Should You Go “Gluten Free” If You Feel Fine

Should you go Gluten Free or Is It a Fad?

I have read many articles stating why we need to eat whole grains and then these articles go on to say we need to be eating wheat unless you are celiac or have a gluten sensitivity. They state that we miss out on vital nutrients if we don’t eat wheat and other gluten containing grains such as rye, barley and spelt.  

These articles are misleading and don’t do you any favors.

Should you go gluten free if you do not have celiac disease or a gluten sensitivity?  Read on and I will let you decide the answer to that question. 

Gluten, Wheat, Your Body

Nutrient Deficient and Processed

When articles supporting gluten and wheat talk about why you should consume it, they always say “Whole grains”. This is important.  Yes, whole grains contain important nutrients such as iron, B-6, folate, and magnesium. 

Who reading this eats wheat as a whole grain, that you can actually see?  Didn’t think so? 

No, you eat wheat and other gluten containing products in a highly refined and processed form. When you consume it in this form, such as in your bread, bagels, pizza and pasta, you are consuming the starchy part of the grain. The nutrient dense portion along with the protein and the fiber have been removed. 

What you are left with is a nutrient deficient starchy product that raises your blood sugar rapidly since now it does not have the fiber, nutrients and protein to slow down the process when it enters the blood stream. 

But wait, the package mentions all these vitamins!  Read the label closely. It will say “enriched with” or “fortified with”. To be clear, enrichment means that nutrients that have been lost in processing have been added back in.  Fortified means added nutrients that the food never contained in the first place. 

Why would they need to add these nutrients into the product if it is such a healthy product to begin with?  They add it back in(enrichment) because the product is so refined that is has been stripped of all its original nutrients.  And do you think they are adding nutrients back in, in a high quality and absorbable form?  No, they add back synthetic forms of these nutrients. For instance, they may add back in folic acid. This is the synthetic form of folate and not as absorbable. 

The argument that you need whole grains to reap the benefit of vital nutrients is false.  Instead, eliminate these processed, packaged foods from the diet (even GF options) and instead add in more whole foods. 

Whole grains are not the only source of B-6, magnesium, iron and folate to name a few.  You can get these mineral and vitamins from other, much healthier sources, such as fruits, vegetables, leafy greens, beans, legumes, quinoa, teff, steel cut oats, nuts and seeds and grass fed, organic or wild caught meats, poultry and fish. 

Nutrients found in its whole food form is the way mother nature intended us to absorb and utilize our nutrients.  For instance, in an apple you have vitamins, minerals, macronutrients, fiber and phytonutrients in this perfect form. You don’t get that from a processed and packaged product. 

 Trust me, your diet is not going to be deficient if you skip the bagels, donuts, crackers, pasta and bread! In fact, your body is going to thank you once that blood sugar stabilizes, and you replace the nutrient deficient, highly empty caloric foods with healthier options. 

Chemicals/Heavily Sprayed Crop

Wheat is not a GMO crop. Many people will state that wheat is a GMO crop, and this is not true. However, wheat, along with barley, oats and edible beans, is a heavily sprayed crop right before harvest.  Many of you avoid GMO foods because they are heavily sprayed, wheat does fall into this category. 

What you don’t see can still hurt you.  The glyphosate that is spayed on the wheat crop is now classified as a probable carcinogen according to the World Health Organization.  California also classifies glyphosate as a probable carcinogen. 

If that is not reason enough to avoid wheat, then also know that research is showing that glyphosate can act as an endocrine disruptor and it can kill gut bacteria and lead to leaky gut syndrome. 

While the glyphosate residue in your bread may be small, think of the toxic load on your body over time when you consume wheat daily for years and years.  Add on top of that all the other ways that you are exposed to toxins daily. Your body and your liver may have a difficult time keeping up to remove these toxins from your body.  You are going to read elsewhere that the amount of glyphosate residue in your food is safe, but they never look at this in addition to the other toxins you are exposed to such as from water, soil, air and other foods.  Studies only look at the burden of one product, one chemical.

Chlorpyrifos is a organophosphate insecticide that can disrupt brain development and cause brain damage, reduced IQ, neurological issues and aggressiveness in children. This chemical is used in crops such as wheat and corn and non-organic fruits and vegetables.  

For this reason, I think everyone should at the very least, reduce the amount of gluten containing foods they consume to reduce this toxin overload.   Not every farm sprays wheat and barley right before harvest. If you order flour from a direct source, ask them.


Blood Sugar Disruptor

Gluten containing products can cause your blood sugar to soar and then crash.  Gluten Free foods can be just as bad for your blood sugar as they are also made from refined carbohydrates.  To support a balanced blood sugar, minimize or greatly reduce the amount of processed and refined products that you eat.  When you eat foods or meals that are high in simple and refined carbs with little to none protein or healthy fats in the mix, then your blood sugar can surge from these carbs that convert to sugar once they enter the bloodstream.  Eat carbs in the form of whole beans and legumes, vegetables and fruit. 

Wheat contains amylopectin A, a complex carb.  Having two slices of bread can increase your blood sugar higher than it would if you ingested 6 tablespoons of sugar.  At the very least, take off the top of bottom to your sandwich or have one half a bagel rather than a whole one. 


Addictive and Increases Your Appetite

Yes, gluten containing products (mostly from wheat) are highly addictive!  It is right up there with processed sugar. Every time you consume gluten containing foods such as a bagel it lights up your dopamine receptor just like sugar and cocaine does. When you come down from your processed grain rush, guess what, yup, just like cocaine or sugar, you want more to get that dopamine rush again.

Obviously, you don’t get the same high as you see in a heroin or cocaine addict. The addiction is instead that it makes you hungry and hungry for more wheat, starchy refined gluten containing foods. This is due to a protein in wheat called gliadin (an opioid). It was altered back in the 1970’s to increase yield.  This shift in amino acids produced not only high yield but also a food that can increase your appetite!

If you” have to have” white flour products on a regular daily basis, consider the fact that you may be addicted to these foods. 

Are There Health Reasons Other for Avoiding Gluten?

Just because you do not have stomach issues, does not mean you do not have a reaction to gluten. Look at the list below to see some more common conditions that can be caused or exacerbated by gluten. 

Testing is available for gluten sensitivity. But doing a trial elimination of gluten for 30 days can help to see if any of your health issues improve. 

Going Gluten Free may help with the following conditions

  • Autism
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • ADHD
  • Skin Issues
  • Autoimmune conditions
  • IBS
  • Migraines/headaches
  • Obesity
  • Diabetes
  • Joint Pain/arthritis
  • Fatigue


What To Do If You Don’t Want To Give Up Gluten.  The 80/20 Rule

It is not easy to give up entirely for most people as gluten is in everything now.  If you are traveling, out to eat or at someone else’s house, it can be difficult to avoid it.  Therefore the 80/20 rule works best.

