Honestly, I enjoy a documentary that dares to challenge conventional wisdom. The documentary, Fat Fiction, questions the facts surrounding the low-fat, low-cholesterol diet, and To Which We Belong asserts that we’re fighting climate change on the wrong front where we should be focusing our attention on the soil and not the air. Steven Lawrence and Sarah Schenck’s documentary, The Invisible Extinction, wonders if our overdependence on antibiotics is actually doing more harm than good.

When I say “antibiotic,” most of us would agree antibiotics are a good thing. Antibiotics help fight infections and harmful bacteria. It only makes sense that a healthy body is void of all bacteria and other “harmful” microorganisms. But what if we’re wrong?

The Invisible Extinction follows the work of two scientists, Martin Blaser and his work and life partner Gloria Dominguez-Bello, who believe that though antibiotics kill harmful bacteria in our bodies, they also kill beneficial bacteria or microbes. They believe that the intentional elimination of microbes through antibiotics has caused a massive rise in diabetes, life-threatening food allergies, obesity, and asthma. This theory is documented in Martin Blaser’s book, Missing Microbes: How the Overuse of Antibiotics Is Fueling Our Modern Plagues.

The basic idea behind The Invisible Extinction is that medicine overprescribes antibiotics not only to kill infections and bacteria but also for our own “safety”…almost as if it’s aspirin. They show that this practice is particularly harmful to children.

“…though antibiotics kill harmful bacteria in our bodies, they also kill beneficial bacteria or microbes.”

Think about it. A baby or young child is at its weakest, and it only makes sense to use antibiotics to stop the growth of bacteria to strengthen their immune systems. But doesn’t it also make sense that the only way to strengthen a child’s immune system is to expose them to a wide variety of bacteria in small doses? Blaser and Bello assert that there are in fact beneficial bacteria and it is these bacteria that quell the formation of severe and deadly food allergies, diabetes, and possibly even autism.

These assertions are deep into the research phase. Still, common sense would tell us that the human body is amazingly resilient, and tinkering with the natural development of children (for safety) may be doing more harm than good. Much of the documentary follows Blaser and Bello’s research into identifying the beneficial microbes in our body, finding the missing microbes in a person with severe allergies and ailments, and reintroducing those microbes to their system.

Bello has also been working with a top-secret vault in the arctic that is storing all of the earth’s seeds (in case of a catastrophic event), and Bello has convinced them to start samples of beneficial microbes as well.

I’m a film critic, not a scientist. What I find fascinating about The Invisible Extinction is the fact that it dares to challenge conventional wisdom when set against an alarming growth in childhood food allergies and diabetes. It also calls into question the idea that science knows more about the human body…than the human body.

If anything, I’m drawn to any film that makes me think and question what I’ve always believed was true. Not necessarily because decades of “conventional wisdom” is wrong, but because by practice, we should question everything, whether to strengthen our current beliefs or needed to modify these beliefs to uncover the truth. Steven Lawrence and Sarah Schenck’s documentary, The Invisible Extinction, does exactly that and is worth watching for the sake of our health and the health of our families.

For screening information, visit The Invisible Extinction official website.

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