PRECONCEPTION

027: 5 Key Nutrients to Improve Egg Health w/ Nora DeBora CNP, FAMM

027

027: 5 Key Nutrients to Improve Egg Health w/ Nora DeBora CNP, FAMM

Welcome to the Hey Mami podcast!

Our guest today is Nora DeBora, a Preconception Health Coach, Holistic Nutritionist, and Fertility Awareness Practitioner who helps women prepare for pregnancy and have a healthy baby after 30.

Through her signature program, Master Your Cycle To Get Pregnant, Nora teaches women how to optimize their hormones and fertility by harnessing the power of their menstrual cycle with nutrition, cycle charting and self care practices.

When she’s not coaching, you can find her indulging in gourmet burgers, sweating in a yoga class, or on long hikes with her husky. 

Or listen on Apple Podcasts | Spotify | Stitcher | TuneIn | YouTube

In today’s episode we are talking about how to improve egg quality in just 90 days, the best foods and nutrients for egg health, and how to support egg health through lifestyle. 

Highlights:

  • Nora’s story
  • Why it’s so important to prepare your body for conception
  • How does the ovarian environment impact the health of your eggs?
  • Key nutrients for boosting egg health
  • Lifestyle factors that can support egg health

Important Links

Find Nora online

Download your Eat To Get Pregnant Guide 

Nutrition Genome Report

Follow Nora on Instagram

027: 5 Key Nutrients to Improve Egg Health w/ Nora DeBora CNP, FAMM TRANSCRIPT

Dr. Carrasco:                      Welcome back to the Hey Mami Podcast. In today’s episode, we’re talking all about egg health. We cover how to improve egg quality in just 90 days, the best foods and nutrients for egg health, and lifestyle factors that can support your egg health. Our guest today is Nora DeBora, a preconception health coach, holistic nutritionist, and fertility awareness practitioner who helps women prepare for pregnancy and have a healthy baby after 30. Through her signature program, Master Your Cycle to Get Pregnant, she teaches women how to optimize their hormones and fertility by harnessing the power of their menstrual cycle with nutrition, cycle charting and self-care practices.

Dr. Carrasco:                      Welcome, Nora. Thank you so much for joining us.

Nora:                                     Thank you so much for having me. I’m excited to be here with you guys today.

Dr. Carrasco:                      Yes, likewise. Well one of the first questions we ask everyone is, tell us why you do what you do, what led you to doing exactly what you’re doing right now? What’s story behind that?

Nora:                                     It always, I mean, especially in this space, and I find a lot of it really comes from a personal story and that’s precisely my story. It comes from my own personal journey. So I am a 38-year-old single woman who wants to have children, and I’ve always wanted to have kids. I knew that since I was a really young little girl. By the time I was 30, I found myself still single and not having babies. And I actually transitioned my career over from the corporate HR world into health and wellness at that time. So I had a kind of big transition. What is that called at that time, your sudden return in your late ’20s into your early ’30s?

Nora:                                     So I had a bunch of a time in my life [inaudible 00:01:46] and as I moved into the health and wellness industry, I ended up realizing, well, you know what? I’m probably not going to have babies until later in life. And so as I started my nutrition practice, worked with personal training clients, I figured, you know what? I’m going to see what I can do for my body and my health to preserve and prime my body as much as I can naturally to optimize my fertility so that I can have babies later in life. And as practiioner in this space already, this was going to be easy. I’ve got the foundational knowledge. I’ll just dive in. I’ll have to make a few tweaks here and there, and I’ll be good to go. But I was wrong.

Nora:                                     I was so overwhelmed with all the information out there. There was so much gaps of information. And so as I started diving into more research, for my own personal body and my own personal journey, I thought, I can’t be the only person in this position. And that’s what really took me down the road of nicheing in preconception and starting to then build my own program, my own practice, around preconception health. So mainly, this was my story and what I was going through. And then I spoke to so many more women and saw so many women waiting longer to have babies, whether it’s finding a partner, focusing on their career.

Nora:                                     A lot of the times, especially as women of age, the first recommendation from the doctor is either wait 12 months, come back if you can’t get pregnant after 12 months, we send you off to the fertility clinic. And the fertility clinic is so amazing to have that resource and technology available to us, but in my personal opinion, I feel it isn’t the first solution. There’s so many things you can do beforehand, before you actually get there to either get pregnant naturally on your own, or increase the chances of success rate of fertility treatments, because we know how expensive they can be as well. So that’s kind of high level, my little journey.

