“What The Health” and What It Means for Your Hormones


By now you might have already seen the new vegan documentary, “What the Health” that is causing so much controversy.

I am LOVING how this documentary has created a movement in people across the world to go vegan, vegetarian, or to cut down their animal consumption.

I do, however, have a few BIG issues with some of the claims the documentary makes.

“What the Health” shells out a lot of propaganda. I was shocked to see how many times throughout it, they claim sugar is not a cause of inflammation or diabetes- instead, they say fat is to blame. That’s pretty insane and just a downright pernicious message to be spreading.

Here’s why:

1. You need healthy fats for healthy hormones.
The documentary claims that animal fat leads to cancer. And yes, a diet of processed meat and unclean sources of animal protein, as well as unhealthy sources of plant based fat can lead to cancer.

But healthy fats will not.

Healthy fats will produce healthy hormones, and keep your healthy LDL cholesterol levels high- which you want!

And yes, that’s right, I said “healthy LDL”.

Unlike unicorns, there is such a thing! LDL gets a bad rap by being dumped in the “bad” category by the American Heart Association (seriously why haters gotta hate?!), but actually, the big fluffy particles of LDL are good for you! It’s the small, rugged particles that cause heart disease.

Because guess what? All of your sex hormones are made from cholesterol, so if you are eating a low-fat diet, your hormones will be in trouble.

And I’m not saying all fat is good. Only the healthy, unoxidized ones.


Good news is you can be vegan and STILL get your healthy fats.

You can also be vegetarian, or an omnivore. So whatever food plan you choose to fit your lifestyle and beliefs, just make sure you include healthy fats.

2. Sugar leads to inflammation and insulin resistance, which DIRECTLY affects your hormones.

Okay, these producers are smoking crack. The claim that all fats and meat leads to diabetes is 100% FALSE.

Processed meats will throw off your omega 6 to omega 3 balance in your body, which can increase your risk of diabetes, cardiovascular disease, cancer, depression, Alzheimer’s, and rheumatoid arthritis.

But guess what? Eating lots of crappy vegetable oil (which is vegan!) and processed fake meats does the same thing!

You can’t just say ALL of something is bad, it’s not that easy.

I get it. They’re passionate. They are on a mission to get everyone to go vegan. And I respect their drive and mission. But to lie about sugar to persuade? That’s just playing dirty.

Let’s get the facts straight. When you eat sugar (and this includes any food with a high glucose level like honey, agave nectar, fruit, etc) your insulin levels will automatically rise. So if you are eating too much sugar, this will lead to higher blood glucose levels, which will eventually lead to diabetes.

If your blood sugar levels get too high, then your body will produce more of the hormone cortisol. And ladies, this is seriously bad news bears. When your body starts to make more cortisol, guess where it will get all the juice from to make that extra order?

It will steal from your other sex hormones like progesterone and estrogen. You see, cortisol will always take priority. It’s just the way our bodies are evolutionarily designed. Cortisol is designed to get us out of trouble when we are being chased by that saber tooth tiger. So your body will stop making progesterone and estrogen to make more cortisol.

And this is bad news if you are trying to conceive, wish to have healthy periods, combat PMS, keep your ideal weight, maintain high energy levels, etc.

So let’s get this clear. High quality fats do not affect your glucose levels in any way, shape or form. Sugar does.

So allow “What the Health” to motivate you! Just remember to include your healthy fats, and to keep your diet as low-glycemic as possible.

And if you are going vegan, please read my article about healthy and clean sources of plant-based protein.

Health Coach Jenna


What The New Nutrition Label Means For You


In July of 2018 ( *Sigh* I know, I wish it was sooner as well!) new nutrition labels will start appearing on food items in the U.S. But what do these labels mean for you and your family? Today, the nice people over at the Institute of Integrative Nutrition will give us all the details about this huge win for the consumers.

What The New Nutrition Fact Labels Mean For You

by Integrative Nutrition:

For the first time in over 20 years, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved changes to nutrition fact labels. Under the new regulations announced May 20, food manufacturers are required to disclose the amount of added sugar in their products and adjust suggested serving sizes to reflect how much is realistically consumed.

This change is coming at a time when waistbands in the United States are continuing to expand—a new survey by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that 30% of Americans 20 and older are obese, a significant jump from 19% percent in 1997.

At Integrative Nutrition, we understand that maintaining a healthy weight can be difficult, especially when many of the calories we consume are coming from hidden added sugars—about 13% for the average American, according to the FDA.

