What the Health Review: Top 3 Misses of the Vegan Documentary

This article was originally published by our friend Dr. Axe

I never like a one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to nutrition. We all have unique biologies — what fuels one person could leave another feeling lousy. That’s one of my main issues with the What the Health documentary streaming on Netflix. In this What the Health review, I’ll offer my own take and outline the major hits and misses of the film.

While it’s not completely evident in the first few minutes, What the Health is actually a pro-vegan film that tends to skew studies and figures to make a point. (The filmmakers even seem pro-sugar at some parts… no kidding.) I’m not debating the fact that there are benefits of a vegan diet, but there are drawbacks, too, including some vegan foods I’d never eat. (More on that later.)

What the Health Review: The Misses

Investigative journalist Nina Teicholz, author of “The Big Fat Surprise: Why Butter, Meat and Cheese Belong in a Healthy Diet,” performed an analysis of the 37 health claims made in the film. In her What the Health review, she found that about 96 percent of the data fail to support the film’s claims.

She says: (1)

The film does not cite a single rigorous randomized controlled trial on humans supporting its arguments. Instead, WTH presents a great deal of weak epidemiological data, case studies on one or two people or other inconclusive evidence. Some of the studies cited actually conclude the opposite of what is claimed.

What the Health Claim: Sugar doesn’t cause diabetes; meat does. 

The experts and doctors in What the Health are pro-vegan, although they aren’t actually introduced that way in the film. I found that to be a bit deceptive. And in the opening minutes of the film, many of them, including Neal Barnard, M.D., founder of the Physicians Committee for Responsibility, a vegan-promoting nonprofit, suggests meat and animal products cause type 2 diabetes, not carbs and sugar:

“Diabetes is not and was never caused by eating a high-carbohydrate diet and it’s not caused by eating sugar. The cause of diabetes is a diet that builds up the amount of fat in the blood. I’m talking about a typical meat-based, animal-based diet. You can look into the muscle cells of the human body and you find they’re building up tiny particles of fat that’s building insulin resistance. What that means is the sugar that is naturally from the foods that you’re eating can’t get into the cells where it belongs. It builds up in the blood.” — Dr. Barnard in What the Health

The truth: Inflammation is the root of most diseases. And there are boatloads of studies linking excess sugar and refined carbohydrates to inflammation and type 2 diabetes. On the flip side, we know that certain animal foods are loaded with healthy, anti-inflammatory compounds. (Take wild-caught salmon nutrition, for example.)

Here’s some of what we do know when it comes to sugar and diabetes:

  • The prevalence of type 2 diabetes is 20 percent higher in countries with greater availability of high-fructose corn syrup, a manmade type of sugar. (2)
  • The Swedish government actually backs a high-fat, low-carb diet for type 2 diabetes thanks to its low requirement for insulin. The country also notes this high-fat, low-carb (including sugar) diet is beneficial for weight loss. (3)
  • A high-fat, low-carb ketogenic diet can help people with type 2 diabetes lose weight and lower or cut out the amount of diabetes meds they need. (4) In my opinion, using the carb cycling diet provides weight-loss and muscle-building benefits while stimulating important metabolic and digestive functions. A Mediterranean diet is also beneficial to reduce cardiovascular impacts of type 2 diabetes. (5)

Is sugar bad for you? That may not seem obvious after watching the documentary. But if there’s one thing you take from this What the Healthreview, it’s this: Not all sugars are created equally, and added sugars can harm your health in a myriad of ways, including:

  • Your type 2 diabetes risk increases 1.1 percent for every 150 calories of sugar consumed in a day. (6)
  • Added sugar may increase the risk of these cancers: esophageal, colon, breast and small intestine. (78)
  • Dietary sugar can increase the risk of breast cancer tumors and metastasis to the lungs. (9)
  • In 2016, a sugar industry scandal broke, highlighting how Big Sugar paid off Harvard researchers to publish studies suggesting saturated fat, not sugar, caused heart disease. That ignited a decades-long dietary disaster full of high-sugar, low-fat foods. (And a sharp rise in type 2 diabetes rates.)