Dr. Carrasco:                      That’s wonderful. Tell us why it’s so important to prepare your body for conception in advance of pregnancy. This is something Christine and I are very passionate about as well. Tell us your take on that.

Nora:                                     Yeah, so I find when somebody gets pregnant, that’s when they decide to pick up the books and quit the coffee, stop eating the refined food, stop drinking alcohol. But your body, there’s no other time in a woman’s life that requires so much energy and nutrients to grow this new life inside of you outside of being pregnant and having a baby. So by taking the time upfront, prior to actually conceiving, I say a minimum of three months, I would actually love my clients to get in at least six to 12 months prior to actually getting pregnant, to start thinking about priming and preparing their body. Because really the nutrient stores that are needed for developing this baby, your nutrient stores need to be at such a high level in order for us not to get depleted along the way. And also to get the health nutrients and what they need so that they can develop and develop into a healthy baby and an adult after they’re born.

Nora:                                     So really, I would say it’s kind of two-fold. It’s for yourself, to make sure that you’re primed with the optimal nutrients so that you can have a healthy, energetic pregnancy. And that when you give birth, there’s much less chance for postpartum depression in that type of experience. And addition at the same time, you have the nutrient stores in your body for your baby so that you’re giving your baby the best opportunity of life. And that really comes from the concept of epigenetics, right? And we know now that so much of our health and our diseases really come from our environment, and much less from our genetics. So, if we can clean up our body, clean up the environment in our body, we’re then giving our baby the best chance for their adult healthy life down the road.

Dr. Carrasco:                      Yeah, absolutely. And I think genetics is a really hot topic and something we talk about a lot, but it’s overlooked by many. So I’m glad to hear that you’re talking about that as well. Something that I think is really of interest is the ovarian environment, because that’s not discussed often. So talk to us about the ovarian environment, and how and why it dictates the health of your eggs?

Nora:                                     Yes, absolutely. So as women, we are all born with all of our eggs, right? And we have our ovaries and the inside of our ovaries is where all of our primordial eggs rest and sit before they can develop and mature to eventually be released for potential conception. Now, inside the ovary, we have, there is all of the kind of white, from the training that I’ve done with my teachers and my mentors, they call it white flow, which is this white fluid which actually comes out as cervical mucus, because we’ve got cervical mucus as women.

Nora:                                     But inside that ovarian environment, there’s also a lot of this white flow, and that white flow inside the ovarian environment keeps those primordial eggs nice and nourished, and healthy, so that when they’re ready to develop and grow into a mature egg before they’re released for potential conceptions, they have all of, going back to that epigenetics, all of the right nutrients and [inaudible 00:07:16] inside the ovary so that those eggs mature optimally. So we don’t really think about what primordial eggs sit in inside the ovary. We just think, okay, an egg is released at ovulation and we get pregnant, but we don’t actually think what happens behind the scenes, [inaudible 00:07:37] or that actually.

Nora:                                     Because it does take at least minimum of three months for that primordial egg to develop and grow before it is actually released before conception. So we think it’s not only, let’s just try and get pregnant and conceive, I’ll just make sure the last three weeks I’ve been eating really clean. No, it actually starts at minimum three months prior to that. So I always say, give yourself that 90-day window to optimize that egg as much as you can, because if you conceive today, that is going to be reflective of the health of your eggs within the last three months.

Dr. Maren:                          And that part is like so important, 90 days, at least. And I think a lot of people just don’t realize that. There’s a similar kind of timeframe with sperm production, but it’s like, we got to think about this stuff well in advance. And that’s where changes, I think, make a really big difference. Like, when we have that opportunity, let’s do it.

Dr. Carrasco:                      That’s right. Talk to us about key nutrients for boosting egg health. What are the key nutrients that you recommend people take or consume in order to really supercharge their eggs?

Nora:                                     Absolutely. As a preconception health coach, in that umbrella, I’m a holistic nutritionist and that was my first love in the health and wellness. I kind of dove down that nutrition dove down, sorry, let’s say that again. I dove down nutrition. And so really, I love to help my clients boost their egg quality mainly with nutrition, and then top that up with supplements. Because a lot of people think, well, I’m just going to take a prenatal, or CoQ10, and I’m good to go. But I’d say every single day you need to focus on the key nutrients from nutrition first, and then you can bump that up with supplements.

