University of Alberta prof’s show debunking health myths picked up by Netflix

Timothy Caufield is shown on the set of "A User's Guide To Cheating Death" in this undated handout photo.
Timothy Caufield is shown on the set of "A User's Guide To Cheating Death" in this undated handout photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO - Matt Barnes

A professor at the University of Alberta who is known for his book Is Gwyneth Paltrow Wrong About Everything? is taking his science-based approach to health crazes to Netflix.

A User’s Guide to Cheating Death has already aired in over 60 countries on channels like Zoomer, Vision TV and BBC, but Timothy Caulfield recently got word the streaming giant would be picking up his show.

“We try all those things and we have a lot of fun,” Caulfield said. “There’s definitely humour throughout it. Every episode has a little bit of a journey.”

LISTEN BELOW: Timothy Caulfield speaks with 630 CHED’s Ryan Jespersen about his show being picked up by Netflix

The show explores different approaches to health as well as health fads, but Caulfield said the show is really “rooted in the evidence.”

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“We felt there was a little bit of an appetite for this right now because there is so much noise out there, so much bunk out there, and so we really try to take this informed, open-minded approach that remains rooted in the science.”

But Caulfield cautioned it’s not a show solely about debunking any trendy health fad; they also look at things like the extreme uses of stem cell research and the extreme uses of genetic testing.

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“We cast a very broad net.”

Seasons one and two have already aired on other networks. Netflix has picked up both seasons for streaming, and put an option on a third season.

While filming the show, Caulfield found himself inside a salt room and taking part in crystal therapy in New York City and meditating with a monk in Kyoto. He also tried “napercise,” sleeping as a form of sleep exercise, in London.

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At its core, Caulfield says the show is about health, dieting, genetics and exercise – the things Caulfield calls fundamental to health – then looking at things that are popular right now.

“It’s a combination of what’s hot and what’s important.”

The first episode is about the current trend of detoxification cleansing.

“What really upsets me is when there’s something that doesn’t have science behind it, but is given this veneer of science. And that increasingly happens,” he said. “Even things that are not scientific, increasingly they’re marketed as scientific.

“If you’re marketing it as if this is scientific, I think it’s completely legitimate to critique it using science.”

But Caulfield said he’s not about mocking or unfairly critiquing what others may follow in their lifestyles. He said he had a lengthy conversation with a woman he called an “extreme juicer” who was using that method as part of her cancer treatment.

“It’s a really honest conversation.”

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A User’s Guide to Cheating Death will be on Netflix sometime before the fall.

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