Aside from that, there’s another important point to make in this What the Health review. The film lumps all sugars together. But let’s be clear: There is a huge health difference between eating the sugars naturally present in a nutrient-dense blueberry compared to a soda full of high-fructose corn syrup dangers.

That’s another main issue with the documentary: It doesn’t compare apples to apples.

What it all comes down to is eating conventional meat causes inflammation. Grass-fed beef doesn’t have the same nutritional profile as beef crammed onto a feedlot and raised on an unnatural diet of pesticide-laden grain, drugs and hormones. Vegan films beat this to death: They put all types of meat in the same category. It’s like putting all sugar in the same category and saying high-fructose corn syrup is the same as blueberries or raw, local honey.

The filmmakers are very biased in what they’re saying. Blueberries reduce inflammation, and so does wild-caught salmon. On the other end, corn syrup and conventional meat cause inflammation.

The film fails to take the personalized nutrition approach. In Traditional Chinese Medicine, a person with certain “elements” reacts differently to certain foods. A female with a blood deficiency like anemia, for instance, may not fare well on a plant-based diet. Organic chicken liver is really nourishing to the blood. On the other hand, a man who is consuming too much meat and dealing with anger, liver issues, liver congestion and/or cirrhosis may flourish on a diet heavy in greens and light on meat.

Whether you’re eating meat or vegetables, make sure it’s balanced in anti-inflammatory foods.

And certain people and ethnicities may be wired to eat specific foods, whether due to genetics or environment. If someone lives in Russia or in the far north of Canada, he or she may do better on diet of warming herbs and meat. In the Caribbean, coconut water, rice and peppermint herbs may be more beneficial. A lot depends on the current environmental, emotions, epigenetics and genetic makeup.

What the Health claim: Eating a daily egg is as bad as smoking five cigarettes.

The documentary equates eating eggs as unhealthy as smoking cigarettes.

The truth: Vox points out that two in three long-term smokers will die due to the smoking habit. The same isn’t true for people who eat eggs daily. (10) In fact, cholesterol isn’t even still a “nutrient of concern,” according to government’s Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee. (11)

Measuring cholesterol may not be the ideal way to track heart disease risk. In fact, low cholesterol in humans is actually linked to a higher risk of dying early. (12) What we really need to focus on is inflammation, the real cause of heart disease. The health benefits of eggs include lower risk of heart disease and better eye health. The choline in eggs actually assists liver function and brain development, too. And get this: Low choline levels actually correlate with fatty liver disease.

What the Health claim: The flesh food to eliminate from the American diet is poultry.

The film contends that chicken is loaded with HCAs, clear-cut carcinogens formed when any type of meat is cooked.

The truth: Heterocyclic amine formation generally occurs with higher cooking temperatures like 428 degrees Fahrenheit and above. So sure, frying and grilling on high flames can do that. But your cooking technique and marinades can cut HCAs to nearly nonexistent levels. (13)

When the film talked about chicken, it did everyone a great disservice by failing to differentiate organic, free-range chicken from conventional chicken. That’s because a 2017 animal study found conventional chicken increases growth, cholesterols levels and hormone imbalance. In fact, scientists concluded commercial chicken meat could lead to the development of polycystic ovarian syndrome, thanks to the steroid hormone imbalance.

Perhaps the greatest benefit of organic, pasture-raised chicken is bone broth. This traditional food has been providing health benefits for centuries. Some of these include arthritis relief, sealing healthy gut, reducing cellulite and boosting the immune system.

What the Health Review: What It Got Right

Corporate Collusion

Many junk food corporations and organizations supporting factory-farmed meat and eggs do influence studies and dietary recommendations. And many leading, mainstream organizations associated with specific diseases focus more on treatment than prevention of disease.

These institutions continue to make dietary blunders. In fact, in 2017, the American Heart Association (AHA) had us all wondering if coconut oil is healthy or not. The AHA advised people to avoid coconut oil, despite the emerging body of research showing it can provide incredible benefits for weight loss and the brain.

And for years, we’ve been advised to eat loads of inflammatory grains and factory-farmed meat and dairy. These are foods I always try to avoid.