Nora:                                     One of the first key nutrients that I recommend for egg health, and even for sperm health, so what I’m going to suggest today for egg health goes hand in hand with sperm health. So this is a double whammy if you want to make sure you get your partner on board as well, is vitamin A. Vitamin A in the form of retinol, not necessarily in the form of Beta-carotene. So vitamin A, in the form of Beta-carotene comes in the form of those bright orange and yellow vegetables that you see. Like carrots, squashes, sweet potatoes, which is great and amazing. Still definitely consume that. But vitamin A, in the form of retinol actually comes from animal based products. So animal based foods.

Nora:                                     The best food, one of the magic fertility foods is liver. Liver is incredible for sperm health, egg health, for optimizing hormone production, for giving you lots of energy, but liver. And to be honest, when I learned this, I rolled my eyes because I hate liver. I do not like the taste of liver. I’ve tried to cook it in so many different ways. It’s just not that type of food that I like to eat. So, you also can get desiccated liver capsules, which is essentially liver which has been dehydrated and then put into capsule form and comes out in a powder.

Nora:                                     So, there are times when supplements are necessary, and this could be one of them if you are not a liver fan. But you can find vitamin A in the form of liver or cod liver oil, Cod liver oil is another supplement that a lot of people take for preconception and for prenatal. And other sources of vitamin A come from full fat dairy products and pasteurized eggs. So those are big ones to get your vitamin A.

Dr. Maren:                          Yeah. Are you familiar with nutrition genome? That report? Have you ever seen it?

Nora:                                     Nutrition Genome?

Dr. Maren:                          Yeah.

Nora:                                     I haven’t seen that specific report.

Dr. Maren:                          It’s a cool report. Yeah, one of the genes they call out on that report is VCMO1. And it has to do with conversion between Beta-carotene to preform vitamin A. And so it explains in some people, I mean, I always say gene slow, the gun environment pulls the trigger just because you have the genetic kind of influence doesn’t mean it’s necessarily a problem, but it might prompt you to check a vitamin A level at your lap. And Alex and I both draw fasting vitamin A levels on our patients so we can see, are you deficient or not? And then our listeners might know too, vitamin A is a controversial nutrient when it comes to preconception nutrition and nutrition when you’re pregnant, because there’s some older studies looking at high dose vitamin A causing birth effects.

Dr. Maren:                          So, I always prefer to have food first when we’re doing vitamin A, so like the cod liver oil and liver, all that stuff, pastured egg yolks, I’m a big fan. And one of the things we look for in a really good prenatal vitamin, if our listeners look on the back and it says vitamins A, it’ll often say vitamin A as carotinoids. So it’s really just, it’s not actually vitamin A, it’s Beta-carotene, it’s a precursor, but you might not convert it [crosstalk 00:12:23] very well convert. So we like it as vitamin A as mixed carotinoids and retinyl palmitate.

Dr. Carrasco:                      Yeah. And we actually had, we had the [inaudible 00:12:35] Nutrition Genome at the very beginning of when we began a podcast, it’s an awesome test and gives a lot of insight into the genetic or epigenetic predispositions that people have and how we can correct some of those, course correct some of those weaknesses.

Nora:                                     And so how many genes does it end up… Like when you do the test, you know how many gene it has? Because there’s so many genetic [crosstalk 00:12:55] today that, it’s 80-

Dr. Maren:                          It’s like 80 pages long. [crosstalk 00:12:59]-

Dr. Carrasco:                      It’s like 80 genes maybe.

Dr. Maren:                          I want to say it’s like 300 now. I don’t know. Honestly, yeah, it’s a lot.

Dr. Carrasco:                      It’s an awesome test and people can actually order it on their own.

Dr. Maren:                          Yeah. It’s pretty cool.

Dr. Carrasco:                      So we’ll link that so that, and we’ll give you that info so that you can share with your listeners.

Dr. Maren:                          Okay. Here’s here’s the data though. The results now include approximately 3000 gene combinations. This is from Alex, I recently was chatting with him about the report because they have a Nutrition Genome 2.0 right now, their new report just came out. And so it is, it’s very cool. And like you said, there’s a lot of different gene reports. And I find that a lot of them are like, “You should supplement with more B12 and more vitamin A, and more folate and more this.” And it’s like, I think Nutrition Genome is good at putting food first, but also recognizing not, genes are the gun, environment pulls the trigger. It’s not everything, genes aren’t [inaudible 00:13:50]. They just help us understand vulnerabilities so.

