Body Wars

A revealing look at how increased hygiene may be behind the wave of allergic and autoimmune diseases now sweeping the modern world.

Produced by NHNZ

Something frightening is happening to the citizens of the developed world. Despite major advances in health care, over recent decades we’ve been battling an ever-growing epidemic of once rare allergic and autoimmune diseases.

Today, more than 17 million people in the U.S. alone struggle to maintain one of their body’s most basic body’s functions—breathing. Another 50 million are now thought to be coming under regular attack by their own immune systems, and that number grows every day.

A similar pattern has emerged in modern cities and communities across the planet. Even as we’ve improved hygiene, developed antibiotics and implemented vaccination programs, the number of walking wounded has skyrocketed. It’s a desperate and puzzling situation that has sufferers and scientists alike scrambling for answers.

In recent years a number of leading medical researchers have come to a startling conclusion about the underlying cause of this epidemic of “modern” diseases. Called the Hygiene Hypothesis, it suggests the modern urban lifestyle and the western world’s obsessive war against germs and worms is actually preventing our immune systems from learning exactly what and when to attack.

This confusion may also be causing our personal defence shields to turn against us, triggering a number of the serious illnesses now plaguing hundreds of millions of people in the developed world.

Body Wars explores the personal journeys of a number of allergic and autoimmune disease sufferers who’ve volunteered to participate in cutting-edge scientific research in the UK, USA, Italy, Australia and New Zealand. Their stories suggest that selectively re-establishing contact with certain micro-organisms can “re-educate” confused immune systems and help treat mysterious diseases such as asthma, eczema, inflammatory bowel disease and even multiple sclerosis.

This provocative documentary challenges us to rethink our relationship with the microscopic life-forms we’re now being taught to fear, and suggests the common view that our immune systems are constantly at war with nature is based more on fear than fact.

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