View All

Registered dietitian, functional nutritionist, & your new fertility BFF. I'm passionate about helping women thrive during preconception, pregnancy, and postpartum.




View All

Explore the blog

Hi, I'm Anabelle

Non-toxic Living

About me
Learn More

Work with our team

During pregnancy you are likely experiencing a lot of unexpected (and many times uncomfortable) changes to your body. You may be going through heartburn, extreme food aversions, constipation or simply feeling puffy and bloated all over the place. (But not to worry, as these symptoms are very common and natural during pregnancy!)

However, on top of all of this, the anxiety over weight gain may be looming over your head, especially when society holds a certain unrealistic body ideal for women and there is constant pressure to quickly “snap” back in shape postpartum. Afterall, stress is the last thing we want during pregnancy, but there is an unbelievable amount of expectation that goes into carrying another human being, when all we want is to have a healthy baby.  

Thus, in today’s article, Wellspring Nutrition is going to help clear up some of the confusion surrounding gestational weight gain to hopefully make your pregnancy journey the healthiest and the most fulfilling. 

What is going on in our body? 

Gestational weight gain is a natural and healthy aspect of pregnancy as your body is supporting fetal growth and development. Some of you may be wondering why you are gaining weight rather quickly during the early phases of pregnancy when the baby is not even that big. This is due to the fact that during the first 30 weeks, maternal fat stores are increased as the body is actively storing nutrients to meet the demands of growing the placenta, a brand new organ that forms just during pregnancy to sustain the growth of the baby, and the energy needs for later in the pregnancy and lactation. During the later stages of gestation, your body will divert a lot of its nutrients to the developing fetus.  

Although total weight gain is variable for each individual, there are certain patterns that are commonly observed. In many cases, the first trimester accounts for 5 percent of the total weight gain and the remaining 95 percent is slowly gained during the last two trimesters. 

Overall, aside from the extra fat deposits, the added weight comes from the placenta, the amniotic fluid (the liquid that surrounds the fetus for protection), increase in body water, expanded blood volume, tissue development in the breasts, and uterus and mammary glands amplification. These changes to your body are driven by hormonal shifts to prepare nourishment and a home for your baby!

Why is it important to be conscious? 

We acknowledge that any topic surrounding weight, and especially discussing numbers can be extremely triggering for some. There is definitely no merit to obsessing solely over a number on a scale, when you already have a lot going on. Nevertheless, having a general idea of what a healthy pregnancy weight gain should look like is important in preventing certain pregnancy complications as well as for the long term health of you and your baby.

Insufficient gestational weight gain is linked to low birth weight and small-for-gestational-age (SGA) newborns. Babies who were born at a low birth weight are predisposed to cardiovascular and metabolic complications later in life. On the contrary, excessive gestational weight gain leads to a higher likelihood of macrosomia (infants being much larger than average) and large-for-gestational-age (LGA) newborns. These birth outcomes are associated with future obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular disease for the child. Unfortunately, for the mother, excessive weight gain is also considered to be a significant determinant for gestational diabetes and hypertension, labor complications, difficulty with breastfeeding, and even pregnancy loss. 

It has been shown that mothers with an accurate knowledge of gestational weight gain recommendation were more likely to meet those targets, indicating that having some level of awareness will lower the likelihood of the mother and the baby to have adverse long-term health outcomes.  

How much weight should I be gaining?

As mentioned earlier, there is variability in the total amount of weight gained in pregnancies among different women, and thus there is no uniform approach that is deemed appropriate for everyone. However, there are certain national standards that have been created.  

The Institute of Medicine (IOM)’s clinical recommendation range for total weight gain is categorized based on the person’s prepregnancy BMI:

Underweight (BMI of under 18.5): 28 to 40 pounds/ 12.7 to 18.1 kg

Normal Weight (BMI between 18.5 to 24.9): 25 to 35 pounds/ 11.3 to 15.8 kg

Overweight (BMI between 25 to 29.9): 15 to 25 pounds/ 6.8 to 11.3 kg 

Obese (BMI over 30): 11-20 pounds/ 4.9 to 9 kg

The BMI scale is undoubtedly not the most reliable way of determining someone’s weight category and its associated health implications, as it fails to discriminate between muscles and fatty tissues. However, it serves as a convenient ballpark estimate to figure out what you should be aiming for.    

Moreover, the recommended weight gain is higher if you are carrying twins. The recommendation is 37 to 54 pounds (16.8 kg to 24.5 kg) if you are normal weight, 31 to 50 pounds (14.1 to 22.7 kg) if you are overweight, and 25 to 42 pounds (11.3 to 19.1 kg) if you are  considered to be obese in the BMI classification. 

It is important to keep in mind that these are standards in the U.S as the IOM (now called the National Academy of Medicine) is an American non-governmental organization. Interestingly, there has not been an international consensus among what is considered to be the “appropriate” range of gestational weight gain. For instance in Japan, where low gestational weight gain is rather common, the recommendation has an upper limit of 12 kg (26.4 pounds) for underweight and normal weight women, and an individualized plan for anyone above those weight classifications. Countries like Ghana, Italy, Canada, Bulgaria, Nicaragua, and Denmark have recommendations that are similar to the U.S IOM specification. Switzerland and Brazil also have identical recommendations to those of the IOM for the underweight, normal weight and overweight category, but have an upper limit of 7 kg (15.4 pounds) for anyone in the obese classification.  Furthermore not all countries go by the pre pregnancy BMI category. Some countries in Latin America have recommendations to attain a goal BMI on the basis of gestational age.  Other countries have general guidelines that are not based on the mother’s body size or gestational age. Examples include India which has a recommendation of 10 to 12 kg (22 to 26.4 pounds) total weight gain, France which recommends an average total gain of about 12 kg (26.4 pounds) , and Myanmar which recommends an increase of 1 kg (2.2 pounds) a month from the fifth month of gestation to the end of pregnancy.   

Thus, you should keep in mind that the IOM recommendation is just one point of reference, and using your best judgment based on your health status or consulting your healthcare provider for your specific circumstance may be beneficial.     

It is important to note that for mothers in the overweight or obese category, research indicates that it may actually be beneficial to gain minimal weight or even no weight at all. For overweight and obese mothers, gaining less than the IOM’s recommendation of 15 pounds significantly reduced the risk for preeclampsia, cesarean delivery, and large for gestational age (LGA) infants.   

A key takeaway from this article should be to have a general idea of what a healthy weight gain looks like for you individually, but without dwelling too much on the number on the scale and focusing on creating a lifestyle that is healthful to you both physically and mentally. For instance, in terms of food, focusing on the nutrient density in order to nourish your baby instead of overly obsessing on calories intake would go a long way. Please feel free to check out our articles on prenatal nutrition, as they discuss crucial nutrients that are needed during pregnancy! 

Additionally, exercise during pregnancy will not only help prevent excessive weight gain but also assist with the alleviation of other pregnancy complications such as gestational diabetes and hypertension, high blood pressure, and edema. It will have a positive impact on your mental wellbeing as exercise can contribute to better sleep as well. There are certain types of exercise that pregnant women are discouraged from taking part in, so make sure to consult with your healthcare provider first.      

Looking for more support? 

Our fertility dietician Anabelle is available for one-on-one consultation and can help you address any of your concerns regarding fertility, pregnancy or hormonal imbalances like PCOS! 


