but if you really value life, you understand that death plays a role in that.

Doug: For sure. In fact, since we're kind of on this subject, should we play the Joel Salatin clip?

Tiffany: Yes. That was a good one.

Joel Salatin: We're here in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia and what we do is pastured livestock. In nature, herbivores live in large groups and they migrate. All we're doing is duplicating that kind of migration, moving the animals across the land so that this choreography, this ballet of the pasture, can perform its dance on the grass.

Interviewer: When people say eating this way is unsustainable?

JS: Listen! It's not only sustainable, it's actually what we call regenerative. It allows the grass then, time to regrow, to recuperate. Grass is essentially 95% sunshine. This takes sunbeams and converts it to something that has weight and amazingly, the herbivore can take this, ferment it in her rumen and turn this into arguably the most nutrient dense food in the world. Grass grows in what I call an S-curve. You can see that S. So diaper down here, teenage-rapid growth, and then nursing home out here. What we want to do is keep this forage in this rapid growth state as much as possible.

So the role of the herbivore in nature is actually to prune the grass to restart that rapid metabolic capacity. This is what builds soil, hydrates the landscape, and actually sequesters carbon. This is the system. When grass is allowed to be as productive as it's supposed to be, it actually is far more efficient at converting solar energy into biomass than even trees. That's why all the rich, deep soils of the planet are under prairies with herbivores. And if every farm in the world would do this, we would sequester all the carbon that's been emitted since the beginning of the industrial age in fewer than 10 years.

When a confinement animal facility shows a picture of this hog factory or chicken factor or whatever, they're not showing all the land that's required to grow the grain to keep it going and all the lands required to handle all the manure that is generated. In this system, you're seeing all that land. I think a lot of industrial agriculture thinking is that the earth is a reluctant lover, whereas actually, we view the earth as an abundant, loving partner who responds to caress, who responds to care, and if we will come humbly to the land, why it's ready to give us way more than we could have wrestled from it. This is the mystical awesome cycle of life and to be able to be this close to it, has a humility to it, a perspective that is actually quite profound and actually quite historically normal.

Doug: I love that man.

Tiffany: Yeah, he's awesome!

Jonathan: I love his salacious description of farming. {laughter}

Doug: It's great. Speaking of the vegans and the whole environmental slant to it, there's a lot of propaganda floating around right now that meat eating is bad for the environment. Yeah, that is true if you equate all meat eating with factory farming because that's an environmental shit storm. That's absolutely terrible of course. But the fact of the matter is that that completely ignores what Joel Salatin is doing and what other pasture raising farmers are doing, which is actually the best thing you could possibly do for the environment. It's way better than mono-crop farming.

All these vegetarians who think that they're doing the environment a favour when they're eating stuff that's grown in soy fields that are just acres and acres of this environmental genocide, it's so aggravating because when you see somebody like Joel Salatin who's actually doing amazing things for the environment and people are like, "Oh yeah, that's not environmentally friendly". Even if you rely on the ridiculous idea that manmade carbon is causing global warming or whatever they're calling it now - climate change - even if you use that model, it's still way better to do what Joel Salatin is doing. He's talking about sequestering carbon.

Tiffany: Well that involves nuance and if you're a rabid, militant vegan, you can't see the nuance. It's all black and white. Either you're killing animals and you're evil or you're not.

Jonathan: That's why conservation is extremely hard to talk about. I think that definitely farming should come into the conservation conversation. That's kind of a tongue twister. Conservation conversation. But like you said, the factory farming is really, really environmentally damaging. But that sustainable farming is exactly the opposite and helps the environment and gets us to a place where we can keep going for quite a while. My sense in hearing Salatin speak to, for lack of a better word, just call them rabid anti-carnivores, where's your righteousness when you can clearly explain that this is way better for the environment than what you're talking about?

Agriculture is bad. Community gardens, growing vegetables, sustainable agriculture is not bad. Mass modern agriculture, the way it's been done, is bad. It caused the dustbowl. If you've not looked into that, take an evening and read about the dustbowl. It's crazy how that went down.

I'm just trying to echo your point Doug. People like to get righteous about this being an ethical cause when you can explain that it's the opposite. This comes back into this thing again that I'm having a hard time trying to explain where people are butting heads against each other, finding it impossible to reach the other person's perspective and it's making a lot of these discussions really, really hard to have and even when you approach the step of the conversation where you're going to start to lay down facts and talk about things, it becomes very uncomfortable and it's hard to proceed.

