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50 Best Documentaries Of All Time That Will Change Your Life

50 Best Documentaries Of All Time That Will Change Your Life

Documentaries are often more powerful than other types of films simply because they show the sides of life that many people would not be able to experience otherwise. Whether this involves a glimpse at the life of an unhealthy adult or traveling with a flock of animals, documentaries have the potential to change your life.

The following documentaries vary in genre and style, but they all have messages that will have an impact on your life.

1. Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead (2010)

Fat, Sick & Nearly Dead

    By trying a juicing diet, Joe Cross is able to experience a new perspective on life while making the cross-country journey across America. You can watch on Netflix.

    2. May I Be Frank? (2010)

    may_i_be_frank_giveaway

      Frank’s choice to cut out all toxins and go completely vegan is inspiring for anyone who wants to have a healthier life, both mentally and physically. You can watch it on Hulu.

      3. Simply Raw (2009)

      simply raw

        This documentary shows the impact a raw diet can have on anyone, especially a group of diabetics who go raw for 30 days. You can watch it on YouTube.

        4. Vegucated (2011)

        vegucated

          Watch three New Yorkers embark on a vegan diet on Netflix.

          5. Food Fight (2004)

          food fight

            Why are there so many packaged foods? And why is junk food cheaper than health foods? Watch on Hulu to see for yourself.

            6. Supersize Me (2004)

            supersize me

              Though this documentary has been called out for exaggerating the effects of McDonald’s food, it is eye-opening to see how a diet consisting solely of fast food can impact your health. Watch it here and make up your own mind on the issue.

              7. Sicko (2007)

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                Michael Moore’s documentary sheds light on the American health care system and points out the issues that many people who just want to be healthy face every day. Watch the film online here.

                8. The Thin Blue Line (1988)

                the thin blue line

                  This documentary literally freed a man from prison. Errol Morris’ dedication to discovering the truth behind the Randall Adams’ case led to the reopening of a murder case. Watch the whole documentary on Netflix.

                  9. Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room (2005)

                  enron

                    Director Albert Gibney takes a look into the corporate greed that defrauded thousands of workers in the Enron scandal. Watch it on Hulu here.

                    10. The Act of Killing (2013)

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                    The-Act-of-Killing-DVD-cover

                      Focusing on the Indonesian Killings of 1965­–1966, this documentary can be difficult to watch. It confronts the terrible fact that the government contains many of the people involved in the genocide many years ago. You can watch it on Netflix.

                      11. The Art of the Steal (2009)

                      the art of the steal

                        This documentary shows the lengths many people will go through to receive private property — in this case, several priceless pieces of art — even if it means breaking apart a man’s clearly-written will. Watch it on Netflix.

                        12. The Imposter (2012)

                        the imposter

                          This documentary, which feels more like a thriller, examines a couple whose 13-year old son was found three years later in Spain. However, their “son” is clearly a man in his twenties — so for what reasons do they believe this man is their son? Watch it on Netflix.

                          13. Man on Wire (2008)

                          man on a wire

                            When Phillipe Petit strung a wire between the two World Trade Center buildings and walked across it without any safety measures, the world was astounded. You can watch the man behind the feat on Netflix.

                            14. Inside 9/11 (2006)

                            inside-9-11

                              Though it is painful to relive, this documentary examines the before, during and after of the deadliest terrorist attack on American soil. Watch it here.

                              15. A Film Unfinished (2010)

                              A-Film-Unfinished

                                This documentary features an unfinished Nazi-produced film from the 1940s. Lacking both sound and a definitive ending, this film brings an eye-opening view on the Warsaw Ghetto during the Nazi reign. You can watch it on Hulu.

                                16. In the Shadow of the Moon (2007)

                                In the Shadow of the Moon - Documentary

                                  Featuring first-hand testimonies of the only men who set foot on the moon, this documentary serves as a great reminder that there’s a whole universe outside our planet. You can watch it here.