  1. Aoyama T, Li D, Bay JL. “Weight Gain and Nutrition during Pregnancy: An Analysis of Clinical Practice Guidelines in the Asia-Pacific Region.” Nutrients. 2022 Mar 18;14(6):1288. doi: 10.3390/nu14061288. PMID: 35334946 PMCID: PMC8949332 https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/35334946/  
  1. Donangelo CM, Bezerra FF. “Pregnancy: Metabolic Adaptations and Nutritional Requirements.” Encyclopedia of Food and Health, (2016): 484-490. https://doi.org/10.1016/B978-0-12-384947-2.00565-1
  1. Kiel DW, Dodson EA, Artal R, Boehmer TK, Leet TL. “Gestational weight gain and pregnancy outcomes in obese women: how much is enough?” Obstet Gynecol. 2007 Oct;110(4):752-8. doi: 10.1097/01.AOG.0000278819.17190.87. PMID: 17906005 https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/17906005/
  1. Lain KY, Catalano PM. “Metabolic changes in pregnancy.”Clin Obstet Gynecol. 2007 Dec;50(4):938-48. doi: 10.1097/GRF.0b013e31815a5494. PMID: 17982337 https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/17982337/
  1. Langley-Evans SC, Pearce J, Ellis S. “Overweight, obesity and excessive weight gain in pregnancy as risk factors for adverse pregnancy outcomes: A narrative review.” J Hum Nutr Diet. 2022 Apr;35(2):250-264. doi: 10.1111/jhn.12999. Epub 2022 Mar 20. PMID: 35239212 PMCID: PMC9311414 https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/35239212/
  1. Scott C, Andersen CT, Valdez N, Mardones F, Nohr EA, Poston L, Loetscher KC, Abrams B. “No global consensus: a cross-sectional survey of maternal weight policies.” BMC Pregnancy Childbirth. 2014; 14: 167.Published online 2014 May 15. doi:10.1186/1471-2393-14-167 PMCID: PMC4031379 PMID: 24884985 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4031379/ 
  1. Shulman R, Kottke M. “Impact of maternal knowledge of recommended weight gain in pregnancy on gestational weight gain.”Am J Obstet Gynecol. 2016 Jun;214(6):754.e1-7. doi: 10.1016/j.ajog.2016.03.021. Epub 2016 Mar 21. PMID: 27012961 https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27012961/ 
  1. Smith A, Colleen A, Spees C. “Wardlaw’s Contemporary Nutrition, 12th Edition.” McGraw Hill, 2022. 
  1. “Weight gain during pregnancy.” https://www.acog.org/clinical/clinical-guidance/committee-opinion/articles/2013/01/weight-gain-during-pregnancy#:~:text=For%20twin%20pregnancy%2C%20the%20IOM,42%20lb)%20for%20obese%20women. 
  1. Zhou, M., Peng, X., Yi, H, Tang S, You H. “Determinants of excessive gestational weight gain: a systematic review and meta-analysis.” Arch Public Health. 2022 May 3;80(1):129. doi: 10.1186/s13690-022-00864-9.PMID: 35505415 PMCID: PMC9066815 https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/35505415/

Weight Gain in Pregnancy


As a pregnant woman, you might be reading up on certain foods to consume during pregnancy to ensure that you are obtaining all the nutrients that are necessary for the healthy development of your baby. At the same time, you might also be feeling terrible about not accomplishing this goal of nourishing your baby due to the food aversion, loss of appetite, and nausea that occurs during pregnancy.  

These nausea and vomiting are commonly known as “morning sickness” even though it typically happens any time of the day. You are definitely not alone if you are going through this. It is a common pregnancy experience that approximately 70 to 80 percent of women encounter. Most women experience nausea just during their first trimester although in some cases, it could last longer. By the end of the first trimester, about 60 percent of cases are resolved. 

What causes nausea during pregnancy? 

Researchers are still not entirely sure what the exact driving force behind this physiological phenomenon is but there are a few compelling theories. One theory points to hormonal factors, specifically that of the placenta, an temporary organ that forms during pregnancy that sustains the growth of the baby. There has been a positive association between the elevated production of human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG), a hormone produced by the placenta and the severity of nausea and vomiting. This hCG may prompt the ovaries to produce more estrogen, and increased estrogen levels are linked to morning sickness symptoms. Additionally, vitamin B deficiency is another potential contributor. 

Even though there is no such thing as a fool-proof hack or an absolute preventive action, we have compiled five nutritional tips that may help alleviate your nausea during the first trimester (or really anytime of your pregnancy).

Tip #1: Vitamin B6 consumption

As being deficient in Vitamin B is considered to be one of the risk factors, consuming adequate amounts of vitamin B6 is said to be effective against the incidence of pregnancy nausea and vomiting. Data from randomized trials found an association between vitamin B6 and alleviation of morning sickness. One multivitamin trial found that women who took multivitamins containing vitamin B6 were far less likely to experience nausea and vomiting compared to the placebo group. Furthermore, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) recommends taking a combination of vitamin B6 and doxylamine, as this has been linked to a 70 percent decrease in morning sickness. 

Although taking supplements is one way to ensure adequate vitamin B6 intake, there are foods that you can consume that are rich in this nutrient. These include fish (especially tuna and salmon), organ meats like beef liver, chickpeas, potatoes, poultry, bananas and dark leafy greens such as spinach.   

Tip #2: Magnesium consumption

Since symptoms of magnesium deficiency include nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, and fatigue, sufficient magnesium intake may ease your morning sickness symptoms. Magnesium deficiency is common in the United States as the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) of 2013–2016 found that 48 percent of Americans do not consume adequate amounts of magnesium. Magnesium plays an important role in protein synthesis, functioning of muscles and nerves, and the regulation of blood sugar and blood pressure. Other than potentially alleviating nausea, it is a crucial nutrient during pregnancy as it is shown to reduce pregnancy complications like leg cramps, preeclampsia, gestational diabetes, and hypertension.   

Some magnesium rich foods include pumpkin seeds, chia seeds, almonds, green leafy vegetables, cashews, peanuts, and avocados.  

Tip #3: Ginger consumption

There has not been much concrete scientific evidence on the viability or the potential harms of many herbal remedies for pregnancy complications. However, ginger has shown clinical significance in terms of management of nausea and vomiting, without much notable side effects and adverse outcomes for the fetus. In a study(randomized trial) that compared a group that took ginger supplements to the placebo group, the ginger group experienced fewer morning sickness symptoms. 

Ginger could be in the form of capsules (supplements), ginger tea from freshly grated ginger, or crystalized ginger. For best results you should stick to products that have enough actual ginger.      

Tip #4: Probiotics consumption

The “good bacteria” in our body is referred to as probiotics. Pregnancy leads to different types of hormonal changes including the increase in estrogen and progesterone levels. These hormonal changes have an impact on the gut microbiome which can contribute to digestive system-related discomfort like nausea, vomiting, upset-stomach, and constipation. Researchers have found that probiotic supplementation during pregnancy has led to an improved gastrointestinal functioning and significantly reduced nausea and vomiting. 

Common foods that probiotics are found in include yogurt, kimchi, miso, kefir, sauerkraut, natto and tempeh. Taking supplements is another option as well- the supplement that was used in the above research mainly consisted of a strain of a beneficial bacteria called Lactobacillus, and had 10 billion live cultures.  

Tip #5: Small meals throughout the day

Instead of having 2 to 3 big meals in a day, eating small frequent meals or snacks throughout the day is recommended, along with drinking fluids in between these meals.  

Morning sickness can actually get exacerbated when you have an empty stomach, so having some food in your system can ease the symptoms. Thus, neither being too hungry nor being overly full is the key.   

Having a low blood sugar level from not eating, or vomiting may lead to a vicious cycle of nauseousness, so maintaining a stable blood sugar throughout the day by having these small regular meals may mitigate the nausea triggers.  

Make sure that the foods that you are consuming are protein-rich. Protein stabilizes your blood sugar levels and a study has found that eating a protein-dominated meal led to a reduction in nauseousness compared to a meal with a different macronutrient distribution. Going with bland foods and steering away from spicy and fatty foods can make eating easier as well.   

Extra Tip: Don’t be too hard on yourself! 

Stress can make your morning sickness worse. We understand how frustrating it is to feel nauseous when all you want to do is to consume nutrient-dense food for your growing baby. It is okay if you are not able to follow the “perfect” prenatal meal plan during this time. When you are going through this state in pregnancy, if you are able to eat something…anythingーeven if it is just a piece of cracker, or a small bite of toast, you should think of it as a win! Your body is doing miracles right now and you should feel comfortable to trust the process. It is not only a temporary occurrence (91 percent of cases of nausea and vomiting are resolved by 20 weeks of gestation), but also, your baby has the ability to delve deep into your reserves to draw nutrition from you in the meantime. Hang in there!     

If you feel that the nausea and vomiting is too severe, you may have a condition called hyperemesis gravidarum. It is a separate entity from the standard nausea and vomiting that gets experienced during pregnancy, and you should speak with your healthcare provider immediately if you believe that you might have this.  

Looking for more support?

Our fertility dietician Anabelle is available for one-on-one consultation and can help you address any of your concerns regarding fertility, pregnancy or hormonal imbalances like PCOS! 