For instance, Monday through Friday you avoid gluten and on Saturday night you have pizza and on Sunday night you have pasta, or you only have one piece of toast at breakfast and no gluten the rest of the day. 

Once you stick with the 80/20 rule long enough, you will start to notice that when you avoid the refined processed foods you don’t feel as bloated or you notice you have more energy.  For many, you just “feel better” but can’t really pinpoint why.  Being prepared always helps. Keep gluten free snacks,such as nuts and seeds and whole foods protein bars in the car, in your purse, in your desk at work.  Travel with your own snacks such as protein bar options and bags of nuts and seeds.  When ordering your sandwich or burger, ask for a lettuce wrap. 

Don’t Replace with Gluten Free Products

When you take out the gluten containing processed foods, replace them with whole foods that will fill you up, give you energy and balance your blood sugar. These foods include more protein and fats and whole food carbs. 

Do not replace your gluten containing bread, pasta, bagels and cookies with gluten free options.  Yes, there are many gluten free options out there and they can be useful for on occasion but don’t make these a daily habit. These products contain a high amount of sugar and non- gluten starches, so they will raise your blood sugar just as much and leave you to crave more.  Reserve these for treats as part of your 80/20 rule. 

Bottom Line

If you consume wheat based refined products or even gluten free processed products such as cookies, donuts, bread, pasta and pastries, you are not eating them for their health benefits but for pure pleasure or because you are addicted. 

There is nothing wrong with that, but minimize this to 20% of your diet.  If you are not able to reduce the amount because it is so addictive for you, then you may need to remove processed gluten products long term until you break the vicious cycle. 

If you want to consume whole grains, then do so. This means the grain you can see such as in rice, quinoa, millet and teff.

Going off the gluten is not easy since it can be so addictive.  Seek the help of a holistic nutrition professional who can guide you and who knows some tricks in how to reduce cravings and the “flu like” symptoms when you remove it. 





If you are sick and tired of feeling sick, tired, fatigued, depressed, anxious and more and have given up hope then Karen’s simple, effective, individualized and sustainable approach may be what you need. 

Karen Brennan, MSW, CNC, Board Certified in Holistic Nutrition and Herbalist is the author of Tru Foods Depression Free Nutrition Guide; How Food Supplements and herbs can be used to lift your mood and If Life is So Good, Then Why AM I Still Depressed? Discover the root cause for your depression and learn what to do to feel better and owner of Tru Foods Nutrition Services, LLC. 

For more information visit

Want more information, like her fb page here

As a nutrition professional, Karen does not treat, cure nor diagnose. This information is for educational purposes only.

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How to Know if You Have Hypothyroidism

Your Thyroid: Did your Test Results Come Back Normal?

(But you still feel like crap)stressed person



An underactive thyroid is not always the easiest thing to pinpoint when you have so many symptoms that seem random to you.  And only more recently are doctors starting to recognize that an unbalanced thyroid can have an impact not only on your physical health but your mental health as well.  The symptoms of hypothyroidism can also look like symptoms of other health issues, thus getting the proper diagnosis can take a long time.  If you see your doctor and share your symptoms of stress, fatigue, anxiety or depression, she may place you on antidepressants.

This may occur even after the blood work with the TSH test done. 

Stress, depression, anxiety, tiredness, and other emotional and mental states can mask a thyroid imbalance.  Depression is now the number one mental illness (it used to be anxiety) but are we not looking deep enough to find out what may be causing the high rate of these mental health issues?  Not to say that hypothyroidism is at the root of all mental health issues but it should be looked at thoroughly and from a functional range standpoint before  it can be ruled out.

 If you had your thyroid tested you ideally want your TSH levels to be in the range from 1.8-2.8 mIU/L.  (others state that most feel better when their TSH is in the range of .8-2.5) 

Normal TSH lab results are considered in the range of .50-5.00. Some labs have updated this and set the upper limit to 3.0 mIU/L.  What if your levels fall into this range yet you have many of the low thyroid symptoms?  Hopefully your doctor did a complete panel to look also at your T4 and T3 ranges.  It is possible to have signs of hypothyroidism when your TSH  levels are within what is considered the “normal range”. 

The issue most often arises when your doctor only tests TSH and this is in the “normal” range. The worst part is when you hear the doctor say “Your blood work is great.  You are fine”.  Yet, you don’t feel fine.  Instead they tell you it is in your head and prescribe an antidepressant or anti-anxiety medication.

Reference ranges on lab work may differ from one lab to the next and from one geographic location to the next. Experts recommend testing 120-200 patient samples for establishment of a statistically significant reference interval.  What I don’t like about these ranges provided on standard blood work is that it is there to diagnose disease for the most part, not to prevent disease. The other issue I have is that these ranges are based on the patient samples. Look at the average American nowadays. Does the image of health come to your mind or one of an unhealthy overweight person?

Functional ranges look at a smaller range so that health issues can be addressed before it turns into a full -blown disease.  

Make sure all parts of the thyroid get tested. You can have normal TSH and still have low thyroid.  Your T4 converts into T3 which is the active form of thyroid hormone and this conversion happens in the liver and needs an enzyme group  and selenium to make this conversion. Some doctors test TSH and T4 and still all looks good. You want to see the T3 test results too!  Essentially you want all the pieces to the puzzle not just a few. 


Functions of the Thyroid

  • Supports hair and skin health
  • Supports bone density
  • Controls respiration rate
  • Supports conversion of beta-carotene to vitamin A
  • Maintains body temperature and tolerance to extreme heat or cold
  • Helps maintain muscle tautness
  • Controls metabolism-it controls the speed of every chemical reaction in all cells
  • Controls the rate at which cells burn fuel for energy
  • Supports mental acuity and memory
  • Supports serotonin synthesis
  • Sets heart rate tempo
  • Regulates cholesterol


  What Causes Hypothyroidism?

millet stalks

  • Most common cause is auto-antibodies such as in Hashimoto’s disease (an autoimmune condition)

o   Hashimoto’s is 7x more common in women, age of onset is usually 40-60 but 1-2% of school age children can be affected.

  • Genetics can play a role in autoimmune hypothyroid
  • Those with Hashimoto’s also have a prevalence for celiac disease
  • Thyroid cancer
  • Medications such as lithium, excess estrogen (i.e.: birth control pills), estrogen dominance
  • Cofactor deficiencies such as iodine, zinc, c, selenium, iron, vitamins A and B complex (can be caused from excessive dieting, anorexia)
  • Stress/elevated cortisol
  • Excess halogens (i.e.: chlorine/chloride, bromide, fluoride)
  • Leaky gut syndrome
  • Food sensitivity
  • Candida

The Difference Between Hypothyroidism and Hashimotos

Hashimoto’s is an autoimmune disease that effects the thyroid gland. The antibodies react against the proteins in your thyroid gland causing gradual destruction of the gland itself.  This makes it unable to produce the thyroid hormones your body needs.  It is essentially attacking self and seeing self wrongly as an invader. If your thyroid issue turns out to be Hashimotos than you have an autoimmune disease (AI).  All AI diseases need immune and gut support from a holistic perspective. 