Dr. Carrasco:                      Tell us about other nutrients that you really like for egg health.

Nora:                                     Another one is vitamin D, which I think so many, depending on where you live in the world, like I live… Well today, I’m actually in sunny Florida, which has been amazing, but I live in the Northern Hemisphere. I’m up in Toronto, Canada. And majority of, not majority of the year, a good chunk of the year, we really don’t get much sun exposure. And most of vitamin D really comes from that sun exposure. But I would say vitamin D and from my practice as well, I’ve seen majority of my clients are deficient in vitamin D. And so that is such a big one for egg health. And it also helps prevent miscarriage as well, which is another big challenge, right? Especially as women age in their 30s, as we try and conceive.

Nora:                                     But vitamin D in addition to vitamin A is ideal for egg health. And that really, again, we are going to hear a lot of these similar nutrients time and over again, but one of the best sources of vitamin D or from food sources really comes again from cod liver oil liver itself, grass-fed butter, and grass-fed and raw cheese, and raw dairy as well. In addition to that, egg yolks and mainly as well, supplementation, I think at least for my practice and a lot of my patients or clients I’d say. Most of my clients, I always recommend some supplementing with vitamin D and making sure you’re getting that healthy range of at least 45 to 95 NG-ML when you’re getting those blood results. Because we want to make sure that those are up to par.

Nora:                                     Again, I see this time and again, so many of my clients are… Some of them, their scores’ 15 or below 20, and that can be very problematic, have had multiple miscarriages in the past. So optimal nutrients for sure is vitamin D.

Dr. Carrasco:                      It can definitely play a role in pregnancy health as well and increased risk of preeclampsia. So-

Nora:                                     Yes.

Dr. Carrasco:                      A lot of the nutrients that are important for fertility are just important for lifespan in general.

Nora:                                     Yeah.

Dr. Carrasco:                      So I think that’s pretty telling. So, okay, what’s your number three nutrient for egg health?

Nora:                                     Iodine. Iodine is a big one. There was a study done that shows that women deficient in iodine are actually up to 46% less likely to conceive in any given cycle. And I think iodine is a nutrient that is overlooked quite in this space. It’s not a popular nutrient that we think about when preparing the body for pregnancy outside, just like vitamin D or maybe vitamin B12 or something. But the thyroid hormone increases by 50% during trimester one of pregnancy. So, it’s so important that our thyroid is functioning optimally, and one of the key nutrients for thyroid function is iodine. And one of the best places to find iodine is in sea vegetables. So you can get it from nori, kelp, kombu, wakame, and I got, again, something in the Western world, not something that we are familiar with cooking with all the time, but there’s so many different ways that you can include this into your diet. Do you guys cook with kombu, kelp or nori at all?

Dr. Maren:                          Yeah. I add kombu to my-

Nora:                                     Nori [crosstalk 00:17:01]-

Dr. Maren:                          …bone broth. Nori tacos?

Nora:                                     Yes, I add kombu to my bone broth too.

Dr. Carrasco:                      Yeah. I’ll just wrap up chop up avocado-

Dr. Maren:                          Oh yeah, that’s so good.

Dr. Carrasco:                      … and ginger, shredded carrots, and just wrap it in nori.

Dr. Maren:                          Yeah, totally. That sounds delicious right now.

Dr. Carrasco:                      It’s very refreshing.

Dr. Maren:                          So good.

Nora:                                     They also have this here, my brother’s place in Florida, and I found in his spice drawer that he’s got this, I think it’s called the Japanese spice. I don’t know exactly what it’s called, but it’s got like combination of sesame seeds [crosstalk 00:17:35]-

Dr. Maren:                          Oh yeah.

Nora:                                     …and white like nori strips. And apparently you can put it on anything, put on your salad, you can put [crosstalk 00:17:41]-

Dr. Maren:                          I have that in my spice cabinet. I just cannot think of the name right now, but it is kind of good, like basmati rice with salmon or something like that, broccoli. My kids eat have a thing for tamari also, so it’s a thing. It’s a thing at our house.

Nora:                                     [crosstalk 00:17:54] salty.