In fact, several of our Visiting Teachers have spoken up about the sugar epidemic, including Drs. Mark Hyman and Robert Lustig. Dr. Hyman suggests that sugar is a “recreational drug” and the trillion-dollar industrial food system is the biggest drug dealer around and Dr. Lustig has started the “war on sugar,” spending years researching sugar addiction in populations around the world.

Added sugar—disguised as “agave,” “sucrose,” “cane juice,” and “lactose” to name a few (check out this New York Times article for a full list)—is in more products that the average consumer may realize. Many yogurts, tomato sauces, and even salad dressings contain some form of additional sweetener. In fact, a recent study by researchers at the University of North Carolina found that 68 percent of all packaged foods and beverages contained added sugar.

This update to nutrition fact labels will aim to help increase consumer awareness of the quantity of added sugars in foods, according to the FDA.

Additionally, portion sizes will also be adjusted to reflect the amount of a product actually consumed. For instance, a serving of ice cream will grow from 1/2 cup to 2/3 cup (because how many of us truly eat 1/2 cup of ice cream?!). Twelve- and 20-ounce bottles of soft drinks will each be listed as one serving, instead of two, because most people realistically drink the entire bottle in one sitting.

The increased serving size will prevent companies from deceiving customers who believe they are consuming fewer calories and grams of sugar than are actually in the entire product.

The new labels will take effect in July of 2018 for major manufacturers. Those who generate less than $10 million in food sales will have an additional year to comply.

What are your thoughts about the FDA’s updates to nutrition fact labels? Share in the comments below!

This article was originally published on Integrative Nutrition.

Why You Should Switch to Whole Grains + Buying Guide


If you are trying to get healthy but are still eating white rice, pasta, or white bread, you might find you are paddling upstream with no paddles. If you are serious about reaching your optimum weight and wish to feel healthy, abundant and vibrant, you must switch to whole grains.

What makes a grain whole?

Whole grains include the whole kernel, whereas refined grains remove the bran and the germ. Without these, 25% of the grain’s protein is lost, as well as much of the fiber and other important nutrients. In regards to appearance, whole grains are usually brown in color, and refined grains are white.

Why Whole Grains?

It all comes down to fiber and the glycemic index. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Due to the high content of fiber in whole grains, the glucose is digested by the body at a slower rate. This is desirable because it results in a steady release of fuel/glucose to the body, instead of a quick burst of glucose.

This process is explained by something called the glycemic index, which is a term to describe the time it takes the body to turn food into fuel. Whole grains have more fiber, which slows down the digestion process, resulting in a steady release of glucose. Whereas refined grains have little or no fiber, are digested quickly, and release a massive dose of glucose to the body all at once.

When you eat foods with a high glycemic index your insulin levels spike, resulting in a quick surge of energy, followed by a crash. This is undesirable as excess insulin levels cause the body to hold on to fat. Flour is especially detrimental because it is pulverized, making it the most rapidly digested form of grain. Eating grain flour results in a dangerously high glycemic load leading to inflammation, weight gain, and blood sugar imbalances.

Low glycemic index foods such as whole grains, however, have the opposite effect. These foods work for you by promoting weight loss by keeping you full longer. They also balance your blood sugar levels, which results in a steady stream of energy throughout the day.

A good way to avoid the afternoon sugar crash blues is to eat whole grains instead of refined ones.

Whole Grain Buying Guide:

(All of the grains below are naturally gluten-free)


Quinoa (pronounced KEEN-wah) has the highest nutritional profile and is the fastest  cooking of all grains.

 Characteristics: quinoa

  • Gluten-free
  • Ideal food for endurance
  • Contains all eight amino acids to make it a complete protein
  • Has a protein content equal to milk
  • High in B vitamins, iron, zinc, potassium, calcium, and vitamin E
  • Easy to digest

When cooking, try making a lot of quinoa at once, and eat it as leftovers. Quinoa can be reheated with a splash of nut milk for breakfast porridge; you can add dried fruit, nuts, and cinnamon for a sweet treat. Add finely chopped raw vegetables and dressing for a cooling salad, or add chopped, cooked, root vegetables for a warming side dish. Store dry, uncooked quinoa in a cool, dry, dark place in a tightly closed glass jar for up to one year.

Before cooking, quinoa must be rinsed to remove the toxic (but naturally occurring) bitter coating, called saponin. Although quinoa is rinsed before it is packaged and sold, it is wise to rinse again at home before use.


Millet is a very small, round grain that traces back thousands of years. It was the staple grain in China before rice became popular and continues to sustain people in Africa, China, Russia, and India, among other places.