With Hashimotos disease, you can have periods where your thyroid is functioning properly or even over active and you may have temporary hyperthyroid symptoms and then you return to hypothyroidism symptoms.  This cycling back and forth is common with Hashimotos. For instance, you may feel for a period, anxious, can’t sleep, have diarrhea, and weight loss and then followed by a period of depression, fatigue, constipation and weight gain.  Eventually, as the attack continues, the gland will over time have less ability to function.

Hypothyroidism is not a disease but is a condition.  It is a state of a sluggish thyroid.  With hypothyroidism, you have a problem with your gland. With Hashimotos you have a problem with your immune function. 

How Do I Know if I Have Low Thyroid/Hypothyroidism?

person sleeping

Symptoms Include:

  • Loss out outer 1/3 of eyebrow
  • Yellow bumps on eyelid
  • Chronic constipation
  • Depression, moodiness
  • Fatigue/chronic
  • Excess hair loss/thinning hair
  • Weight gain/slow metabolism
  • Cold hands and feet
  • PMS
  • Cry easily
  • Dry flaky skin
  • Nervousness
  • Slow heart rate and/or heart palpitations
  • Muscle weakness
  • Feel better post exercise
  • Can’t breathe deeply enough
  • Poor memory/brain fog
  • Low body temperature
  • Excessive sleeping
  • Trouble getting up in the morning
  • Increased number of infections
  • Dizziness/vertigo
  • Lack of sweating when exercising
  • High cholesterol
  • Rheumatoid Arthritis
  • Digestive issues (GERD, acid reflux, upset stomach, bloat, gas )

If you suspect low thyroid, see you doctor and ask for a hormone panel that looks at not just your thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) but your T4 and Free T3 and an antibody test as well to look for autoimmune hypothyroid. If your doctor does not want to do a complete thyroid panel you can get the test done yourself from Here you can order the free T’s, TSH and antibody panel for $159.  Most holistic nutritionists and ND’s can interpret and explain the results to you.  (note: testing is available in most states but not all)


Thyroid Dysfunction Causes

glass of water

Insulin imbalance: This can happen when you are eating a diet filled with processed, refined carbs and sugar along with weight gain.  This poor blood sugar control can also contribute to dysbiosis which is when the gut microbiome is out of balance.  This impaired gut health can lead to poor immune function, can stress the adrenals, slows your body’s natural detox process and can lead to hormonal imbalances.  These health issues can also contribute to poor thyroid function.

Stress: Not just one stressful event, but the daily chronic stress can place a burden on the adrenal glands and can alter the brains communication with the thyroid.  Stress can slow the conversion of T4 to the active form, T3, can slow the detox process of the liver, and can contribute to leaky gut syndrome.  This can lead to immune dysfunction which contributes to an increased risk of Hashimoto’s, an autoimmune thyroid condition. 

If you have adrenal fatigue, your thyroid gland can eventually wear out and lead to sluggish thyroid function. 

Gut infection: It is possible that correcting a gut infection such as H pylori can have a positive impact on the thyroid, especially for those with Hashimotos.  There is not a lot of research in this area but a study of ten patients did show this to be effective.  In order to heal a gut infection one must support gut health first with diet and nutrition and then address the gut infection.  If you address the infection first without supporting your body it is possible that it will be difficult to rid the body of the infection. 

Toxins: Research is showing that toxins may be responsible for changes in thyroid function.  This research focused on flame retardant chemicals.  Living in a home with a high amount of flame retardant chemicals has been shown to be linked to an increased rate of thyroid cancer.

Fluoride: A British study found a strong correlation between the areas where fluoride content was highest with a higher risk of developing hypothyroidism.  It was found that areas that had fluoride levels above .3 milligrams per liter (mg/L), the risk rose by 30%.  In the US the minimum standards for drinking water fluoridation are set at .7 mg/L. This means that if you live in the US your risk of hypothyroidism may be even greater.  If you want to know if fluoride has been added to your water, get a water report at

Support Your Thyroid with Nutrition

balanced meal

  • Go gluten free: based on surveys many have found that a gluten free diet is one of most helpful interventions when dealing with hypothyroidism. Check your thyroid medications to make sure they are gluten free as most are but some are not! Visit to check your medications.
  • Go Casein Free: Some people also find they do better without dairy in the diet as well. Dairy sensitivity testing is an option or remove dairy for several weeks and note how you feel.  Check packaging for hidden dairy.  Go to for stool testing 
  • Check your gut health: gut disorders such as celiac and h-pylori can interfere with the absorption of thyroid medications. If you want to know more about the gut and thyroid connection read “Hashimoto’s- the root cause” by Dr. Wentz.
  • Balance your blood sugar: Include protein and fat with every meal, eat every two to three hours at first and then as blood sugar balances you can go longer without eating; avoid fruit juice and processed foods; eat within one hour of wakening; don’t fast and if you eat carbs add some protein and fat to them.
  • Get your adrenals checked for adrenal fatigue: Questionnaires are available online, read Adrenal Fatigue by Dr. Wilson or take an adrenal salivary index test from direct labs. (Most doctors will mention this saliva at home test) Support your adrenals by reducing caffeine, add in relaxation techniques such as yoga or meditation, include Adaptogenic herbs, get plenty of rest and balance blood sugar!
  • Include iodine rich foods for thyroid support such as sea vegetables and sea food, shellfish, iodized salt (switch out table salt for Himalayan or Celtic sea salt). Iodine’s main function is the synthesis of thyroid hormones. (note: test first, if you have Hashimoto’s you may not need iodine and may want to avoid iodine supplementation)
  • Water Filtration System: Fluoride in the water can block the uptake of iodine. Purchase one that also removes chlorine. The one that I use is the Berkey (
  • Tyrosine which can be found in cottage cheese, beef top sirloin, turkey and eggs
  • B complex: to get more of your B’s in the diet include nutritional yeast, organ meats, fish, poultry, eggs, nuts seeds, mushrooms and avocado and leafy greens (animal products are the only natural source of B12)
  • Selenium: low selenium correlates with low thyroid. Add in brazil nuts, crimini mushrooms, garlic, beef, fish, seafood, turkey and chicken (celiac malabsorption can cause selenium deficiency)
  • Zinc: pumpkin seeds, seafood, meat, eggs, lamb, peas,
  • Essential Fatty Acids: salmon, sardines, mackerel, canned white tuna, chia seeds, walnuts, pastured eggs, flax oil,
  • Ashwagandha: This Adaptogenic herb is known to help you adapt to stress and can help to balance hormones, including the thyroid. It can be useful to balance cortisol, promote insulin sensitivity, and stabilize your mood.
  • Guggul: This herb may enhance the conversion of T4 to T3.  
  • Vitamin A: butter, egg yolk, whole milk, shrimp
  • Vitamin D3: cod liver oil, seafood, eggs, liver, shiitake mushrooms, oysters, salmon, sardines, herring,
  • Vitamin C: yellow bell peppers, strawberries, oranges, limes, broccoli, kale, snow peas, watermelon, cabbage and white potato
  • Iron: iron supplementation is not recommended for postmenopausal women or adult males as too much iron can be toxic. Iron is a competitive nutrient competing with 10 other vitamins and minerals and thus iron should be taken away from your multivitamin/mineral.  Iron rich foods include liver, oysters, mussels, beef, fish, poultry, kidney beans, lentils, potato with the skin on, cashew nuts and tofu.
  • Thyroid Supplementation: use natural whole thyroid products as you need all parts of the thyroid, not just T4 and/or T3. If you have Hashimoto’s then start with a T3/T4 medication and then while supporting the body,  switch to a natural whole thyroid supplement-the reason being that for some the whole thyroid product may initially cause more antibody production. 
  • Eat balanced meals throughout the day, add color, variety to your plate, eat whole living foods!
  • AVOID: Bromine. This is found in pesticides, plastics, commercial baked goods, soft drinks and fire retardants. Bromine may play a role in poor iodine uptake and may lead to iodine insufficiency.
  • AVOID: processed soy products. Avoid sulfa drugs or antihistamines unless necessary. 

