Today’s guest is Dr. Christine Maren, a top rated functional medicine physician. We’re going to talk about thyroid, gut connection, pregnancy, nutrition and fertility nutrition.
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Christine Maren’s story
Christine Maren, is a Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (DO) and she trained in functional medicine through the Institute for Functional Medicine (IFM). She has a virtual telemedicine practice where she sees consultative functional medicine patients in Colorado, Michigan, and Texas.
The reason she started practicing Functional Medicine is because she always had a holistic mindset when it comes to medicine. She knew it would give her a broad overview, but it was sort of a collision between her personal kind of health issues and her professional life that got her to where she is today. It all started with her personal experience with gestational diabetes while being pregnant for the first time and then experiencing pregnancy loss when trying to have her second child.
Eating before pregnancy is a big deal, many of us are already very taxed. It is an important time to boost up nutrient stores and increase fertility.
Some of Christine’s favorite prenatal nutrients:
- Folate (leafy greens)
- Choline (egg yolk and organ meats)
- Vitamin A (precursor is beta carotene, but some people cannot convert it to Vitamin A)
- Iodine (unless you have Hashimoto’s) – low mercury seafood
- Omega 3 fatty acids
- Vitamin D
Working with your practitioner to find a good blend of these nutrients is important because everyone has different needs.
Prenatal vitamins should have sufficient choline (450 mg or half this amount in trimethylglycine), methylfolate, methylcobalamin or adenosylcobalamin (not cyano-), and vitamin A as a mix of beta-carotene and and retinyl palmitate. Prenatal should also not include fillers like dyes or gluten.
Good Prenatal Brands:
- Vitamin IQ
- Thorne Prenatal (can be too high in iron for some women)
- Seeking Health
- Pure Encapsulations
- Full Circle
- New Chapter
Labs will tell you what kind of nutrient balance you may need for your prenatal vitamin.
Please avoid the gummies because sometimes the nutrients aren’t stable in that form, and the capsules will give you more bang for your buck.
Top 3 foods that women should implement into their day to day diet if they want to get pregnant
- Pastured egg yolk
- Sardines or wild salmon
- Leafy greens (kale, chard)
Berries are great too, full of antioxidants. Make your plates full of color.
Thoughts on supplementation of organ meats for pregnancy
Christine has concerns with purity. She is not a fan of the capsule supplements that have brain in it. Christine prefers to just take the organ meat and cut it into little pieces and swallow rather than doing a processed capsule. Organ meat can also put you at risk of too much vitamin A, which causes cranial malformations and abnormalities.
Patient’s exposure to toxic environmental chemicals is ubiquitous – it is everywhere. Preconception and prenatal exposure to toxic environmental agents have a profound and lasting effect on reproductive health across the life course.
We all get exposed to this stuff every day, we just have to do our best to limit it. We can’t make it perfect, but we’ve got to limit it and so like kind of going for some of the big ones…
Here are some of Dr. Christine’s tips to reduce toxin exposure:
- Choose organic foods.
- Avoid pesticides for your lawn.
- Don’t wear your shoes inside.
- Opening your windows and improving your ventilation.
- Use the exhaust fans in your bathroom and in your kitchen.
- Eliminate plastics – go for glass mason jars, stainless steel, and silicone. Get rid of teflon and swap out for cast iron. Electronic receipts instead of printed receipts to avoid transdermal BPA exposure.
- Avoid anything with fragrance – scented candles, air fresheners, etc. Switch to essential oils or unscented versions.
- Filter your water – even though the water may be safe to drink, there may still be certain hormones and other things in water that are endocrine disruptors.
- Avoid fire retardants – mattresses, rugs, furniture – can cause endocrine disruption due to off-gassing of the chemicals.
- Check for mold in your home and eliminate it. Water damage is important to address – get a qualified mold inspector who will do a good job, and don’t DIY this.
- Disinfect your home. Branch Basics is amazing!
Impact of Stress on Fertility
Stress is such a big deal. Stress refers to your HPA axis – your hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis, which even more specifically is the HPATG axis – the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal-thyroid-gonads/ovaries.
Your hypothalamus and pituitary are in your brain. Your brain sends signals to other organs and endocrine system. The HPA axis is highly impacted by stress, for some more than others.
The HPA axis is a big deal and if your body is in fight or flight mode all the time and your parasympathetic nervous system is shut down and you’re in this sympathetic dominant state, you’re not in the right place to get pregnant. From an evolutionary perspective, why would you get pregnant if you’re trying to run from a lion?
Reigning in the stress with mind-body connection, prayer, and exercise is important. There can be a lot of pressure around a timeline for pregnancy. It is important to surrender the stress and anxiety and put it up to God, while you do all the things you can to get in the best position to become pregnant. Sometimes stressing about getting pregnant can prevent you from getting pregnant. Take care of yourself and do whatever you can which is in your control.
Christine’s top tips for revamping the nutrient supply of moms post-pregnancy
Mom also needs nutrient repletion! Postpartum, moms are often forgotten so this is a really big deal.
- Getting support from family and friends
- Get all the help you can get
- Nourish yourself with really good food
- When baby sleeps, you should sleep! Sometimes the laundry can wait.
Try some of these nutrient-dense foods:
- Nut milk, cinnamon, cloves, and warming spices
- Easily digestible foods, like soups and smoothies
- Collagen – powder or bone broth
- Vitamin C
Make sure you’re working with a clinician or dietitian when you’re coming off of having a baby. A lot of women had been on birth control before they got pregnant and they already have depletion of nutrients where they’re more at risk for postpartum depression. And if you’re not getting adequate nutrients (zinc, B12, vitamin D, folate), then you’re more at risk for postpartum depression. So, make sure you’re working with somebody that can help you out.
Postpartum labs around 6 weeks are really important! There are things that could pop up like postpartum thyroiditis that are often overlooked.
Christine’s top supplement recommendations for pre-pregnancy
This definitely depends on the person.
- CoQ10 300-600 mg (Vitamin IQ Conceive)
- Vitamin B2
- Chaste Tree
- Vitex and myo-inositol
- Omega 3 fatty acids
Dr. Christine Maren’s info: