Nutrition and Wellness Blog

Notes from a Gut Health Nutritionist

Nutrition and Wellness Blog

Notes from a Gut Health Nutritionist

A Gut Health Dietitian’s Review of Hack Your Health Netflix Documentary

May 22, 2024 | Gut Health, The Nourished & Thriving Show

New gut health Netflix documentary, Hack Your Health: The Secrets of Your Gut – Is it a must-watch?

Overall, I was really impressed. I think this new Netflix documentary on gut health, Hack Your Health: The Secrets of Your Gut, is exactly what we need to help increase awareness of the impact of the gut, our digestive tract, and the microbiome on our overall health and wellbeing.

*This is a modified transcript of an episode from my podcast, The Nourished & Thriving show. This episode is titled “New Gut Health Documentary — Must Watch??” (published May 2024), which you can find on your favorite listening platform here.

*This is not medical advice.

A Gut Health Dietitian’s Review of the 2024 Hack Your Health Netflix Documentary

First things first, I’m a registered dietitian on a mission to help you increase your impact and legacy on the world while healing your gut and reducing your IBS and digestive symptoms. My goal is to inspire you to live vibrantly and provide valuable resources and information that empowers you to take bold action towards your health goals.

Let me start by prefacing… I don’t watch a lot of TV because we have a lot of other life obligations, but sometimes I will put in my AirPods and catch something on my iPad while I’m doing dishes, folding laundry, and all of that. It kind of makes those tasks go a little bit faster late at night, right? So while I was looking for something to watch, I came across this new Netflix documentary on gut health, called Hack Your Health: The Secrets of Your Gut. (If you have a really strong background in science, nutrition, or gut health it may be something that you really want to stop and truly watch and absorb, instead of doing dishes and running it in the background, but I’ll let you make that decision for yourself.)

I’m going to give you guys my honest thoughts and review on Hack Your Health: The Secrets of Your Gut.

Hack Your Health: The Secrets of Your Gut Documentary Explores How to Improve Your Microbiome - Netflix Tudum

Video thumbnail from Netflix, Hack Your Health, The Secrets of Your Gut

My Initial Impressions of This Gut Health Documentary

I was a bit skeptical at first, because so many of the Netflix documentaries are so skewed. I’m a little bit leery of food documentaries and health documentaries, because they often have a biased angle. But I was curious… The title sounded very attractive. So I had to see what it was all about and what they were saying. I wanted to know if it was accurate, inaccurate, or if it had a slant to it.

Overall I was really impressed, which is saying a lot for a registered dietitian who specializes in gut health and digestive issues! I believe this gut health documentary is exactly what we need to help increase awareness of the impact of the gut, our digestive tract, and the microbiome on our overall health and wellbeing.

If you’ve been around my spaces on the internet for very long, you’ve heard me say, “I 100% want your digestive symptoms to improve, but it’s not ONLY about digestive issues.” Sure, that’s why most people seek me out — because they’re struggling with gut symptoms. But I need to reiterate, that’s not the only role that your gut health plays in your overall health. Gut health has so much of an impact on how well you age, chronic disease risk, all of that. And more and more research is coming out, which says the same thing over and over again.

Hack Your Health: The Secrets of Your Gut  really brought some of these sentiments of mine to light. Now there were some things I agreed with and some points I disagreed with in this film, which I will share here.

Note of caution: I don’t want to spoil this documentary for you. I do encourage you to take a watch. The following review is my personal thoughts on it in a succinct overview where I don’t give too many of the details away. I hit on my high points on what I liked, what I thought was really well done, why I think you should watch it, and of course, some knowledge to be aware of as you start watching it that may not be ideal for everyone.

Paper cut illustration of three petri dishes of different colored bacterias, Hack Your Health

What I Liked About Hack Your Health: The Secrets of Your Gut

First off, I loved the holistic perspective that the documentary brought. They explain how we have all of these different doctors and all of these different specialties, who each look at our health problems and bodily systems as if they are in a silo. BUT everything is connected! We’re humans! Your microbiome impacts everything, and I thought that the documentary did a really great job of not only explaining this, but also helping the viewer to understand the importance of this.

