PRECONCPETION

006: Nutrition For Fertility And Preconception w/ Stephanie Rome, MS, CNS, LDN

006

006: Nutrition For Fertility And Preconception w/ Stephanie Rome, MS, CNS, LDN

Welcome to the Healthy Happy Mami podcast!

Our guest today is Stephanie Rome, MS, CNS, LDN, a Holistic Nutritionist and owner of Keenist, a nutrition counseling practice she founded in 2014.

Stephanie provides personalized counseling to clients to help them develop healthy and sustainable nutrition and lifestyle habits. Her philosophy is that each person is unique and responds best to a customized approach.

Stephanie works with all types of clients but specializes in women’s health, digestive health, and weight management.

She has a BS in Psychology from UVA, and a MS in Clinical Nutrition from MUIH. She is a Certified Nutrition Specialist, Licensed Dietitian Nutritionist, Certified Holistic Health Coach, Ayurveda Lifestyle Counselor, Natural Foods Chef and Yoga Instructor.

Or listen on Apple Podcasts | Spotify | Stitcher | TuneIn

In today’s episode we are talking all about nutrition for fertility and preconception health.

Highlights:

  • Why does Stephanie do what she does?
  • Why is preconception nutrition important?
  • For a client who wants to become pregnant, when would Stephanie start modifying nutrition and diet?
  • What does a fertility diet entail?
  • How to support blood sugar balance
  • Why healthy fats are so good for fertility
  • Stephanie’s top five fertility foods

Important Links

Find Stephanie online here

Check out Stephanie’s Hormone Balancing Guide and Cookbook here

Get 50% off Stephanie’s Mama-To-Be Tea with code HEYMAMI at checkout!

Read our blog post, “12 Morning Sickness Remedies That Work

Follow Stephanie on Instagram

Quotes

“A nutrient-dense real food diet is, at least in my opinion, at the top of the list of strategies for supporting fertility and creating the optimal conditions for not only a healthy pregnancy, but also healthy baby and postpartum recovery.”

“Blood sugar balance and insulin sensitivity are just so essential to having balanced hormones and healthy ovulatory function and fertility.”

006: Nutrition For Fertility And Preconception w/ Stephanie Rome, RD TRANSCRIPT

Dr. Maren:                          Welcome back to the Healthy and Happy Mami Podcast. In today’s episode, we’re talking all things nutrition for fertility and preconception health. Our guest today is Stephanie Rome. Stephanie is a certified holistic nutritionist and the owner of Keenist, a nutrition counseling practice she founded in 2014. She specializes in women’s health, specifically resolving hormonal imbalances, managing hormonal conditions, optimizing fertility and supporting preconception, pregnancy and postpartum health. She’s specifically known for supporting women with transitioning gracefully off of hormonal birth control, managing PCOS, regulating menstrual cycles and helping women conceive healthy babies. She has a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from the University of Virginia and has an MS in Clinical Nutrition from Maryland University Integrative Health. She is also a certified holistic health coach, Ayurvedic lifestyle counselor, natural foods chef and yoga instructor. And she’s also a friend locally here in Denver. So I’m so excited to have her. Thanks, Stephanie, for being here.

Stephanie:                          Thank you guys so much for having me.

Dr. Maren:                          So, we want to just start out and get to know you a little bit better. Tell us why it is that you do what you do.

Stephanie:                          Sure. So my passion for holistic health, in particular women’s health, was ignited by my own struggles earlier in life with hormonal imbalances. Specifically, I didn’t get a period for two years after coming off of my birth control. And during that two year stint, I worked with various doctors as well as alternative and holistic practitioners, and I even went to India and lived in an Ayurvedic Panchakarma retreat center for a month, which is a story for another day. But ultimately, I was able with the help of some amazing clinicians to identify and treat the root cause of my hormone issues and amenorrhea using food-as-medicine approach. And I was just so inspired by the power of nutrition and the body’s ability to heal itself provided the right resources that I ended up making a career pivot to go back to school and become a holistic nutritionist and health coach so that I could help others improve their lives through diet and lifestyle as well.