Schedule your appointment today here: https://p.bttr.to/3FdLY5q 


  1. “Ginger for morning sickness.” https://healthy.kaiserpermanente.org/health-wellness/health-encyclopedia/he.ginger-for-morning-sickness.tn9125
  1. “How can I tell if I have low magnesium?” https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/322191
  1. Lee NM, Saha S. “Nausea and Vomiting of Pregnancy.”Gastroenterol Clin North Am. 2011 Jun; 40(2): 309–vii. doi: 10.1016/j.gtc.2011.03.009 PMID: 21601782 PMCID: PMC3676933 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3676933/
  1. “Magnesium.” https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Magnesium-HealthProfessional/ 
  1. “Morning Sickness.” https://www.brighamandwomens.org/obgyn/brigham-obgyn-group/patient-education/morning-sickness#:~:text=Being%20pregnant%20causes%20changes%20in,start%2C%20or%20make%20it%20worse.
  1. Niebyl JR. “Nausea and Vomiting in Pregnancy.” N Engl J Med 2010; 363:1544-1550 DOI: 10.1056/NEJMcp1003896 https://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/nejmcp1003896
  1. “Probiotics improve nausea and vomiting in pregnancy, according to new study.” https://health.ucdavis.edu/news/headlines/probiotics-improve-nausea-and-vomiting-in-pregnancy-according-to-new-study/2021/12
  1. “Vitamin B6.” https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminB6-HealthProfessional/#:~:text=The%20richest%20sources%20of%20vitamin,fruit%20(other%20than%20citrus).
  1. Zarean E, Tarjan A. “Effect of Magnesium Supplement on Pregnancy Outcomes: A Randomized Control Trial.”Adv Biomed Res. 2017 Aug 31:6:109. doi: 10.4103/2277-9175.213879. PMID: 28904937 PMCID: PMC5590399 https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28904937/

5 Tips to Reduce Nausea in First Trimester


If you want to listen to the full episode head over to: www.wellspringnutrition.co/healing-in-fertility


Hello. Welcome back to the very last episode in this mini podcast series. I’m so happy you’ve stuck with me this whole time. So far, we’ve talked about the different reasons that you might be struggling with trying to conceive things that you have thought were working but probably are hurting you or not really doing anything. We talked about different functional lab tests and how that can really accelerate your fertility timeline. We also talked about different diets for fertility and what is truly needed to achieve your pregnancy goals. And in the very last episode, we heard from one of my past clients, Amanda, who told you all about her experience working with me and using functional nutrition for fertility. So in this last episode, I’m really going to recap.

The Holistic Fertility Method

So in this last episode, I actually want to introduce you into my program called the Holistic Fertility Method. This is a four month group coaching program, and I want to tell you all about it because I know that it’s going to help you so much. The program really has four different phases. So in the first month, we’re really focused on your fertility diet. We focus on blood sugar management and even send you your own continuous glucose monitor so that you can see exactly how the foods that you’re eating are impacting your blood sugar levels throughout the day. This has been so helpful for so many clients and really helps you connect exactly what you’re eating, how you’re moving, and how that impacts blood sugar. We already talked about how much blood sugar impacts ovulation, egg quality, all of those things. And so that is why we focus the first month dialing in your blood sugar completely the second month and the third month, we dive more into the functional labs.

So we include a GI Map stool test and an HtMa, the hair tissue mineral analysis inside the program price. So you’re getting these two different labs, and once we have your lab results back, you get a personalized, tailored protocol based on your lab. So whether you’re dealing with digestive issues, low energy acne, hormone imbalances, these two labs are really what I start every client on because they can give us so much detailed information to start getting you wins really fast. So that’s happening in month two and month three, and the last month is really to give you that time to integrate everything altogether. We include weekly education modules, so in between our monthly group coaching calls, you have access to weekly modules that go through fertility, nutrition, egg quality, ovulation, sperm quality, detoxing, environmental toxins. So much education is put in there because I know that from personal experience, when I understand the why behind something, I’m more likely to do it. So not only are we giving you the lab test, the continuous glucose monitor, the education, but we’re also having monthly coaching calls where you can ask your questions, you get the support, and you also get the support of everyone else inside of the community. We also include monthly guest experts.

So we actually just had our first guest expert last week where she led us through Yoga nidra and every month is a different theme or a different person that’s meant to help support nervous system regulation. We talked a lot about in this podcast how stress can impact your fertility. And that is something that I know I have experienced, I know so many of my clients have experienced, and really giving you all of the support that you could possibly need inside this container was my goal for creating the Holistic fertility method. So at this point, you’re probably really excited about it and maybe you’re wondering, is it worth it? We talked about how IVF can sometimes feel like it’s a guarantee when in fact it’s really not a guarantee. It costs tens of thousands of dollars. It includes a variety of different hormones and medications and procedures and is really intensive not only financially, but physically, mentally and emotionally. And I want to say and I want to tell you that IVF is not your only option. Obviously I would never tell you that I can guarantee that you get pregnant, not or the best IVF doctor in the world couldn’t promise you that either.

Prioritize Your Health: Accelerate Fertility and Enhance IVF Outcomes

But I will say that by investing in your health in this way, you are going to not only accelerate your fertility timeline, but in the situation, if you do need IVF, you’re going to set yourself up for such a better outcome. If you are someone that values personalized care and personalized nutrition, then this service is for you. If you value a great experience and you want a health practitioner that is communicative, attentive and looking out for your best interests, then this program is for you. If you value quality and attention to detail, this service is for you. And if you value putting yourself first and prioritizing your health as the mother, then this program and this service is for you. 95% of our clients report that their investment was worthwhile. And I share this stat really proudly because I care so deeply about our clients, not just their health outcomes, but also who they are and what they value and what their dreams are and how they show up for themselves. And as mothers, I’ve worked with women across the health spectrum.

Women who have polycystic ovarian syndrome, women who have women who have endometriosis, women who have unexplained infertility, women who have had previous miscarriages. Women who have never gotten pregnant, people who women who have had failed IVF cycles, women who have irregular periods or very painful periods, women who have hypothyroid, women who have graves disease. You name it. I’ve worked with someone who’s in the exact same situation that you are in right in this very moment. So if you’ve binged these episodes, I want you to take a moment right now and just imagine your life six months from now? What would that look like if you made the decision to join the Holistic Fertility Method today? Just imagine for a second feel those feelings and saying yes to your health, to your fertility. What would it look like? Try to bring that picture into your mind right now and not just what this is going to do for you, but how it’s going to impact everyone around you as well. What are you telling yourself six months from now? Are you so proud of yourself? Are you celebrating yourself for putting yourself first? How has your life changed? How has your health changed? I want you to notice and think about and really envision this life and who you are and who you have become as part of this processed. If you’ve binged these episodes, you listen to our stories and you’re going back and forth on whether or not you should move forward, I think that’s an excellent sign.

Chances are you’re going back and forth because you know there’s a need for this program and for this service in your life right now. And I want to tell you that there is a special bonus available to you specifically from coming from the podcast. So if you pause this episode, you go to the link in the show notes, go to Wellspringnutrition co HFM. You can enter the code podcastfertility and that will get you a special bonus on the program, the Holistic Fertility method and our next cohort will be in a few months. But the difference between joining now or later is just making that decision to start right now. So as soon as you sign up, you will get your continuous glucose monitor and your lab work sent to you so that you can actually do those labs and have it sent back and have it all ready to go by the time day one of the program starts. So just head to the website, head to the link in Bio. You’ll see when the next live cohort will begin.

But you can actually get started and put your deposit down today. So if you’ve been waiting for a sign to finally get in control of your health and your fertility and make the decision to invest in your own health, then this is the sign that you’ve been waiting for. It’s all possible and it’s all here for you. And you are so worthy and deserving of this. You’re worthy and deserving of feeling your absolute best and feeling nourished and whole prior to pregnancy, during pregnancy, and especially after pregnancy as a mother. So if you’ve enjoyed this podcast series, I want to thank you so much for listening, for taking your time to hear more about what I do. And I can’t wait to see your name inside the Holistic Fertility method. If you have any questions you’re thinking about, it, definitely reach out to me on Instagram and we can chat more about it.