Dr. Maren:                          Yeah, salty stuff. Yeah, iodine’s an interesting one. And we’ve talked about iodine a lot, and we do that in our preconception guide because it’s another one where it’s like, it’s going to be in prenatal vitamins. It’s going to be in higher quantities in certain prenatal vitamins and others, but there’s a reason for that. And there’s a reason that the government actually fortified our salt supply with iodine in what was that? The 1930s, maybe? I don’t know exactly what year-

Nora:                                     [inaudible 00:18:20] ’40s, yeah.

Dr. Maren:                          But that was something, we saw that people are actually iodine deficient, and that affects reproductive health in major ways. I think the flip side of that is like, if you have Hashimoto’s disease, you might actually be a little bit more sensitive to iodine. And so we’re always careful with high dose supplementation, but I always tell people, just trickle it in small doses at a time-

Dr. Carrasco:                      Get it through food first.

Dr. Maren:                          Get it through food first, but make sure it’s in your prenatal. I mean, if you have a good prenatal, it’s going to be in there and sufficient quantities for most people although that’s another one. We’re testing for iodine, you could do a serum spot iodine which I do, but it’s not perfect. Like a 24-hour urine iodine is a way to test. And that’s some cumbersome stuff. I mean, not that many people want to do that.

Dr. Carrasco:                      Well, and then the other thing too, is that so many people have subclinical hypothyroidism because of an iodine deficiency.

Dr. Maren:                          Yeah.

Dr. Carrasco:                      And then we know that if you have subclinical hypothyroid, if you have subclinical thyroid function that increases your risk of miscarriage as well, and also increases your risk of having fertility challenges, so-

Dr. Maren:                          It’s such an individual one, right? Like-

Dr. Carrasco:                      Right, yeah.

Dr. Maren:                          It’s a hard one.

Dr. Carrasco:                      And there are some genetic markers as well. So I think that food as medicine approach for iodine is my favorite way to go for sure.

Dr. Maren:                          Yeah.

Nora:                                     Yeah. And you can also find it, iodine is not just in sea vegetables, but also in, I mean, here we go again, liver, there’s lots of iodine in liver as well. Again, eggs, and [crosstalk 00:19:47] diary products.

Dr. Maren:                          I didn’t know that.

Nora:                                     Yes. Yeah, there’s liver, sorry, there’s iodine in grass-fed liver.

Dr. Maren:                          Oh, interesting.

Dr. Carrasco:                      I also recently read that there’s a good amount of iodine in unsweetened cranberry juice.

Dr. Maren:                          Oh, interesting.

Nora:                                     Oh God, I didn’t know.

Dr. Carrasco:                      Yep. It’s a really good source of iodine [inaudible 00:20:12]-

Nora:                                     I can tell you this. I can also tell you right now, I’ve got, let me get my liver hand out-

Dr. Carrasco:                      Four ounces.

Nora:                                     … so I can tell you exactly.

Dr. Carrasco:                      Four ounces of cranberries contain approximately 400 mcs of iodine.

Dr. Maren:                          Oh wow. That’s fascinating.

Dr. Carrasco:                      And that’s pretty easy. If you get an unsweetened cranberry juice, you can add that into your sparkling water.

Dr. Maren:                          Every time I start talking about iodine, I go down the fluoride and the chlorine kind of environmental toxins pathway. Because I think that plays a huge role just keeping other hay lights out as much as we can. Yeah, it’s an interesting one.

Dr. Carrasco:                      Yep. All right, your next favorite nutrient.

Nora:                                     My next favorite nutrient, I mean something that everybody might be taking already in supplement form is CoQ10 in the form of ubiquinol. So that is a big one. And I think is we especially is as women age in their ’30s and early ’40s. I think the first thing they come to me to say, “I’m already taking CoQ10 is that good? Is that the first good step?” And the answer is yes, it’s a great antioxidant that is going to prevent the body’s natural tissues from the aging process. And a big part of that is our egg health and keeping the ovarian reserve nice and healthy and strong, especially as we move into our later ’30s.

Nora:                                     Now again, CoQ10 can also be found in the form of food outside of taking the supplement form. And some of this can be found again in organ meats whether it’s, I mean if people have a hard time eating liver, you might have a hard time eating heart. But you can find it in organ meats such as heart, liver, and kidneys. Muscle meats as well from grass fed pork, and beef, and chicken.