Unethical Meat and Environmental Injustice

Many Americans do eat too much meat, particularly too much conventional, inflammatory meat. I want to be clear about this in this What the Healthreview: the way we raise most meat in this country is atrocious, not just for the animals and our health, but for people living around these concentrated animal feeding operations.

The film exposed North Carolina pork production, highlighting how factory farming impacts communities. (These communities are often low-income and neighborhoods of color.)

Here are some sobering stats from just one type of meat product in one state:

  • 10 million pigs in North Carolina create the same amount of feces as 100 million humans.
  • Pig feces are sprayed raw on fields and increase MRSA risk to people living nearby.
  • Cancer and asthma are rampant in these neighborhoods.
  • Living near field sprayed with hog fertilizer triples MRSA risk.
  • Fish deaths are also reported due to serious water pollution.

Final Thoughts on What the Health Review

  • What the Health is a pro-vegan documentary featuring vegan advocates and experts. However, most aren’t disclosed as being pro-vegan during the film.
  • While most Americans can certainly benefit from eating a diet rich in vegetables, going completely vegan does have some health drawbacks.
  • One of the main things I want you to take away from this What the Healthreview is that some experts recommend cutting animal products and eating unlimited carbs. That is a dangerous recommendation given the fact that added sugars are carbs that are linked to a higher risk of type 2 diabetes, certain cancers and other major health problems.
  • I’m not a fan of blanket nutrition recommendations. Everyone reacts differently to certain foods. Some may flourish on a vegan diet with proper supplementation. Others may achieve better health on the Mediterranean diet or ketogenic diet.
  • I never recommend eating animal products from factory farms (also known as concentrated animal feeding operations, or CAFOs). Not only are the animals exploited, but the final food product is often subpar in terms of nutrition and often harms the environment.
  • Eating factory-farmed meats and fish is inflammatory.
  • Some vegan foods I would never eat include tofu, canola oil, vegetable oil, and white, unsprouted breads and pastas. Many are inflammatory in nature, and non-organic versions often test high for pesticide residues.
  • Most people can stand to eat more vegetables and less meat. But if you do still want to enjoy animal products, look for organic, pasture-raised products. I like to know my farmer so I can ask questions and even see how animals are raised.


Breakfast, blood sugar, & inflammation

Recent research has shown that Inflammation is responsible for 7 out of 10 Deaths in the United States. But it doesn’t have to be the same way for you.

In fact, in a fairly short amount of time, you could start to experience better sleep…less stomach issues…more energy and stamina…less muscle and joint pain…a drop in weight…lower stress levels…and much, much more!

Learn how to Prevent—Even Reverse—Most Major Diseases by “Turning Off” Inflammation!

==> Naturally Fight & Reverse Damaging Inflammatory Effects in Your Body!

Best stretch before bed (1 minute)

Did you know that one of the best times to stretch is right before bed? However…

What stretches should you do? Here’s a 1-minute stretch routine you can do before bed...

=> Best stretch before bed (takes 1-min)


Lisa, Yoga Coach
eatlocalgrown / wisemindhealthybody

Stop Snoring in 3 Minutes - Starting Tonight

...easy, 3-minute exercise that completely cured his horrendous snoring! We can both finally sleep!

Today is a good day. Tonight will be even better. Why?

Because you're about to learn easy throat exercises that cure (not just treated) your stubborn snoring – in 3 minutes – starting TONIGHT!

...even if straps, sprays and even torturing CPAP masks have failed you in the past.

Most people heal their snoring in just a few minutes per day using these powerful throat exercises. And they're so easy, you can do them, regardless of your age or physical shape.

Use them anytimeanywhere... even while stuck in traffic or watching TV.

Plus the results are permanent!

To learn more and test-drive the easy snoring and sleep apnea exercises for yourself, click here...

To a good night's sleep,
Rick + Lisa
eatlocalgrown / wisemindhealthybody

The #1 "bodyfat-eating" hormone...

weight loss solved

Did you know that your bodyfat can become "calorie-resistant"?

True. And it's completely unaffected by even the strictest diets... and most intense exercises.

However, there's good news- Calorie-resistant bodyfat can be now removed...