A Word of Caution: Please note that a holistic nutritionist will address hypothyroidism and Hashimotos differently. For instance, you may need to reduce goitrogenic foods in the raw state for hypothyroidism but not for Hashimoto’s. For AI, you will need to support the immune system.  Work with a professional who can help you feel better.  If your test results do determine low thyroid, it is still very important to rule out an AI thyroid condition! 


If you are sick and tired of feeling sick, tired, fatigued, depressed, anxious and more and have given up hope then Karen’s simple, effective, individualized and sustainable approach may be what you need. 

Karen Brennan, MSW, CNC, Board Certified in Holistic Nutrition and Herbalist is the author of Tru Foods Depression Free Nutrition Guide; How Food Supplements and herbs can be used to lift your mood and owner of Tru Foods Nutrition Services, LLC. 

For more information visit

Get her Food Swap Guide here to get started on your health journey today! Want more information, like her fb page here

As a nutrition professional, Karen does not treat, cure nor diagnose. This information is for educational purposes only.


Arem, R. (1999) The Thyroid Solution. NY: Ballantine Books

Balch, P.  (2012) Prescription for Herbal Healing. NY: Penguin Group

Bauman, E., & Friedlander, J. Therapeutic Nutrition. Part 1.  Pengrove, CA: Bauman    


Gaby, A. (2006) The Natural Pharmacy. NY: Three Rivers Press

Hoffman, D. (2003) Medical Herbalism. The Science and Practie of Herbal Medicine. VT: Healing Arts Press

Mars, B. (2007) The Desktop Guide to Herbal Medicine. CA: Basic Health Publications

Marz, F. (1999) Medical Nutrition. OR: Omni Press

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What to look for in a Omega 3 Supplement

What to look for in an Omega 3 Supplement

fish oil supplement

Fish oil is a rich source of EPA and DHA which are needed for our health for many reasons that will be listed in this article.  These needed nutrients are found in the fatty tissue of cold water, oily fish. These are essential fatty acids and the body cannot make them thus we need to get them from food or supplement (1)

It has only been in the past 15 years that the actions of EPA and DHA have come to be understood. (3)   Until now there is still more research on DHA than there is on EPA (2). Because of research we have a better understanding of how these fatty acids work in isolation and in combination. 

This article will discuss the benefits of both EPA and DHA and ways to get them in your diet including vegan sources. 

Do You Need More Omega 3 Essential Fatty Acids in Your Diet?

Most Americans are deficient in omega 3’s and instead consume an abundance of omega 6’s. While we need some omega 6’s in our diet, the current ratio contributes to inflammation and chronic disease. Add to that they most Americans are consuming their omega 6’s from processed, rancid oils instead of oils such as evening primrose. 


Signs you May Be Deficient in Omega-3 Essential Fatty Acids

  • Growth retardation
  • Behavioral changes
  • ADD
  • Poor motor coordination
  • Poor vision
  • Poor learning ability
  • Excessive blood coagulation
  • Edema
  • Weakness
  • High blood pressure
  • Inflammation
  • Tingling in the arms and legs
  • Low metabolic rate

Why You Need Both EPA and DHA

mom with baby

  • EPA

o   Products that contain more EPA than DHA have been shown to be beneficial for depression. Supplements that had a lower ratio or EPA to DHA were judged to be ineffective.  Studies that showed promise had used 1 gram of EPA daily. (2)

o   EPA may also be helpful for heart disease and may aid to lower triglyceride levels due to its anti-inflammatory effects. (2)

o   Children with development problems may benefit from a product containing only high amounts of pure EPA (3)

o   After the age of 5 the development of the brain and the central nervous system starts to reduce the body’s need for DHA and the need for EPA increases (3).

o   EPA has been shown to help children with academic performance, focus, attention and reducing aggression.  (3)

o   Dry skin, allergies and eczema can also benefit from EPA use as it will help to reduce inflammation.

o   EPA has been shown to reduce cognitive decline and dementia

o   Aids in joint health (4)

o   Regulates insulin levels (4)

o   In one study, those with increased anxiety were given 2 grams of EPA daily and there was a statistically significant reduction in anxiety compared to those in the placebo group.  (11)

o   Increased EPA may help you to handle stress and may improve mood in the general population.  (11)


  • DHA

o   DHA is needed for healthy brain development and for the aging brain.  Low levels of DHA have been associated with cognitive decline and Alzheimer’s Disease (6)

o   Children require DHA for growth and development

o   Once dementia has set in and there is brain damage, at this point DHA becomes important again.  Look for a product that contains 250 mg. of DHA. (3)

o   A 12- week study of DHA supplementation was found to improve blood flow to the brains of healthy young adults during cognitive tasks.  (6)

o   For women, low DHA is thought to be responsible in many cases of postpartum depression. (6)


  • EPA and DHA

o   Both are needed for pregnant women to ensure optimal brain and nervous system development of the fetus (1)

o   The average adult should look for a fish oil supplement containing 700-1,000 mg. of EPA and 200-500 mg. of DHA (1)

o   ADHD: children may benefit from one gram total

o   These long chain omega 3 fatty acids can affect metabolism of mood related neurotransmitters such as your serotonin and your dopamine.  Since both EPA and DHA have anti-inflammatory effects both can contribute to reducing depressive symptoms (6)

o   Both EPA and DHA have been shown to improve symptoms of Bipolar. (9) One study showed that omega 3 supplementations reduced mania and depression in youths with bipolar.  The dose in the study was 360 mg. EPA and 1560 DHA for 6 weeks. (10)

  • Bottom Line: for your health, you need to opt for a product that contains both EPA and DHA or eat fatty fish.

