James Wilks (center), producer of “The Game Changers,” speaks to Col. Mike Foutch (left), 88th Medical Group commander, following the film’s screening April 4 at the Wright-Patterson Medical Center. The evidence-based documentary about plant-based eating for performance nutrition and health was shown as a continuing education opportunity for 88 MDG staff members. (Courtesy photo)

WPAFB training program featured documentary promoting plant-based diet

The 88th Medical Group hosted a unique training opportunity April 4 with a pre-release screening of “The Game Changers,” an evidence-based documentary directed by Oscar-winner Louie Psihoyos about the effects of a plant-based diet on performance nutrition and health.

The film tells the story of James Wilks, elite Special Forces combatives trainer and winner of season nine of “The Ultimate Fighter” on his quest to recover from an injury. “The Game Changers” documents his nutrition research journey, which uncovered a large body of evidence suggesting that plant-based diets are safe for any age group, may speed recovery time, enhance physical performance and support strength and endurance athletes.

‘Ready, Set, Summer’ challenge promotes physical activity at base

Traveling across the world to meet with elite athletes, special ops soldiers, scientists and cultural icons, Wilks discovered that these individuals were achieving peak performance while following a plant-based diet.

“As a combatives instructor for the U.S. military, I see the human body as a powerful machine with the potential for excellence in many areas, including strength, speed, stamina and recovery,” said Wilks. “Until I got badly injured in 2011, I never thought this potential had much to do with food, which I saw as mainly calories and protein.”

In the film, Wilks meets with athletes such as Patrik Baboumian, world-record holding strongman, Morgan Mitchell, Olympic sprinter, Scott Jurek, ultra-marathoner, Bryant Jennings, heavyweight boxing champion, and Arnold Schwarzenegger. Wilks follows these top performers and learns about how they are optimizing their performance by capitalizing on the benefits of a plant-based diet, expelling the myth that you need animal protein to be strong and fit.

Following the screening, attendees had the opportunity for a Q&A with Wilks, David Goldman, registered dietitian, exercise physiologist and scientific advisor for the film, and Capt. (Dr.) Regan Stiegmann, Performance Medicine Flight surgeon from the U.S. Air Force Academy.

Lt. Col. Amanda Denton, 88 MDG Nutritional Medicine Flight commander, prompted the panel with the question, “Are you advocating an all-or-nothing approach?”

All three panelists answered this question with a “no.”

Wilks explained, “To expect someone to suddenly change their entire diet would be pretty unreasonable.”

He and the other panelists explained to the audience that simply incorporating more plant-based foods into your diet can be beneficial. He went on to explain that the intent of the film was to educate people with facts and let them come to their own conclusions.

“This film provides continuing education credits for health care provider and is an opportunity to enhance exposure to the science supporting plant-based diets,” said Denton.

More than 170 people attended the event, and many expressed excitement about adding more plant-based foods to their own diets as well as being able to better support their patients efforts to improve lifestyle habits, according to Denton.

The 88 MDG Nutritional Medicine clinic helps support you in achieving a healthier lifestyle. They offer classes on weight management, heart health, prediabetes, meal planning, grocery shopping and plant-based nutrition for active-duty members, beneficiaries and retirees. To sign up for a class, contact the nutrition clinic at 937-257-8815.

Thank you for reading the Dayton Daily News and for supporting local journalism. Subscribers: log in for access to your daily ePaper and premium newsletters.

Thank you for supporting in-depth local journalism with your subscription to the Dayton Daily News. Get more news when you want it with email newsletters just for subscribers. Sign up here.