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Proov Podcast: Amanda Montalvo RD, FDN-P


Written by: Dr. Amy Beckley, PhD, Founder and Inventor of the Proov test the first and only FDA-cleared test to confirm successful ovulation at home.

Written on 6/3/21

Amy Beckley, PhD: 

Welcome everybody to another episode of the Proov Podcast, where we are empowering women with knowledge about their bodies, hormones, and, in the case of this episode, if things aren’t necessarily optimal, how to get your back to optimal cycling.

So, I am joined today with Amanda. She is a women’s health nutritionist. So, welcome, Amanda, to the podcast. Please tell our listeners who you are, what you do, what you’re passionate about.

Amanda Montalvo RD, FDN-P:

So, yeah, I’m Amanda. I’m a women’s health dietician, and I really work with women to just help them get rid of painful periods, PCOS symptoms. I have a lot of clients with hypothyroidism, and Hashimoto’s, fertility issues, any sort of like hormone imbalance is kind of what I’m most passionate about, especially when it takes away from a woman’s day to day.

Like losing two weeks out of your life cycle is a real deal, and I feel like a lot of us settle for that. I definitely did for a really long time. That’s kind of how I got so passionate. So, I used lots of nutrition food strategies with people.

I also do functional lab testing like hormone testing with the Dutch test, hair mineral testing, probably my favorite test, and stool testing. That’s what got me so interested in the Proov strips. But that’s a little bit about what I do.

Amy: 

Awesome. Yeah, I mean, hormone balance is a — or imbalance, I should say, is a thing that women battle with constantly. We have a lot of women who are really focused on balancing their hormones, because they’re trying to conceive, and that’s kind of when they start to really focus and realize that something is wrong.

But it’s amazing how much it impacts your life regardless, you know, heavy periods, painful periods, you know, PMS. And, you know, I had somebody that was like, “I hate my husband like two days out of the month and then it’s fine.” I’m like, yeah, I don’t know if that’s normal, but...

Amanda:

It can definitely have a huge impact on your day to day, and I think that’s when people start to notice, like maybe they  — they’re like I’m having  — especially maybe ovulation, they’re noticing lots of like depression or anxiety, and then like before their period, and then they get diagnosed with PMDD and it kind of all makes sense. But it can kind of get out of hand, and I think we don’t prioritize it, because we’re not sure and it’s hard to find help with treating it.

Amy:

Yeah, I mean, like hormones are what make women women, and the ability to ovulate is like our super power. I mean, it lets us create life. And it’s this amazing powerful thing that, you know, helps your exercise well on different parts of your cycle, your more creative parts of cycle, depending on what your hormones are.

And so, it’s like there’s this really awesome powerful thing that we can unlock if we understand and we can balance it. And so, we preach, you know, healthy cycles, and, you know, it’s an amazing thing that we’ve kind of come out with is  — and it’s kind of weird to even say it that way, is ovulation quality. Right?

It’s not did I ovulate, did I not ovulate, right? People have been tracking temperature and cervical mucus. They’re like, well, I know I’m ovulating; I’m just not conceiving. And it’s like well, maybe you have unhealthy ovulation. Maybe you don’t have optimal, successful ovulation. And so, you know, that’s how Proov really fits in is being able to understand is it healthy ovulation, is it successful ovulation. So, I guess, you know, to go backwards, how did you discover Proov?

Amanda:

So, I think it was with one of my clients in particular that we had done quite a bit of  — we did two Dutch tests, where that’s like a urine hormone test. You get to see all your estrogen, and progesterone, your cortisol. It’s definitely comprehension and helpful, and we had done mostly hair analysis, so we could see are you depleted, what stage of stress are you in?

Obviously, stress plays a huge role with progesterone. So, we had done those, and I was like this is  — I don’t want to keep just testing and testing. I would like to have a way to kind of check in after your cycle that you can also do at home, ‘cause I am very big on the basal body temperatures for women, because I do think you can learn a lot from that, but you can’t see progesterone, right, so it’s like you can guess. You can gather some insight.

And so, it was for this one client in particular, and I was like  — she had gotten just a progesterone blood test, but obviously like that’s not the best way to measure. And then, I was looking for something, and one of my friends, one of my colleagues recommended Proov strips. And so, that’s then I was like oh, sweet.