Food Sources

abstract-1238248_1280 (1)

If you want to avoid consuming fish oil, consume 3 ounces of fatty fish 3 times per week for general health.  Check your sources when buying fish as fish can be very contaminated.  A good place to look is (for you sushi lovers, they also have a great list of which sushi options are the best and which to avoid)

 If I know I am going to eat, say salmon for dinner that night, I will skip taking my fish oil on that day. 

  • Wild caught Alaskan Salmon
  • Mackerel
  • Sardines (I like Wild Planet Brand)
  • Herring
  • Black Cod
  • Omega-3 enriched eggs
  • Anchovies
  • Cod liver oil

What If I have a Seafood Allergy?

If you have an allergy to shellfish, you may be able to still consume fish oil.  Fish allergies are typically a reaction to the proteins and thus a purified true fish oil should still be safe. (7)  But if you have a serious allergic reaction to fish such as anaphylactic shock, I would avoid fish oil to be safe and use non-fish sources instead. 

Plant sources

flax seeds

If you are a vegan or vegetarian (or have a fish allergy) and do not eat fish or take a fish oil supplement, you can take an algae supplement for your DHA.  But you will still need a source for your EPA. (4) 

You can get ALA from plant sources such as flax seeds and flax seed oil, walnuts, hemp, purslane and chia seeds but the conversion rate of ALA to EPA and DHA is small.  The conversion of ALA to EPA is anywhere from 3% to 20%. The proportion of ALA converted to DHA is small. (5) 

A study measuring blood EPA and DHA in a vegan population showed that 64 % had insufficient amounts and some were severely deficient.  This population’s intake of ALA was above the recommended intake as well.  (6)

We need an enzyme called Delta 6 Desaturase to make the conversion from ALA to EPA and DHA.  This conversion process can be blocked by alcohol, caffeine, high refined carb diet, trans fats and poor quality oils such as canola and vegetable oil, meds and street drugs, deficiencies of B6, B3, vitamin C, magnesium and zinc; toxins and certain conditions such as diabetes and aging.  (8)

A newer plant oil called Ahiflower oil from Buglossoides arvensis, has reportedly the highest level of non-GM omega-3 essential fatty acids.  The plant oil combines ALA with stearidonic acid.  The stearidonic acid converts EPA at a ratio of 30-35%.  This may be a good option to consider if you are a vegan or vegetarian.  (5). However, keep in mind what can block the conversion from plant oils into essential fatty acids. 


When to Use Caution

  • If you are going in for surgery stop taking fish oil supplements and tell your doctor of your supplements
  • If you have a fish allergy avoid all fish oil products to be safe
  • Fish oil supplements can affect blood clotting so if you are on a blood thinner, talk to your doctor first before supplementing.
  • If you are pregnant or breast feeding, research brands and where your fish is from to avoid contaminants.
  • Go slow when using fish oil as starting out on a high dose may cause stomach and digestive issues.  Start low and work your way up slowly
  • Always take fish oil with a meal that contains fat. It is best to take fish oil with your biggest meal of the day.  Since it is a fat soluble nutrient it needs fat in order for you to absorb and utilize it.

Bottom line

When choosing an essential fatty acid supplement, choose one that contains both EPA and DHA as you will benefit from having both.  Much of your brain is made up of DHA fats and EPA fats are found in every cell in your body. 




  2. http://ww.nutraingredients-usa-com/Researach/EPA-stands-alone-as-a-depression-fighter
  5. https://www.nutraingredients-usa-com/Markets/Powerful-PUFAs-The-many-health-benefits-of-omega-3s/?
  8. Bauman, E. & Friedlander, J. (2014) Foundations of Nutrition. CA: Bauman College   


If you are sick and tired of feeling sick, tired, fatigued, depressed, anxious and more and have given up hope then Karen’s simple, effective, individualized and sustainable approach may be what you need. 

Karen Brennan, MSW, CNC, Board Certified in Holistic Nutrition and Herbalist is the author of Tru Foods Depression Free Nutrition Guide; How Food Supplements and herbs can be used to lift your mood and owner of Tru Foods Nutrition Services, LLC. 

For more information visit

Get her Food Swap Guide here to get started on your health journey today! Want more information, like her fb page here

As a nutrition professional, Karen does not treat, cure nor diagnose. This information is for educational purposes only.

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Ginger: 12 Reasons Why You Should Be Consuming This Herb

Ginger (Zingiber officinale)

12 Reasons Why You Should Be Consuming It

ginger root

The underground portion of ginger is used.  The flesh of ginger may be white, yellow or red depending on the variety.  It has a light brownish skin. It has a aromatic, pungent and spicy smell and taste. 

Ginger has been used for thousands of years as an herbal remedy.  Modern medicine and research has proven that ginger possesses several therapeutic properties. 

Benefits to Using Ginger

  • Antioxidant Rich. And you only need a small amount to reap its benefits.  You want to consume a antioxidant rich diet to support overall health and prevent disease. 
  • Reduces Pain from Osteoarthritis: Ginger Inhibits the formation of inflammatory compounds and has direct anti-inflammatory effects. This is due to compounds called gingerols.  It has been shown to reduce pain in those with arthritis and muscular discomfort.  In one study, those who took ginger extract 2 times per day had less pain and needed less pain killing meds than those who took the placebo.  The dose in one study was 250 mg. 4 times daily. 
  • Provides Gastrointestinal Relief: Ginger is commonly used for an upset stomach, gas, diarrhea, and IBS.
  • Can Prevent Sea Sickness: It has been shown to be far superior to Dramamine, an OTC drug, used for motion sickness. It can reduce symptoms associated with motion sickness such as nausea, vomiting and cold sweat.  There is a reason that you see ginger candy in gift shops at boat docks to purchase!
  • Relief from Vomiting and Nausea Associated with Pregnancy: It can be useful even in the most severe form. And unlike anti-vomiting, drugs ginger is safe during pregnancy and only a small amount is required.  Pregnant women can safely take up to one gram. 
  • Protective against Colorectal Cancer. Gingerols which is the main active component in ginger is also the one responsible for its distinctive flavor.  This component may also inhibit the growth of human colorectal cancer cells.   
  • It can Induce Cell Death in Ovarian Cancer Cells. Again, this is thanks to the gingerols in ginger.  A pro-inflammatory state is thought to be important in the development of ovarian cancer. In the presence of ginger a few key indicators of inflammation were decreased in the ovarian cancer cells. 
  • Immune Boosting Properties. Since it has anti-viral properties, ginger can be useful to consume when you have a cold or flu or other viral infection.
  • Lowers Cholesterol and improves lipid metabolism. Studies show that ginger can have a dramatic effect on cardiovascular health. Studies used 250 micrograms of ginger
  • Anti-diabetic effects. In several studies ginger has been shown to help reduce blood sugar levels, regulate insulin response and also reduced body weight.
  • Use it for Colds and Sore Throat. It is a natural remedy to soothe an irritated throat.  Regular intake of ginger stimulates the secretion of mucus which soothes and provides throat relief.  Natural oi in ginger acts as an expectorant and thus not only useful for colds but also for upper respiratory infections, coughs, asthma and bronchitis 
  • Use for PMS cramp pain. A 2009 study found that 250 mg. 4 times a day was just as effective as ibuprofen for pain relief associated with a woman’s menstrual cycle. 