Dr. Maren:                          Awesome. I love hearing these stories that sort of all brought us together on this path because we all have a similar story, right, Alex?

Dr. Carrasco:                      Yeah, I think so. I think a lot of us that are walking this path have had our own medical crises or our own challenging health experiences that have led us to look for different answers than what’s commonly served up.

Dr. Maren:                          Yes. And that’s totally what inspired Alex and I to create Hey Mami, because we knew, being moms of three and having gone through all of this stuff a million times, it can be rough out there. All right, well, let’s dive into it. Tell us first of all, why is preconception nutrition even important?

Stephanie:                          Yeah, for sure. A nutrient-dense real food diet is, at least in my opinion, at the top of the list of strategies for supporting fertility and creating the optimal conditions for not only a healthy pregnancy, but also healthy baby and postpartum recovery. And of all the ways that you can influence your health, I think nutrition is an area where we have the most control and what we do, or maybe don’t eat, can profoundly influence our overall health and by extension our reproductive health. Everything from menstrual cycle regularity, ovulation, egg quality, health of the uterine lining, immune system, microbiome, et cetera. So I do believe that optimal nutrition will provide us with information that our cells and endocrine system need to support that conception and pregnancy as well as good health outcomes for mom and baby. But the unfortunate reality is that so many women in the U.S. and other countries as well are really chronically low in many of the nutrients that are essential for optimal fertility, even if they eat well.

Stephanie:                          And this is especially true if they’ve been on hormonal birth control for a while, and there’s just a handful of issues associated with suboptimal nutrient status. Going into pregnancy, for one it can make getting pregnant more difficult just due to possibly poor egg quality or anovulatory cycles or other hormone issues. But there’s also the epigenetic piece where your grandchild will be impacted by your nutritional status when you conceived. So there’s that, there’s the fact that many of the key components of baby’s brain is built before you then know you’re pregnant. So there’s just a couple of reasons or motivating factors to get your nutrition dialed in before trying to conceive.

Dr. Maren:                          We totally agree. One of the things we like to write about is that epigenetic piece, because I think it’s pretty amazing that what you eat can actually influence generations in front of you. So yes, we’re on the same page. Alex, what do you want to add?

Dr. Carrasco:                      Understanding that creating a nutritional environment for your cells will affect your grandchildren, that’s really powerful information. My own grandmother, I guess whose mitochondrial lineage I acquired, I’m very thankful that she had a very wholesome real food diet but there might be some generations of people that don’t get that.

Dr. Maren:                          It’s really important, too, that people understand nutrition isn’t a one-size-fits-all. We don’t all have the same genes, we don’t all need the same exact diet. That’s why looking at some of the medical literature can be confusing sometimes, is because studying nutrition is not a one-size-fits-all we all have different needs, whether it’s genetic or gut microbiome or whatever it might be. So, yeah. Okay, well tell us, when do you start working optimally with a patient who wants to become pregnant? When would you start really modifying nutrition and diet?

Stephanie:                          Three months is a minimum. Six months would be ideal, or obviously longer, but most women are in that phase when they decide they want to get pregnant, they wanted to get pregnant tomorrow. So I usually say if we can have six months, that would be perfect for various reasons. One, just that the foods you eat during that six months before conception will influence your health during pregnancy, but it also influences baby’s health in utero and then into childhood. And then the other thing is that it takes, you know, about 90 days for an egg to develop and be selected for ovulation. So we need at least that amount of time to work through a focused preconception protocol in order to make any significant changes in egg quality. Yeah.

Dr. Maren:                          And at the same time, it’s never too late. So even if you’re pregnant and listening, it’s better late than never.

Stephanie:                          Yeah, definitely.