But you can just head to Wellspringnutrition.co HFM and put your deposit in for the next live Cohort. Get everything ready and started. Today is the day. Thank you so much for listening. Bye. Thank you so much for listening. It’s been an absolute pleasure recording this podcast, and I can’t wait to hear your feedback, and I can’t wait to connect with you more inside of the program. Bye.

Episode 6: Transform Your Health and Fertility with the Holistic Fertility Method


If you want to listen to the full episode head over to: www.wellspringnutrition.co/healing-in-fertility


Hey there, welcome back to another episode of healing in fertility, the mini podcast series where we explore functional medicine, nutrition and lifestyle changes for naturally enhancing your fertility. I’m your host, Annabelle Clebenar. And in today’s episode, we have a really fun story, we have a special guest, who is a previous client of mine, her name is Amanda. And she’s going to share her story and some of the challenges that she had with getting diagnosed with PCOS, some of the ups and downs during that journey. And she’s also going to share some of the different things that she had tried in the past before we started working together. So different diets, different practitioners, and really a lot of the frustration and overwhelm that comes with dealing with fertility struggles. Amanda’s story is so inspiring. And I’m really excited to dive into it. So if you’re someone that’s either dealing with PCOS yourself or just struggling to get answers, or maybe you’ve tried different diets, and are also feeling confused about things, I think this episode is going to be so impactful and so insightful for you. And I can’t wait for you to listen. So let’s dive right in. All right, Amanda, I’m so happy for you to come on the podcast and share more about your story today. Why don’t we just start off with you telling us a little bit more about your fertility background, what was happening before we started working together. And a little bit like of some of the struggles that you faced.


Totally, I have always had super irregular periods ever since they first started when I was like 13. I mean, I would go years without a period or I would have two in a row. And then I wouldn’t have one for 10 months. And in high school and college, I thought I was so lucky. I like to hear horror stories of my friends who are having all these painful periods or just having not having a tampon and I was like, Ah, I never have to worry about this is so great. And then as I got older, I started going to see you know, the guy No, regularly, of course, and mentioned the irregular periods. And that was never a red flag for anyone. But I started discovering that I was having cysts regularly, there’s just pain and a couple of different ultrasounds and whatnot. And I remember when I was about 25, one of the gynecologist that I’ve been working with saying something about, you know, your symptoms with the irregular periods and the common cysts, you know, sounds kind of like PCOS, but you’re, you’re too skinny for that. And so I never, I didn’t really know what she meant I had never really heard anything about it.

But a couple years go down the line. And my husband was military. So we moved a lot. So I also didn’t have the same doctor for a long time. And I think that was part of the struggle with taking a little bit longer for me to get diagnosed. So new Doctor new state new location. And you know, my husband and I am probably 29 at this point. And my husband, I know that in the next few years, we would like to start having kids. And I started thinking through like I’ve really irregular periods. I feel like maybe this is something I should look into. I had had an excellent on for a long time, even though I never had periods. And with the next one on I don’t think I’d had a period for years. years. But I think that was also normal. So I wanted to start talking to somebody to figure out what is there something that’s a bigger issue, is there an underlying issue? And so we did a little bit of testing still was on next been on and realized that I had PCOS. And I had lean PCOS because there’s not as many of us with the Lean PCOS because generally the population of those who had PCOS, maybe have a larger BMI. It’s it goes a lot more undiagnosed, I learned.

So when I came home with this information, the doctor also just basically said you need to go on a keto diet you need to be super low carb. Here’s a list of vegetables and fruits that are higher carb but look into keto s low carb diets. And it was so daunting, so overwhelming. I try you know reached out to a bunch of people found a bunch of accounts on Instagram that I’ve followed some that told you to go dairy free, some that said to go sugar free. Some said Go gluten free Some said Go keto. And so I kind of tried all of it. And over the course of probably six months or so, I lost a lot of weight. Where my symptoms really that much better, I don’t know, because I also had milder symptoms and other areas. The main one was the irregular periods, but you know, and also have some hair growth. Or I would have, you know, some mood swings here and there cramping, common cysts, things like that. Nothing super, super severe the acne or things that unfortunately a lot of people have to deal with. I was lucky enough to not have that. But through this whole process was really large time to educate myself. I also found out that PCOS can be hereditary. And one of my sisters went and got tested. And she now has we’ve found has PCOS.

So throughout this whole process, I’m kind of trying to manage my diet without really having guidelines. And a couple of years go by, and I’m still doing the same thing. And my husband and I decided, you know, I think it’s time I want to start trying to get pregnant. So let’s take out the next one on. It takes six months or so later, I still don’t have a period. And so I started going to the doctor and we decide we’re going to try Clomid to force an ovulation. So we do the first round of Clomid. And this is 2020. And around that time I catch COVID. Right? in that cycle. It was a really, really easy case of COVID I didn’t lose my sense of taste and smell. I don’t never fevers, just severe exhaustion and a little bit of achiness. But nothing crazy. The crazy thing came two weeks later, when I had severe abdominal pain, severe, severe severe abdominal pain to the point that I couldn’t stand up. And actually I forgot this had happened two years previous, I had a weird situation where I was having these increased periods of periods not the right word, because it’s not a period, these periods times of just severe pain over the course of like three or four days, but come in waves. But it was dilapidated. I mean, I couldn’t stand I couldn’t move. Just crazy, crazy painful and couldn’t figure out what it was at the time. We were in a small town. This was for the first one. The time we were in a small town and I went to urgent care thinking it wasn’t an emergent situation. They had no idea what it was set me up with an abdominal ultrasound had that. Shockingly, the next day they couldn’t discover anything was it with a abdominal so I called my gynecologist at this point, went in had an vaginal ultrasound, and at this point the pain had subsided. So they said that I had some cysts and things looked really inflamed in my uterus and my ovaries but they couldn’t really say for sure if it was an ovarian torsion or if something had burst. They had no idea but just said you know, go home and rest. That was two years prior. Go back, flash forward to take take a Clomid. I’ve had COVID Two weeks later, I have a very similar situation. I can’t stand I can’t move. It’s it was way worse this time. So we go to the hospital. All of the COVID precautions are going on since I just had COVID. They treated me like I was a COVID patient couldn’t figure out what was going on. I had a vaginal ultrasound, I had an MRI, they did all this legwork. And they were contemplating having a an exploratory abdominal surgery to just see what was going on. I’m trying to get my gyno to come in to you know, have a console, they wouldn’t let her in because of COVID things. So she didn’t even she was even able to be a part of it. But we met afterwards. And she said based on the symptoms that you had, I have to think that maybe you had some sort of ovarian torsion you assist. So I think you should go see a fertility doctor. So I went into this conversation with a fertility doctor trying to figure out what the hell had just happened. Not necessarily trying to get pregnant, but trying to figure out what happened and get my body in the right alignment. Because clearly something was going on. And the fertility clinic took it to the extreme of oh, we’re about to put you on all these medications. We want to do another out of Clomid, we want to give you all these drugs. Oh, you have another cyst? Let’s put you on birth control to get rid of this USB and this one I just said absolutely not. I don’t want any of these drugs and have anything to do with this. Like I’m gonna take some time away from all of these things and figure it out.

I have thought throughout the years when I was really kind of flailing around with my diet, and not knowing where to go that working with a dietician would have been useful, but there wasn’t kind of an urgent need. And at this point, I just wanted to figure out what was going on and set myself up for success. And so I did some research and I found you and we sort of working together. And it was a really great experience. Also, I found an article around the time we started working together about women who had gotten COVID with PCOS. And there were a lot of case studies starting to come out of women who had had almost identical experiences to me that something with COVID attacked the weaker part of you. And if you had PCOS, you’re at higher risk for your uterus and your ovaries to be attacked in this way.


I didn’t think I didn’t know that part about the like, COVID PCOS connection, that’s super interesting.

Amanda : 

I need to like, research that again, and see if they’ve done more, or if there’s more studies that have come out because it was wild reading this article, it was like I had reading my own journal. The women who had had this experience, and the doctors had no idea what was going on. And then both, Yeah, crazy.


I remember. back in 2020, you’re telling me this whole story and like this whole saga and today, when when you went to the fertility clinic, did they tell you that you needed IVF?


