Preparing your mind for having a baby is one thing, but it’s another to prepare your body for getting pregnant and boost your fertility. With Intermittent Fasting rising up on social media as this “one solution to losing weight”, it’s time we bring out the facts and cross-check if this is truly what it’s praised to be.
In this episode, I’m joined by Jaclyn Downs, functional fertility and nutrigenomic consultant. Passionate about helping people address the root cause of infertility, she’ll walk us through the do’s and don’ts of Intermittent Fasting, and if it’s the right way for you and your body.
So if you’ve ever felt like you’re out of options, listen in and hear us out on why you should give this a shot!
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Hello beautiful and welcome to finding fertility. I'm your host Monica Cox from finding fertility.co And I created this podcast to help get you to start thinking outside of the box and realise that your infertility might have nothing to do with your lady bits rooted in functional medicine and personal experience. Finding fertility is all about looking at the whole body and finding the root cause of your infertility. Finding fertility does not diagnose, prescribe or treat any issues of infertility. But what we do is take a holistic approach and improve your diet and your lifestyle to get you steps closer to creating your dream family. Just by being here with me listening to this podcast, you're already going down the right path to making your dreams come true. Let's do this together. Happy Friday, all welcome back to another episode of finding fertility. I'm super excited to have Jacqueline downs back on the podcast we we've kind of like blossomed the friendship over the last time you've been on the podcast. So I'm super excited for you to be back on
Mihail. Thank you. And it's, it's great seeing you more often these days, especially on the you know, various platforms that we are on together. Yeah, definitely
just tell our listeners if they haven't listened to your first episode, who you are and what you do.
So my name is Jacqueline downs and I am a functional nutrigenomics practitioner that specialises in reproductive wellness and fertility. And what that means is that I use genetics as a framework to get to root causes of fertility issues. And using combining that with functional lab work and a insanely in depth intake form, to really get to identify various root causes and then be able to personalise each of my clients protocols. And I also trained practitioners, with with their clients genetics and more in depth, biochemical pathways, which I discussed in my book. So I have a book that is hopefully currently about to go into the publishing phase, and it's called solving unexplained infertility your 12 week functional fertility solution, and it talks about some very, very common yet way lesser and lesser known causes of fertility challenges. And these are things like poor fat utilisation, oxalates, iron dysregulation, liver detoxification, antioxidant production, and all the genetics related to that and and give action steps on how to support that.
Yeah, I've read the book. It's amazing. I'm super excited for it to come out because people think we're crazy when we're like, look at your liver, look at your gut health. Look at these, you know, fat utilizations and they're like, No, that has nothing to do with your fertility. And you're like, Okay,
right, yeah. So hopefully, my book will sort of change that. And people will understand oxidative stress and what it is and how it is the root cause of all inflammation and chronic disease, especially, and especially fertility challenges. So that was like, my main goal of the book is to just show oxidative stress, right? No, I want it to be a common term. Yeah, exactly.
I mean, it's so common amongst us FDA owners as functional fertility people. But yeah, when you say it to people who haven't looked into it, they're just like, what, but I brought you on because there's a part of your book about intermittent fasting. And I wanted to bring you on to really kind of dive deep into the do's and don'ts when it's related to supporting your fertility. Because I think a lot of the information out there is like almost lead towards men. And then even the women stuff is more for like bodybuilding or weight loss. And that's not our ultimate goal right now. And so sometimes people jump on to it, because they're like, Well, I just need to lose weight. Like my doctor says, I'm fat basically, like, I'm sure your doctor didn't call you fat, but and so you know, Google the diets, and one of the big ones is keto. And then you hear a lot about this intermittent intermittent fasting, but I liked your approach in the book and how you can relate it to fertility. So can you just start off with some of the basics?
Sure. So intermittent fasting is eating only within a certain window of time each day. And so especially for people trying to get pregnant or people that are new to intermittent fasting, and I'll explain the whys of it, you don't really want to go balls to the wall and do a huge fasting window, and we'll talk about that. Um, so the reason why intermittent fasting offers so many benefits is because it allows the body to flip into a state of autophagy. And what autophagy is, it literally translates to self eating autophagy. And so what happens is when you don't have any growth, supporting substances coming in, like your proteins, and your sugars, and certain nutrients, like folate and iron, then your body goes into your cells go into housecleaning mode. And so they start consuming and digesting and cleaning house less desirable, you know, proteins and waste and stuff like that. So So basically, the cell is able to recycle its contents as food for a little while and then excrete them. And so it's, it's a very effective way for the cells to maintain their health. And so on the flip side of autophagy, is something called mTOR. And it stands for mammalian target of rapamycin, which is pretty crazy, crazy sounding term. But actually, what it is, is when we have the growth factors coming into the cell, to help promote a state of growth in the body, and this is one reason why dairy for instance, especially cow dairy is a very mTOR promoting substance. Because if you think about it, cows, you know, when we drink dairy, it's something that supports the growth of a 1300 pound cow. Yeah, so it's, it's very much promoting, promoting mTOR. So there's, there's genetics and I actually have a really awesome chart in my book that describes the things that promote mTOR and the genetics, around mTOR and autophagy. That the neutral genetic research institute that I am a practitioner with and a researcher for made a few years ago, and that sort of puts it into makes it a little more digestible, when you can see what's going on it can get complicated real quick.
