18 Health Documentaries on Netflix to Stream While You Can

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The world of health and wellness is a fascinating place. It seems like there’s always more to learn about the human body, from choosing nutritious foods to the scientific breakthroughs that helps us fight disease.

Your curiosity about all things related to health is still going strong, but let’s be honest: heavy medical topics don’t always make for the most compelling reading. You’re looking for new ways to feed your obsession with health topics without having to dive into stale medical journals.

Luckily for you, there are plenty of health documentaries on Netflix to satisfy your need for knowledge! These health documentaries meet you at the intersection of health and entertainment, making it easy to learn about medical topics in an accessible way.

Take a look at this list of 18 health documentaries on Netflix, and you’ll have plenty of material to learn from during your next binge-watching session!

18 Health documentaries on Netflix in 2019

These health documentaries cover a broad range of topics. Prescription medication, rare psychological disorders, medical devices and our diets all get a closer look. It should be noted that some of these documentaries, while thought-provoking, aren’t always objective and may have an agenda to push—so pack your critical thinking skills before pressing play. 

1. What the Health

Year released: 2017

Duration: 1h 32m

This compelling health documentary shows the link between diet and chronic diseases like diabetes, obesity and heart disease. Settle in to learn how the food you eat could change your long-term health in ways you never expected. This pro-veganism documentary certainly has some faults, but does provide some interesting food for thought.

2. Ask the Doctor

Year released: 2017

Duration: 30m per episode

This TV series features three doctors who tackle viewers’ biggest healthcare questions, including topics like sleep, obesity and exercise. Their goal is to help viewers like you get the answers they need to live healthier lives—and they also discuss cutting-edge developments in healthcare along the way.

3. Take Your Pills

Year released: 2018

Duration: 1h 27m

Prescription medication that can be essential to keeping one person healthy can be used for the wrong reasons by someone else. Take Your Pills dives into this tricky topic, exploring how Adderall and other stimulants can be abused to help people get ahead in school or work.

4. Heal

Year released: 2017

Duration: 1h 46m

Many people believe that physical health is tied to something deeper: the human psyche. Heal features experts in alternative medicine, like Deepak Chopra, who lead viewers in an exploration of this unseen connection. You’ll see interviews from physicians, spiritual leaders and patients, all putting together the pieces of what it truly means to heal.

5. A Leaf of Faith

Year released: 2018

Duration: 1h 26m

It’s no secret that opioid addiction has reached crisis levels in the United States. An alternative treatment known as Kratom leaf has been making waves among some seeking other options. But what do we really know about Kratom? Is it safer than opioid painkillers, or does it have hidden dangers patients need to know about? A Leaf of Faith tries to answer these questions and more as medical researchers continue the search for alternatives to opioids.

6. The Magic Pill

Year released: 2017

Duration: 1h 29m

Fad diets are nothing new, but one new way of eating is taking the nation by storm. The ketogenic diet—keto for short—advises eating meat, vegetables and healthy fats rather than carbs and refined sugar. The Magic Pill highlights some of the eye-catching results seen by patients suffering from chronic disease thanks to this simple way of eating.

7. Cristina

Year released: 2016

Duration: 39m

This tender documentary closely follows the journey of a 37-year-old woman fighting for her life against cancer. Although Cristina takes an intimate look at a difficult reality, the tone of the documentary is heartwarming, with viewers always being encouraged to live their lives to the fullest.

8. Prescription Thugs

Year released: 2015

Duration: 1h 26m

This thought-provoking documentary asks the question, “Do we really need to be on all these prescription drugs?” As the filmmakers seek out the answer, they dig into the history of the pharmaceutical industry and the rise of its political power. Whether you agree with their conclusions or not, Prescription Thugs will give you plenty to consider about this powerful industry.

9. Extremis

Year released: 2016

Duration: 24m

Extremis is a short film that follows the emotional end-of-life decisions families and physicians must make in a hospital’s intensive care unit. Thinking about death isn’t exactly a pleasant experience, but this touching documentary opens up the discussion in a considerate, thoughtful way.

10. Stink!

Year released: 2015

Duration: 1h 30m

When a single father is hit with a strong chemical smell upon opening a new pair of children’s pajamas, he begins a relentless search for truth about the toxic substances that are legally allowed in consumer products. Watch Stink! to follow along as he confronts lawmakers and CEOs, and be prepared to reconsider the ingredients you encounter in products every single day.

11. Life Overtakes Me

Year released: 2019

Duration: 40m

Refugee children living in Sweden are succumbing to a mysterious illness that researchers are calling “Resignation Syndrome.” Physicians believe the illness is acting as a form of protection for these children who have experienced trauma at young ages. This documentary explores the cause of this condition and seeks hope for a cure.

12. End Game

Year released: 2018

Duration: 40m

A group of medical practitioners who want to change the conversation around dying have heartfelt conversations about life and death with their terminally ill patients in this surprisingly uplifting documentary. End Game gives viewers a window into what can be the most difficult and sadly beautiful part of a person’s life: the end of it.

13. American Circumcision

Year released: 2017

Duration: 1h 40m

Non-religious circumcision is ubiquitous for newborn boys in the United States, so much so that it’s the country’s most common surgery for males. The filmmakers of American Circumcision investigate how this surgery grew to be so popular, how other countries view circumcision and whether it really has the health benefits parents are led to believe it does.

14. Weed the People

Year released: 2018

Duration: 1h 34m

Despite many states adopting some form of medical marijuana policy, it remains a controversial topic—even in places where it’s been made outright legal. Physicians in Weed the People explore the substance’s potential for cancer patients, especially children, as they examine the facts and call for further research.

15. The Bleeding Edge

Year released: 2018

Duration: 1h 40m

Medical devices are everywhere in the healthcare world, items as simple as a tongue depressor or as complicated as a pacemaker. Most patients and physicians trust that approved medical devices are safe, but The Bleeding Edge calls that assumption into question. This fascinating documentary takes you to the heart of the profit margins driving medical device companies and shares true stories of patients whose medical devices have derailed their lives in an instant.

16. Period. End of Sentence.

Year released: 2018

Duration: 26m

Women still struggle against stigmas about menstruation in rural India. This documentary follows a group of women leading a quiet rebellion as they learn to use a machine that makes affordable, biodegradable sanitary pads. Their work not only provides additional income for themselves and their families, it contributes to the hygiene of women in the area and helps break down local taboos about women’s reproductive health.

17. My Beautiful Broken Brain

Year released: 2016

Duration: 1h 24m

This documentary follows the journey of a woman learning to regain her speech and ability to read and write after suffering from a stroke at age 34. My Beautiful Broken Brain is a redemptive story that takes a close look at the struggles, setbacks and successes of one woman’s progress in regaining her health.

18. Heroin(e)

Year released: 2017

Duration: 39m

With communities across the nation battling the opioid addiction crisis, three women take part in the fight by providing compassionate care to the victims of addiction. Watch Heroin(e) to see the real-life work of a judge, a fire chief and a street missionary who are helping those struggling with addiction get back on their feet. This Oscar-nominated short documentary is simultaneously sobering, heartbreaking and uplifting—and definitely worth a watch.

Health documentaries worth binge-watching

There’s no shame in binge-watching these fascinating health documentaries on Netflix! When you’re finished watching this list, continue staying up-to-date with the ever-changing world of health and wellness with the blogs featured in our article, “21 Wellness Blogs to Help You Stay Happy and Healthy.”

About the author

Ashley Brooks

Ashley is a freelance writer for Collegis education who writes student-focused articles on behalf of Rasmussen University. She believes in the power of words and knowledge and enjoys using both to encourage others on their learning journeys

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