                                  17. Titanic: The Final Word (2012)

                                  titanic

                                    Though James Cameron is known for his blockbuster films, he has gone on more expeditions to the Titanic ruins than anyone else in the world. This documentary examines the sinking and shed new light on the infamous disaster. Watch it online here.

                                    18. Solo (2008)

                                    solo

                                      In 2007, Andrew McAuley began his journey to be the first man to kayak from Tasmania to New Zealand. Recovered footage of his journey examines the man who was willing to risk his life to achieve this record. You can watch it on Youtube.

                                      19. Touching the Void (2003)

                                      touching the void

                                        Based on a book by the same name, this documentary shows the events of two men who get separated while climbing the Andes. Hailed as one of the best British documentaries, it conducts interviews with the two men and features reenactments of the events. This is available on Amazon.

                                        20. Blindsight (2006)

                                        blindsightLA

                                          This inspiring story features a group of Tibetan blind boys who, shunned by their family and community due to cultural stigma, climb the north side of Mount Everest. You can watch it on Hulu.

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                                          21. Gasland (2010)

                                          gasland

                                            This film answers questions many people have regarding fracking, while raising questions about why it’s happening today. You can watch it on Youtube.

                                            22. Encounters at the End of the World (2007)

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                                              Antarctica has as much beauty and wonder to it as any other part of the world. This film shows the beauty of this land and the people who study it. You can watch it on Amazon.

                                              23. Marley (2012)

                                              marley

                                                Director Kevin Macdonald’s documentary takes a look into this influential musicians life to examine why he’s still influential even today. You can watch it on Netflix.

                                                24. 20 Feet From Stardom (2013)

                                                20 feet from stardom

                                                  Behind almost every singer is a group of backup singers. Watch a new perspective of singers  on Netflix.

                                                  25. Festival Express (2003)

                                                  festival express

                                                    Take a look at one of the biggest musical tours of 1970. A must-see for any music lover, you can watch it here.

                                                    26. Senna (2010)

                                                    senna

                                                      Known as one of the greatest sports documentaries, Senna uses footages from the ‘80s and ‘90s to tell the story of Aryton Senna. His fame as one of the greatest Formula One racers lives on. You can watch it on Netflix.

                                                      27. Russell Brand: From Addiction to Recovery (2012)

                                                      russell brand

                                                        This documentary covers Russell Brand’s journey from addict to sobriety. Including facts about alcohol addiction and the mental and physical struggles he overcomes, his story can inspire anyone with similar addictions. You can watch it here.

                                                        28. Exit Through the Gift Shop (2010)

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                                                          Created by renowned graffiti artist Banksy, the film proves to be an interesting look at Los Angeles street art and the impact is has on the people. You can watch it on Netflix.

                                                          29. Charles Manson: The Man Who Killed the Sixties (1994)

                                                          charles manson

                                                            Charles Manson’s belief led to the creation of a cult-like following who would go on to kill seven innocent people. Seeing the impact this man had on people is astounding, especially when you realize what he encouraged. You can watch it online.

                                                            30. The Great American Cowboy (1973)

                                                            great american cowboy

                                                              The winner of the 1973 Academy Award for Best Documentary, with plenty of action and thrills, you won’t look at the rodeo the same way again. You can watch it in four parts on YouTube.

                                                              31. Best Worst Movie (2009)

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                                                              best worst movie

                                                                Troll 2 is one of the worst movies created — but it has one of the largest cult followings. This documentary gets to the heart of the behind-the-scenes and helps explain what makes the bad so appealing. You can watch it on Netflix.

                                                                32. Jiro Dreams of Sushi (2012)

                                                                jiro

                                                                  Jiro is the world’s best sushi chef. He is so devoted to his work he literally dreams of it and of being even better. With plenty of heart, this documentary examines Jiro’s relationship with his son and the desire to reach perfection. You can watch it on Netflix.

                                                                  33. Jesus Camp (2006)

                                                                  jesus camp

                                                                    There’s a camp in North Dakota where Christian children are told they can “take back America for Christ.” Hard to watch at times, this film is an eye-opening experience. You can watch it on Netflix.