Yeah, it is. I mean, all of the functional fertility stuff, especially when you get into the genetic stuff is super complicated, right. And I do think it takes the mind of someone who is well versed in studying and applying and doing the research and like their heads just in that like, like zone, right, their zone of genius. But for the layman people is there like a really brief explanation that you can say, like I like for me, I always say to my clients, look, your body prioritises what you put into it, so it's gonna digest anything that you eat, or drink. And so instead of being able to start recovering and healing, especially in the later part of the day, and through the night, your body's working on that digestion. So what do we want? What's more important for us right now? We want to be healing, especially at night. So with the intermittent fasting, you know, some people are led to believe that you literally can only eat like one hour of the day. Right? But what do you think the optimal thing is for fertility with intermittent fasting?
Well, that definitely comes down to personalization based on genetics, but also activity and diet and lifestyle. So if I'm, let's back up, though, so if if autophagy doesn't take place, and somebody is bringing in the growth factors in their diet or their environment, you want to have a balance of that. So when there's too many mTOR growth promoting factors coming in, that causes aberrant growth, so that's things like cysts, tumours, stones, endometriosis, fibroids, even acne, and so that all of those can be an indication of maybe needing to experiment with dabbling with intermittent fasting or just cutting back on a lot of the growth promoting substances whether it's through your diet or environment. So they're, when we're sleeping the our bodies, especially our living our kidneys, our liver, and our kidneys are really doing their job and cleaning house. And so I do feel that the simplest thing that you can do is to just not eat past a certain time in the evening so For me, that's often you know, once dinner's over, if I if I'm craving something sweet and I want something sweet, I'll do it immediately after dinner and then kitchens closed, no, nothing else until breakfast. Yeah. And so for people that might have wonky blood sugar, which you're not sure if your blood sugar's wonky, you can test your fasting glucose, or you can go by symptoms based on if you get hangry. If you feel shaky, or faint, if you haven't eaten for a while, or what else I'm having. Or if you test your morning glucose, your fasting glucose, ideally, you want it to be about 85. So if if you have pretty stable blood sugar, then I would maybe start out with like a 1212 window, which means 12 hour eating window and 12 hour fasting window. And that's, that's usually where I'll recommend that people get started. Because a lot of people are doing that right now anyway, without even realising it. If they're if they're not snacking, right before they go to bed, or if they don't eat,
yeah, I was gonna say, My clients are snacking, okay, they have the issues with, they're going to bed late, you know, 1011 12 o'clock at night. And obviously, when you're staying up that late, you're bound to get hungry again, right? Or you're bored hungry, where you start, you know, just like, Oh, I'm bored, I'll just have like some popcorn, or some chocolate or some ice cream, which we usually don't go for like the carrot, right? Or like the nice broccoli, we're usually picking poor choices. But yeah, I think that's where a lot of people stumble, is that that window that you can have an easy fast, because most of it you will be sleeping is missed.
Yeah, and it does get easier it is, you know, difficult the first week or two, especially like at night, if you're used to having a snack and cutting it out. For me, the most difficult part was I would, I would have, I would graze a little bit when I was getting my girls breakfast in the morning. And and I would you know, have a bite of this or bite of that. And so once I just made it through that, because I had committed to maybe not eating until 10am or something, it actually it actually got a lot easier. And I just want to note one really, really important point is that you cannot be in a state of autophagy and mTOR. At the same time that is like a switch. So you either are in growth promoting mode or you are in autophagy mode.