So, I get the progesterone test to see like  — ‘cause a lot of women are ovulating but they’re not making a lot of progesterone. It’s probably the most common thing that I see, like I’m tracking my cycle, maybe they’re tracking their temperatures. And I have women also looking at their pulses, so that they kind of have an idea of where they’re at, but they’re like, okay, but I don’t really know where to go from here. So, the Proov strips have been really helpful with seeing like are you actually making progesterone.

Amy:

Okay, yeah. I mean, is there anybody  — I don’t know which type of Dutch you do. I did a similar type of test to the Dutch and it was collected on, you know, seven days past ovulation, so all my samples were that one day and time.

And it showed I had okay progesterone levels on that particular day, but what happens with me is that I have what’s called a luteal phase defect or insufficient ovulation, so it’s like my progesterone is a good level, but then it just drops too soon. And so, it can cause, you know, PMS.

That’s very, very common in PCOS. You know, the ones that do ovulate, they just kind of peter off and they have a poor ovulation quality. And so, when I say, you know, poor ovulation quality or insufficient ovulation, I’m talking about the amount of time that progesterone is elevated.

And so, it’s got to be like, you know, this window of time. And if for some reason you’re not getting high enough or you’re not staying high enough for long enough, that’s when we call  — you know, you just  — you have a progesterone deficiency, or luteal phase defect, or poor ovulation. There’s so many different  — weak ovulation is another one.

Amanda:

That is  — so, with the Dutch test, they recommend 5 to 7 days after ovulation, or women might not track their ovulation, so they go based on the length of your cycle, which I feel is very problematic. But I get it. I get why they do it to make it easy for people to do the test.

But yeah, it’s only around that time. And that’s the other thing, whether it’s a blood test or a Dutch test, it’s like you’re only looking at that one moment. The Dutch is technically over 12 hours, but still it’s not giving you quite as much information, or kind of depending on what your main concerns are, but for this person, she was having spotting before her period, and she had miscarriages previously.

And so, we were working really more on increasing the progesterone, but also like seeing that show up in her cycles. ‘Cause you can  — I mean, you can feel it. You know, you have that difference if  — for her, she had estrogen  — not high, but optimal estrogen as well, and so as soon as that progesterone dropped, like she had all this unopposed estrogen that was leading to a lot more inflammation.

Amy:

Yeah. No, absolutely. So, you know, Dutch test is amazing. I mean, it tests all these different things. It’s not the best for making sure you have enough progesterone, you know, during the critical cycle. That’s exactly how Proov can really, you know, fit in.

You know, what do we call healthy ovulation? We call healthy ovulation with four positive tests during the testing window. So, our testing window is 7, 8, 9, and 10 days after that peak fertility reading, so when progesterone should be the highest.

So, Proov doesn’t actually measure progesterone and serum, but serum levels fluctuate so much. We actually measure it in urine through the metabolite. So, it’s the same thing as Dutch urine metabolite, but it’s better than a blood test that kind of averages out the levels over time.

So, if you have all four positives during that window, it’s like great, optimal levels. You’re at the high enough level for long enough. Perfect. And then, you can kind of quantitate how well you’re ovulating from there. So, if you have three positives, you’re like, you know, kind of borderline. If you have two, then we call that very weak / suboptimal ovulation. If you have one, obviously that’s not good either. And then, you can go down to like not even ovulation; you don’t see any increase in progesterone or PdG levels at all.

So, it’s really cool that it kind of gives you this overall measure. And then, you know, if women’s using it day one, and she comes back and said I’ve got two positive tests, and then she works with you and changing her diet, and her lifestyle, and stuff like that, then she can come back and track and be like, okay, I got four positives. This is really awesome. And so, you couldn’t get that same information if you were doing a Dutch test on that one day during your cycle or a blood draw.

Amanda:

And I also think it’s  — I really like for people to have things that they can do on their own at home, because it’s like yes, you’re gonna learn nutrition foundation, which we can definitely go through, and lifestyle things, and, you know, like what adds to your stress and how are you like refilling your cup, ‘cause that’s definitely gonna impact progesterone.