                                                                    34. The Queen of Versailles (2012)

                                                                    queen of versailles

                                                                      Originally meant to be a quick look at the obscenely rich, this documentary follows a family as they go from riches to rags with the 2008 housing market crash. Bouncing from funny to heart wrenching, you’ll have to prepare yourself for a rollercoaster of emotions. You can watch it on Netflix.

                                                                      35. The UP series (1964-Present)

                                                                      The_Up_series_DVD

                                                                        This documentary series follows the lives of fourteen British youths from 7 to 56. With a wide range of demographics, you see how differently the lives play out for the privileged and the poor. You can  watch 7 Up and 56 Up on Netflix.

                                                                        36. March of the Penguins (2005)

                                                                        march of penguins

                                                                          This well-known documentary shows the lengths emperor penguins go through to ensure their children survive the incubation period in the frigid Antarctic. It’s moving and will tug and your heartstrings. You can stream it on Amazon.

                                                                          37. Blackfish (2013)

                                                                          blackfish

                                                                            This film gives insight on the accidents associated with Seaworld’s whales and shows how the attacks are more humankind’s making due to years of mistreatment, rather than natural instinct. You can watch it on Netflix.

                                                                            38. Winged Migration (Le Peuple Migrateur)  (2003)

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                                                                              With some of the most beautiful shots in documentary history, this follows the migration patterns of birds throughout the seasons. This is a visual masterpiece that will leave you breathless until the final credits. You can watch it here.

                                                                              39. Grizzly Man (2005)

                                                                              grizzly_man_poster

                                                                                Timothy Treadwell lived with the bears he studied and loved and was eventually killed by them. A look at how obsessive behavior can lead to disaster, the film is powerful and haunting. You can watch it on Hulu here.

                                                                                40. The Cove (2009)

                                                                                the cove

                                                                                  In a small town in Japan, the people’s livelihood comes from hunting the endangered and beautiful dolphins. With beautiful underwater shots and shocking images of the industry’s impact on the ecology, you’ll have a deeper respect for the beauty on the world after watching this. You can watch it on Amazon.

                                                                                  41. The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill (2005)

                                                                                  wild parrots

                                                                                    Many years ago, a flock of parrots gathered in a section of San Francisco. Though no one knows where they came from, a street musician soon formed a bond with the birds. This documentary is a charming and intelligent story of humanity and nature. You can watch it on Youtube.

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                                                                                    42. The Hellstrom Chronicle (1971)

                                                                                    hellstrom

                                                                                      A mix of documentary, science fiction and horror, The Hellstrom Chronicle presents a struggle between humans and insects. Though you may be more wary of insects after watching this, it shows that small things can have great power when combined. You can watch it in parts on Youtube.

                                                                                      43. The Invisible War (2012)

                                                                                      invisible war

                                                                                        Tackling the subject of rape is hard enough, but this documentary goes to great lengths to expose the attacks female American soldiers face within their own ranks. This will force you to question a government that would cover up these crimes and a military that would allow them to happen. You can watch it here.

                                                                                        44. Brooklyn Castle (2012)

                                                                                        brooklyn castle

                                                                                          Brooklyn Castle reveals the impact extracurricular activities have on children in schools, particularly inner-city schools. Following a group of children who just want to play chess, it reveals how important it is for kids to have options at school. You can watch it on Netflix.

                                                                                          45. Bully (2011)

                                                                                          bully

                                                                                            Focusing on two students whose bullying eventually led to their suicides, the documentary follows five children who were bullied. It shows how hard it is for children to defend themselves and why it’s important to step in when bullying occurs. You can watch it on Netflix.

                                                                                            46. Fambul Tok (2011)

                                                                                            fambul tok

                                                                                              Though the fighting is over, the effects of the civil war in Sierra Leone are still present. Translating into family talk, Fambul Tok shows how the perpetrators of vicious crimes still walk among their victims without the fear of imprisonment or punishment. You can watch it on Netflix.