Dr. Maren:                          You can always make better choices the next available moment. It’s not like if you haven’t had a solid nutrition focus, that doesn’t mean that it’s all lost, but you can start making better choices moving forward now that you’re educated and empowered.

Stephanie:                          For sure. And I always think of it like, I know with my pregnancy, the first trimester it was hard to even look at something leafy green. So if you’re at least kind of building up your nutritional stores ahead of pregnancy, when you don’t have all this food aversions and you don’t want to just eat carbs and cheese, you’re just in a much better spot to draw on those reserves for that eight weeks where you’re miserable. You can’t eat anything.

Dr. Maren:                          A hundred percent. We totally agree. We have a good article on heymami.com about nausea and vomiting with pregnancy and like things you can eat that are sort of more healthy choices. Carbs, and I think some of my favorites were almond flour crackers and salt and vinegar potato chips, but whatever you can get in helps.

Stephanie:                          Whatever you can get in.

Dr. Maren:                          So yeah, stockpile ahead of time, because that’s-

Dr. Carrasco:                      That’s true. If you have the opportunity, a three to six month stockpile is amazing. A lot of people feel stressed. I get messages from patients every day that are in their first trimester saying, “I really don’t want to eat anything vegetable-ish right now,” or, “I want to eat something a little bit more sweet. What do I do?”. And it’s like, “Well, yeah, do the best you can.”

Dr. Maren:                          Yeah. So Stephanie, tell us, what’s your preconception prep protocol when you’re working with patients who want to become pregnant?

Stephanie:                          Yeah. So I try to to kind of hit five key areas, and the first one as a nutritionist is obviously a fertility diet. So nourishing the body with those key nutrients through a customized nutrition plan, as well as with targeted supplementation. But also balancing hormones, so this is where we get into the cycle tracking and regulating the cycle, using Buddhist medicine and using herbs and other things. I also really try to do some type of detoxification. So it could be even just a very gentle way to reduce the body burden and just ramp up detox pathways. First is just focusing on limiting those toxic exposures, and then supporting the body to get rid of toxins before trying to conceive.

Stephanie:                          And so that’s obviously very key to do that in the preconception prep time, as opposed to when they are actively trying to conceive. And then four would be healing and supporting the gut microbiome, so just having a healthy gut is so key for overall health and fertility. And there’s a link between gut health and hormone balance, and we know that mom’s microbiome influences baby’s. So just getting mom’s gut health in top shape a priority. And then the fifth one would just be optimizing self care, so this is where we’re trying to optimize sleep, create a stress management practice, do some hormone-healthy exercise, as well as create space for a baby in her life.

Dr. Maren:                          Those are all really good. So if listeners go to our definitive guide to preconception, they can kind of dive into some of this, and I’m excited to really like get to the nitty-gritty of some of the toxin and microbiome stuff. So we’ll be interviewing some awesome folks in the next couple of weeks on all that stuff, so, cool. Well, let’s dive into that first thing you mentioned about fertility diet and supplementation. So what does a fertility diet entail?

Stephanie:                          Yeah, so like we were just talking about before there is no one-size-fits-all nutrition plan that’s perfect for every single woman. So I do think that there are certainly some foundational principles when it comes to fertility and setting the stage for a healthy pregnancy. So I’ll just run through what some of those foundational principles are. So eat food that’s closest to its natural form as possible, kind of your best way to navigate if you’re not working with someone to get the customized plan. It’s just eat as much real food as possible. I also recommend as much local and seasonal as you can procure, so food that doesn’t have to travel long distances to get to your plate will not only be a lot tastier but also higher in nutrients, and eating seasonally also really helps to support the variety and the diversity in the diet. So I love recommending CSAs and farmer’s markets and stuff like that when people can make that work.