They told me that it was likely they didn’t the doctor was I have never dealt with a more condescending doctor, as a male doctor. And not to say that male doctors are always this way. But to be and male doctor working in a fertility clinic to be that condescending and that dismissive. That was one of the reasons I walked out because I had asked him I have PCOS. Isn’t it true? Is there any like diet that I need to be working on? Isn’t it true that I need to be doing X, Y, and Z based on my own research that I had been doing because most of what I had discovered and learned about PCOS, I had to find out on my own, the doctors were not helpful across the board. And this doctor in particular was like, No, there’s no studies that there’s anything to be done. There’s no studies that you can get pregnant with PCOS easier. If you do certain things, you will likely need to end up doing IVF. And at that point, I was like, and I’m done. I you just discounted, most of the things that I had found in my own research, I’ve always been a big believer of modern medicine, obviously. But there’s something to be said about the holistic route. That’s always been like my, my thought process has always been a blend of both is kind of setting yourself up for success in the best way possible, working with doctors, but also eating the right way and taking care of your body and working out and having the whole like mind body spirit, Mental Alignment is only going to help you in your in your health journey. And so for him to dismiss that. So immediately, I was like, We are not a good partnership. 


So yeah, it’s crazy that, I mean, there’s so many great doctors out there. And there’s so many that just completely like, for some reason, just shut down any form of nutrition or supplements that can be helpful. 


I had come to him saying I had this episode, I want to figure out what in God’s name happened. So I was under the impression that he had hurt me because we started doing all this testing, he was doing less testing, because he wanted to see the viability of where I was, you know, right now, and to move into the fertility treatments not to get to the root cause of anything, and I’m always the one that wants to like, let’s get to the root cause and fixing symptoms are fine, but it’s a band aid, like how can we work and, you know, fix it from the bottom up. And that was not his approach. But I remember going in and having conversations with him and he had no memory of ever talking about the episode in the hospital. And there were a lot of red flags. So I was very, I was very happy. My husband was super supportive of like, if this does not feel right to you, we’re not doing this. So it was Yeah.


Yeah, that’s, I mean, that’s good. But you went with your gut in that situation. Okay, so you said you found me what made you decide, like to dive in and work with me and go this alternative route? 


I met with a couple of different people in this space. And I just felt like we clicked so well. You’re so easy to chat with and gab with but you also you know your shit. And I felt like you had a really we you’ve had a very similar philosophy that that I did about like getting to the root cause and aligning that whole mind body spirit, you know, mental mental situation the modern medicine partnered with a functional and at this point, you know, my husband and I were like why not? You know what is what if we don’t do this and in six months wish we had like, working with somebody one on one like this is only going to better you there’s no risk and so There is a risk if I don’t do anything. And I have another one of these episodes. And this one, we just had no idea what was going on. So I think the biggest thing was I’d followed you on Instagram for a while. And I recognize that you knew you knew what you were doing. And you had a really great knowledge base, and just a great demeanor. And I felt like you’re gonna be awesome to work with. And I was right. 


I love that. Okay, so fast forward into us starting to work together, we did a bunch of different tests for you, I was about to pull up like your old gi map and stuff. But if you can recall, I know this was like a few years ago now. But was there anything like surprising that happened when we started working together was anything like an aha moment for you or anything like that?


I’ve shared this with so many women’s sense we work together. But what women are taught about their bodies in school is nothing like it’s so inefficient. And I felt like when we started working together, I was getting educated about my body, like I never had been before. I mean, just learning about not even just me, because I’m one who’s always had irregular cycles, but learning what good looks like learning about the different phases of the cycle, like, oh, no, I had no idea. There were different phases of a cycle, and you should feel a certain way. And there’s different signs that you can tell, if you’re really in tune with your body, that part of it blew my mind, because that’s information that every woman should know, the fact that if you are having irregular cycles are really short, in short, or really long, regardless of what it is, if you’re having cramping, if you’re, you know, getting any of these hormonal mood swings, like the fact that that’s not normal, it’s common, but not normal. That was also revolutionary for me, because that’s not what we’re taught. And so in a way working together broke my heart, because this is not information that is shared widely. And it should be a part of every every, like sex ed for women. And learning that also, fertility is not just about having babies, like your fertility is your vital sign of your health.

That was another thing that rocked my world and made me wish I had done done this years ago. Because if you’re having consistent periods, and you’re having them, you know, as normal as possible, then like, you’re healthy in a way, like that’s a huge sign of whether or not you’re doing well. And that was also just crazy. So I just feel like you’ve dropped a lot of knowledge that was really, really valuable. And I’ve shared that with a lot of people to who friends and family who also had no idea which that was really great. The meals are also bomb, I make them still regularly, I still have plenty of my go twos. And so that was always really fun learning about all of the results of my tests and walking through them about like, this is elevated, or this is lower than it should be in the symptoms, or that could be this it was like, just kind of getting a peek behind the curtain of what’s going on. And that was really cool, too. I felt like once we started doing the testing, doing the diet, doing the supplements directly related correlating to my test results, I started feeling like gut health wise, almost immediately better, and energy levels better and sleeping better. And it was just almost immediate, which is you don’t get results like that very regularly. So it was just, it was a really cool experience. Really, really cool.


So happy to hear this. Also, I learned all of this stuff really late in life too. Which is why when I learned it, I was like everyone needs to know this needs to know everyone needs to know. Yeah, we’re going to be teaching our our little boys about Oh, absolutely.


I’ve already thought about that. Yeah. This is information that y’all need, as well as if we have girls. They need it just as much as the boys do. Very true.


Okay, and then so tell me obviously the big moment. Yeah, we started together. 


The biggest surprise was that three months and because I think we were going to work together for six weeks. We did work together for at least six months. But I think we had signed up. I’d sign up for a six month period, three months in almost exactly. I got a positive pregnancy test, which was wild, totally wild had no idea wasn’t expecting it. We were like I said wanted to get pregnant. We were trying but not really we had kind of put it on the backburner and put my health upfront. So it was a surprise and it wasn’t at the Same time, but it was actually shocking. I never expected to get that result and to get it so fast. And now I have an 18 month old and he’s wild and thriving and so fun. And you’re such a big part of that. So no, so cool.


Can you share more about your pregnancy I remember, if I recall, it was like a pretty smooth, easy breezy process.


It was. We worked together for most of it, I believe. Um, and that was really wonderful. I feel like that set me up for such success I have I know everyone’s pregnancy is so different. So some of this, I think I also just got lucky. But working together, I attribute so much to having such a healthy pregnancy and you helped me get set up for postpartum so well, too. So I hardly had any nausea. first trimester, a little bit of discomfort, you know, low energy, of course, a little bit of nausea, a really not much. second trimester really felt amazing, the only kind of struggle that I had was third trimester, just how he was sitting, my hips, and growing and low back, were not happy. But that was not anything to do with anything that we had worked on. We you helped me with meal plans throughout all of pregnancy, getting ready for postpartum. And birth was really incredible. If you gave me all these resources for different stretching, and different things you can do to kind of prep your body for birth, yoga and meditation along with just like staying active. As well as the stuff that we worked on together, I felt like really set me up at an amazing birth. It was, I mean, almost couldn’t have asked for an easier birth. And the dates and the raspberry leaf tea and the you know, all the different things we did to kind of prep my uterus. And then also you gave me all these resources for meal prepping, nesting during the nesting period to have smoothies and muffins and frozen meals and things like stashed away and I had a good stash for when my husband went back to work and for us to eat off of for, you know, probably four to six weeks after he came. So that was really great. I feel like that your hormones are out of whack, obviously, afterwards. But again, I think so much of it is luck of the draw. But I had a pretty even keel postpartum. Obviously, it was really hard. It was exhausting. There were some of those mood swings. But it was really, really balanced. And I think a lot of that was just knowing what snacks I need to be grabbing, not the super sugary ones, making sure they have protein, making sure there’s a fat like the basics of how people need to eat or another thing that I was taught through working with you that is not taught widely. And so I think all those things just help support through the whole process so much.


That’s awesome. I like forgot that we did that all the birth prep. And it’s so huge. So I’m glad to glad that we did do that


I actually have one of my best friends is having a baby in October. And she was asking me the other day like what I heard something that dates what is that? And I went and found your notes about like how many dates you say, and the raspberry leaf tea and I sent her like the smoothie meal, this could be like meal prep thing to like here, this is what I did. It was amazing. Go to TJ Maxx and get the massive thing a day.