Yeah. Yeah, it's really fascinating. When you get down to the science of it. I'm now with these like, extreme intermittent fasting, like some people are really taking on like, a whole day, two whole days, you know, eating is do you think the body's built for that long term? And is that something that is beneficial to people with dealing with fertility issues,
I don't know that any diet is really something that you want to do long term. Even if it's a really healthy anti inflammatory diet, it still may restrict certain things coming in. Now, if you have a medical condition, and you have to follow a certain specific diet. Yeah, that's understandable. But I mean, I like to think about things evolutionarily. And we didn't have three square meals a day for most of our human history. Yeah, so So I do believe that's that's why autophagy takes place it takes advantage of not having those growth promoting substances and calories coming in and it cleans house. But you know, for depending on your level of activity, or if you you know, if you work out with weights or if you just have
a faster metabolism by nature. These are these are things that can affect whether or not you want to do a longer fasting window or do intermittent fasting for a prolonged prolonged period of time.
So, now I know I talked about in my book, which a lot of people really don't know about this is that they're doing intermittent fasting or even whole day fasts or multiple day fasts, but they're still taking certain supplements, or they're just doing bone broth. And, um, this is actually negating the autophagy that takes place because certain supplements are very growth promoting like iron and glutamate. A lot of people are doing bone broth, they're like, Well, I'm not eating anything. But bone broth is really rich in amino acids, especially glutamine. And glutamine is a rebuilding repairing nutrient which that's why it's really good to rebuild your gut health. So they're actually I described this a lot in my book, how you want to pulse your supplementation in conjunction with the days that you do intermittent fasting, or the days that you're working out? Yeah.
Yeah, really get that that balance? No, that makes sense. With certain types of PCOS, I know, women have found a lot of success with the keto diet. And I'm sure they're doing a lot of intermittent fasting with that. Can you explain that a little bit? Why they would see that success?
Yes, because PCOS has its roots in blood sugar dysregulation. And so when you go keto, you're just assuming assuming that the Keto is working for you, I recommend everybody especially women that do want to undergo or take on a ketogenic diet, do it with a supported I call it supported keto. And that is making sure that you are able to properly use that excessive amount of fat that you're consuming because a lot of people, surprisingly, a large amount of people are genetically predisposed to not properly utilising fats. So when you cut out everything else, and you're doing a really fat, heavy diet, and you're genetically predisposed to not using your fats, then you're going to get a whole boatload of inflammation through a process called lipid oxidation. And this damages the cell, it damages the structural integrity of the cell, but also the information that the cell carries. So I recommend things like carnitine and digestive enzymes like lipase, to really help your your fats to be properly used, if you are going to be doing a higher fat diet. But the reason why a lot of people that do keto for PCOS is because it does help to balance blood sugar, and it does help the cells to sort of come back to a healthier baseline of blood sugar regulation.
Yeah. Have you ever had someone who you know, has that specific type of PCOS where they're insulin resistant? They do a modified keto. So it's not so heavy on like the fats, but they are bringing in that nutrients with the carbs of you know, the the vegetables and stuff. I always wonder if they found that balance, would that actually maximise them? Or would they still be not resistant, but like, would it still deter them in there, right regulation of their blood sugars, bringing in more of those carbs.
Again, that comes down to bio individuality with how well you are able to utilise the carbohydrates to make ATP. And also what your previous baseline for blood sugar dysregulation was, but I I tend to think that women do need more carbohydrates than men. But finding your amount is the sweet spot. So if you feel really tired after a meal, or feel like you need a nap, or you're getting mid afternoon slumps, or you're just getting irritable after after a meal that has heavier carbs, and you probably overdid it with the carbs. So I do feel that carbs, maybe a little bit of carbs with every meal, or at least you know, your evening meal is is going to be beneficial, especially when you're you're trying to get pregnant because if you are doing intermittent fasting, you're sort of giving your body mixed signals because the body wants to feel safe that it can grow and add and that there is plenty of food and nutrients coming in to grow a baby. And so when you're doing intermittent fasting and putting your body in a state of of autophagy and fasting, then your body thinks that there is a famine and so I do think for anybody that is trying to get pregnant I would not recommend any hardcore intermittent fasting I would probably just not go any further than a 1212 window.
Yeah, I totally agree because I mean, I think maybe there's a state to like you know, if you have these major blood sugar issues to regulate your body in a certain way kind of like almost like give it a recharge, right like a refresh, like plug it on plug it in type of thing, and then start finding your balances like like how much carbs can you handle how much you know fat can you handle healing the gut like all those things, and you know, kind of stay away from these extremes I know, I had a client who came to me and like, literally, she was only eating like, less than 10 Different foods, and was like basically starving herself. And, you know, just from poor advice, really poor advice that everything was bad. And, you know, like, I don't even know like exactly why. But yeah, I think it's really important to get women to realise that the food is there to help nourish you. And if you're eating it in a proper way, it will, it will benefit you and giving your party time to rest and recover from that, too, is so important. And the best time you can do that is in the nighttime when you're sleeping anyways.