Stephanie:                          And additionally, I also generally recommend more warm cooked foods for trying to conceive. This principle really hails from more of the Eastern philosophies, Ayurveda and traditional Chinese medicine where eating warm cold foods as opposed to cold and raw foods. It’s not only easier to digest, which enhances nutrient absorption, but it also supports the yang energy, which is really needed for the blood flow and the pelvic circulation and catalyzing those biological processes like ovulation and implantation. This principle is certainly more relevant and important during winter, but I still think it can be helpful for people to keep in mind year-round. And towards organic, so just trying to buy as much organic as possible. If that’s not feasible or within the budget, then just prioritizing the Dirty Dozen for produce items.

Stephanie:                          And five is nutrient density. Because many women are so chronically low in these key fertility micronutrients, we can really work on repleting vitamins and minerals with a nutrient-dense diet, as well as anti-inflammatory. So not only are we trying to add in a ton of nutrient density, we also may need to eliminate the inflammatory culprits like gluten and refined sugar and trans fats. And if somebody has food sensitivities, addressing those, because those can all contribute to the inflammatory cascade. And lastly, blood sugar balance. We know that blood sugar balance and insulin sensitivity are just so essential to having balanced hormones and healthy ovulatory function and fertility. So a nutrition plan that keeps your blood sugar balanced, I think is really key.

Dr. Maren:                          Yeah. We’re on board. We agree with all that. And I love whenever we talk about organic, I think Dirty Dozen is definitely helpful. And we always tell our patients, too, especially when it comes to animal derived foods, really trying to pick pastured organic and avoiding hormones that you get in meat. And if you’re eating dairy, especially.

Dr. Carrasco:                      Those are really big ones, too.

Stephanie:                          For sure.

Dr. Maren:                          I want to dive in a little bit more on blood sugar balance. Tell us, when you counsel somebody to eat, maybe somebody with PCOS. Even all of us benefit from more blood sugar balance and controlling insulin, which is also a hormone. Tell us what you recommend for people like that.

Stephanie:                          Yeah. So just the most simple level, we want to include the three macronutrients at every meal to keep our blood sugar balanced. And I call that protein, fat and fiber. And I’ll kind of explain why I say protein, fat, fiber instead of protein, fat, carbs.

Dr. Maren:                          Girl, we say the same thing.

Dr. Carrasco:                      Yes, we do.

Stephanie:                          Oh, you do?

Dr. Maren:                          Yes.

Stephanie:                          Yeah, so protein, fat, fiber at every single meal. Snacks too, if you’re having snacks, and I can kind of break those down just in a little bit more detail if that would be useful.

Dr. Maren:                          Yeah.

Dr. Carrasco:                      That would be great.

Dr. Maren:                          Do that.

Stephanie:                          Okay, cool. So we’ll just start with protein. So clean protein, like you just said, eating protein from a wide variety of sources is important for a healthy fertility diet because those amino acids from the protein are the building blocks for cells in the body. And obviously protein is also so crucial for keeping blood sugar levels stable. And again, there’s no one-size fits all, but generally speaking I do recommend a mix of both clean animal proteins and plant-based proteins. So the bio-individuality comes in and the personal preference, where some women may thrive on more of a paleo-type plan where they’re not eating any plant-based proteins. And then other women may lean more vegetarian, where they’re relying heavily on plant-based proteins, but in either case it’s the quality that’s key.

Stephanie:                          So for animal proteins, like you said, we’d be doing the organic pastured chicken and eggs and pork and grass-fed beef and bison and lamb, wild caught fish. And then I also put bone broths in this category as a really great way to get really easily, very bioavailable protein, and most people like it, or we’ll make soups with it. Otherwise you can use the collagen peptides as a way to add protein to smoothies or soups or coffee or whatever. And then for the plant-based sources, it’d be your lentils and beans and organic tempeh, and gluten-free whole grains. So clean protein, ideally a staple at every meal, aiming for a palm-sized portion of animal protein, or about a third to half a cup of beans, roughly.

Dr. Maren:                          Yeah. Awesome. And give us, what’s your take on soy?

