Netflix might be synonymous with binge-watching original series and rewatching old sitcoms, but the streaming service also offers dozens of phenomenal documentaries for those who feel like learning something new. Browse nature documentaries, cooking shows, series on travel and tiny homes, and so much more... and of course, documentaries on health.
Health is a hot-button topic, too, so it's not surprising that Netflix has plenty of documentaries on the subject. Whether it's food and fitness, veganism, Big Pharma, booze, or cancer, there's a film that has explored it - or at least, one side of it. Not all documentaries are perfect or unbiased, of course, but these ten are some of the most thought-provoking that you can stream right now.
What if you really could simply think yourself healthy? This documentary explores the power of the mind when it comes to health, from spirituality to the science behind the placebo effect. From thoughts and beliefs to the state of our emotions, our minds do have an impact on the way that the body works. Featuring interviews with names like Deepak Chopra and Marianne Williamson, Heal will have any viewer wondering just how much of an affect what think can have on how we feel.
9 Period. End Of Sentence.
Menstruation is still a taboo topic around the world, and this award-winning documentary focuses on a group of women in India working to change the stigma and allow women access to environmentally friendly sanitary products. Combining economic improvement and health, Period. End of Sentence. follows women in Hapur as they make and sell low-cost and biodegradable pads, and explores the topics of periods and poverty.
8 The C Word
Narrated by Morgan Freeman, The C Word explores cancer and risk factors for the disease, as well as Western treatments and approaches. Unlike many of the other documentaries on this list, The C Word focuses primarily on the personal journey of Meghan O'Hara after she survived breast cancer, as well as looking at the work of Dr. David Servan-Schreiber, a neuroscientist and author of 'Anticancer: A New Way Of Life'.
While clearly attempting to argue for integrative oncology and lifestyle changes over the Big Pharma approach, this is still a fascinating look at how else we could be battling cancer, and what might help people heal.
7 Forks Over Knives
Anyone who has explored the idea of veganism for health will have heard of Forks Over Knives. This documentary advocates for a whole-foods, plant-based diet in order to prevent and even reverse major illness, with a focus on avoiding oils, processed foods, and of course, animal products. While this is clearly a documentary with a message, rather than an interest in providing both sides of a story, it's one that will definitely make anyone think about how the food we eat can affect health - and is an ideal watch for any junk food vegans looking to make a healthier change.
6 The Truth About Alcohol
Alcohol is one of the most commonly used (and abused) substances in our society, and this documentary looks at exactly what happens when we drink, and how booze can impact health. The film follows Javid Abdelmoneim, an emergency room doctor, as he explored the science of alcohol and its effects on the body. Although it may not provide much information that is totally new (most people are aware that booze isn't exactly healthy!), it does so through an interesting series of experiments that is definitely worth a watch for anyone who enjoys a tipple.
Cooked is actually a documentary series, and one that is as much food documentary as it is a health documentary. However, the two topics are inextricably linked, and this is a great series to show just how deep and emotional our relationship with food can be. It explores not just the history of food and agriculture, but the rise in gluten intolerance, and the processed food industry, and will encourage all viewers to get back in the kitchen and develop a deeper connection to our food.
4 What The Health
What The Health, like Forks Over Knives, is one of the many documentaries advocating a vegan diet in order to achieve health. The film looks at how a meat-based diet impacts the body and compares meat-eating to smoking in terms of the effect on the body.
While this is a very buzz-worthy documentary that will make meat-eaters think, it should be noted that it is also a controversial one. What The Health has been criticized for being extremely biased, and even distorting the facts to make a more dramatic case, so watch this one with a grain of salt.
Wile Sustainable is more focused on the food industry as a whole than its direct impact on health, there's simply no denying that our food is a huge factor in our health - and anyone considering a change in diet would do well to watch this film about how that food is produced. Sustainable looks at farming, agribusiness, and the impact of intensive farming methods on the land and the food supply, with a message of hope for how we can create a better future.
2 Prescription Thugs
Away from food and back to pharmaceuticals, Prescription Thugs is an eye-opening look at the pharmaceutical industry in the United States. The film covers addiction to prescription drugs in detail, but also looks at the industry itself - how drugs are created, marketed, and turn a profit... routinely at the expense of those taking them. While this clearly has an anti-Big-Pharma angle to it, it is well researched and looks at famous whistleblowers as well as talking to people in the industry itself.
Finally, another documentary that may have viewers turning away from putting meat on their plates. Cowspiracy focuses on the meat industry, but with an approach that looks at environmental impact as much as the impact on the health of people eating it. While this may seem a little far from the subject of health at times, it is a film that considers the health of the planet as well as the people living on it, and is certainly worth a watch.