Ways to Incorporate Ginger into Your Diet


You don’t need to use much ginger to reap its benefits.  Whenever possible opt for fresh over the dried spice.  The fresh ginger will contain higher levels of gingerol.  Most supermarkets carry the mature ginger which will have the skin that you need to peel. Young ginger is more often found in Asian markets and this ginger skin does not need to be peeled.  Fresh ginger can be stored in your fridge for up to 3 weeks if left unpeeled.  You can also store it in your freezer unpeeled for up to 6 months. 

For cooking, if added in the beginning of the cooking process, it will add a subtle flavor while adding it at the end of cooking will lend the dish a more pungent taste. 

  • For nausea: make ginger tea by steeping 1 or 2 ½ inch slices of ginger in a cup of hot water.
  • For arthritis: ¼ an inch (or more) cooked in food. (The more you use the quicker your relief may be)
  • Add it to rice dishes
  • Mix ginger with coconut aminos and garlic to make a sauce for stir fry
  • Add ginger to your oil and vinegar salad dressing
  • Add it to sautéed vegetable dishes.
  • Mince a teaspoon and add to your regular tea
  • Add to marinades, stews and soups
  • Add some to your morning smoothie
  • You can add in ginger supplementation in capsule form or in tincture form.

When to Use Caution

  • Don’t give to children under 2 years of age.
  • If you have a sensitive stomach, take ginger with some food in your belly.
  • In adults, do not take more than 4 grams per day
  • Pregnant women should only consume up to 1 gram per day.
  • Avoid ginger supplementation if you are on blood thinner
  • If you are on diabetic meds, ginger can reduce blood sugar levels.
  • If you are on blood pressure meds, it can reduce your blood pressure.
  • Always talk to your doctor if adding ginger in as a supplement to your diet since some meds can interact with herbs.

Food for Thought: 

From reading some of the cautions above, it makes me wonder, wouldn’t it be better to use herbs to say lower blood pressure or blood sugar instead of a med that comes with side effects? What do you think?



Balch, P. ( 2012)   Prescription for Herbal Healing.  2nd Edition.  NY: Avery Publishing

Gaby, A.(2006) The Natural Pharmacy. Revised and updated 3rd edition.  NY: Three Rivers Press

Hoffman, D. Medical Herbalism. (2003) The science and practice of herbal medicine.  VT: Healing Arts   


Mars, B. (2007) The Desktop Guide to Herbal Medicine.  CA: Basic Health Publications

Skenderi, G. (2003) Herbal Vade Mecum. NJ: Herbacy Press

If you are sick and tired of feeling sick, tired, fatigued, depressed, anxious and more and have given up hope then Karen’s simple, effective, individualized and sustainable approach may be what you need. 

Karen Brennan, MSW, CNC, Board Certified in Holistic Nutrition and Herbalist is the author of Tru Foods Depression Free Nutrition Guide; How Food Supplements and herbs can be used to lift your mood and owner of Tru Foods Nutrition Services, LLC. 

For more information visit

Get her Food Swap Guide here to get started on your health journey today! Want more information, like her fb page here

As a nutrition professional, Karen does not treat, cure nor diagnose. This information is for educational purposes only.













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“New Year. New You” 12 Tips to Stick with and Achieve your Health Goals this Year

New Year. A New You!

12 Tips for you to Achieve Your Health Goals Finally!

By Karen Brennan, MSW, CNC, BCHN, Herbalist

person sunset background


“This year I’m going to lose 20 pounds, (or start going to the gym, or improve my blood work numbers, etc.…)

Sound Familiar?  

Why do we stick with it for only a few months, only to go back to our old ways?


Bottom Line: We do too much, too fast and go about it haphazardly.  We place a great deal of stress and burden on ourselves to change and to do it right NOW!  Then when you slip a little, say miss a day at the gym, you feel defeated and soon one day “off your diet” turns into one week, then one month….



Change takes time.  You didn’t get to your health issues overnight.  Be patient. 

Here are 12 tips (one for each month) to get you on track to a healthier lifestyle.  Adding in these tips, one at a time, will make them sustainable and they will become part of your routine.  These basic tips are effective for anyone looking to lose weight, balance blood sugar, improve blood work scores, gain energy, improve sleep and much more. 



Focus on only one step every 2 to 4 weeks.  Don’t go out of order. They are in this order for a reason. Don’t move on to the next step if you are still adjusting to the one prior to it.   


1. Consume 16 ounces of Water First Thing in the Morning:


This is very effective for weight loss, increased energy and removing waste from the body.  Do this before you eat.  Make it a habit just like brushing your teeth in the morning.  Many of us are walking around in a dehydrated state and don’t even know it. 


2. Add in General Supplementation:


Diet is important but unfortunately our soil is not a mineral rich as it was 70 years ago; the foods you eat today do not contain the same number of vitamins and minerals that it did pre-WWII era.  Add in at the very least, quality multivitamin, magnesium supplement (I like Natural Calm powder to add to water)


3. Focus on WHERE you Eat:


Many don’t think this is a big deal but it really is a huge deal!  I cannot stress this enough!  Where do you eat? In the car, in front of the TV, at your desk at work, in front of the fridge, while walking, while on the phone or computer? 



Focus on eating only when sitting down at a table.  And not while working.  Studies show that those who take 20-30 minutes to eat lunch while not working were more productive than those who thought they could get more done if they ate and worked at the same time.  Have you ever been staring at your computer, a meal by your side and then look over and realize the food is gone and wonder who ate your food? You didn’t even realize you consumed it, let alone enjoy your meal.  If you want to improve your health you need to start paying attention to this step!!


 4. Add in Fermented Foods:



Save your money and skip the probiotic supplement and instead add in a variety of fermented foods and drinks such as plain goat milk kefir, kombucha, fermented sauerkraut and other fermented vegetables, miso (fermented soy) and tempeh.  Add in one serving per day.