Stephanie:                          Yeah, so I’m okay with a bit of soy. If somebody is vegetarian and they’re using soy daily or multiple times a day, we may need to just get a little bit more creative and bring in some more diversity of different types of plant-based proteins. But I think that having a little bit of organic fermented soy, like tempeh like I said, or using a little bit of tamari here and there miso paste is generally fine. There’s the phytoestrogens that we worry about in huge quantities, but for the most part the fermentation takes care of that and the phytase and things like that. So I’m okay with it. I try to be as lenient and open to various proteins, just so that people feel like they have a lot of options.

Dr. Maren:                          Yeah, totally. We agree with you. We have the same sort of philosophy on that. And I think it’s tricky if you’re a vegetarian, where to really find good quality protein sources. Yeah, there’s a way to do it, but sometimes that may mean eating a little bit of beans and soy or tempeh, as long as your gut is in a good spot. Alex, do you have anything you want to add?

Dr. Carrasco:                      No, I think that it’s just probably important to just say that everyone’s dietary bio-individuality is going to be variable. And so there’s not one dogmatic way in which every single human should eat. But I think probably following macros in some way can be useful.

Dr. Maren:                          Yeah. And that’s principle one of our Hey Mami nutrition rules, which is listen to your body because you’re not going to be the same as your best friend. Okay. Let’s talk more about some of the healthy fats that you love and tell people to gravitate toward.

Stephanie:                          Yeah, so fats are absolutely one of the best things for fertility. They are building blocks for hormones. They’re key for blood sugar balance and improving insulin sensitivity. They’re so great for reducing inflammation and helping with satiety, and helping your body absorb fat-soluble vitamins. So lots of reasons to love healthy fats, and the best fertility fats are the monounsaturated fats, which are avocados and olives and their respective oils, avocado and olive oil, as well as nuts and seeds. Omega-3 fats, which are your EPA and DHA and ALA, most people have heard of DHA when it comes to pregnancy, but these are going to be found, EPA and DHA, from wild caught fish. Obviously we want to avoid fish that bioaccumulate a lot of mercury, so I just try to recommend sticking with the acronym SMASH for fish. I’m sure you guys heard of that.

Dr. Maren:                          No, no. Fill me in. I have not heard this one.

Stephanie:                          Okay. So it’s SMASH like S-M-A-S-H, and it stands for salmon, mackerel, anchovies, herring, sardines. There’s a few other ones that I would add to the list like cod and other things, but generally those five are going be your lowest in heavy metals. And then I also love shellfish, if people like that, so things like scallops can be a great source of omega-3 fat. And then you get your ALA from flax seeds and chia seeds and hemp seeds and walnuts, and things like that. So those are all great too. And saturated fats play a role here too. So anything coconut, grass-fed butter and ghee as well as grass fed full fat dairy. Again, with the bio-individuality, some people tolerate dairy just fine and it can be a fertility food, whereas other people, it does increase inflammation levels. So we just have to be… That one’s kind of asterisked as, “Depends on the person.”

Dr. Maren:                          Yeah. We’re with you. Okay, talk about fiber-rich carbs and why you say fiber instead of carbs

Stephanie:                          Yeah, so carbs are kind of too broad of a category when we’re talking about macronutrients. They include everything from vegetables and fruits and whole grains, but the carb category also includes stuff like white bread and pasta and baked goods and breakfast cereal. So we just want to make that distinction. The latter has a really high-glycemic load and barely any fiber and they’re just best avoided for everyone, but certainly for someone in the preconception phase, because they’ll spike blood sugar and increase inflammation and can contribute to ovulatory infertility. So we just want to avoid those as much as possible and emphasize the fertility-friendly carbs, which are those that come from whole food sources that have a low glycemic load and are packed with fiber, namely vegetables. So ideally when you’re building a meal, if we’re thinking about this fertility plate, half to three quarters of your plate is occupied by colorful vegetables.

