Fat, Sick & Nearly Dead: An Inspiring Visual Journey of Personal Healing

Story at-a-glance

  • Fat, Sick & Nearly Dead offers an inspiring glimpse into the journey of self-healing through whole foods
  • Obesity and related health problems are directly attributable to flawed diet—a diet too high in carbs and poor-quality proteins, and too low in healthy fats
  • First and foremost, a healthy diet is based on fresh whole, preferably organic foods, and foods that have been minimally processed


This is an older article that may not reflect Dr. Mercola’s current view on this topic. Use our search engine to find Dr. Mercola’s latest position on any health topic.

By Dr. Mercola

A number of fascinating and well-produced documentaries about health have emerged over the past few years, and this one is no exception. Fat, Sick & Nearly Dead, the award-winning film by Australian entrepreneur Joe Cross, offers an inspiring glimpse into the journey of self-healing with food.

With two-thirds of Americans overweight or obese, one-in-four being pre-diabetic or diabetic, and heart disease and cancer topping the mortality charts, the issue of how to achieve good health has never been more pertinent to more people.

The film also features Phil Staples, a morbidly obese truck driver who, like Joe, suffers from a debilitating autoimmune disease.

"As Joe is recovering his health, Phil begins his own epic journey to get well. What emerges is nothing short of amazing – an inspiring tale of healing and human connection.

Part road trip, part self-help manifesto, FAT, SICK & NEARLY DEAD defies the traditional documentary format to present an unconventional and uplifting story of two men from different worlds who each realize that the only person who can save them is themselves."1

The film offers powerful testament to the profound healing ability of your body – if only you will give it a chance. Nutrition is to your body what fuel is for your car.

You cannot expect a Lamborghini to run on diesel. Likewise, stuffing yourself with denatured, wholly "dead" processed foods laden with unnatural and oftentimes toxic chemicals is bound to have consequences.

Obesity and related health problems are directly attributable to flawed diet – a diet too high in carbs and poor-quality proteins, and too low in healthy fats. First and foremost, a healthy diet is based on fresh whole, preferably organic foods, and foods that have been minimally processed.

A Personal Journey of Healing

Joe, while an Australian, is in terms of health very much a stereotypical American. And, like so many others, came to realize that without your health, nothing else much matters.

By the time he hit 40, he was "professionally successful but physically bankrupt," tipping the scales at 300 pounds and taking multiple medications for an autoimmune disease doctors could not find the root cause of. His weight, his mysterious medical condition, and side effects from the drugs were sapping his life away and destroying his quality of life.

"When I turned 40, I realized that I had been all talk and no action for years,saying that someday I would change my life and do something to reclaim the robust health I had enjoyed as a younger man," he says.2

"It was a sobering realization – I had focused my capacity for action, determination and discipline on nothing but creating wealth. It was time to harness those skills to create health.

It occurred to me that I was not alone. Yes, my disease was very rare – but lots of people are sick. And you certainly don't need to be a rocket scientist to see that most of us in the developed world are unhealthily fat. Like lots of people, I had been outsourcing my health problems to doctors, but no one had been able to fix what ailed me. What if I could take control of the problem, and my own role in creating the situation?"

Shunning his steady diet of processed food for real, whole foods – the stuff that grows in the ground and on trees and is sold without a nutrition label – was the logical place to start. For the first 60 days, he juiced his way across the United States with film crew in tow, talking to people about their diets along the way. Says Joe:

"Making this movie changed my life, opened my eyes and re-focused my mission on something that is startling simple and utterly effective: helping people reclaim their health and vitality as I did by consuming more fruits and vegetables... It is amazing what can happen. I can vouch for this by first-hand experience. After 60 days of juice and another 70 days of eating just fruit, vegetables, nuts, beans and seeds I was 100 lbs lighter and off all medication. I've been that way ever since."

8 Things Your Grandparents Did That Could Save Your Life

A recent article in Mind Body Green3 offers some pertinent advice. In it, Dr. Alejandra Carrasco lists eight forgotten wisdoms your grandparents adhered to that could quite literally save your life. To learn more, please follow the hyperlinks provided:

Grow your own food Get back in the kitchen and learn to cook from scratch
Make your own cleaning products Learn some home remedies
Discover the power of broth Ferment your own foods
Firm up your social network and close friendships Spend time outside / Go barefoot

Take Control of Your Health and Embrace Real Food

If you're at all concerned about your health – whether you want to gain health or maintain it – nutrition is paramount. In fact, your diet accounts for about 80 percent of the health benefits reaped from a healthy lifestyle, with the remaining 20 percent from exercise.

First and foremost, a healthy diet is based on fresh whole, preferably organic foods, and foods that have been minimally processed. These are the signs of high-quality, health-promoting foods you'll want to look for when grocery shopping. If the food meets these criteria, it is most likely a wise choice, and would fall under the designation of "real food," which is the very foundation of good health:

  1. It's grown without pesticides and chemical fertilizers (organic foods fit this description, but so do some non-organic foods)
  2. It's not genetically engineered
  3. It contains no added growth hormones, antibiotics, or other drugs
  4. It does not contain any artificial ingredients, including chemical preservatives
  5. It is fresh (keep in mind that if you have to choose between wilted organic produce or fresh conventional produce, the latter may be the better option)
  6. It did not come from a concentrated animal feeding operation (CAFO)
  7. It is grown with the laws of nature in mind (meaning animals are fed their native diets, not a mix of grains and animal byproducts, and have free-range access to the outdoors)
  8. It is grown in a sustainable way (using minimal amounts of water, protecting the soil from burnout, and turning animal wastes into natural fertilizers instead of environmental pollutants)

How to Find Locally-Grown Foods

Additionally, here are some great resources to obtain wholesome, farm-fresh food that supports not only you but also the environment:

  1. Alternative Farming Systems Information Center, Community Supported Agriculture (CSA)
  2. Farmers' Markets – A national listing of farmers' markets.
  3. Local Harvest – This Web site will help you find farmers' markets, family farms, and other sources of sustainably grown food in your area where you can buy produce, grass-fed meats, and many other goodies.
  4. Eat Well Guide: Wholesome Food from Healthy Animals – The Eat Well Guide is a free online directory of sustainably raised meat, poultry, dairy, and eggs from farms, stores, restaurants, inns, and hotels, and online outlets in the United States and Canada.
  5. Community Involved in Sustaining Agriculture (CISA) – CISA is dedicated to sustaining agriculture and promoting the products of small farms.
  6. FoodRoutes – The FoodRoutes "Find Good Food" map can help you connect with local farmers to find the freshest, tastiest food possible. On their interactive map, you can find a listing for local farmers, CSA's, and markets near you.


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