But like at the end of the day, life happens and stress happens, and we go through different seasons. And so, it’s like if two years from now, after we’ve worked together, you’re kind of hitting this thing, I don’t want it to always be like, oh, I have to go see Amanda again. Like, of course, I love to see my clients come back and everything, but it’s like I don’t want it to be like the same issue, right? I want it to be like, oh, I have the tools in my toolkit, so I know how to fix this.

Amy:

Yeah, absolutely. I mean, low progesterone and progesterone problems, you know, problems with ovulation, however you want to phrase it, are so common. It’s like 30% of the population, because we’re women that are working now. We have more stress. We’re waiting a little bit later in life. We’re just  — you know, there’s more toxins, there’s more stuff going on, like bombarding us.

So, it’s a very, very common problem. You know, it’s I think one of the easiest things to fix, and so I would love to hear your top ways that you could help women who are not getting positive  — not the best Proov results and really want help to boost those progesterone levels.

Amanda:

So, usually the first thing that I like to look at is that person’s stress bucket. So, like what are the different things that are filling that up, because progesterone helps protect us from stress, right? It’s a super powerful antioxidant, very pro metabolic, so it supports all the positive things that we want to happen in the body, and our metabolism. It’s even really good for our thyroid, and so a lot of people will think they have a thyroid issue, but it’s actually a low progesterone issue. And it’s kind of like  —

Amy:

It’s like yin and yang progesterone and  —

Amanda:

Yeah, the definitely go together.

Amy:

So, it’s like if you have a bad thyroid, there’s actually a progesterone issue, and then this one comes up.

Amanda:

Yeah. And then, it’s like  — or it’s like if you don’t make enough thyroid hormone, then you can have low progesterone from that as well. So, it definitely goes together, but I think looking at things filling that stress bucket, and like what most people have control over is their food.

‘Cause sometimes it’s like you might have kids. Maybe you have a really stressful job. Maybe you travel a lot. Maybe you don’t sleep as well. Maybe you  — like certain types of exercise, which obviously you can control. But there’s a lot of things that we can’t always control that go in there.

And so, when we think about  — okay, so I can’t necessarily reduce my stress, and I think some people focus on that too much. Because it’s like, okay, you can reduce your stress, but we want to make your body more resilient to stress, and that’s what I really try to focus on. And food, I think is the number one way to do that, because if we don’t have the tools to respond to stress, like if we don’t have sodium, and magnesium, and vitamin C, or even just energy, like glucose from our food, then we can’t even respond to that stress appropriately. And that’s definitely gonna further deplete progesterone.

So, just thinking about whether I am eating breakfast in the morning? I’m very big on breakfast eating, because it's like we were fasting all night. I know everyone is intermittent fasting, but we were fasting all night while we’re sleeping. I can’t even  — I have a whole highlight on my Instagram on intermittent fasting.

But it’s like we all fast. We don’t need to add more fasting during the day. And when we wake up in the morning, your body needs fuel. You’ve been surviving on the glucose in your liver all night, and if you have sleep issues and you’re waking up during the night it probably means that you don’t have enough glucose stored in your liver.

And then, if you can eat breakfast and you get up, that's a great way to start your day in a really good metabolic state. So, protein, fat, and carb out your meals, try to eat foods that are easy to digest is usually my go to, especially if you’re like have any gut issues or kind of suspect that kind of stuff along with the low progesterone.

And that’s just means animal foods, very easy to digest for the most part for most people, and like root veggies, potatoes, squash, fruit, all those things are gonna give us protein, fat, and carbs when we combine them together to keep our blood sugar stable throughout the day, and give us like potassium. Super, super important for blood sugar, thyroid health. 

I feel like things that we don’t always talk about, like a lot of people are focused on the macros, which I do think are important, like our protein, fat, and carb, but what about the micronutrients? Like what are you getting from your food that way?

And so, if we can eat breakfast within an hour at the latest of waking, and then regularly throughout the day, that’s like the quickest way to get your body out of your fight or flight state. Keep your blood sugar stable, so that you’re not making cortisol like that you really don’t need to be making.

And especially like people are kind of like how often should I eat? I’m like it really depends on the person, but if you have a lot of stress, eat more frequently. Like if you feel like you don’t have as much stress, maybe you don’t need to eat quite as frequently. But that’s one of those things where it’s like if we can balance blood sugar, that’s usually one of the quickest ways to improve thyroid function and improve progesterone levels.