Stephanie:                          And then ideally you’re emphasizing mostly low starch vegetables that support blood sugar balance. So that’s meaning your low starch leafy greens, cruciferous vegetables, zucchini, celery, asparagus, et cetera. And then I also talk about slow carbs, which are more like the starchy vegetables, like sweet potato and winter squash and root vegetables like beets and carrots and parsnips and things. Those are all great as well as some whole fruits, just in moderation. So if we’re thinking of that plate and you’re filling three quarters of the plate with vegetables, maybe half is colorful low starch vegetables and the other quarter is some of these slow carbs like sweet potato, or even some of the gluten-free whole grains like quinoa, rice, oats, can be added in as well.

Dr. Maren:                          Yeah. I love that. That’s totally what we preach as well, and that’s exactly what I tell my patients. Obviously not everybody is different, but if you look at your plate, one quarter of plant-based carbs, my dinner will have potatoes. Even if they’re white potatoes, they’re kind of delicious and they come from the ground, I’m good with that, you know, sweet potatoes, whatever. And then I like to do roasted beets or carrots, and then of course that big half I try to do with ton of veggies and then some protein on the side. Alex, what does your dinner plate look like?

Dr. Carrasco:                      Mine’s a little bit more skewed to mainly low starch vegetables. So we’ll do lots of leafy greens and then a lot of the above-ground vegetables rather than underground vegetables, just because my blood sugar does better when I’m on a lower carb diet.

Dr. Maren:                          Yeah, my husband would starve if I didn’t make potatoes.

Dr. Carrasco:                      I guess, yeah.

Stephanie:                          I feel like my husband just adds like a cassava flour tortilla to every meal and he’s happy then.

Dr. Carrasco:                      That’s the starch, yeah.

Dr. Maren:                          Oh yeah. Literally, mine would eat an entire package, which is like $8 for dinner so I’m like, “All right, those are mine. Those are my tortillas, I need your extra potatoes.” Cool. So tell us, what are your top five fertility foods, if you had to pick your five faves?

Stephanie:                          Yeah, so this was really hard because I feel like I definitely wanted more than five. But if I had to pick five, I would do number one avocado. It’s so delicious, everyone loves it, so versatile. Packed with those monounsaturated fats, which are the best kind of fats with fertility. So that’s probably number one. I didn’t necessarily rank them, but that is my personal number one. And then number two would just be some wild caught fatty fish, like the sockeye salmon or sardines. Fish is just a wonderful source of fertility nutrients. That’s your omega-3 fats, high quality protein, it’s got B12 and iron and iodine and selenium. So if people are into fish, I think that’s a great source of protein that they can have multiple times a week. The third one is a little controversial, but I do think that organ meats are a great fertility food.

Stephanie:                          They’re a hard sell for clients. Whenever I bring it up, people just make the face of, “That’s absolutely revolting, what are you talking about?”. But liver has to make the list, because it’s just such a concentrated source of just about every single nutrient. It’s got almost every vitamin and mineral. It’s got healthy fats, essential amino acids., It’s like almost like a multivitamin. And in some of the ancient cultures and those hunter-gatherer, tribes the organ meats were actually reserved for pregnant women. So there’s definitely something to it as a fertility food, but for some people, if it’s a non-starter, I get it and I’m not going to force it. So we’ll generally compromise with bone broth. Bone broth’s not the same nutritional profile as organ meats, but it’s really highly nutrient dense as well. So I’m good with that if people are just an absolute no on the organs.

Stephanie:                          And number four, eggs. Eggs are just the perfect little package of blood sugar balancing protein and healthy fat. And they’re a great source of choline, which is so essential for baby’s brain development and a nutrient that many women are lacking. So I love eggs again, if tolerated. Unfortunately they’re one of those foods that can be a food sensitivity, so again, we just have to figure that out for each individual, but for the most part people generally do well on eggs, and I love that one. And then number five is just the green vegetables. So any greens, cruciferous vegetables especially are wonderful because they’re so great for supporting liver detoxification and are rich in folate and a lot of the fat soluble vitamins and magnesium, et cetera. So that would be my five.

