We all try to cope with the inevitability of death at every stage of life, whether through anti-aging treatments, an obsession with optimal health and wellness, or a dedication to pursuing our highest potential. Timothy Caulfield, research director of the U of A’s Health Law Institute and Canada Research Chair in Health Law and Policy, has set out to examine and often debunk the most popular and controversial methods of achieving longevity with a second season of the investigative series A User’s Guide to Cheating Death. The series takes a decidedly scientific approach to exploring the ways we try to remain healthy and happy for as long as humanly possible, uncovering what may be best and what’s just plain bunk.
First premiering on VisionTV in 2017 and now seen in 60 countries, A User’s Guide to Cheating Death has gained notoriety for clearing up misinformation behind some of the biggest trends in our culture’s health craze while also promoting an essential need for critical thinking. Season One addressed topics such as detoxing, anti-aging, genetic testing, weight-loss, GMOs, and cutting edge stem cell and cryotherapy treatments. Season Two expands on disproving pseudoscience to also deliver an informative message about the core aspects of wellness that are often overlooked. Why are we sleep-deprived? Can we really cheat death just by taking vitamins and supplements? Is the modern trend of less human interaction and intimacy shortening lives? These are just a few of the questions explored in the first half of season two.
“I am thrilled that Series One had such a broad reach. Filming the show has been a true adventure. So many different perspectives on health and wellness – some bizarre, some a bit scary, but all interesting and eye opening,” says Caulfield. “I think we kicked it up a notch with Series Two. These are important topics that have relevance to everyone. The production team is amazing and we kind of hit a Cheating Death groove!”
In the episode focusing on sex and relationships, Caulfield analyzes the evolutionary science of relationships and attraction. He learns about Japanese alternatives to intimacy, and gains insight from couples of different ages, ethnicities, and orientations about maintaining a healthy relationship, all while citing research and data from experts. Caulfield explains, “In addition to all that research that has told us that good relationships are good for you, there’s also evidence that social isolation, loneliness, can also be toxic. One study, involving more than 300,000 people found that individuals that have strong relationships have a 50% greater likelihood of survival, compared to those with poor relationships.” The episode delivers a resounding message that sometimes the most useful tools we have aren’t always the most glamorous or innovative. After a thorough investigation of which strategies work and which don’t, viewers are left with meaningful knowledge and real world application that can truly make a radical difference in individual lives.
Most significantly, A User’s Guide delivers a global perspective on each issue, considering the different ways that people approach health and wellness depending on their cultural outlook and lifestyle factors. Caulfield’s conscientious commitment to being open-minded and willingness to listen is exactly what sets the series apart from others.
“I’ve said this many times talking about the show that this was really eye-opening to me,” said Caulfield. “When you spend the day with someone who believes in this and they feel it’s doing something for them, you really get a sense that these services, even if they don’t necessarily have science behind them, are satisfying some kind of need. There is a desire for people to have these answers, and some of them have intuitive appeal.”
“This is not a ‘gotcha’ show,” Caulfield said. “We’re rooted in science, but we don’t make fun of people.”
Still to come this season, Caulfield will address concerns about germs and hygiene, technology merging with our bodies, and the overlap of spirituality and science. A User’s Guide To Cheating Death airs on VisionTV Mondays at 9:00pm ET until Nov. 19. You can catch up on previous episodes and more online as well.
– Tessa Giftopoulos