That’s all so. Okay, so last or second to last question here. So anything that you would tell someone who’s thinking about working with me or another functional nutritionist, like maybe they’re thinking about joining a program, like what would you tell someone, if you could go back and tell like yourself back when you were kind of deciding what to do.


I mean, do it. It’s an investment in your health. It’s an investment in you. And it’s an investment that’s only going to make you feel better and hopefully get you the results that you’re wanting faster. While you never know what the future holds. And you never know whether what type of fertility journey you will end up having, this is only going to help you prep for whether it’s IVF or natural pregnancy or whatever the case may be. This is such a worthwhile investment. It was one of the best things I’ve ever done for myself. I mean, I have the 18 month old sleeping downstairs and I like I said I attribute so much of that to you. I think you were the first person I told that I was pregnant. I think I hadn’t even told my husband yet because I wanted to get a second one to verify it and then I got like a little gift and gave it to him later but I’m pretty sure you were the first person I met So, because you were such an integral part. So if you’re thinking about working with Anabelle do it. She’s amazing. 


Oh, thank you. Yeah, that I mean, I like remember it like, it was yesterday you sending me the picture of your positive pregnancy tests are like oh my god.


I mean we’d only been working together for three months. It was crazy.


Yeah, crazy. And then last question for you for this little podcast, if you could put a monetary value on your experience and transformation, what would that be?


Oh, I don’t know. Um, I mean, it’s priceless, right? Like I said, I have the little tiny human downstairs and he’s worth, you know, everything to me. I think I paid a couple $1,000 I don’t remember the exact amount. And I was really toying with is, does this make sense? You know, should we invest this what, like, there’s so many other things we could do with this money. You know, if you want to trip we could buy XYZ, you know, and I think it was my husband that was like, sometimes you have to take a step back and just invest in yourself as if that’s this is this is a straight up investment in yourself. And if it means you’re healthier, and happier than it’s, it’s worth everything. So I would definitely pay what I paid, and more knowing what I know now and working with you. It was great. And I’ve actually thought about, like, Oh, it’s 18 months later, like should I should we kind of level set and do some testing again, I’d love to see where my hormone levels are. And you know, work with you a little bit more just to make sure I’m I’m balanced like I should be. So I’ve even thought about like diving back in. And I would do it again in a heartbeat. I know it’s a lot of money. And it can be scary to put that much money into something so unknown for so many people. But I guarantee you will come away with things that you did not know about your body and yourself that will you’ll be able to use for the rest of your life. Like I don’t even think about the meals that I make at home. Now I don’t even have to think about like, is there enough protein so that you know all the things to carbs. It’s just kind of innate now and I’m sure I could be doing better. But I definitely not doing what I was doing before.


That’s awesome. And yay for supportive husbands.


Yes. Yay for supportive husbands and equal partners and parenthood and life.


Yeah, yes. Awesome. Well, this was so so great. And like so wonderful to just have an excuse to reconnect with you and your story again, and I really appreciate you taking time to chat.


Oh, of course, of course, anything for you. It’s it’s I can’t believe it’s been so long since we’ve really talked to which is oh, you said a couple of years. And I was like there’s no way but no, there is a way.


Yes. Babies later and here we are babies.


Couple countries. Couple states later. Yeah, here we are.


Awesome. Well, thank you again. This was fun. This was great. And I hope it was helpful for everyone listening. And if you have questions, obviously, you can reach out to me on Instagram. So there you have it. I hope you enjoyed this podcast episode and the interview with Amanda. And I hope that you learned a few things and also maybe just felt that connection. And if you’re looking for more support on your fertility journey, stay tuned for the next episode because I have a really exciting opportunity for you and a special discount code as well. So head on over to the next episode, and I’ll see you soon

Episode 5: From PCOS and IVF to Natural Pregnancy with The Holistic Fertility Method Case Study


If you want to listen to the full episode head over to: www.wellspringnutrition.co/healing-in-fertility


Welcome back to the Healing infertility Podcast. I’m your host, Anabelle Clebenar, registered dietitian, functional nutritionist and your new fertility bestie. In this episode, I’m going to talk about the importance of nutrition in your fertility journey me why cutting out your favorite foods isn’t going to be the magic bullet and the real deal on weight loss and fertility. Let’s dive in. So, you may have heard that nutrition is especially important in the preconception period, and if you haven’t heard that before, I’m going to tell you right now it is. So your nutrition directly impacts egg quality, ovulation hormone health, and even the health of your baby. In fact, a 2012 study showed that a methyl deficient diet so a diet that was deficient of methylation nutrients such as B, twelve B, six B, two folate, methionine choline, and betane. So having this methyl deficient diet around the time of conception resulted in significant changes in methionine cycles within ovarian follicles, which were tied to offspring being higher weight, more insulin resistant, having altered immune responses, and elevated blood pressure.

So this study was specifically looking at how these nutrients, namely like the B vitamins and folate choline, how these specifically not only impacted fertility, but how they impacted the health of the offspring in 2020. A more recent study from researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health and Harvard Medical School published a review of past studies that looked at the impact of diet on fertility. So they found that for women trying to become pregnant naturally without IVF or any assistive reproductive technologies, that there were certain vitamins and nutrients that were linked to positive effects on fertility, namely folic acid, vitamin B, twelve omega three fatty acids, and eating an overall healthy diet such as the Mediterranean diet. In this review study. They also looked at antioxidants vitamin D, dairy products, soy, caffeine and alcohol, which appeared to have little or no effect on fertility in this review, which is pretty interesting because we hear a lot about how caffeine can impact fertility and vitamin D. So I think there’s definitely more room for research around this, but an interesting find nonetheless. They also found that trans fats and unhealthy diets, which they classified as rich in red and processed meats, potatoes, sweets, and sweetened beverages, they found that these unhealthy diets were found to have negative effects on fertility. A few other studies from Harvard School of Public Health found that consumption of sugar sweetened beverages, especially sodas or energy drinks, was linked to lower fertility in both men and women, while drinking diet soda and fruit juice had no effect.

Another study looked at women who consumed high amounts of fast food and little fruit and found that it took them longer to become pregnant than those with healthier diets. And lastly, another study looked at couples that ate more seafood were pregnant sooner than those rarely eating seafood. So most pregnant women consume far less than the recommended two to three servings of low mercury fish like salmon, scallops and shrimp per week. And we know that one of the nutrients needed for fertility is zinc, which is found in high amounts in seafood, specifically oysters. So, as you can see, diet does in fact, play a huge role in fertility. There are countless studies examining different nutrients and overall dietary patterns, and we know that diet is the best way to influence changes on both egg and sperm quality. So what this means for you is you actually have a lot more control over your fertility than you may have thought or maybe were told or convinced. I want you to think about this because the way that you eat directly impacts your fertility.

And again, anything from ovarian health, hormone health, the health of your baby, all of this is impacted by nutrition. And when we’re thinking about a fertility diet, I want you to think less about specific nutrients or specific foods, and instead, try to focus on an overall balanced diet, one that includes healthy fats, complex carbs, protein, antioxidant rich foods. Iron rich foods. Foods with B vitamins like we talked about earlier. Omega three fatty acids that are found in fatty fish, flaxseeds or other nuts and seeds, dairy or calcium alternatives and limiting overall processed foods. Added sugars, caffeine and alcohol. So let’s dive into our next topic, which is why eliminating certain foods like gluten or dairy isn’t going to be the magic bullet for your fertility. So let’s get this disclaimer out of the way.

The Truth About Dairy, Gluten, and Fertility

If you have celiac disease, if you have gluten sensitivities, if you’re lactose intolerant, obviously it makes sense to avoid these foods. I’ve also seen women struggling with acne eliminating dairy, and that being very effective. But putting all of that aside, I tend to see many women going gluten free and dairy free and starting to cut more and more foods from their diet because they’re told that it will benefit their fertility. So the most recent research around dairy seems to be that there’s actually no impact on fertility, meaning you could include it or not, but it wouldn’t severely impact your fertility by cutting it out. And when we cut out dairy, we’re actually cutting out many beneficial vitamins and nutrients, such as vitamin A, calcium, vitamin D, et cetera. Now, for some people, cutting out gluten can be really helpful in a sense that their overall dietary pattern wasn’t that great to begin with. And cutting out gluten was the thing that helped them kind of focus more on eating more vegetables, fruits, healthy fats, grains, things of that nature. But it’s really not necessary to cut it out completely in order for you to conceive.