Mm hmm. Yeah, and another thing people don't realise is, they may be doing CrossFit and doing a lot of heavy lifting, but doing intermittent fasting. And so in my book, I recommend, like I said, examples of pulsing. So if you're doing a lot of aerobic exercise, and you're not doing a lot of meat, you're doing your, like vegetarian days, or vegan days, then your body is going to more quickly go into an autophagy mode. But if you're doing intermittent fasting, and you're you're lifting weights, then that's going to give your body in the next signal because you need to be building that muscle. So I'm definitely a better writer than I am. Sorry, if I'm sort of confusing anybody, but I do explain it pretty precisely in my book.
Yeah, no, I think you're doing a good job. I mean, it's just, when you, when you bring it down to basics, your body needs fuel to do the things you want it to do. So if that is even repairing, right, like it needs the right ingredients to repair itself. And so when you're trying to gain muscle, or especially trying to grow a baby, your body just needs that right fuel. And it's about basically position positioning yourself, like gaining the knowledge of how your body works. And if the more you're in for informed, the better your body is going to be able to really optimise itself. And remember, it's about consistency and not perfection, like right crackhead on the street has proven to us we do not need to be perfect. But obviously, when we're dealing with issues, we just need to become aware of where those issues stem from and yeah, a lot of blood sugar issues out there for sure.
Yeah, way more than than people are aware of, I mean, so many people unless they regularly get bloodwork aren't aware of what their fasting glucose is. And and also, you know, the conventional ranges is, you know, up to 99. And you're fine. But 100 is going to be pre diabetic well, so most doctors don't pay any attention. If your blood sugar, sugar's 98 or 99, you're you're totally in the clear, and there's no issue. But it goes up to more points than your pre diabetic. And so like I said, I like to see your fasting glucose at about 85. And I think a lot of people are in the mid 90s to high 90s. Yeah, unless they've been doing things to be mindful of their blood blood sugar, because maybe they've done some reading on it, or somebody in their family has it or they've worked with a practitioner to, to check that box off to make sure that their blood sugar is healthy.
Yeah, exactly. I know, there's amazing technology out there today. I mean, probably most likely due to the the the rise in diabetes and all that. But there's like that patch you can put on yourself now that like works with your phone, and it will monitor so you don't even really have to think about it. And it's something worth investing in and doing for a short period of time. Especially if you're dealing with infertility to just like, I feel like all these clues can just really put you on the right path, right? It takes the guesswork out of things. And like you say if your doctor or whoever you're working with right now isn't talking about these things, and just sitting there and telling you like, well, it's just one of those things. Oh, don't worry about it. Or if you are close to those borderlines that's when this knowledge is so important. To just be your own advocate and you can do so much of at home, right like doctors aren't gatekeepers of this information anymore. And I know like it's a like a love hate or a bad Good thing that you can literally go out and Google and you'll maybe connect with people that are speaking words or situations that resonate with you. And yeah, they're not doctors, but a lot of them. They have their own experiences. And they've been through this personally. And they've, like seeked out different information, because that that information just wasn't being given to them by the people that they thought were there to educate them help them. I don't know.
So many times, we we probably both had had clients that have been very motivated in their their health journey and knew more cutting edge information than their practitioner did. Yeah, absolutely. And that's becoming more and more common, too. And another thing I wanted to point out about mTOR, and the growth promotion is the types of meat meat meat that's given hormones, like meat and your listeners probably all know, this.
Good, it's always a good barometer
is that if these these conventionally raised animals are given growth promoting hormones, then that's, that's just going to rapidly promote more growth. Even if you're only eating one meal a day, there's just that many more hormones that are putting weight on the side of the scale for mTOR. And same with certain supplements. So iron and folate, if you want to think about it, you need both of those, you need to grow a baby. So they're very, very important in pregnancy. But if you're if intermittent fasting and moving into autophagy is your goal then you don't want to be taking methyl folate and iron because they are growth promoting substances and nutrients. Yeah, exactly. Also pesticides, another one that I'm sure your listeners know all about. But pesticides are growth promoting, because, you know, pesticides can lead to tumour growth, cancer. And so they buying organic for sure, is, is important all around on on all points, especially for fertility and reproduction. But just tiny little things like that there's people that are, I know, somebody that was trying to fit into a wedding dress, so she was doing a ketogenic diet, except for she was still drinking red wine. You know, and of course, nothing was organic and stuff like that. So there's, you know, a lot of people are making their own renditions of these diets, and they can actually be causing more harm to their body on their selves. So I, I love that you're, you're providing this information to your listeners, and that I love that your listeners are open to receiving this new information that might go against the conventional wisdom.