Amy:

Awesome. Yeah. What are your thoughts on — I’m just gonna bombard you with the questions that we usually get.

Amanda: 

Yeah.

Amy:

You know, what’s the best prenatal or vitamins? Do you use food as vitamins or are you, you know, you should take a multivitamin a day?

Amanda:

I really like supplementing with beef liver. I think that is a great like nature’s multivitamin/prenatal. It doesn’t have everything, so I think that’s when it can get confusing for people. I really like beef liver. I think that we  — I do hair tests, like a million hair tests every single day. I feel like my whole life is looking at these graphs.

And the biggest thing that I’ve seen is a lot of people have copper issues. Some people think they have too much copper, like copper toxicity from the copper IUD or the birth control pill, like stuff like that. I think it’s more just that we don’t get enough copper from our nutrition.

Most of us aren’t eating organ meats. Um, if you are, that’s amazing; please keep doing it. But a lot of us aren’t eating things like liver. Like, I didn’t grow up eating it. I have to disguise my liver in order to eat it. Otherwise, I can’t do it.

So, it’s like getting  — that’s got copper, but it also has vitamin A. I feel like people don’t get enough vitamin A, which helps turn on our thyroid receptors. So, if you feel like, you know, you’ve been working a lot on the food changes, maybe you’ve been trying to eat more frequently, but your progesterone isn’t shifting in the way you want, it’s like well, maybe it’s a thyroid concern.

Then you get your blood panel done and your thyroid is normal, right? So, then it’s like well, maybe I need to focus even more on more nutrient dense foods. Maybe I’m not getting enough vitamin A from dairy and stuff like that in my diet. And so, I really like beef liver. I really like vitamin E. Fertility, so you must love vitamin E.

Amy:

Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Amanda:

Especially for women with PCOS.

Amy:

Vitamin D is a big one now too.

Amanda:

Yeah, I feel like  — but when we’re looking at Vitamin D, we also have to look at magnesium though, because when we look at how we use vitamin D in the body, I feel like people know Vitamin A. Like, a lot of Vitamin D supplements will have vitamin A in it now, and like vitamin K2, but no one talks about magnesium when we talk about vitamin D levels.   

And I’m like but magnesium converts vitamin D in the body. Like it can’t become active without that. So, I feel like if you have low vitamin D, if you’re considering supplementing with that, also consider like do I get magnesium in my diet? Do I  — maybe should I take a magnesium supplement or do Epsom salt baths, like something like that too?

Amy:

Yeah. No, so that’s actually huge in the perimenopause space, and it makes so much sense, but it’s like people don’t think outside the perimenopause space, but that’s why you’re going through perimenopause symptoms is hormone imbalances.

Amanda:

Yeah. And same thing with any sort of PMS and stuff like that. It's like something is out of whack. So, I really like beef liver, some sort of magnesium, and vitamin E. Those are like my go to for most women.

But sometimes, we just need to start with getting more sodium, potassium, and vitamin C to support their adrenals. ‘Cause if you’re dealing with low progesterone, typically your body is in a more burnt out type of state. And so, trying to increase that as well, mostly through food, like coconut water and sea salt. That’s a great high potassium, high sodium.

You can add some citrus to that for vitamin C, and like having that a couple times a day can be really, really helpful. I also love orange juice, very into having some orange juice with some sea salt, maybe some collagen in there for protein, and coconut water. And it’s like that’s just like giving your adrenals what they need for support, which can also help boost those minerals to really balance you out. And make sure you can respond appropriately to stress and you’re not just constantly depleting your body.

Amy:

That’s awesome. So, I’m gonna go back a little bit. You said you do a bunch of hair testing.

Amanda:

Mm-hmm.

Amy:

So explain hair testing and why people need it, what does it do?

Amanda:

So, I know a hair mineral analysis is a little like  — I feel like not a lot of people do it, mostly because it’s really hard to read the test, I feel like. It took me like three years to really get good at like, okay, I know exactly what’s kind of going on.

So, hair testing is helpful for minerals, ‘cause a lot of minerals, ‘cause a lot of minerals are intracellular, which means that most of that mineral is inside the cell. So, like I think of magnesium, it’s mostly intracellular, potassium, sodium.