It's like saying that trophy hunting is bad. Well that's dumb because some of it is and some of it isn't. You need to have nuance around the conversation. Some trophy hunting pays for entire communities in Africa to live and survive when they've been ravaged by other things that happen in their region. Other times yeah, it's just some rich asshole who wants to shoot something.

Doug: I think that's rare though.

Jonathan: Yeah. Well there's nuance in everything, is what I'm saying. So again like with the wild hog thing in Texas, people are decrying helicopter hunting of hogs. Again, I don't know if people know about that. That's another fascinating thing you can look into. William Randolph Hearst, back in the day, released a bunch of hogs. I forget what his reasoning was, but over time they've exploded and moved across the United States to the point where now in Texas a lot of these wild hog populations have exploded. They proliferate like rats. So the state just legalized that private companies can go and hunt these animals because they're damaging all the farms, everything. They're killing pets. They're doing all this stuff. They're ravaging the countryside.

So now people see in the media "Oh, some blowhard wants to helicopter hunt hogs with a machine gun. Of course that guy's an asshole and he represents everything that's wrong with America right now." When in reality, it's a guy who is trying to save his community from an invasive species.

Doug: Yeah. And have some fun while he's doing it I think.

Jonathan: Some of them have fun. What are you going to do? Honestly.

Erica: And hogs have no natural predator either.

Jonathan: Right.

Erica: It's the same thing as happened in Hawaii.

Jonathan: Well in Hawaii you have the axis deer too. Isn't that a thing there?

Erica: Well not so much but the pigs just destroy everything. They just root out a lot of native species and whatnot. So you can actively shoot pigs in Hawaii as well.

Jonathan: I guess my point is that we find ourselves in a place where, due to the way humanity has moved around the planet and established itself and caused all these cities and civilizations, we've affected the landscape and the wildlife and how that has moved around. So now we can't just let it go back. For instance, like you said, in Hawaii, if you let these hogs go, they will destroy everything. You have to kill them. You can't put them in a box and send them to Louisiana. You can't do it any other way. So that discussion needs to happen and when you confront people with that fact and they start to say, "There's another way", there's really not. And that plays into a whole bunch of different issues.

Tiffany: Maybe they want a hog sanctuary. {laughter}

Jonathan: Yeah, where they just end up dying of disease because they would just pack the place. So there's a joke - it's always made me a chuckle in a bad way, kind of like "ah man!" kind of way because people like to make fun of hunters by saying "Well you've gotta kill them so they live". That's the way to make fun of a hunter because it makes them sound stupid, but that actually is the case and it's really hard to get into that conversation with people. It plays into the diet issues as well.

Doug: Sure. Absolutely. I was just going to open it up to a whole new conversation. I think maybe instead we should go to one more clip?

Jonathan: Yeah.

Video: When they rounded up the tribes in this country and put them on reservation they were starving and the US government gave them commodity foods that consisted of white flour, sugar and lard. What do you do with white flour, sugar and lard? You make fry bread! It's our concentration camp food.

Nora Gedgaudas: The fait accompli of what we call manifest destiny, what happened to all of the aboriginal peoples of the earth since European encroachment, wasn't accomplished with guns. It was accomplished with food.

Aboriginal woman: Damper has become number one food for Yolngu people. Settlers, missionaries, they gave us damper and our grandfathers, grandmothers and all families, they liked it.

Narrator 1: That is looking yummy. These modern displacing foods were being brought in as rations by the missionaries. They're very addictive things like tobacco and sugar and flour. It's required. Must be.

Narrator 2: But even if you took the syrup and the jam and all that stuff off of the damper...

Woman: It would still be bad.

Marika Sboros (South Africa): Maize has become our staple food. It's called pap in South Africa. It's mostly prevalent in impoverished rural communities. In South Africa that's mostly our black population.

Tim Noakes: So when we talk about maize being the staple food in Southern Africa, we have to understand how it got there. It was a decision by the South African government to produce maize on an industrial scale and the question is whether was that good for our people or not.

Marika Sboros: It's not indigenous. It was never indigenous to South Africa. All our maize is genetically modified. It's refined. It's high carb. You might as well be eating a bowl full of sugar and dietitians, including the one who laid the complaint in the first place, are proponents.

Tim Noakes: I will argue that it was the introduction of maize and making this a staple food which has been a problem for us.

Advocate Bhoopchand: Madam Chair, objection. I really can't see how the details about something based on a conspiracy theory is relevant.