 If you have any digestive or bowel issues you may have to start very slow and work your way up to a serving. Some people with a compromised digestive system can only handle a few bites of fermented vegetables per day the first few weeks until their gut health improves. 


The benefits of fermented foods is lengthy.  For now, just know that it can aid in weight loss, support your immune health and assist with mood, focus and attention issues and much more. 


 5. Focus on Chewing:

This pertains to number 3 as well. Now that you are not eating mindlessly while doing other tasks, now is the time to focus on slow eating.  At first count every now and then how many times you chew each bite of food and look at the time and see how long it takes you to eat a meal. 


Are you chewing 3-5 times per bite? Are you inhaling your food?  Are you done eating before everyone else?  Do you feel bloating after every meal or experience indigestion after a meal? Then it’s time to slow down and chew each bite 10-20 times.


 It sounds like a lot but the breakdown of each bite of food is important for digestion and assimilation of needed nutrients. It also gives your body time to send the signal to your brain to stop eating and that you are full.  Eating slowly can aid with weight loss, improve digestion, relieve you of gas and bloating and slow down the process of sugar and carbs entering the blood stream. 


 6. Swap out Foods that Contain Artificial Sugar:



Just because you may not drink diet soda, does not mean you do not consume artificial sweetener.  Many products such as frozen meals, protein powders, weight loss products, low fat products, protein bars, yogurt, bottled juice and tea beverages contain artificial sugars (sometime more than one). It is hidden in many places. 


Once you read labels you will be shocked to find out how many products contain this fake product.  I get asked often “If I had to choose between sugar and fake sugar which is the best choice?”  While I do not like either in processed form, I would have to say go for the real sugar.  Fake sugar is now linked to diabetes, overeating of more processed carbs and sugary foods and it disrupts the gut microbiome.


Swap out diet soda for seltzer water with lemon, the low-calorie yogurt for plain Greek yogurt or plain goat milk yogurt, swap out the protein bar with a different protein bar (there are so many to choose from), and swap out frozen meals for crock pot meals.


 7. Think in Colors:



If you have young children, you can get them involved and make this a fun game.  Pick a color to focus on each day or each week. For instance, focus on eating red fruits, vegetables and spices this day or week.  This could look like sweet potato, red bell peppers, curry powder, cumin powder, paprika, strawberries, pomegranates, radish, apples, red potatoes, tomatoes and so forth.  Have fun with it. 


The more color you get into your diet, the better this is for your health.  Each color contains different phytonutrients that are beneficial for your health.  So, if you eat just broccoli and green beans all the time you are missing out of many other plant nutrients by avoiding the rest of the rainbow. 


 8. Eat more Protein, less Carbs for Breakfast:


If you eat a bagel on the run, a muffin at the coffee shop, a bowl of cereal or just a piece of fruit, you are setting yourself up for low blood sugar, cravings, irritability and fatigue for the rest of the day.  Unless you are heading out for a long bout of cardio you don’t need all those carbs in the morning.  Start your day with a moderate amount of protein (i.e.: 2-3 eggs or scoop of protein powder in your green smoothie), add in some quality fats such as a few slices of avocado or handful of nuts/seeds and a small number of carbs such as one half an apple.  

9. Bring lunch to Work Three Times each week:

Do you and your co-workers decide where to order from each day for lunch?  Do you eat out more than 4 times per week?  Besides saving money, you will do your body good to prepare a meal from home and bring to work. Already bring lunch 3 days per week?  Then shoot for five!  This doesn’t have to be complicated. It can be a “Mason Jar Meal”, leftovers, quinoa bowl, salad with protein, etc.

By doing so you will eliminate processed carbs, poor quality proteins and unhealthy fats from your diet on these days.  Trust me, your body will thank you!


 10. Make it a Rule: Vegetables or Salad at every Dinner:


While it would be great if we could eat vegetables at every meal and snack, I realize this is not very practical for most. 


Make it a goal that at every dinner you have a dark leafy green salad and/or several vegetables.  For instance, if it’s a salad, get creative and see how many different vegetables you can include in it.  For vegetables, roast a medley instead of just one.  


 11. One Day Each Week Omit Processed Gluten:


While whole grain wheat per se I do not think is evil, what is causing some problems today is the processed wheat and the amount that we consume.  In the past, we did not consume wheat at every meal and snack and it was not refined.


Refined grain is stripped of its nutrients, protein and fiber, so all you are left with is the starchy portion which contributes to disrupted blood sugar, cravings, obesity and systemic inflammation. 


Ezekiel bread is better because it is not as processed but even this should be limited to one to two pieces per day.  So, the problem is not whole grains (unless you have celiac disease, gluten allergy or gluten sensitivity), the problem is the bread, pasta, bagels, muffins, cereals, etc.… made from refined processed gluten/wheat. 


Swap it out for whole grains or alternative flours such as teff, millet, quinoa, basmati white rice, coconut flour, almond flour, tiger nut flour and cassava flour. 


 12. One Day Each Week Omit Processed Dairy


Pasteurized dairy is typically from cows fed a GMO diet, cows that are given growth hormones and antibiotics.  If you have health issues such as GERD, mood issues, weight issues, bowel issues and so forth, you may want to consider swapping out your milk, yogurt and cheese for fermented dairy such as kefir, raw, organic cheese and goat milk products as some tolerate goat’s milk better than cow’s milk. 


For some they don’t notice a difference until they swap out all the dairy products for 2 to 4 weeks.  This is up to you and is based on your health issues and whether you have a casein allergy or are lactose intolerant. 


You can try nut milks and coconut milk and coconut yogurt as substitutes as well


 Evaluate and see how far you have come in 12 months!

Keep a log and write each one at the beginning of each month on your calendar.  In 12 months see how far you have come.    Congrats!

Don’t forget!

Jan 15th, Sunday 2-3:30 @ Castle Rock, CO Philip S. Miller Library

Start the new year off right and sustain your goals this year!  I will show you how. 

RSVP to as space is limited.



If you are sick and tired of feeling sick, tired, fatigued, depressed, anxious and more and have given up hope then Karen’s simple, effective, individualized and sustainable approach may be what you need. 

Karen Brennan, MSW, CNC, Board Certified in Holistic Nutrition (candidate) is the author of Tru Foods Depression Free Nutrition Guide; How Food Supplements and herbs can be used to lift your mood and owner of Tru Foods Nutrition Services, LLC. 

For more information visit her site at

Get her Food Swap Guide here to get started on your health journey today! Want more information, then like here fb page here

As a nutrition professional, Karen does not treat, cure nor diagnose. This information is for educational purposes only.