Nora:                                     CoQ10 can also be found in fatty fish as well. So if you’re not eating those animal proteins in pescatarian, go ahead and start consuming the good amount of fish, trout, herring, macro, or sardines. You can also find CoQ10 in oranges, in strawberries. So those have pretty high dose of CoQ10 in the fruit section and spinach, cauliflower, and broccoli, if you’re liking your vegetable sources as well. So CoQ10 is another big one for the ovarian reserve, especially as we move-

Dr. Carrasco:                      Especially if you’re over 35.

Dr. Maren:                          Yeah. I was going to say over 35, and it’s pretty high dose when we supplement with that. I mean-

Nora:                                     Yes.

Dr. Maren:                          … 600 milligrams is a lot of CoQ10.

Nora:                                     Yes.

Dr. Maren:                          I’ve never seen any adverse kind of reactions from supplementing with a lot of CoQ10. Have you asked?

Dr. Carrasco:                      I haven’t.

Nora:                                     You know what? I actually had an adverse reaction because I’ve played with a lot of supplements myself, and experiment with my own body. And at one point for me, I ended up getting like these rashes and some itchy skin on my body.

Dr. Maren:                          Oh, interesting.

Nora:                                     And when I started doing some research, apparently that was an adverse effect of too much CoQ10. So I played with it and I kind of moved I lowered the dosage. For me, I ended up having to just omit it completely and then my rash went away. But for me, I ended up getting this rash under my armpits and in where my lats are like in the sides of my body here.

Dr. Maren:                          Interesting. Okay, so-

Nora:                                     That was something that was new for me.

Dr. Maren:                          … just curious, but like did you try different brands? Do you think it was brand specific or filler related or no?

Dr. Carrasco:                      Sometimes you’re soy as well, soy possible [inaudible 00:23:33].

Nora:                                     Yeah, I think I ended up trying, what did I try? I think I tried the metogenic brand and I think I tried the NH brand, so I had pretty good brands. But I was looking for fillers as well. And I seen, I don’t remember off the top of my head exactly what was in them, but I remember they were-

Dr. Maren:                          Pretty, pretty clean.

Nora:                                     Yeah, I wasn’t grabbing it from Costco or something like off the-

Dr. Maren:                          Yeah, interesting.

Nora:                                     So that might, something to think about.

Dr. Maren:                          Good to know. Totally.

Nora:                                     You never know.

Dr. Maren:                          And do you have a number five favorite nutrient for egg health?

Nora:                                     The last five favorite nutrient is the omega fatty. The omega-3 fatty acids, the DHA and the EPA. Again, you can find those cod liver oil, I’m going to be a broken record here. But really the cod liver oil also like fish, any type of fatty fish you’ll find this in as well, fish eggs. I’m not a fish eggs fan, but you can find it in the fish row. And a lot of supplementation with the omega-3 TPA, EHA. Sorry, DHA, EPA, if you’re supplementing with that separately. But omega-3 is the next big one, is my kind of big top five for key nutrients for egg health.

Dr. Carrasco:                      Yeah. Love it, love it. And so, what are some lifestyle factors that can support egg health? What are things that people can do or change in their environment or in their day to day that can support egg quality?

Nora:                                     One of the biggest things, well, I guess this, so it’s kind of lifestyle nutrition going into lifestyle. But one of them would be reducing caffeine consumption. I think we have to remember that when we support egg quality, that is really just another layer of supporting our overall hormone health. Because as women, our bodies are in a semi continuous state of pregnancy every single month. And our bodies are naturally designed to do this. So as a female, we have these the ebb and flow of our estrogen, progesterone and testosterone in their rhythm to ensure that as we move towards ovulation, our estrogen is rising, our ovaries do what they need to do to release that egg.

Nora:                                     And then through the luteal phase, our progesterone is rising because maybe we’re pregnant and then if we’re not, the whole cycle of starts again. So for that egg quality and that egg health, we need to make sure that estrogen, progesterone and testosterone, everything is working harmoniously and beautifully together. If we think about an orchestra, right? All of the PE all of the instruments need to be working harmoniously together to get that beautiful sound. And it’s the same thing with our body. That egg quality is just kind of like the tail end consequence of what’s happening with our reproductive health hormones, all in all.