Dr. Maren:                          Yeah. It’s a great list. And I always want our listeners, don’t do the egg white only. Make sure you’re doing the egg yolk.

Stephanie:                          Definitely the yolk. Keep it a whole food.

Dr. Maren:                          Yeah. I think they’re all superstars. Let me ask you, how do you support your patients in eating liver? Is there a way that you like to prepare it where it becomes more palatable? I think I grew up eating liver as a little girl, but I don’t know why I thought it was distasteful. But how do you help women get past that?

Stephanie:                          This is what I personally do, and people are a little bit… It’s an easier sell to do pate, because for one you just really don’t have to eat that much to get the nutritional punch. So if you were to eat like three or five crackers with some pate on it, I would consider that a win. You’ve eaten your liver for the day. Not that you have to eat it daily, but just maybe a couple of times a week, you’re having a few crackers, like some of those Simple Mills almond flour crackers with a little bit of pate.

Stephanie:                          And pate is the ultimate fat bomb. It’s got the liver, but then you mix it with a ton of butter. So it’s delicious because it can kind of cut the liver flavor when you add stuff like butter, and sometimes I’ll add bacon, even, to it to totally get rid of that metallic-y taste. And I also like hiding liver, so I’ll hide it in a bolognese or something. So you can do ground beef or ground turkey or something like that, and then just put a little bit of ground up liver in there, and then it’s got the really flavorful pasta sauce and it just kind of gets drowned out with all the other flavors.

Dr. Carrasco:                      Yeah, those are great tips.

Dr. Maren:                          Yeah. I’m looking up a pate recipe over here. I have to stop myself with that. Maybe later. So, do you-

Stephanie:                          I just totally cannot do the liver and onions thing.

Dr. Maren:                          Yeah, I know.

Stephanie:                          No chance.

Dr. Maren:                          And the quantity thing, I think, is a big deal. Because people need to understand, you don’t need a ton of liver. It’s just a little bit. I personally really prefer chicken over beef liver. I don’t know why, I just feel like it’s more palatable. What are your thoughts on different types?

Stephanie:                          I’m good with either. Whichever people gravitate towards is great. I find that for me, maybe I’ll send you the recipe, but the beef liver pate is easier or more palatable to me than chicken liver pate. And I actually also sometimes do lamb liver because here in Colorado, and I’ll tell you this as well, but the place where I get it, it’s grass fed, a hundred percent grass fed and grass finished in Gunnison. It’s just like a little packet of lamb liver, so it’s a little bit smaller and easier to deal than a massive cow’s liver, which is kind of intimidating and scary. So I usually do lamb liver and then I don’t have to worry so much about the health of the lamb, as opposed to the cows and stuff.

Dr. Maren:                          Yeah. So tell us too, if you’re going to… I think this is really important for people, because one of the things that always kind of creeps me out is eating an organ from another animal when I don’t know where it came from. So what do you look for when you’re buying liver?

Stephanie:                          I try to get organic, and then it should specifically say that it’s not only grass fed, but grass finished. Usually that’s more of a problem with cows because they can finish them on grain and then the grain can have the time to glyphosate all over it. So ideally grass fed, grass finished if you can sort that. If you’re local, then there’s a couple of great farms that you can get liver from, but also nationally there’s U.S. Wellness Meats and places like that, that do a really good job of making sure their organ meats are really well-sourced and high quality.

Dr. Maren:                          Yeah. So my organ meat story is my friend who is a naturopath told me to make bone broth. And then she’s like, “And then take chicken livers and just blend it into the bone broth.” I went and bought a package of chicken livers, so I had like 12 chicken livers or something. And I totally ruined my bone broth because literally half of it is chicken liver and then half of it’s broth, but it’s totally disgusting.

Stephanie:                          Oh, yeah.