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Fact or Fiction: Low Fat Diet is NOT Healthy and does NOT Prevent Heart Disease

Myth: A low-fat diet is healthy and prevents heart disease


This ties into myth number one.  People try to get their cholesterol levels down so they avoid cholesterol rich foods and high fat foods!  Wrong thing to do!  This may lower your cholesterol (see myth one for why you don’t want this to go too low) and you end up eating foods that are high in sugar, chemicals, additives, and refined carbs.  Avoid sugar and processed foods not healthy foods with natural fat and cholesterol. 

Wrong and harmful: 

  • If you are trying to lose weight, research shows that you will have more success on a low carb diet as opposed to a low- fat diet even when those on the low carb diet took in more calories than the low- fat group. (A low carb diet typically contains moderate amounts of protein and high amounts of quality fats)
  • We need fat. Dietary fats are essential for cell growth and for energy. You need fat to absorb your fat- soluble nutrients.  For instance, many people take their fish oil and vitamin D supplements with a low -fat breakfast.  Well, I hate to say it, but then you are wasting your money.  The meal needs to contain fat for these nutrients to be absorbed.  
  • Although to be clear, we need good fats and should still be avoid rancid, oxidized fats such as corn, soy, canola and vegetable oils. This means you need to read labels because most processed foods are going to contain these oils. Even healthy salad dressings are usually made with soy or canola oil.


Some products will say non-GMO canola oil thus making you think this is much healthier. And while I advise people to avoid GMO’s, in this case it is still an oil that oxidizes rapidly when exposed to air, light and heat and it is an oil that is high in omega 6’s.  So, it does not matter in this case if it has GMO’s or not. This oil is still creating inflammation in your body and it is best to limit your intake. 


  • Eating out: typically, there is no way to avoid it. Most places are going to use cheaper oils to cook with so it is best to limit how much you eat out. When you cook at home you have control and know what you are putting into your body. 
  • If you are buying low fat products, be aware that this means they need to add something in to make it taste good. Fat gives food its flavor. When you take out the fat, sugar is added in, to make it palatable.
  • Try to eat a diet that is lower in processed carbs, with plenty of vegetables and 2 servings of fruit, moderate protein and high in fat (fats that are good include “real” EVOO, avocado and its oil, raw nuts and seeds and their butters, coconut products, organic/grass fed meats, raw dairy and grass fed butter)

Outdated: Some people are still stuck on this concept. In fact, many people that I talk to still talk about eating low fat and avoiding certain (what I consider) healthy foods because they contain fat.  I wish we would get past this. Even some doctors are still recommending for their patients’ low fat diets. And then there are the people who take their fat soluble supplements with a low fat meal.  (hint: you need fat from your food in order to absorb these fat soluble nutrients such as your fish oil, vitamin D, vitamin E and A. 

A study done in 2009 in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition pooled together 21 studies that included almost 350,000 people, about 11,000 that developed cardiovascular disease, tracked them for 14 years and concluded that there is no relationship between the intake of saturated fat and the incidence of heart disease. 

So, there you have it-eat healthy fat!

If you are consuming a low- fat diet, chances are you are also consuming a diet high in sugar and refined processed foods which will contribute to systemic inflammation and chronic health issues.  Read labels.  If it’s a long list that you can barely read, I say you should pass on the food product. 

Bottom line: It comes down to the TYPE of fats that you eat! Know what “bad” fats are and avoid them. Eat quality fats instead.   

IF you have any mental health issue and also eat a low fat diet: consider this; your brain needs fat to function properly!

Like this article. You may also like my article on cholesterol myths

If you are sick and tired of feeling sick, tired, fatigued, depressed, anxious and more and have given up hope then Karen’s simple, effective, individualized and sustainable approach may be what you need. 

Karen Brennan, MSW, CNC, Board Certified in Holistic Nutrition (candidate) is the author of Tru Foods Depression Free Nutrition Guide; How Food Supplements and herbs can be used to lift your mood and owner of Tru Foods Nutrition Services, LLC.  

For more information visit her site at

Get her Food Swap Guide here to get started on your health journey today! Want more information, then like here fb page here

As a nutrition professional, Karen does not treat, cure nor diagnose. This information is for educational purposes only.


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Stop Believing this Cholesterol Health Myth: It is hurting your health

Dispelling Health Myths: What you Need to Stop Believing

I am doing a series on health myths. These are questions that I get asked often or health myths that people are following and by doing so are actually hurting their health. 

“Having Low cholesterol is good for me”


Why This Thinking is Harmful: Many people strive for and pride themselves on their low total cholesterol numbers.  Research shows that low TC below 160 is associated with depression, suicidal ideation, anger, irritability, cognitive issues and outbursts. A healthier range is between 180-210 depending on your age.  (older people, studies, show benefit from levels even higher).


 It is harmful for you to think that low cholesterol is good. Here is why:

  • We need cholesterol for hormone productivity and for vitamin D production
  • We need it to produce bile acids, to improve absorption of vitamins A, D, K, and E.
  • Cholesterol is vital for immune function and for neurological function. It is needed to make brain cells.   
  • Low cholesterol is associated with increase cancer risk (those with TC of 160 or below as compared to those with TC of 200)
  • You may have cholesterol clogging your arteries so you may think that reducing cholesterol and fat in your diet will help reduce your risk of heart disease. But your clogged arteries are caused by inflammation in the arterial wall and your body protects itself by packing cholesterol there. So, while cholesterol may be at the scene of the crime, cholesterol did not cause the crime!
  • For people, over 60, high cholesterol is associated with better health and greater longevity.

Cholesterol is not the enemy!

Do this Instead: Don’t just look at your TC. Look at your HDL and LDL numbers.  But even LDL numbers can be misleading. More labs are breaking the LDL down.  You can have high LDL but if it is the “good” kind, the large, fluffy LDL then this is a positive thing. But if you have more of the sticky, dense LDL this is not the case. This type of LDL is oxidized and contributes to systemic inflammation in your body. 

If you want this type of testing, ask your doctor for a Vertical Auto Profile (VAP) test or the lipoprotein Particle Profile (LPP) test. 

Bottom line: Don’t fear and avoid healthy foods such as grass fed butter, grass fed/organic meats, eggs, raw dairy (if tolerated), wild caught Alaskan salmon and “real” olive oil.  Avoid instead low fat processed products!





Other Sources

Bauman, E. & Friedlander, J. (2014) Therapeutic Nutrition.  CA: Bauman College


Karen Brennan, MSW, CNC, Board Certified in Holistic Nutrition (candidate), author of the  book Tru Foods Depression Free Nutrition Guide; How Food Supplements and herbs can be used to lift your mood and owner of Tru Foods Nutrition Services, LLC believes in food first when addressing the root causes to your health conditions.  For more information, visit her website at

Get her Food Swap Guide here to get started on your health journey today! Like her Facebook page here

As a nutrition professional, Karen does not treat, cure nor diagnose. This information is for educational purposes only.

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