Nora:                                     So a good lifestyle factor to think about is caffeine consumption, because caffeine consumption really can mess up your hormone production, especially if you’re not consuming it maybe in the most health way. Because I find, especially in my practice as well most people, what’s the first thing that they drink when they wake up in the morning? Caffeine, right? And we wake up in a fast and dehydrated state. The first thing our body wants in the morning is adequate good nutrients and hydration. And our blood sugar is in the tank. The first thing that we’re consuming is caffeine. We are suppressing our appetite and we are dehydrating ourselves even more.

Nora:                                     So caffeine consumption is a big, big one. If we can, I always say especially, especially in that time of preparing for pregnancy if you can omit caffeine entirely, great. Some people can’t and they’re like, “I’m just not willing to do that.” So if that’s the case then I always say, make sure that you drink water and lemon first. Eat your breakfast first so that you got that blood sugar up and then consume that caffeine, so it’s not tanking your insulin and spiking the cortisol as much as it would if you’re having it completely on an empty step. So that’s caffeine is a big one. I know caffeine is sensitive subject to many because they’re like, “Don’t take away my caffeine please.” And that’s a big one-

Dr. Maren:                          I would be in that-

Nora:                                     And that’s a big one.

Dr. Maren:                          … category of I like

Nora:                                     Especially if you’re already a mom that I know. I hear that all the time.

Dr. Carrasco:                      I completely eliminated caffeine about six months ago, but I went 10 years drinking it every morning and it’s made a big difference in my health. But yeah, that’s a hard one. It’s made a big difference in my sleep, even though I was only drinking it before noon.

Nora:                                     Exactly.

Dr. Maren:                          And I think anybody who’s dealing with sleep issues like it’s in excessive stress and cortisol, it’s worth trying. [crosstalk 00:28:08]-

Nora:                                     It’s just a hard one.

Dr. Carrasco:                      It’s a hard one.

Nora:                                     It’s a hard one. And [crosstalk 00:28:11]-

Dr. Carrasco:                      I was just going to say [crosstalk 00:28:14]. Go ahead. No, no, no you go ahead. Go ahead.

Nora:                                     Go ahead, go ahead. I say the first bit might be a little bit rougher, but once you get over that hump. Once you get over that hump of the withdrawal symptoms like you said, your sleep quality is going to improve. You are going to have natural energy as opposed to getting your energy from the stimulant in and of itself. So I think that hump is the most challenging part, but it does get better after that.

Dr. Carrasco:                      Yeah, I would agree with that. But I agree also Christine, that it’s a tricky one. Because for example, we know that caffeine can also be positive for longevity. I mean my grandmother drank it like six times a day and she died at 103 with no health issues.

Dr. Maren:                          Wow.

Dr. Carrasco:                      It’s kind of like, I thinks it’s just-

Dr. Maren:                          It’s a risk benefit [crosstalk 00:28:59]-

Dr. Carrasco:                      … it’s a very bio-individual thing.

Dr. Maren:                          Yeah, I think it’s just, there’s risks. There’s benefit and you just have to like everything like with medication. You just have to weigh like for you as an individual’s-

Dr. Carrasco:                      What’s it worth?

Dr. Maren:                          What’s it worth? Does it cause problems? Does it cause sleep issues and the risks are higher than the benefits? It’s just, it’s never a really simple equation. Unfortunately it’s a little bit complicated.

Nora:                                     And I think another thing to think about as well is, what’s the goal? If the goal right now is to optimize the body, to get pregnant and get you through that phase then for doesn’t mean that you’ll have to stop coffee for the rest of your life or stop drinking caffeine for the rest of your life. But for a short period of time if you’ve got a regular periods, if you have anxiety issues, for me caffeine just gives me heart palpitations. And I just know that it does not work for my body. So caffeine, caffeine is a big one.

Dr. Maren:                          Totally.

Dr. Carrasco:                      What else do you have on that list of lifestyle factors that people can do today to support their egg health?

Nora:                                     Exercise is a big one and going back to that egg health component and the egg health is going to be the consequence of a healthy, regular menstrual cycle. We want to think about exercise and how much stress we are putting on our bodies under. And so, there’s so many different signs that we can use that our body is going to tell us whether or not we have irregular menstrual cycle goals. There are certain key parameters that we need to look at every month to say, are we having our cycles between 24 and 35 days without more than eight days of variance between cycle to cycle? Do we know we’re ovulating?