So, when we look at blood work, we’re only seeing outside the cell. It’s kind of like the Dutch test and Proov test. Both are helpful, but they do different things. And so, it’s like the same thing with hair and blood. Like I do like to see both, but I do find that hair testing lets me see what stage of stress this person is in, you know, based on that mineral pattern. Do they have maybe excessive amounts of like stored iron? So many women supplement with iron even though we bleed every month, and  — or if they’re not having a cycle, or if they’ve taken hormonal birth control. And that iron can just lead to a lot of inflammation and estrogen issues.

So, I use it just to kind of see the stage of stress, what’s kind of going on copper wise, does their body need more, does it have too much, or is it like not being used properly, and then like is their liver super stressed out? ‘Cause you can see heavy metals on there, like how much is leaving the body. Some people are not moving a lot of heavy metals, and that’s just ‘cause their metabolism is slow.

But it’s really helpful for getting another look. It’s also great when people see their results, and they’re like, okay, I get it, I’m gonna make some changes, this all makes sense, it’s not all in my head. I hear that a lot, like that they’re happy that they actually see something, ‘cause their blood work is usually normal. So, it can be helpful to see that.

Amy:

Wow. So, you said it tests iron, so do you think people have too much iron?

Amanda:

I think most women have excessive amounts of iron unless you have really heavy periods. Like, if  — so, the only way to truly become iron deficient is thorough blood loss. So, if you have some sort of intestinal bleeding, of course that can lead to iron loss.

I have a lot of clients with endometriosis or fibroids that have very, very heavy periods. So, they do have true low iron, but so many women get their blood work done and they’re anemic. And it’s actually a copper issue, ‘cause copper controls iron in the body.

So, if at any time we’re gonna take like  — if we’re looking at your hemoglobin, that’s  — like 70% of your iron is in your hemoglobin. Copper takes that iron and puts it in there. So, if your serum iron is low, your ferritin looks really well  — I see that all the time. I have low ferritin. I have low iron. I’m like, but you have to look at all the other places that iron works and then what controls that iron.

Same thing with like how I mentioned vitamin D. Like, everyone wants to look at the one measurement, and we act like these vitamins and minerals don’t interact with anything else in the body, when in reality it’s like it could  — instead of an iron issue, it could be that like you need more copper. That’s why back in the day they used to use beef liver for anemia, ‘cause it has iron but it has a ton of copper. So, I think that’s like more of the root cause of most people’s iron issues.

Amy:

Interesting. I’m learning so much. I’m like a guinea pig. I love testing all these products. Like, you should see my bathroom upstairs. It’s insane. ’m like all the different ovulation tests, all the different  — you know, I did the hormone testing and stuff. Maybe I’ll call you and get some hair analysis.

Amanda:

I was gonna say we can do a hair test.

Amy:

No, I’m in. I’m totally in, so. It’s very, very fascinating. Yeah. Let’s see, what else can we do to help increase ovulation health or what we call ovulation quality, because I guess eating breakfast. We kind of got on this like crazy tangent.

Amanda:

Yeah. I would say  — so, like I kind of already mentioned, like balancing your meals, trying to add protein, fat, and carbs. I do think protein is really important. And I know that everyone kind of has their own feelings around animal protein, but I think it’s essential for healthy hormones, definitely ‘cause it gives us all those vitamins and minerals, but also because of the quality of the protein that we get from it.

And that really helps us have two major functions work properly, like our liver. Our liver runs basically everything. Everyone thinks it just filters toxins. Like it does so many other things in the body. And so, like if we are not eating enough animal protein, then sometimes we can have slugging thyroid. And, of course, that’s gonna lead to low progesterone.

It can also mean that our liver is not working appropriately. So, then we get an excessive amount of estrogen. Maybe we’re not detoxifying it well or moving it out of the body. Maybe our digestion gets messed up, right? That has a huge impact on how we break down our food. So, it’s like I like to think of  — I like to look at people’s symptoms and then think about like do you have GI issues, is it a stress thing, is it a thyroid thing, and then zoom out and think about, well, where did this come from, right, ‘cause there are so many other things that control that in the body.