Dr. Maren:                          What she really meant was when you buy a chicken, often it comes with the organs, just preserve those and then make your broth, and then you just sort of saute that little tiny chicken liver, blend it up and stick it in your bone broth, and then it’s really nutrient dense. But you got to think about quantity because if you use a lot, it’s disgusting, sort of like a liver smoothie. So I would steer clear of that.

Stephanie:                          And it’s thick.

Dr. Maren:                          Lesson learned. Yes, it’s thick. It’s a liver smoothie. So just one, but you can sneak it in there and it’s pretty tasty. Well, tasteless, I should say.

Stephanie:                          When I make pate, I’ll make a big batch, but then I’ll freeze it in little tiny ramekins.

Dr. Maren:                          Yes.

Dr. Carrasco:                      That’s a great idea.

Dr. Maren:                          So when you pull it out, you’ve only got enough for a couple of servings. And you do it for a couple of days and then give yourself a break. After a few weeks, I’m brave enough to tackle the liver again and pull out another one from the freezer.

Dr. Maren:                          Yeah. I love that. Perfect. Yeah. All right, well, tell us where can people find you if they want to learn more about your practice and what you do?

Stephanie:                          Sure. So my website is keenist.com, so K-E-E-N-I-S-T.com. And my Instagram is keenist.co, C-O.

Dr. Maren:                          Awesome.

Stephanie:                          Find me [inaudible 00:29:09].

Dr. Carrasco:                      [crosstalk 00:29:09] website.

Dr. Maren:                          So pretty. I love it.

Stephanie:                          Thank you.

Dr. Maren:                          I know you have a gift that you’d like to share with our audience, so can you tell us a little bit more about your hormone balancing guide and cookbook?

Stephanie:                          I can. Yeah, so I feel like I’ve got a couple of gifts if that’s a book and then the tea, but the book is a hormone balancing guide and cookbook. It’s a comprehensive guide to optimizing and even just understanding your menstrual cycle, since we’re not taught anything about our cycles in school. And so many of my clients are like, “I had no idea.” So I just created a bit of a guide so that people could understand their cycle and then work towards optimizing it with nutrition and lifestyle modifications. And then the back half of the book is a cookbook, so it’s got 32 recipes, eight for each phase of the cycle, and they’re all of course gluten-free and dairy-free and refined sugar-free.

Dr. Maren:                          Awesome. And I love your recipe for beet hummus. So good.

Stephanie:                          Oh, thank you. It’s so yummy. It’s so pretty.

Dr. Maren:                          It’s really pretty. And then Stephanie has been super generous to give all of our listeners a coupon code for her Mama To Be Tea, so if you enter, I think, heymami they get 50% off?

Stephanie:                          Yep. That’s it.

Dr. Maren:                          Awesome. Tell us about the tea. What’s the story?

Stephanie:                          I love they tea because I’m just a huge herbal tea drinker in general. And I just love this one because it’s full of herbs that are really high in essential vitamins and minerals that are necessary for hormone balance and fertility like red rooibos, there’s rose hip, red raspberry leaf, nettle, et cetera. And I think of it like a plant-based small tea in a cup. So obviously it’s not going to replace your high quality prenatal supplement, but I did formulate it to be enjoyed as sort of part of your nutritional self care routine and the preconception prep days.

Dr. Maren:                          Awesome. I love that.

Dr. Carrasco:                      That’s awesome.

Dr. Maren:                          Cool. Well, thank you so much for coming on today and we will stay in touch.

Stephanie:                          Yes. Thank you guys so much for having me. It’s always fun to chat.

Dr. Maren:                          Awesome.

Dr. Carrasco:                      Thank you so much.

Stephanie:                          Okay. Bye.

Dr. Maren:                          Bye.

Male fertility issues contribute to about 50% of all infertility cases. So knowing how to support fertility and better sperm health is important for healthy conception.

Our guest today is Geo Espinoza, ND, a naturopathic functional medicine doctor who is recognized as an authority in urology and men’s health.

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

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

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