Nora:                                     Do we have a sustained, sorry, not a sustained, do we have a healthy luteal phase of at least 10 to 11 day luteal phase so that we know that we are having adequate levels of progesterone. And what can impact the healthy menstrual cycle is the amount of stress our body is under in the form of exercise. We’re living in the Western world, we’re very busy, we’ve got a long laundry list of things to do. We might be drinking a lot of caffeine. Our body’s under constant state of stress.

Nora:                                     And I think we are also been told maybe from the media, just things that we’ve learned in the past is that we should push, push, push work, work, work hard, hard, hard, sweat. The harder we work, the better it’s going to be but that might be actually counterproductive for our hormones and for our body. So I always say workout smarter, not necessarily harder. So taking that time to evaluate your weekly routine of working out. And being mindful, am I getting in a restorative yin yoga practice to calm the nervous system, get me back into that parasympathetic state. Or am I doing five days of hit and on my peloton for the other two days in riding 35, 50 miles a day.

Nora:                                     So I think for this is, everything is always individually based individually. And I think it depends on what you’re baseline in as well. If you are an athlete going into this and looking to concede and get pregnant your baseline is going to be different for somebody who’s completely sedentary. And maybe not doing anything. But workouts smarter not hard and figuring out what that is for your health.

Nora:                                     So moving every day is ideal, I think we all know that. But taking that time to audit your exercise routine I think is important. And I would say I think we take enough, we take for, sorry. I don’t think we are really, truly aware of how much that yin or restorative class is actually going to benefit us maybe more than that class that pushes us. And makes us sweat like crazy and shuts down our ovary system and then we’re exhausted for the rest of the day. So taking some time to evaluate your exercise routine is a big one.

Dr. Maren:                          Yeah, that’s a good one.

Dr. Carrasco:                      Yeah, that’s a good one. Okay, and then do you have a number three for lifestyle factors that can support egg health?

Nora:                                     The last one really is learning and understanding, well, mainly I was going to say how to balance your blood sugar. But that kind of goes hand in hand with nutrition. I mean we talked about the key nutrients, but I think overall with regards to lifestyle and just knowing how, what. And exercise kind of goes hand in hand with balancing your blood sugar as well. But I would say understanding and knowing how to balance your blood sugar is key.

Nora:                                     And that can be done with exercise and just making sure that you’re having adequate key, sorry, adequate well-balanced meals. And knowing when to consume caffeine, whether it’s on an empty stomach or after food to really make sure that we’re optimizing those hormones as we move through our cycle. So balancing blood sugar, I don’t know. To me that’s a lifestyle but again, I’m a holistic nutritionist. So to the everyday person, yeah. I mean, balancing your blood sugar is extremely important in making sure that we are optimizing our eggs.

Dr. Carrasco:                      Yeah. And Christie and I agree for sure on that. It’s a big passion point for both of us. Well, wonderful. Well, tell us where people can find you online.

Nora:                                     Yes. So you can find me online at www.naturallynora.ca That’s my website. I have a free guide on how to eat to get pregnant while mainly how to eat for your menstrual cycle to help you optimize your hormones. And that’s like a quick one pager guide that you can print out and put on your fridge, and know exactly what to eat in each week of your cycle to optimize [crosstalk 00:34:28] your hormones. So that’s www.naturallynora.ca/eat. And once you download that, you can get a few, I sent also a few free recipes to go with that guide and you can find me on Instagram at naturally underscore Nora. I do a lot of carousel informative posts that you can enjoy throughout your journey as well.

Dr. Carrasco:                      That’s awesome and safe later and share. That’s really cool. Well, it’s been a pleasure having you on thank you so much for joining us and thank you for all your good work.

Nora:                                     Thank you for having me. Thank you so much-

Dr. Carrasco:                      For sure [crosstalk 00:35:05]-

Nora:                                     … for your awesome podcast.

Dr. Maren:                          Florida.

Dr. Carrasco:                      I know, that’s why [crosstalk 00:35:08]-

Nora:                                     I know, I can’t wait. I will.

Dr. Maren:                          So all right.

Nora:                                     Thank you.

Dr. Maren:                          Thanks Dora.

Dr. Carrasco:                      Thank you.

Alejandra Carrasco M.D. and Christine Maren D.O.

Hello! We are Alejandra Carrasco M.D. and Christine Maren D.O. We founded Hey Mami because we felt a lack of support for fellow mamis. As physicians, we see women every day who struggle with fertility, are forgotten about postpartum, and have put their health on hold for years while they raise a family. We’re here to change that.

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