But that’s why I really like getting quality animal protein in. And if people can do that  — and maybe if you’re not eating any right now, starting slowly. But that is like  — I get a lot of clients that are plant based, and we slowly incorporate more animal foods, and that’s when they really are able to balance things out.

Amy:

Interesting. What do you consider gut issues? What are signs that you might have gut issues?

Amanda:

So, if someone has a lot of bloating after meals, I think that's a pretty common sign. If you don’t have a bowel movement most days, I’d definitely say like every day, that’s a really big sign that digestion has slowed down, right? So, that’s a big concern.

If you have reflux, indigestion after meals, those are probably the biggest ones, or the opposite of looser stools. But I tend to see more women that deal with constipation and bloating than anything else.

Amy:

Yeah, I mean, progesterone, part of the job is to slow down the GI tract.

Amanda:

Yeah.

Amy:

I remember in my pregnancies, I’m like what is going on?

Amanda:

Oh, my gosh, I know. That is like the worst I hear from people.

Amy:

Yeah, I remember that was always my first sign that I was pregnant. I’m like why am I so bloated and why I haven’t I pooped in like three days.

Amanda:

That’s how you know.

Amy:

Yeah, yeah. What about probiotics? Big fan? Not a fan?

Amanda:

I think it really depends on the person, ‘cause like say you have a lot of bloating and constipation, like adding more bacteria to that situation could make things worse, or you could end up spending a lot of money on a probiotic and it does nothing, because you have so much overgrowth.

So, I would say like whenever you think a gut issue is present, whether it’s bloating, constipation, reflux, you want to think backwards of like, okay, well, digestion is typically where they start, right? If you don’t make enough stomach acid, then bacteria can pass through and you can get overgrowth. That’s how we get that small intestinal bacterial overgrowth.

So, think about how can I support my digestion? If you’re not pregnant or breastfeeding, you could use digestive bitters. Those are great. They stimulate your own digestion process. But also, relax at your meals. Like, try not to eat distractedly. Try to take a few deep breaths, chew your food, like really basic things, but most of us do not do these. Like we eat while we’re working, we’re on our phone, we’re feeding our kids or whatever.

So, definitely something to consider, but yeah, I would say digestion is number one. But then my brain always goes to like well, what causes slow digestion? And it’s like usually your metabolism or your thyroid is slowing down, so always trying to think about am I eating enough, am I eating frequently, and I skipping meals, do I like waiting ‘til later in the day and eating all my food then? So, it’s like you can pretty much walk everything back to your metabolism, how that’s kind of impacting everything else, digestion, detox, progesterone, estrogen.

Amy:

Yeah. I remember when I was a kid growing up, my mom would be like you’ve got to chew each bite 32 times, and I was  — I told that to my kids the other day. I was like you’ve got to  — and they were like what? That’s when I had to Google it. And I’m like, so I guess that’s not a thing anymore, because  — then we all did; we counted our bites, and it was really, really hard to get to 32.

Amanda:

Oh, my gosh, that’s so funny. How old are your kids?

Amy:

10 and 7.

Amanda:

Okay, yeah, so they’re like, no thanks, Mom, not happening.

Amy:

Yeah. Then there was like a competition to see how many bites they could do. So, they were like three bites, and then I swallowed it.

Amanda:

Oh, gosh. This is not what this is for.

Amy:

Yeah. Okay, so progesterone, better ovulation. One thing that we advocate a lot that we find is very, very helpful and I think this goes back into the, you know, nutritional content that you need for different hormones to work. It’s seed cycling. Are you familiar with this?

Amanda:

I am. I have the opposite take on seed cycling.

Amy:

All right. I’d love to hear it. I’m all for healthy discussion, so go for it.

Amanda:

Okay, so I used to be a big advocate of seed cycling, and I don’t necessarily think it’s like the worst thing you can do, but when I think about seed cycling, I think about, one, like what are the nutrients that they’re looking for to get from those foods, right? A lot of them are minerals, and we don’t absorb as many minerals from plant foods, especially from seeds or nuts, because they have antinutrients that bind to them. So, my first thought is, is that the best way to get the nutrients from those seeds that we’re looking for to support our progesterone? In my opinion, probably not.