Characteristics millet

  • Gluten-free
  • Soothing, especially for indigestion or morning sickness
  • Anti-fungal; helps ease Candida symptoms
  • Improves breath
  • Warming; good to eat in cool or rainy weather
  • High in protein, fiber, iron, magnesium, and potassium
  • Contains silica, which helps keep bones flexible in aging process

Millet can be used in porridges, cereal, soups, and dense breads. (Click HERE for a delicious millet dish that can be eaten at any time of the day) It is a delicious wheat-free substitution for couscous, as it has a similar consistency. Millet is often found in the bulk section of the health food store and is generally not sold in regular supermarkets. Store in an airtight jar or glass container for six to nine months.

Brown Rice

Brown rice has all the bran layers intact (unlike white rice) and contains all of its naturally present nutrients. These layers of bran act to protect the grain and to help maintain its fatty acids. Brown rice contains the highest amount of B vitamins out of all grains. Additionally, it contains iron, vitamin E, amino acids, and linoleic acid. Brown rice is high in fiber, extremely low in sodium, and is composed of 80% complex carbohydrates.

Characteristics brownrice

  • Gluten-free
  • Promotes good digestion
  • Quenches thirst
  • Balances blood sugar and controls mood swings

When purchasing brown rice I recommend buying organic brown rice and storing it in airtight glass jars in a dark cupboard.

Kasha/ Buckwheat

Kasha is the name for buckwheat that has been roasted to a deep amber color. Despite its name, buckwheat is not actually a member of the wheat family, but rather a relative of rhubarb. Of all the grains, buckwheat has the longest transit time in the digestive tract and is the most filling.  Buckwheat is a great staple for vegetarians as it is a complete protein.

Characteristics: kasha

  • Gluten-free
  • Stabilizes blood sugar
  • Builds blood; neutralizes toxic acidic waste
  • Benefits circulation
  • High proportion of all eight amino acids, especially lysine making it a complete protein.
  • Rich in vitamin E and B-complex vitamins

Kasha has a robust, earthy flavor and makes a very hearty meal. It can be eaten as a hot breakfast cereal, a side dish, or a grain entrée mixed with vegetables.


Oats were one of the first cereals cultivated by man and have been eaten as far back as 7,000 B.C.. The Scottish brought the cereal over to North America in the 17th century, and it has been a love affair ever since as 75% of the American population eats them.


  • Rich in avenanthramide, an antioxidant that protects the heart.
  • Aids digestion
  • Rich in fiber
  • Lowers blood sugar
  • Improves nervous system function

Oats are naturally gluten-free, but are usually processed in facilities that process wheat, so trace amounts of wheat can be found in them. Usually people with gluten sensitivity can digest this trace amount, but those with celiac disease cannot. If you wish to avoid gluten all together, many brands offer special gluten-free oats. (Click HERE for a yummy overnight oats recipe)

When buying oats make sure to avoid instant because they are more refined. Instead, choose rolled or steel cut oats. My favorite brand is Bob’s Red Mill Organic Oats.

Have fun getting wholly!

Health Coach Jenna




How Sugar Affects Your Mood

Depression is a subject that hits close to home, as I struggled with ADD and depression from the age of 10.  When I was 18,  I ditched the anti depressants and instead started focusing on my diet and lifestyle. And guess what? It worked!

(To find out more about how you, too can ditch your depressants click HERE.)

Today I am sharing a guest post from friend and colleague, Lauren Roerick. Her mission is to help people treat depression holistically with her online program, The UnDepression Project. In this article, Lauren shares with us the strong connection between sugar and our mood.


How Sugar Affects Your Mood

by Lauren Roerick

Have you ever had a sugar rush after eating too much candy at the movie theatre? Or perhaps experienced a food coma after Thanksgiving dinner? Have you ever found yourself getting “hangry” in between meals?

It’s starting to become common knowledge that food has an effect on our mood, but when we talk about depression or mental illness, food is rarely brought up as a possible contributing factor. Maybe it seems too obvious that for such a potentially debilitating illness, food could be part of the answer.

But when it comes to your mood, food is the best place to start.

Our bodies, and more specifically our brains, need food to function. But not just any food will keep our brains happy and healthy. Michael Pollan, author of several books on food and the American diet, including In Defense of Food, sums it up nicely: “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants ”.

