Everything about The Nature of Things, eh?

The Nature of Things explores obesity and our guts

Turns out our gut bugs may be creating oversized guts. That’s one of the suggestions given as to why some suffer from obesity while others don’t. Airing Thursday under CBC’s The Nature of Things banner, “It Takes Guts” posits the 100 trillion microbes living in our digestive system influence obesity in some.

The story begins with Adrianna, who has always battled her weight. Tired of being “the fat girl,” she started an exercise regimen in her 20s and cut fast food from her diet. She didn’t lose any weight. That’s because, according to obesity expert Dr. Arya Sharma of the University of Alberta, some bodies are predisposed to being that way thanks to the microbes inside them.

Geneticist Professor Tim Spector is up next, explaining microbes influence how we eat, what we eat, how we get energy from our food, protect our immune system, help us harvest calories and produce key vitamins and nutrients. These super-small spirals, blobs and other shapes are integral in our lives, and aren’t all bad.

“It Takes Guts” offers a lot of information in an interesting way, mixing expert interviews with colourful graphics while explaining how eating processed foods is like dropping a nuclear bomb on microbes—courtesy of Spector’s son, Tom—and what we can do to cultivate and enrich the critters in our gut on the path to better health. And that artificial poop machine at the University of Guelph? Make sure you tune in for that.

The Nature of Things airs Thursdays at 8 p.m. on CBC.


Link: It Takes Guts: TV For Your Intestines

From Jim Bawden:

It Takes Guts: TV For Your Intestines
“My idea for this TV documentary (It Takes Guts) really came about when I was finishing my last one.” I was asking my subject,  British geneticist Dr. Tim Spector what he was doing next and he talked all about his new book The Diet Revolution.

“And I knew if I could sell it to a network it might really work out.” The result It Takes Guts premieres on CBC-TV’s The Nature Of Things Thursday October 29 at 8 p.m.–it’s certainly a provocative journey inside the human intestines. Continue reading.



The Nature of Things explores the “Curious” world of vitamins and supplements

We’re told that if we stick to Canada’s Food Guide and supplement it with vitamins, we’re getting enough good stuff into our systems to lead healthy lives. But is that truly the case? Self-professed former fat kid turned health nut/filmmaker Bryce Sage plotted to find out.

“The Curious Case of Vitamins and Me,” airing on The Nature of Things this Thursday, is an entertaining journey across North America to find out if what we’re eating and taking is enough … or if things like multivitamins are doing more harm than good. Beginning with evolutionary history, the entertaining Sage—he reminds me of an even geekier Alton Brown—visits the San Francisco Zoo to find out how what primates eat compares to humans. He quickly discovers that we’re not able to manufacture all of the 13 essential vitamins needed to survive (Who else grew up reading “12 essential vitamins!” emblazoned on their cereal boxes?), so they must be found in nature. It’s not long until Sage discovers we’re deficient when it comes to vitamins C, A, D, E and B-9 and digs deeper into the Nutrition Facts box we find on everything nowadays.

Turns out those boxes are cobbled together by a panel of Canadians and Americans. In place since the Second World War, they were originally designed to help soldiers ensure they were getting the recommended daily dose of the 13 essential vitamins to fight. Now they’re used in our everyday lives, a guide to the base amounts of each vitamin to ensure we don’t suffer from vitamin deficiency.

The most fascinating part of “The Curious Case of Vitamins and Me” was watching Sage—armed with a nutritional textbook—head to the grocery store to purchase everything needed to fulfill those daily requirements. He soon learns exactly what those “fortified vitamins” are contained in cereal, and it isn’t good news. Also cool? Sage’s visit to an organic farm, where he discovers modern farming may result in fruits and veggies with less nutritional value than heirloom varieties. Those interested in how vitamins and supplements are made—and where the ingredients are sourced—get their fix when Sage drops by NutraLab Canada.

Far from fear-mongering, “The Curious Case of Vitamins and Me” is a fun, funny and educational guide to making sure you and your family are getting enough out of their diet to be healthy.

“The Curious Case of Vitamins and Me” airs on The Nature of Things, Thursday at 8 p.m. on CBC.


The Nature of Things celebrates moose in season return

I’m a sucker for nature documentaries, and CBC’s The Nature of Things broadcasts some of the best. Returning Thursday for Season 55 is “Moose: A Year in the Life of a Twig Eater” and it’s terrific stuff.

Directed and produced by Susan Fleming—whose previous “Meet the Coywolf,” “Raccoon Nation” and “A Murder of Crows” have all aired on TNOT—”Moose” is the result of over a year of naturalist Hugo Kitching recording a mother moose and her calf in Jasper National Park.

The reclusive beasts seek out hard-to-get-to locations to give birth so that predators don’t attack, and the show’s story begins in June, when, after a 21-day search, Kitching locates a cow and her calf. The little one is cute as heck, ungainly and all spindly legs and oversized ears. But with moose numbers plummeting because babies aren’t surviving their first year the youngster has a touch road ahead of it. Highlighted by stunning views of Jasper National Park, its peaks and valleys “Moose” tracks the pair—and a second cow and baby—through spring and summer when food in plentiful. Of particular importance is the ingestion of sodium-rich pond plants that moose store to help them survive during lean times.

Those lean periods arrive in the winter, when five feet of snow means no greenery to eat … and tough going for both animal and man. (How Kitching filmed the project could be a documentary on its own.) This being a nature documentary, the life cycle of the moose is recorded regardless of whether the news is good or bad. Not every animal survives such a harsh climate and, sadly, the moose are no exception.

Regardless, “Moose: A Year in the Life of a Twig Eater” is an entertaining peek into the life of an elusive mammal few get a chance to see, and is well worth tuning in to.

Check out more moose facts on TNOT website.

The Nature of Things airs Thursdays at 8 p.m. on CBC.