The other issue that I have and a reason I don’t recommend it anymore is that a lot of women, especially if they have some sort of compromised digestion, seeds are not gonna help that. They’re much harder to digest, nuts and seeds in general. Obviously, if you chew them really well that can help, but it’s like a lot of times the seeds are gonna exacerbate GI issues.

And the last thing that I don’t love about seeds and seed cycling is that they do have a higher amount of polyunsaturated fats, PUFAs, whatever you want to call them, and they oxidize very easily. So, basically  — and you need to ground up the seed in order to get the majority of the nutrients or get the most out of it. So, then you’re grinding up that seed and all those fats are being exposed to that oxygen that they were previously protected from with their outer layer, and those oxidize. And then, that creates more inflammation in the body.

So, I feel like it’s a lot of work, not getting as many nutrients, could be creating more digestive issues and inflammation, when I would rather have women focus on more traditional foods, eating regularly, feeding themselves often.

Amy:

Interesting. It all makes sense.

Amanda:

Yeah.

Amy:

It’s amazing. I mean, you think why would I need a nutritionist? Why am I gonna pay money to tell me what to eat? Like I know what to eat. I know this is healthy; that’s not healthy. But it’s like there’s so much more. It’s like the nutrients, and this, and, you know, what’s your hair saying, what are your minerals, and like what’s the Dutch  — all this stuff that  — I mean, I think I’m an educated person, and I’ve learned quite a bit today.

Amanda:

And I know it’s  — so, I’m a hormone dietician, because wouldn’t really classify  — I used to be like, oh, I’m a functional dietician, right, but then I personally think like functional medicine and what you typically hear people share  — and I definitely used to say all of these things before I learned better is like eat cruciferous veggies, do seed cycling, do all these things to like get your estrogen down and force estrogen detox, and all this stuff.

And I think it’s like  — it’s still conventional medicine with a functional medicine in a cloak, right? You’re still treating symptoms. If they have estrogen issues and you give them dim or cruciferous veggies, you’re forcing a detox pathway that your body is trying to say isn't working. And it’s a symptom of a bigger issue. And I think that’s like the biggest thing. And so, like yeah, seed cycling might work for someone, but I would ask like why do they have to seed cycle in the first place to not have enough progesterone and not having regular cycles or whatever it is.

So, I feel like it’s not bad to do these things, but I just then wonder how am I gonna work with someone and never have to see them again? And that is gonna be getting to the metabolic root, because our metabolism controls everything.

And that’s been a huge part of my healing journey and just navigating that. Like, I got off the pill. I was basically a mess for like five years. Then I had a copper IUD. Not my best choice. And it just led to a lot of issues, and I was kind of like Band-Aid approach, Band-Aid approach, Band-Aid approach. And then, when I finally got more to like focusing on, how can I just make this easier for my body and give it the space that it needs to do what it’s meant to do, and that's kind of the approach I take. So, everything is pretty much opposite of what you typically hear.

Amy:

No, it makes a lot of sense. I mean, when I was going through fertility struggles and I realized I had a progesterone deficiency, I did the Band-Aid approach too, because you’re so like broken and like done, and, you know, I had like multiple years of infertility, multiple losses, finally found the problem. And I’m like, well, I don’t have like six months to fix my diet and like my body. Let me  — just give me more progesterone. Like put the Band-Aid on it, right?

Amanda:

I also don’t think there’s any issues with taking progesterone, because there’s no negative side effects unless you  — some women like turn it into cortisol and they have like a very terrible reaction, but for the most part, we live in a world that is stressful, that is not very supportive of our hormones, and to have healthy hormones, you typically are going against the grain. Everything is like the opposite of what you hear, a little bit harder, you have to be much more mindful, and so I feel like in the world that we live in, it’s kind of expected.

I don’t think it’s weird to need progesterone. I don’t think it’s like a failure or that it’s bad to take. It’s just like how I can put my body  — because a lot of my clients will tell you that, like if they’ve had miscarriages in the past. And yeah, maybe they get themselves to a place where they feel really good and their progesterone is improved, but there’s really not any harm in taking it when they’re trying to conceive and then during that first trimester.

So, it’s almost like a safety thing and it can get rid of morning sickness, so it’s kind of like any down sides there, but I want to feel good and stuff, but I also think infertility is super stressful. And so, it’s like you have to just do the best you can.