Yeah, but um, yeah, my community is highly educated. And I would say 98% of the, my clients, especially my one to one clients are like, intimidating. I'm like, by coming to me, you know, like, you know, this stuff, like, and so yeah, like, I have to work even harder for them. Like, so if I don't know something, it's like head in the books and like, okay, like, so yeah, I'm really proud of my community. And I think, you know, you just attract like minded people, right? Like, you just, you, you got to be a little bit crazy in the first place to step away from the norm. Because as humans, we want to be impacts. We want to be part of the group. So to be AutoShot ostracise. Owl is like a like you like you have to kind of be strong, right? People really think you've gone mad. And it's all because of your infertility. And it's just like, well, I don't know, like, it's either madness, or like, like a black hole, kind of like of what ifs? What if I never tried this, and 10 years down the line, because what's going to happen is everything that we know, and we're seeing the research is going to be in the limelight. Right 10 years, 20 years down the line. And I do feel for a lot of women who have chosen not to even explore this area that they're going to go fuck I wish I would have just been able to try it. And I wouldn't and that was how my journey was like, I never wanted to look back and wonder what if what if I didn't try that diet? What if I I mean, I did some stupid shit like don't get me wrong, like everything is not everything I did was I'm legit. And if there was a witch doctor nearby, I would have saw the witch doctor to like I was willing just to try anything.
And many stone unturned. Yeah. And
yeah, some of it worked. And some of it didn't. But I feel
that some of the biggest game changers in the most influential people, I mean, all the religious leaders, right, they all went against the conventional wisdom and spoke out and they were all, you know, just blunt, either, you know, they were they were all crazy, or they were all blasphemous or whatever. But they've, they created an impact. And, and there's still people doing that. And I, I hope that a lot more people are accepting of these. But that's where the the science can really be the proof in the pudding. Well, yeah, there's scientific research behind these things. But like you said, it takes an average of what, like 14 years for a published study in an academic journal to become more mainstream knowledge. So there is that long latency period. So you and I are looking like quacks for 14 years?
Yeah, definitely. And we've talked about this before, when I started to actively share my journey, and, you know, really committed myself to being a fertility health coach, I was one of maybe a handful on social media talking about gut health. And it just wasn't the time, like, people are definitely more receptive to it now. But you're talking five years ago now? No way, people are just like, you are literally in that case. And so you kind of had to dial it back. And now I feel like it's the time of like, okay, there's enough people who know, and yeah, enough people who are gonna still call you crazy. But the evidence is out there, the scientific research is out there, so you can back yourself with it.
I feel that way. With genetics. I've been doing genetic research for almost 10 years now. And I mean, so many people are like, I don't know, my genetics. I'm never gonna know my genetics, how is that relevant to me. But every day that passes, more and more people are doing genetic testing, and more and more practitioners are offering genetic testing. And so I'm not going to get discouraged. I just know that I'm just going to know that much more in a couple years time when it is more commonplace.
Yeah. And I mean, that's going to shift. Most people's reality is when they realise that they do have a large amount of control of how their genetics are performing, and that they they can take control at home, and they don't need this radical medical intervention is going to be super empowering to people, for sure. You're doing great work.
Well, thank you. Yeah, I could talk about genetics all day long.
Well, we will stop it there for today. Thank you so much for coming on, and giving your insight to intermittent fasting. And if anyone has been playing around with this or thinking of it, I both think we can really agree that just leave it for the 12 hours around your bedtime and morning time to really promote healthy growth and recovery throughout all the days really. So let our listeners know where they can find you
can go to my website, Jacqueline downs.com, JC Lyn do WNS and please follow me. I recently started on Instagram, I've had an account forever. But I would have rather vomited in my mouth and had another social media account to maintain, but I'm getting into it. So I'm getting used to it and I'm at functional fertility solutions, and I really aim to provide useful actionable educational content for everybody.
Yeah, definitely. Well go follow the link is down in the show notes. And until next time, I'm sure I'll have you on the podcast once again when your book is released. So have a great day. You too. Bye. Thank you once again for tuning in to the finding fertility podcast. If you're loving this podcast, please leave us a rating in review and let us know how this podcast is supporting you to get steps closer to creating your dream family. I hope you have a beautiful weekend and we will see you next Friday for another episode of the finding fertility podcast.
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Anything written or said about health and diet are my opinions, that I have formed over the years, through trial and error, study, reading, listening and observing. What worked for me may not work for you. I am not a doctor, nutritionist or dietician and all medical advice should be gotten from a qualified professional. Product recommendations are based on what I used during my infertility journey or wish I had.
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