                                                                                              47. How to Survive a Plague (2012)

                                                                                              how to survive a plague

                                                                                                When the AIDS epidemic first swept the nation, two groups — ACT UP and Treatment Action Group (TAG) — were formed to help find treatment and a cure for the disease. This documentary takes film from over 700 hours of archived video to follows these organizations as they helped transform the disease from a death sentence to something survivable. You can watch it on Netflix.

                                                                                                48. Murderball (2005)

                                                                                                murderball

                                                                                                  Following paraplegic rugby players, this documentary shatters any beliefs you may have about the handicapped and their supposed limitations. You can watch it on YouTube.

                                                                                                  49. The Island President (2012)

                                                                                                  the island president

                                                                                                    The Island President follows Maldives’ president during his first year as he works to save his country from the ever-rising ocean. You can watch it here.

                                                                                                    50. Bigger, Stronger, Faster (2008)

                                                                                                    Bigger_stronger_faster_ver5

                                                                                                      Analyzing America’s obsession with winning, director Chris Bell looks into the bodybuiding culture and its use of steroids for success. It looks into the dangerous side effects that come with being successful. You can watch on YouTube.

                                                                                                      Featured photo credit: theactofkilling.com via theactofkilling.com

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                                                                                                      Kayla Matthews

                                                                                                      Productivity and self-improvement blogger

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                                                                                                      Last Updated on August 12, 2019

                                                                                                      12 Best Foods That Improve Memory and Brain Health

                                                                                                      12 Best Foods That Improve Memory and Brain Health

                                                                                                      Nutrition plays a vital role in brain function and staying sharp into the golden years. Personally, my husband is going through medical school, which is like a daily mental marathon. Like any good wife, I am always looking for things that will boost his memory fortitude so he does his best in school.

                                                                                                      But you don’t have to be a med student to appreciate better brainiac brilliance. If you combine certain foods with good hydration, proper sleep and exercise, you may just rival Einstein and have a great memory in no time.

                                                                                                      I’m going to reveal the list of foods coming out of the kitchen that can improve your memory and make you smarter.

                                                                                                      Here are 12 best brain foods that improve memory and brain power:

                                                                                                      1. Nuts

                                                                                                      The American Journal of Epidemiology published a study linking higher intakes of vitamin E with the prevention on cognitive decline.[1]

                                                                                                      Nuts like walnuts and almonds (along with other great foods like avocados) are a great source of vitamin E.

                                                                                                      Cashews and sunflower seeds also contain an amino acid that reduces stress by boosting serotonin levels.

                                                                                                      Walnuts even resemble the brain, just in case you forget the correlation, and are a great source of omega 3 fatty acids, which also improve your mental magnitude.

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                                                                                                      2. Blueberries

                                                                                                      Shown in studies at Tuffs University to benefit both short-term memory and coordination, blueberries pack quite a punch in a tiny blue package.[2]

                                                                                                      When compared to other fruits and veggies, blueberries were found to have the highest amount of antioxidants (especially flavonoids), but strawberries, raspberries, and blackberries are also full of brain benefits.

                                                                                                      3. Tomatoes

                                                                                                      Tomatoes are packed full of the antioxidant lycopene, which has shown to help protect against free-radical damage most notably seen in dementia patients.

                                                                                                      4. Broccoli

                                                                                                      While all green veggies are important and rich in antioxidants and vitamin C, broccoli is a superfood even among these healthy choices.

                                                                                                      Since your brain uses so much fuel (it’s only 3% of your body weight but uses up to 17% of your energy), it is more vulnerable to free-radical damage and antioxidants help eliminate this threat.

                                                                                                      Broccoli is packed full of antioxidants, is well-known as a powerful cancer fighter and is also full of vitamin K, which is known to enhance cognitive function.

                                                                                                      5. Foods Rich in Essential Fatty Acids

                                                                                                      Your brain is the fattest organ (not counting the skin) in the human body, and is composed of 60% fat. That means that your brain needs essential fatty acids like DHA and EPA to repair and build up synapses associated with memory.