Amy:

Yeah. I mean, I’m not trying to conceive and I’m on progesterone just for overall health. And like I’m working on the body, the diet, all that stuff, and then adding the progesterone, and they’re both working together.

Amanda:

Exactly, yeah.

Amy:

What else was I gonna ask you? There was one more thing I was gonna ask you. It was really important and I can’t remember what it was. Oh, my gosh. Oh, yes. We’ll cut that part out. So, I want to ask you about supplements, like herbals  —

Amanda:

Okay.

Amy:

 — those kinds of things. I mean, those are huge. It’s like, oh, my gosh, I don’t want to do this diet thing; it’s too hard. Just give me a supplement. Like tell me what I need to buy off Amazon or whatever it is, like good supplements, thoughts supplements, go for it.

Amanda:

I know. People are like what’s the best supplement to raise this or raise that, and I’m like Vitamin E. Like if you have a fertility concern, in my opinion, other than eating enough food, minimizing your stress, all that stuff, there’s so much research on Vitamin E. There’s not nearly enough.

I feel like people can make money off of it, so they’re like not really looking into it, but it’s like there’s a lot with Vitamin E and PCOS and specifically how  — and luteal phase defect, how it can improve your luteal blood flow, and then you make more progesterone. It can help correct that.

And then, how it helps build up your corpus luteum, which dictates how much progesterone you make. So, in my opinion, if people are like maybe they don’t want to wait as long or they’re trying to find a faster approach to it, I don’t really think herbs are quite as helpful. I think your diet, stress, and lifestyle are the most helpful, but then Vitamin E would be my top suggestion.

Amy:

What about these Chinese herbals? There’s a lot of them, like Conception Blend, I think  — the ones I can think of like, I don’t know, Pink Stork  —

Amanda:

Like when it’s just a bunch of different adaptogens and stuff?

Amy:

Yeah.

Amanda:

I mean, I think that herbs can be helpful, but it’s kind of like progesterone where if you weren’t at least making some effort in the nutrition and stress place, like they’re not gonna work as well, because they work the best when your body has the nutrients it needs to thrive, and they can actually respond to that.

A lot of people ask me about Vitex, and that’s a really common one. They’re like, I want to have a regular cycle; I want to make more progesterone, but that’s just really increasing your LH. That might not work for everyone, and if you have PCOS and you have a high LH, you wouldn’t want to take Vitex.

So, I don’t personally use herbs with clients. I use food, whole food based supplements, things like Vitamin E, and then obviously like progesterone. So, they might end up using that when they try to conceive or even on their healing journey if they feel like they’re doing everything and they’re in a good place where they would respond well to it. But I think those are much more  — they just do more, and then it’s not  — it’s a better investment of your money, in my opinion, than a lot of different herbs.

Amy:

Awesome. Makes a lot of sense. Awesome. Well, thank you for the time. Please tell everybody where to find you, how to get this awesome hair testing., [and other] recommendations.

Amanda:

So, I definitely share the most on Instagram. I’m @hormonehealingrd. I have a highlight on progesterone where I go into more details, so definitely check that one out. I have a million blogs. My website hormonehealingrd.com, you can also see the hair test analysis and everything on there. I currently have a waitlist. I basically like close it, open it, close it, open it, so I’m not getting like a million hair tests, but yeah, join that, let me know  — what was that?

Amy:

I said you’re gonna open it for me, right, I got  —

Amanda:

I was gonna say we can do your hair test and then we can do a podcast reviewing it, have you get some blood work done too and compare everything.

Amy:

Oh, I have so much stuff on all these levels, so I’m pretty sure I have most of the things, but I’ve never done hair testing. I’ve never done gut testing either. Those are the two things I haven’t yet done.

Amanda:

Interesting. Yeah, we can definitely do the hair test.

Amy:

All right. So, you have a waiting list, so you kind of open it and shut it?

Amanda: 

So, yeah, like you can sign up. The link is there, and you just fill out the form and it puts you on the list, so whenever I open it, you’ll get a message notifying you that it’s there.

Amy:

Awesome. Well, thank you very much. I’m sure everyone appreciates this conversation. I know we had a couple tangents, but really good stuff. So, thank you very much.

Amanda:

Thanks for having me.