Allergic diseases have been increasing to epidemic proportions during the past century, especially in high-income countries. Recent evidence suggests there might be a link between the allergy epidemic and reduced microbial exposures, resulting from a rapidly evolved modern lifestyle, including changed diets, health and hygiene standards, and daily habits. Recently it has become clear that the microbial communities in our respiratory system and our gut, as well as on our skin, may play a key role in shaping our physiology, and influencing our health. We are only beginning to understand the mechanisms by which the human microbiota may be regulating the immune system, and sudden changes in the composition of the microbiota may have profound effects, linked with an increased risk of developing chronic inflammatory disorders, including allergies. Copyright © 2019 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.