Advocate Ravin Ramdass: Madam Chair, in respect of the influence of industry driving the obesity epidemic, they were sponsors for ADSA (Association of Dietetics in South Africa). There were a number of sponsors, including Kellogg's, Pillsbury, etc. If you work with a flawed model of just energy in and energy out, you forget about how behaviours are modified, you forget about how addiction comes about, you forget about how advertising influences the whole epidemic.

Advocate Bhoopchand: I am submitting that is irrelevant.

Chair: The objection is overruled. Professor Noakes you may proceed.

Tim Noakes: Thank you madam chair. What I learned during the process is the key to this debate, that industry completely controlled what the information coming out to the public was. And I exposed that in one chapter...

Dr. Rangan Chattergee: These guys know what they're doing. It's not an accident, I don't believe, that people are hooked on all this junk and processed garbage.

Tim Noakes: The Global Energy Balance Network was a front for Coca-Cola.

Dr. Rangan Chattergee: There's something bigger going on here. The whole food system needs changing.

Tim Noakes: What Coca-Cola is doing is to control the messaging of obesity globally by controlling the scientists.

Nina Teicholz: One of the tactics that industry uses is they'll fund studies that are designed to confuse the record.

Tim Noakes: Their goal was not to talk about obesity. Their goal was to confuse the public.

Nina Teicholz: Almost all scientific conferences depend on industry funding, even to discuss a subject. There's no funding? Nobody's interested. Nobody wants to even talk about it. It's like depriving a field of oxygen.

Tim Noakes: I have repeatedly been told that there's no evidence to support a low carbohydrate diet. That's incorrect. This is a randomized control trial published in 2008 by Dr. Phinney. These are expensive trials and there's no money to do it. He does not get funding from the National Institutes of Health. He has to go and raise this money himself. This is the evidence. He's putting people with a metabolic syndrome, half of them on a high carbohydrate, low fat diet and the other group on a high fat, ketogenic diet. Look at the results. Body mass abdominal fat - high fat out-performs high carbohydrate/low fat diet. Triglycerides, one of the key markers of metabolic syndrome down 50% on a high fat diet.

Dr. Kate Shanahan: We tend to overconsume carbohydrate in this country because it's addicting, but also because we produce it in ridiculous amounts. If you fly from New York to LA, the majority of what you're flying over, all those little circles and squares on the ground, that's America pumping out carbohydrate as fast as it can. That's the 30,000 foot view. That's what's happening and that's reflected in our grocery stores.

Tim Noakes: Now here's HDLC which we all tout as the good cholesterol. What we're not told is when you eat a high carbohydrate diet your good cholesterol comes down and you go on a high fat diet and your HDL cholesterol goes up!

Nora Gedgaudas: There isn't a single multinational corporation on planet earth that wouldn't stand to profit from every man, woman and child consuming a carbohydrate-based diet.

Tim Noakes: The very particles that are damaging our arteries are increased on a high carbohydrate diet and reduced on a high fat diet.

Nora Gedgaudas: It's incredibly cheap to produce. It's highly profitable and it keeps you perpetually hungry. What could be more perfect?

Tim Noakes: Now this is even more remarkable. Saturated fatty acids in the bloodstream - which are a greater risk of heart attack - now you eat more saturated fat and the saturated fatty acids in the bloodstream go down.

Nora Gedgaudas: Pharmaceutical companies are profiting from this. The weight loss industry is profiting from this. Undertakers are making out like bandits. About the only people that aren't profiting from all of this are the rest of us.

Doug: So there you go.

Erica: Excellent summary.

Tiffany: Yes.

Doug: Yes. And you heard a bit in there from Tim Noakes' trial. He was the one who was giving all those scientific study results. It was really interesting because you heard the other lawyer accuse him of propagating conspiracy theories and raising an objection and it got overruled. That was kind of like, "YES!!"

Jonathan: That one stood out to me. That guy's accusation was pretty flimsy anyway. Anytime you bring up the idea that some people might have colluded to achieve a certain end you can't just knock it down by calling it a conspiracy theory.

Doug: They can try.

Jonathan: You imply that that never happens.

Doug: Exactly.

Tiffany: It's really kind of bizarre that people - I'm sure a lot of people don't read evidence, don't read studies, don't read books about how certain diets are good for you or are bad for you - but for people to have watched this documentary and still come out against it, you kind of wonder what is going on in their brains?

Doug: Very little.

Tiffany: Yeah.

