Here comes a special one! This episode features fellow dietitian Ayla Brammer, owner of Boston Functional Nutrition and creator of Full Circle Prenatal! Caitlin and Sophia both use this prenatal for themselves, and recommend it frequently in their private practices.
Ayla shares the roots of her practice and how she came to be the powerhouse dietitian she is now. She also works in pregnancy and preconception, but her passion is working with couples when they are first starting their journey to become parents.
Ayla shares her thoughts on one of the most common pieces of fertility advice shared by OBGYN and RE docs alike… “Lose weight before you get pregnant”. Of course we hate this blanket advice and don’t see it as helpful to women who want to be moms; but Ayla takes it a step further. Rapid weight loss is never a good idea, but when you’re trying to become pregnant, it’s even harder on your fertility systems. Our fat reserves can contain toxins and other dangerous compounds that we do not want to be rapidly circulating throughout our bodies. Remember that one tree in Ferngully, that had the weird evil smoke in it? Fat stores can be kinda like that.
Though some women do see some positive changes when their weight is stabilized, all 3 of us dietitians see the preconception period as a time to fill your body with nutrients, vitamins, and minerals with the right foods; not slashing and restricting everything in the name of weight loss. Our focus tends to be more on how to get your nutrients absorbed and kept, versus how to make your body smaller in order to somehow change your fertility.
Ayla explains some of the functional lab testing she uses in her practice. She’s an advocate of a comprehensive vitamin and mineral assessment to show patterns and gaps in the way your body is processing what you eat. This can also reveal stressors, genetic abnormalities, and other anomalies that impact your ability to get pregnant. Hormone and stool tests are also important tools to getting your body ready for pregnancy.
The girls talk about their pregnancies and nutrition choices while pregnant for a while, so if you’re not ready to listen to a pregnant story, skip from 17:30-22:30.
Ayla lists her 3 favorite foods for the preconception period!
- Ayla’s fertility curry – lots of veggies, protein, and nutritive spices
- Stinging Nettle Leaf Tea – very high mineral and easy to drink! Sophia’s husband isn’t a fan of her giant bag of nettle leaf taking up space in the cupboard, but it’s great for you!
- Liver – we all love/hate it. It’s so nutritious, but the taste is rough. Hide this food in meatballs, meat sauce, burgers, taco meat, etc. A little goes a long way.
If we are losing you on the liver, you’re not alone. Each one of us grew up on pizza and freezer waffles, so it was hard for each of us too! Please don’t try to just eat boiled liver. We want you to enjoy your food, and not choke down whole mouthfuls of liver. Start by hiding little 1oz portions of liver in ground beef dishes.
On to Ayla’s specialty creation: Full Circle Prenatal Vitamins!
The Full Circle prenatal is the best on the market for most pregnant women. One of the things that sets it apart is the Vitamin D content. This is slightly controversial, but Ayla made this leap since she is an RD and really sees the importance of Vitamin D in pregnancy. Vitamin D is vital for ovulation as well, so taking a prenatal like Full Circle while TTC is a great idea. PCOS sister especially need to test and treat their Vitamin D levels, as none of us have ever seen a PCOS patient who also have adequate levels of this vital nutrient!
Full Circle also has much more iodine than other prenatals. Ayla shares that this was a deliberate choice to put her vitamin in line with the optimal supplement in pregnancy recommendations from most major medical associations. A huge number of women don’t get enough iodine, especially when women aren’t eating dairy. Iodine isn’t only important for pregnancy, but it’s important for thyroid function in the preconception period and for postpartum. Iodine can also be found in fish and seafood, even sea vegetables like nori and other seaweeds.
Choline is another star of these kick-butt prenatals! Some folks are taken aback by the 8-capsule dose of these prenatals, but the reasons the serving size is what it is is for choline. If you look at other prenatals, you’ll see only a fraction of the amount that you’ll find in Full Circle. It’s a bigger nutrient, so it takes up more space. 95% of women aren’t consuming adequate choline; and it’s vital for fertility too. Choline is needed heavily for the processes of early pregnancy and to develop healthy eggs for quality ovulation. Yet another reason why we here at the FFF podcast looooooove Full Circle! Choline can be found in food too; mainly in beef liver and egg yolks. However, you’d need to eat a TON of egg yolks to get everything you need in preconception and pregnancy without supplementing with a product like Full Circle.
Ayla then touches on why her supplement isn’t “real food” based. Listen, we are dietitians and OBVIOUSLY we stake our careers on using food as medicine… yet here we are recommending a prenatal that isn’t made entirely from real food sources. Heres why:
- Concentrated and dried veggies don’t give you that much nutrition per volume. A concentrated and dried spinach leaf gives you a teeny amount of nutrition compared to actually eating real food! When you buy green food powders or food based pills, you’re getting only a very small amount of fruits and vegetables per dose.
- Full Circle’s goal is bioavailability – what will your body absorb and use? Often, the “real food” version won’t give you enough of what you need or can absorb. Ayla hand-picked each nutrient in this supplement to ensure you’re getting enough of what you need, and in forms that can be readily absorbed.
Full Circle also does not contain iron, a controversial choice! Ayla explains this choice through explaining the variable iron needs during preconception, pregnancy, and postpartum. Not all women need iron, while some need a lot of it. Iron also has a lot of side effects and poor absorption in supplement form. Iron also can limit your absorption of other nutrients, and vice versa. Ayla chose to leave this nutrient out so that the rest of the nutrients can be absorbed well. If you need additional iron, it needs to be either eaten in food or taken at a different time of day from your prenatal vitamins.
Ayla gets a lot of questions and scrutiny for this choice, but she stands behind it. Developing this product has been very difficult, but Ayla is so proud of what she has created. Caitlin and Sophia are certainly glad she’s braved this world since they both take this supplement themselves.
So now the burning question on everyone’s mind… Why NOT a gummy?? Ayla explains that in order for gummy vitamins to be tasty, they skimp on nutrients while loading up on sugary syrups and flavors. Not conducive to actual preconception health! If you compare any gummy vitamin to Full Circle Prenatal, you’ll see just what we mean.
Ayla shares a message of hope; so many women get empowered and find their fertility through better nutrition and getting to the root causes of issues. If you’re feeling like you’re on the conveyor belt at your fertility center, it’s time to reach out to practitioners like Ayla, Sophia and Caitlin!
A big thanks to Ayla for stepping into the challenging supplement market, making a great product, and coming onto our show to share all her goodness!
If you want to try Full Circle Prenatal for yourself, use the code FFF10 at checkout for an exclusive 10% discount!