Christina Pirello , an authority on whole foods and nutrition, and host of television cooking show Christina Cooks, says that, “Americans have begun to live in a sort of paradox of health. Never before have we had more awareness of health and nutrition…We also live in a time when Americans have never been unhealthier. Heart disease remains the leading killer of men and women; diabetes is an epidemic affecting us at younger and younger ages. Obesity is completely out of control…[and] Cancer statistics are as terrifying as anything Stephen Kingcould dream up”.

Given this information, it is unsurprising that the acronym for the Standard American Diet spells the word SAD.

So what can we do about this? If we know that food can affect our mood and our mental health, how do we keep our brains healthy and our mood in tip­top shape?

Start with sugar!

When trying to improve your mood, I recommend starting with sugar, as it has a powerful effect on your state of happiness.

Sugar is a broad term for carbohydrates. Glucose, sucrose, fructose, lactose, dextrose, and starch are all different names for sugar. There are over 50 different names for sugar, which can make it tough to recognize all the places where it can sneak into your diet.

How Sugar Works: sugar.jpeg

When we eat sugar, the taste buds on our tongue send signals to the brain that activate our reward system by triggering the release of dopamine. Dopamine is the same feel good chemical that is released in our brains when we’re out with friends, exercising, having sex, or even smoking a cigarette. Dopamine is also one of the neurotransmitters that can be notoriously low in people suffering from depression.

While eating sugar in small quantities is not such a big deal, we’re generally not eating small quantities. The World Health Organization recommends that we only get 5% of our calorie intake from sugar or about 25 grams or 5 teaspoons. But most of us are eating between 3 to 5 times that much! At 39 grams or nearly 8 teaspoons of sugar, a single 12 oz. can of soda puts us way over the daily limit.

When we eat too much processed, refined sugar our blood sugar levels spike far beyond a normal range, leading to that sugar rush feeling. The brain’s reward centers light up like a Christmas tree and we get a surge of that feel good neurotransmitter, dopamine.

But it doesn’t last.

This high is shortly followed by a crash, as insulin rushes in to level out your blood sugar level. This crash can leave you feeling cranky, tired, stressed, and even depressed, which leads you to crave more sugar. It’s a vicious cycle.

To keep your dopamine circuits healthy and to avoid the post­sugar blues, it would make sense to limit the amount of processed, refined sugars that you put into your body.

But where to begin?

1. Cut out sugary drinks .

These contain huge amounts of sugars, and are full of empty calories that do not leave us full or satisfied. It’s really easy for these drinks to interfere with your mood, as they’re packed with dangerous levels of sugar and caffeine.

When first cutting out sugary beverages, it’s easiest to make this transition slowly. Rather then going cold turkey, try substituting one or two of your daily sodas or juices for water or herbal tea.

Each day or week, see if you can substitute one more, until you’ve phased out sugary drinks for good. If you’re used to drinking a lot of soda or juice, this will help you avoid the headaches or fatigue that can happen when you try to cut it out too quickly.

2. Beware of hidden sugars.

There are over 50 names for sugar making it easy for it to sneak into places where we wouldn’t normally expect. Roughly 75% of packaged foods in the grocery store contain some form of added sugar, so it’s important to check the labels of the food you’re buying.

When reading labels, remember that the higher sugar is on the top of an ingredient list, the more of it there will be. So if you see sugar in the first three or four ingredients, it’s usually a sign that there’s too much.

Ideally, ditch foods that have added sugar, and stick to whole foods such as fruits, vegetables, grains, legumes, and organic, hormone free meat or fish.

3. Exercise

Exercise boosts dopamine levels, so if you’re feeling a slump, instead of reaching for a candy bar, try going for a quick walk or doing some jumping jacks.

To start shifting your eating patterns to improve your moods, sugar is the best place to start. It’ll take a bit of practice and time, but in a couple of weeks you’ll start to notice the difference, leaving you feeling healthier and more vibrant. Actually, I bet you feel so amazing that you’ll never want to go back to sugar again.

About Lauren:

Bio Headshot smallerLauren Roerick is the creator of The Undepression Project and a certified holistic health coach specializing in depression recovery. She combines her expertise in nutrition, yoga, and depression recovery to provide you with a multifaceted approach to combatting depression.

Lauren struggled with depression in her early twenties, which led her to explore integrative treatments including yoga, meditation, nutrition, and cognitive behavioural therapy. After completing her thesis study on integrative depression treatment, she felt that this information wasn’t readily accessible in a neat complete package. This is why she’s created a powerful video course to teach what she’s learned and to help others make lasting changes in their own lives. For more information on the course, visit http://course.theundepressionproject.com. Follow her on Facebook and Twitter !