Jonathan: Some of it might be a function of religion. Maybe not necessarily religious mandate but that same mechanism in the brain that causes you to dig in when you have a previously held belief.

Doug: Yeah. I think Jordan Peterson talks about it as ideological possession.

Tiffany: Yes.

Jonathan: Yeah.

Doug: I think that's exactly what's going on there.

Jonathan: It is one of those discussions, kind of like when we were listening to that last clip, I was thinking if people want to argue this you want to say, "Just go read about it."

Erica: Or just watch the movie. Just watch the movie because most people aren't going to read about it.

Doug: And even then, it's like, "A documentary! Well, I don't know."

Tiffany: There's no pretty people in it. {laughter} No good songs.

Jonathan: Well we have a pet health segment for today, so let's go to that and then we'll wrap up when we come back. We just got a pretty crazy storm rolling in here so if I disappear that's why. If I go off air.

Zoya: Hello and welcome to the pet health segment of the Health & Wellness Show. This week's topic is why do animals have such different lifespans. For the microscopic worm, life may equate to just a few short weeks on earth. The bowhead whale on the other hand, can live over 200 years. So why are these lifespans so different and what does it really mean to age anyway? Listen to the following recording and find out. Have a great weekend and good-bye.

Video: For the microscopic lab worm C. elegans, life equates to just a few short weeks on earth. Compare that with the tortoise which can age to more than 100 years. Mice and rats reach the end of their lives after just four years while for the bowhead whale, earth's longest lived mammal, death can come after 200.

Like most living things, the vast majority of animals gradually degenerate after reaching sexual maturity in the process known as aging. But what does it really mean to age? The drivers behind this process are varied and complicated but aging is ultimately caused by cell death and dysfunction. When we're young we constantly regenerate cells in order to replace dead and dying ones. But as we age this process slows down. In addition, older cells don't perform their functions as well as young ones. That makes our bodies go into a decline which eventually results in disease and death.

But if that's consistently true, why the huge variance in aging patterns and lifespan within the animal kingdom? The answer lies in several factors including environment and body size. These can place powerful evolutionary pressures on animals to adapt which in turn makes the aging process different across species.

Consider the cold depths of the Atlantic and Arctic seas where Greenland sharks can live to over 400 years and the Artic clam known as the Quahog can live up to 500. Perhaps the most impressive of these ocean dwelling ancients is the Antarctic glass sponge which can survive over 10,000 years in frigid waters. In cold environments like these, heart beats and metabolic rates slow down. Researchers theorize that this also causes a slowing of the aging process. In this way the environment shapes longevity.

When it comes to size, it's often, but not always, the case that larger species have a longer lifespan than smaller ones. For instance, an elephant or whale will live much longer than a mouse, rat or vole which in turn have years on flies and worms.

Some small animals like worms and flies are also limited by the mechanics of their cell division. They're mostly made up of cells that can't divide and be replaced when damaged so their bodies expire more quickly and size is a powerful evolutionary driver in animals. Smaller creatures are more prone to predators. A mouse for instance, can hardly expect to survive more than a year in the wild. So it has evolved to grow and reproduce more rapidly, like an evolutionary defence mechanism against it's shorter lifespan.

Larger animals, by contrast, are better at fending off predators and so they have the luxury of time to grow to large sizes and reproduce multiple times during their lives. Exceptions to the size rule include bats, birds, moles and turtles. But in each case, these animals have other adaptations that allow them to escape predators but there are still cases where animals with similar defining features like size and habitat, age at completely different rates. In these cases, genetic differences like how each organism's cells respond to threats, often account for the discrepancies in longevity. So it's the combination of all these factors playing out to differing degrees in different animals that explains the variability we see in the animal kingdom.

So what about us? Humans currently have an average life expectancy of 71 years, meaning that we're not even close to being the longest living inhabitants on earth. But we are very good at increasing our life expectancy. In the early 1900s humans only lived an average of 50 years. Since then we've learned to adapt by managing many of the factors that caused deaths, like environmental exposure and nutrition. This and other increases in life expectancy make us possibly the only species on earth to take control over our natural fate.

Jonathan: Those goats are taking control of their fate.

Doug: I thought you were going to say they were long-lived goats.

Tiffany: That's what I would have said. {laughter}

Jonathan: I guess we'll wrap it up. Thank you to everybody for tuning in. Get out there and eat some fat!

Doug: And watch that movie.

Jonathan: Yeah, and throw your chips away.

Erica: And tell your friends.