                                                                                                      The body does not naturally produce essential fatty acids so we must get them in our diet.

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                                                                                                      Eggs, flax, and oily fish like salmon, sardines, mackerel and herring are great natural sources of these powerful fatty acids. Eggs also contain choline, which is a necessary building block for the neurotransmitter acetylcholine, to help you recall information and concentrate.

                                                                                                      6. Soy

                                                                                                      Soy, along with many other whole foods mentioned here, are full of proteins that trigger neurotransmitters associated with memory.

                                                                                                      Soy protein isolate is a concentrated form of the protein that can be found in powder, liquid, or supplement form.

                                                                                                      Soy is valuable for improving memory and mental flexibility, so pour soy milk over your cereal and enjoy the benefits.

                                                                                                      7. Dark Chocolate

                                                                                                      When it comes to chocolate, the darker the better. Try to aim for at least 70% cocoa. This yummy desert is rich in flavanol antioxidants which increase blood flow to the brain and shield brain cells from aging.

                                                                                                      Take a look at this article if you want to know more benefits of dark chocolate: 15 Surprising and Science-Backed Health Effects of Dark Chocolate

                                                                                                      8. Foods Rich in Vitamins: B vitamins, Folic Acid, Iron

                                                                                                      Some great foods to obtain brain-boosting B vitamins, folic acid and iron are kale, chard, spinach and other dark leafy greens.

                                                                                                      B6, B12 and folic acid can reduce levels of homocysteine in the blood. Homocysteine increases are found in patients with cognitive impairment like Alzheimer’s, and high risk of stroke.

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                                                                                                      Studies showed when a group of elderly patients with mild cognitive impairment were given high doses of B6, B12, and folic acid, there was significant reduction in brain shrinkage compared to a similar placebo group.[3]

                                                                                                      Other sources of B vitamins are liver, eggs, soybeans, lentils and green beans. Iron also helps accelerate brain function by carrying oxygen. If your brain doesn’t get enough oxygen, it can slow down and people can experience difficulty concentrating, diminished intellect, and a shorter attention span.

                                                                                                      To get more iron in your diet, eat lean meats, beans, and iron-fortified cereals. Vitamin C helps in iron absorption, so don’t forget the fruits!

                                                                                                      9. Foods Rich in Zinc

                                                                                                      Zinc has constantly demonstrated its importance as a powerful nutrient in memory building and thinking. This mineral regulates communications between neurons and the hippocampus.

                                                                                                      Zinc is deposited within nerve cells, with the highest concentrations found in the hippocampus, the part of the brain responsible for higher learning function and memory.

                                                                                                      Some great sources of zinc are pumpkin seeds, liver, nuts, and peas.

                                                                                                      10. Gingko Biloba

                                                                                                      This herb has been utilized for centuries in eastern culture and is best known for its memory boosting brawn.

                                                                                                      It can increase blood flow in the brain by dilating vessels, increasing oxygen supply and removing free radicals.

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                                                                                                      However, don’t expect results overnight: this may take a few weeks to build up in your system before you see improvements.

                                                                                                      11. Green and Black Tea

                                                                                                      Studies have shown that both green and black tea prevent the breakdown of acetylcholine—a key chemical involved in memory and lacking in Alzheimer’s patients.

                                                                                                      Both teas appear to have the same affect on Alzheimer’s disease as many drugs utilized to combat the illness, but green tea wins out as its affects last a full week versus black tea which only lasts the day.

                                                                                                      Find out more about green tea here: 11 Health Benefits of Green Tea (+ How to Drink It for Maximum Benefits)

                                                                                                      12. Sage and Rosemary

                                                                                                      Both of these powerful herbs have been shown to increase memory and mental clarity, and alleviate mental fatigue in studies.

                                                                                                      Try to enjoy these savory herbs in your favorite dishes.

                                                                                                      When it comes to mental magnitude, eating smart can really make you smarter. Try to implement more of these readily available nutrients and see just how brainy you can be!

                                                                                                      More About Boosting Brain Power

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