I want you, again, to focus on overall dietary pattern rather than fixating and restricting, because these foods aren’t going to be the magic bullet for you to get pregnant. If that were the case, every single person that went gluten free and dairy free would not have any fertility struggles. And as we know, that’s simply not the case. So in this last section, I want to briefly talk about weight and fertility. We tend to focus on being overweight, but I want to also mention the impacts of being underweight for fertility. So being underweight can impact your cycle health. It can impact overall hormones. I tend to see low progesterone, especially with women who are undereating.

And this can be a major factor because not only are you not giving your body the proper nutrients to nourish a healthy pregnancy, but you’re also causing more stress on your body. So as mentioned in previous episodes, stress has a huge part in fertility and over training, and undereating can cause a lot of stress on your body. In addition to that excess exercise, any other stress that you’re carrying, it all kind of adds up. I also want to touch on the other side of this conversation where women who are overweight or obese are automatically told that they need to lose weight. And often in a fertility clinic setting, they have to lose weight in order to qualify for fertility treatments. So whether it’s from a fertility clinic or just their regular doctor that they’re being told that they have to lose weight, this really doesn’t address any other factors when it comes to fertility. So in a 2022 study, there was a randomized controlled study of 379 women with obesity and unexplained infertility. They were randomly assigned to one of two preconception lifestyle modification groups that lasted 16 weeks.

The Impact of Weight Loss on Fertility

The first group underwent increased physical activity and weight loss through meal replacements and medication, and the second group had increased physical activity alone without weight loss. They followed them for three years, and then they measured the number of healthy live births, which they classified as full term infants of normal weight without any major anomalies. And what they found in this study, that the preconception intensive lifestyle intervention. So that first group that got meal replacements and medication for weight loss did not improve fertility or birth outcomes compared to the exercise intervention without targeted weight loss. So basically what it’s saying is that the focus on weight loss did not have an impact on overall fertility and live birth rate. And I know this is one study, and I know that research continues to develop on this, but I thought this was really important to share because it was a significant study following over almost 400 women over three years and really taking a look at how weight impacts fertility. And we’re so focused on the weight loss that we forget that there’s a bigger picture. The bigger picture is overall dietary pattern, inflammation, blood sugar balance, physical activity, nutrient status, and more.

So the focus should not just be on weight loss when we’re talking about nutrition for fertility, but rather focusing instead on a nutrient dense diet that balances blood sugar and that nourishes the woman who will be the mother. So I hope you found this episode helpful. In my next episode, I’m going to be talking with a previous client of mine, a woman who overcame her fertility struggles with PCOS, who was told that she absolutely needed IVF, and she went on to have a healthy baby naturally. So I’ll see you in the next episode. If you have questions, you want to reach out, feel free to send me a message on Instagram. My handle is at TTC dietitian. Bye.

Episode 4: Why Going GF and DF Didn’t Fix Your Fertility: The Truth About Fertility Diets


If you want to listen to the full episode, head over to: www.wellspringnutrition.co/healing-in-fertility


Welcome to the Healing infertility Podcast. My name is Anabelle Clebenar, registered dietitian, Functional Nutritionist and your new fertility bestie. Today I’m going to talk about the top three functional lab tests that I utilize in my practice, as well as root causes to your fertility struggles. Okay, so first, why do I even use functional lab tests in my practice? When we’re talking about a root cause approach, we’re trying to dig into why you’re experiencing certain symptoms. So if you have irregular cycles, if you have heavy periods, if you’re not ovulating, if you have PCOS, those are all symptoms. And we want to understand why that’s happening in the first place. So, for example, we want to think about are there any nutrient deficiencies that’s causing your body to feel more stress? Are there any imbalances in your gut causing more inflammation that’s impacting your hormone health? Do you have poor metabolic health? These are some of the root causes that we look at when we’re thinking about a functional approach to fertility. So I’m going to talk about just three of the lab tests that I use in my practice, which are the GI Map, which is a comprehensive stool test, the HtMa, the hair tissue mineral analysis, and I’m also going to talk about how I utilize a continuous glucose monitor for monitoring blood sugar and metabolic health.

Now, there’s other labs that I utilize in my practice, like the Dutch hormone test, iodine testing, mycotoxin mold, testing different blood labs for nutrient levels, and assessing iron status and thyroid health. I’m not going to get into all of the different labs that I utilize with my one on one clients, but I am going to zero in on those three labs that I utilize over and over again and I think are the best places to start when we’re thinking about a root cause approach to fertility. So let’s first talk about your gut health, and specifically the GI Map test. So your microbiome is a genetic catalog of microbiota, and it’s composed of 3.3 million genes, and the microbiota are the gut organisms themselves. So these are composed of ten to 100 trillion microbial cells, bacteria, fungi, yeast, and parasites. There is a lot going on in your gut. So our gut is used for a variety of things. It’s mainly for your digestion and absorption of nutrients, but it also plays a huge portion in your immune system and inflammatory responses.

So first, when we’re thinking about digestion and absorption, the food that you eat so I hear this a lot from clients that they’re already eating cleaner, they’re already eating healthy. If you have any dysbiosis or dysfunction in the gut, literally your body is unable to digest and absorb those nutrients from the foods that you’re consuming. So this is why gut health partially one of the reasons why it’s so important. It’s also said that 80% of your immune system is in the gut, and the reason for that is because most of our lymphatic tissue is in the gut lining. So if that becomes inflamed, if your gut is inflamed from Dysbiosis, whether it’s not enough good bacteria or overgrowth of bad bacteria, if you have any parasites, anything that could disrupt your gut microbiome is going to impact your immune system because that lymph becomes inflamed and congested. And when we have inflamed and congested lymph, that impacts our immune system, that impacts how our body is able to heal, and that also will impact inflammatory cascades. So when we have those higher levels of inflammation that then impacts your hormones, that then impacts your reproductive health. As a result, leaky gut is also a big topic and something to consider.

Understanding the Link Between Gut Health, Hormones, and Metabolic Function

So in a typical healthy gut lining, we have these tight junctions. We have these cells that create a very strong barrier so that the things coming through your gut does not go into your bloodstream. When those tight junctions start to separate, it becomes more permeable and that leads to leaky gut syndrome. So things like chronic stress, industrialized gluten or wheat, various other things can impact those tight junctions so that it becomes more permeable and leads to a leaky gut syndrome. The gut also produces certain hormones related to satiety and hunger, like ghrelin and leptin. There’s other hormones that are secreted in the gut like CCK, gastrin, insulin and hormones that regulate hunger, like GLP One and peptide YY. So all of these different hormones that are either produced or regulated through the gut will also impact your metabolic health. Another function of the gut is waste elimination, which is impacted by stress, metabolic health, hydration, gallbladder function.

All of this impacts waste elimination. The third step in estrogen detox or estrogen metabolism is that it’s excreted through the gut. So if you have any constipation or anything that you’re not able to eliminate regularly and normally, that’s going to impact your estrogen levels, which obviously will impact your hormone levels and your ability to conceive. So we’re starting to understand more and more about how the gut impacts our hormone levels, our mood, all these different things. And lots of research coming out about this. When we’re thinking about mood, there’s a certain class of bacterial strains that are called psychobiotics. These actually impact the neurochemicals and neurotransmitters in our brain, like dopamine and serotonin. These are directly related to specific strains in the gut.

So our gut can impact our mood and our brain health, and similarly, our brain impacts our gut health. So this gut brain axis is a huge area as well. When we’re thinking about just overall health, mood, anxiety, stress, all of that plays a role with the gut. And if you’re curious, like, how does the gut actually impact your fertility? When the gut microbiota is imbalanced, it can trigger chronic low grade inflammation, which we talked about throughout the body. And this includes reproductive organs. So inflammation can disrupt hormone production and signaling which can lead to irregular menstrual cycles, ovulation problems, and decreased sperm quality as well. So obviously, there is a lot to talk about. We could do an entire series just on gut health.