It's a little-known, calorie-burning hormone we all have... just waiting for the right spark to come alive. It's not thyroid, leptin, ghrelin, insulin, adiponectin, HGH or any other "fat loss" hormone you may know. Read more to find out precisely how to unleash its calorie-burning power:

==> How to Activate Your #1 "Bodyfat-Eating" Hormone...

To your health!

PS - Studies show that it can also reduce your risk of diabetes by 53.7%, a heart attack by 83.3% and stroke by 51.4%. Here's more of the scientific proof...

#1 muscle that eliminates joint and back pain, anxiety and looking fat

I bet you can’t guess which muscle in your body is the #1 muscle that eliminates joint and back pain, anxiety and looking fat. This “hidden survival muscle” in your body will boost your energy levels, immune system, sexual function, strength and athletic performance when unlocked.

If this “hidden” most powerful primal muscle is healthy, we are healthy.

Is it…

a) Abs

b) Chest

c) Glutes

d) Hip Flexors

Take the quiz above and see if you got the correct answer!

How to Wipe Out Chronic Inflammation (Free Book)


In April, 2009, researchers stunned the medical community when they reported chronic inflammation as the root cause of several major diseases.

See, every year 610,000 people in the U.S. die of heart disease. Cancer claims another 584,000...stroke 130,000...Alzheimer's disease nearly 85,000 — and the list goes on.

Truth is, we now know... chronic inflammation is responsible for 7 out of the top 10 leading causes of death in the United States! Hundreds of studies and scientific reviews prove it.

inflammation book

Fortunately, newer research shows you can prevent-even reverse-most major diseases by "turning off" inflammation. And in our new book, we show you how to do just that.

If you or a loved one is suffering from a debilitating condition-and you"re not sure what the culprit is-now's the time to find out...while you can still do something about it!

Get the Free Inflammation Book

--> Grab your FREE copy of this groundbreaking soft cover book today (while supplies still last.)

Free Paleo / Keto Cookbook

Over the past year, my friend Dave over at PaleoHacks has been working on a super secret cookbook project with our good friend Peter Servold ­­ a Le Cordon Bleu trained Chef and owner of Pete's Paleo...

And today, this new incredible Paleo Cookbook is finally available to be shipped right to your door for FREE!

paleohack chart

The cookbook is called Paleo Eats, and it's filled with over 80 chef ­created, insanely tasty Paleo recipes ­­ which means they are free from gluten, soy, dairy, and refined sugar.

Get your FREE copy of Paleo Eats Here. (Grab this today, because they only ordered a small batch of these cookbooks for this freebie promotion, and they will sell out FAST!)

>> Get The Free Cookbook


Sponsored Health Resources

In the years that I've been working on this website project I've come across some amazing resources by some very special people. I'd like to share them with you here.

NOTE: I update these links often so please check back to see what's new!

1) Everyone knows green smoothies are healthy right? Have you heard of a “red” smoothie? If not, check out this story…

--> "Red" Smoothie Helps Alabama Girl Shed 80lbs!

2) Forget what you've read about 10-day lemonade cleanses, 7-day detoxes with green juices and Gwyneth's gruel. All you need to do, and this is perfect for Saturday or or anytime really, is a simple 1-day cleanse.

--> Get the 1 Day Cleanse (better than 7-day detoxes!)

3) This “hidden survival muscle” in your body will boost your energy levels, immune system, sexual function, strength and athletic performance when unlocked.

--> #1 muscle that eliminates joint and back pain, anxiety and looking fat

4) I thought it was virtually impossible for a website to be able to tell me anything even a little bit insightful after only submitting my name and date of birth... I was wrong!

--> Your Birth Date + Name - Free Report

5) Turmeric is amazing. The problem is - It's hard to absorb!

--> The best way to get maximum effects of Turmeric

6) Wonder why your stomach still sticks out even though you're hammering the core exercises every day? It's a common myth that bulging belly is due to weak abdominal muscles.

--> Why Some People LOOK Fat that Aren't

7) Even if you're the most active of athletes, you may still suffer from tight hip flexors due to the amount of time you spend each day planted to a chair.

-->  Unlock Your Hip Flexors

Enjoy! Let me know how these work out for you. And if you run across anything I've missed please let me know.

Rick D.