The film took the time to explain the how and the why. They described how digestion and how your gut works. For part of it, they are in a gut health museum with all these interactive gut health displays, in which they show you physiologically how your gut and stomach works! Additionally, they use researchers and in-field experts to explain. Plus they use these adorable animations to illustrate their points and get the message across because some of these topics are really complicated and difficult to understand — especially if you don’t have a biology, science, or nutrition background. I think these explanations are so important, because when we understand how something works and how something’s supposed to work, we can really compare and contrast how your body is working and see what needs to be fixed so that we can restore optimal function.

So if you’re confused on gut health and would like to learn more, this documentary does a really great job of simplifying how your gut health works, how digestion works, and all things gut microbiome!

As a second benefit, because of the cute animations and interactive museum displays, it wasn’t a dry science review. It became relatable, engaging, and understandable to the average person.

I also loved how this documentary explained food sensitivities and why it can be so challenging to expand your diet whenever you have IBS! So if you’re somebody who’s struggling with chronic digestive symptoms and you have a limited diet and you want to eat more types of foods, then Hack Your Health: The Secrets of Your Gut spends a decent amount of time talking through why that is and what to do about it.

Spoiler alert: For food sensitivities, they recommend what I recommend with my patients too, which is to micro-dose new foods that you feel you react to, as long as it’s not a true food allergy. (If it’s a true food allergy, that’s a different ball game!) But if it’s something that you feel causes symptoms like heartburn or bloat, then maybe start with one bite, see how you do, and gradually increase it from there. The reason being: you don’t have the organisms in your gut which can help break some of those fibers and foods down, so you react to them. By micro-dosing the trigger foods, you can slowly rebuild your microbiome over time. Definitely check out the documentary because it goes into this a lot more!

They also did a really nice job explaining how the gut and brain are connected. They cover the gut-brain axis, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, all of that. They go over how our thoughts impact our gut health and our gut health impacts our thoughts and how it can become this really vicious cycle that can be challenging to break. This is something I actually work with my clients in my signature program, Gut Rehab, too. My program has an entire mindset component, because that gut-brain connection is foundationally important. If you don’t address it, your results are going to be completely undermined.

The last thing that I really loved about this documentary is they recommend another gut healthy tactic which I recommend frequently, which is to eat at least 20 to 30 different types of fruits and veggies each week. This has been shown to tremendously reduce your gut symptoms and any gut health issues. Variety is key, because we want a lot of different types of organisms living in our gut to balance everything out. We want to avoid letting one organism takeover. So eating a variety in your diet and not eating the same thing every single day is going to be really helpful in keeping that from happening.

Paper cut illustration of of different colored bacterias with a NO symbol overlaid on them, Hack Your Health

The Faults I Found in Hack Your Health: The Secrets of Your Gut

Now a couple of things I disagree with…

1) My opinion: Gut microbiome testing can be helpful.

The film proclaims that testing your microbiome is not helpful. Honestly, in some ways I don’t fully disagree with this. For example, I never give a specific targeted probiotic to grow one type of organism, because it’s all about balance and diversity and our microbiomes are constantly changing. It can actually take four to eight weeks for us to fully see the benefits from taking a probiotic. So in that respect, knowing your exact levels from tests and taking a super targeted approach where you’re just targeting certain types of organisms is not how it works.

Where I disagree is that gut testing can be super helpful to just get an understanding of the general layout of your gut, what your issues are, how well you’re digesting your food, multiple inflammation markers, and identifying over a hundred different bad organisms that can cause damage. Now that is really helpful information to know and understand.

2) My opinion: I do not recommend at-home fecal transplants.

The film showed at length one of the girls they were studying doing an at-home fecal transplant. Yes, fecal transplants can be life-saving, especially in patients with C-diff. Fecal transplants can have a huge benefit for people struggling with chronic digestive issues who aren’t getting better by doing other things, but doing something like this at home, I would never recommend. I think there’s way too many risks.

What if that other person has bad bacteria? The girl who was doing it in the video said she was using her brother’s stool to do this, and her brother has a background of depression and anxiety. While she was doing it, she was becoming more depressed. So I think there’s not enough known, and  there’s a potential to do real harm. So that’s something I definitely don’t recommend you doing.

In conclusion

I really encourage you to watch the 2024 Netflix documentary on gut health, Hack Your Health: The Secrets of Your Gut. I think it’s a great film to learn more about the how’s and why’s of the gut and digestive system, and it lays out some very helpful foundations for better gut health.

I hope you are feeling inspired and empowered to take bold action towards your health goals.

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