The Significance of Gut Health in Fertility

But I wanted to introduce you into why gut health is so important when we’re thinking about functional approaches to fertility. Because as you can listen and hear, it has wide reaching effects. So in my practice, I utilize a test called the GI Map, and this will test for a bunch of different bacterial strains, parasites, worms. It tests immune health in the gut. It’s so comprehensive. And especially if you’re someone that deals with autoimmune diseases. IBS or IBD. Any digestive complaints, brain fog, skin problems like Acne or psoriasis, mood disorders like depression, anxiety, diabetes, weight loss issues and fertility struggles, then you are someone that would benefit from using a GI map to get a deeper look into your gut health and how that’s going to impact all these other symptoms that you’re experiencing.

Okay, so the next test, so to speak, or thing that I utilize in my practice to help get at deeper root causes, is a continuous glucose monitor. So a continuous glucose monitor measures your blood glucose throughout the day. It’s a really cool little device. And if you have diabetes, you probably know what this is. But it’s often used in people with diabetes, either type one or type two diabetes, to monitor their blood sugar throughout the day. More and more people are using this CGM device because blood sugar imbalances are so pervasive in our society. So it’s estimated that 80% of people will experience blood sugar in the prediabetes range for at least one meal per day. So again, even if you’re someone that eats really well and eats healthy and eats clean, it’s more common than we think.

And with diabetes being one of the bigger chronic diseases in our lifetime, it’s just important to monitor this while you’re still young and while you are eating a healthy diet, because you get that feedback and know exactly that what you’re eating is actually doing its job. It is impacting your metabolic health in a good way. A CGM can help you basically refine your diet to a much more specific degree. So I can tell you eat this amount of protein or eat this amount of carbs, but without specific data to your body, you’re just getting generalized information, which is great. But if you’re looking for deeper root causes, if you’re struggling with infertility, it’s time to really get down to the nitty gritty, right? You want to see how your body responds to certain foods. Because if you’re on a blood sugar roller coaster all day long, where your blood sugar is going way up high and then dipping back down low, you are causing more inflammation in the body. It takes a lot of energy for your body to be on that blood sugar roller coaster day after day after day. So I recently hosted a 30 day blood sugar reset program where everyone in the group received a continuous glucose monitor.

Success Stories from the 30-Day Shift Program

We provided them with custom macronutrients, we provided them with meal plans that were blood sugar friendly, and the results were absolutely incredible. So some of the results from the 30 day shift program included improved meal scores, improved daily scores, improved morning fasting glucose, improved average glucose, improved glucose variability, cycles became more regular, decreased feelings of hangriness and moodiness, increased energy levels and weight loss in that 30 day period. One woman in the group got her period naturally for the first time. So she previously had needed to take a medication prescribed by her doctor to induce a period. She was seven months postpartum. Two clients got pregnant, one person lost over 16 pounds, and that person also had their insulin decreased. So they were diabetic and their doctor was able to decrease the amount of insulin that they needed after this 30 day program of using a continuous glucose monitor paired with coaching from me and the meal plans that we had created for the program. So these were some of the findings that we were able to gather from the 30 day shift program.

And as you can see, we had absolutely incredible results. I knew that using a CGM was beneficial, but to be honest, I was really pleasantly surprised to see how quickly those changes impacted people. We also had people reporting that they had more energy, improved mood, weight loss, and this was all, by the way, by increasing their food intake. So I know for a lot of us, we think that we have to be on a 1200 calorie diet, that we need to be keto, all these really extreme things. But when I gave them their macro prescriptions, many of the women were shocked because they were undereating for so long. They didn’t know that they needed to increase the amount of calories that they were eating and increase the amount of protein and carbs and fat that they were eating to actually support their hormone health. So again, I see this time and time again where people cut out gluten, they cut out dairy, they cut out sweets. And yes, sometimes cutting those foods can be helpful for you in the short term.

But long term, if you’re undereating and not supporting your body in a way that promotes good metabolic health and good hormone health, that’s going to create more stress on your body and long term impact hormone health. Okay, so the last test that I want to talk about is the HtMa or hair tissue mineral analysis. And to be honest, this is a newer lab that I’m utilizing in my practice. But because I’ve seen such incredible results by using this test, I think that really everyone needs this in their life. So the hair tissue mineral analysis is a test that analyzes the mineral content and heavy metals in your hair so a hair can represent your tissues. And when we typically test in the blood, your blood can borrow nutrients and minerals from other places so that it remains in homeostasis. But when we use a hair tissue mineral analysis, first of all, you’re cutting your hair. So it’s non invasive.

The Importance of Minerals in Hormone Health and Fertility

You don’t have to go for a blood draw, but it also gives a snapshot of the past three months of your mineral levels. So there are certain macro minerals like sodium, potassium, calcium, and magnesium that often need a lot of support when we’re thinking about our hormone health, because these minerals think of it as like the spark plugs to hormones, to other systems in the body. So there are a number of things, obviously, that can contribute to someone having fertility struggles. And I want to talk about how that relates back to minerals. So, for example, if someone is experiencing recurrent miscarriages, which is due to often sluggish thyroid or low progesterone, research is finding now that proper nutrition has a tremendous impact on pregnant women. So lack of specific vitamins and minerals can not only cause premature births, but can also interfere with a woman’s ability to ovulate and conceive. So we need adequate amounts of and balanced minerals in both men and women. And thyroid specifically is one of the most important factors when we’re thinking about infertility.

It can impact ovulation energy production, immune function, and egg quality in women. So even when we’re thinking about testing the thyroid, how do we go even one level deeper? Why is your thyroid sluggish or not optimal? In a not optimal state, it’s often due to iodine. We need adequate amounts of iodine for thyroid hormone to work. So there are different minerals connected to different parts of the body, so to speak, that we have to look at to understand the deepest root cause of why someone might be struggling with their fertility. Another mineral that I often see depleted in women is magnesium. So we need magnesium again for proper thyroid health. But magnesium also gets depleted because of our stress response. And because so many of us are dealing with chronic stress, I often see magnesium being tanked.

And when magnesium is tanked, that actually causes more stress. It’s kind of like this vicious cycle that’s going on. And due to our food system, to our depleted soils, a lot of our food that typically would have magnesium in it doesn’t have as high magnesium content as a result of mass producing items and factory farming and all of those things, which I’m not going to get into. But just know that magnesium, we don’t get enough of it through our food due to those reasons, and because we don’t have enough, it causes more stress. That stress has an impact on metabolic health, on gut health, on immune health, and so much more. Another mineral that I like to look at specifically for fertility and also metabolic health is potassium. So we talked before about macronutrients and blood sugar balance, but the importance of potassium when it comes to blood sugar is also really important to discuss. So potassium can sensitize our cells to thyroid hormone, which means we need potassium for our cells to receive that thyroid hormone.

And if we don’t have enough, then they become less sensitive to insulin. Potassium also has insulin like effects, so it helps the blood sugar get into the cells. So if glucose can’t get into the cells, whether because you have insulin resistance or a lack of insulin, it ends up hanging out in the blood, creating higher blood sugar levels. And potassium is also involved in the conversion of glucose into glycogen, which is your stored blood sugar. So not having enough glycogen in your liver can mean that our bodies are forced to use alternative fuel sources in between meals, which will raise the risk of blood sugar dips. So we’re just zooming in on a few minerals here to start to give you a picture, an idea of why this is so important. As you can see, our gut impacts our stress, and minerals impact stress, and stress impacts blood sugar, and blood sugar impacts mineral status. All of these things are connected.

That’s because our bodies are not silos. What happens in your reproductive organs is not happening on its own by itself. We have to take a bigger picture and look at the different body systems and how they’re working together to create an environment that is safe and healthy for a baby to grow in. So I hope this podcast episode helped you get a better understanding of some of those functional lab tests that we utilize, and also some of the root causes when we’re thinking about functional fertility and how to approach your fertility from a whole body standpoint. A holistic way that looks at not just what’s going on with your hormone health and ovulation, but also your nutrient status, your gut health, your mineral status, your metabolic health, your nervous system. All of these things play a huge role on your fertility. And that is why you have to be thinking about these deeper root causes when we’re thinking about fertility struggles. So I hope you enjoyed this episode, enjoyed recording it.

I would love to hear your feedback. If you enjoyed this, please share it with a friend, tag me on social media, and I will see you in the next episode. Bye.

Episode 3: How Functional Lab Testing Accelerates Your Fertility Timeline


The Preconception Playbook

This free playbook provides specific actionable tips to get started on your fertility journey, as well as what to avoid while you're trying to conceive.

Get the free playbook