Balanced Bites Podcast Episode #184: Hashimoto’s & Hormone Balance with Magdalena Wszelaki

1.  What’s new for you from Diane [1:53]
2. Introducing our guest, Magdalena Wszelaki [5:44]
3. When Magdalena finally realized something was wrong with her health [18:47]
4. Symptoms of estrogen dominance [23:51]
5. Hormone balancing protocols [29:17]
6. Liver supporting tips [36:05]
7. Seed rotation for balancing hormones [45:22]
8. Superfoods that actually work and coffee [50:51]
9. Liz’s BMB tip of the week: Caffeine and coffee during pregnancy [1:03:54]
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Diane Sanfilippo: Hey everyone! Welcome to episode 184 of the Balanced Bites podcast. I have an awesome guest with me today, but before I introduce her, I want to take a moment to hear from our sponsors.
Liz Wolfe: Support for this podcast is provided by Dragonfly Traditions; natural, nourishing skin care with absolutely no unnecessary chemicals. It’s natural nutrition for the skin. I am a huge fan of Dragonfly from their serum, to their night cream, and everything else the owner, Phoebe, has created. Your skin will be soft and happy with Dragonfly Traditions. If you head over to and make a purchase of one or more of their skin care products, you can then add Balanced Bites to your shopping cart for 1 penny. Phoebe will not only send you 2 free lip balms with your order, she’ll also send you that penny back. Remember that’s 2 free lip balms with purchase from Dragonfly Traditions.
1. What’s new for you from Diane [1:53]
Diane Sanfilippo: Alrighty. So let me give you a couple of updates here. As you know, Liz is still on maternity leave, and we’ll be hearing from her in each episode. I think we’ve got a Baby Making and Beyond tip for probably all of the episodes that she’ll be gone for, but I’m not positive. So we’ll see what happens.
I’ll give you a couple of updates this week. First, I did not complete this update {laughs} last week, I think we edited it out because we weren’t sure what was happening, but I just wanted to let you all know that if you’ve been hearing a very strange ad at the very beginning of the episode before you get into the episode itself, I apologize for that. It is not our ad, and we are switching hosts because it appears that our current host has tacked that on.
So if you’re listening to this in the time frame that it is live, if you’re not listening to it archived, just keep your eyes and ears open for information through social media, my emailing list, regarding whether or not you may need to resubscribe to the podcast. So just kind of keep your eyes open for that. I’ll let you guys know if that happens .Again, I apologize. We absolutely have not authorized those random ads.
You know our beloved sponsors for this podcast right now, and for this episode, Pete’s Paleo, Vital Choice, and Dragonfly Traditions. So don’t worry that we’ve sold out to the man, or anything like that. I know we had some folks asking, do you need us to send you money? I’m like, no it’s ok, we have amazing sponsors, everything is cool. So that’s that.
Second quick update, I will be in Austin at PaleoFx. Definitely come see me. If you were thinking about coming and you’re not sure, it’s going to be a great event, always a ton of fun. I found out that two of my talks, my actual talk that’s on business and marketing, and then one of the talks that is a panel that I’ll be on, which I think is going to be really fun, it’s similar to one we did last year. It’s sort of women’s issue/feminism type of thing. It’s called Mean Girls…Nice Girls Watch Your Back, or something like that. It actually made me giggle. I don’t know if they know how many Mean Girls reference we make on this podcast, but it made me laugh. I may be involved in a couple of other panels; I’m not sure. I think I’m doing maybe some workshops.
But, what I was going to say is those two that I know the time slots for are both on Sunday in the afternoon. So if you’re coming, don’t leave early. And I would say don’t leave early even if it weren’t for my talks, because you’re paying a good amount for this ticket, and you want to be there for everything. They have great things scheduled through the end of it, through the end of Sunday. So don’t leave until either late Sunday night or Monday if you’re coming to the event. So there’s that.
The last couple of notes, just about the 21-Day Sugar Detox really quickly. The next Sugar Detox kicks off on Monday, April 6th. We do kick off a new group the first Monday of every month, so if you’re unsure and you’re not ready for this one, you can check the next one. It’s a really great thing to do leading into the summer. I know everybody is thinking about bathing suit season; maybe you’re not in California where it’s bathing suit season year-round, or Florida. But join us, it will be all over social media.
And, just a heads up here as well, if you’re looking for a little bit more support than we can offer as a company for the Sugar Detox, check out our coaches. I think I’ve got a minimum of 70 right now listed on the coach’s page. It’s at, and you can find one that’s either local to you that’s hosting events near you, or they may be local to you but doing a remote event that’s online. I still think it’s great to have a local coach, even if you’re getting coaching online, because they know your area. So they know where you can grocery shop, they know restaurants really well, all of that and I think that really is helpful. And you may end up having a meet up or something at some point. Maybe go out for dinner, or something like that, even if you don’t have a live group session. So definitely check it out on the 21-Day Sugar Detox website.
2. Introducing our guest, Magdalena Wszelaki [5:44]
Diane Sanfilippo: Ok, so my guest today is Magdalena. Oh, shoot, I was getting it great before. Wszelaki. Magdalena Wszelaki.
Magdalena Wszelaki: {laughs}
Diane Sanfilippo: She has an amazing name. If I thought Sanfilippo was tough. She is a founder of hormones balance and nutrition coaching practice dedicated to helping women rebalance their hormones with nutritional and lifestyle changes. She is a certified nutrition coach, speaker, and educator with a long history of hormonal challenges, which resulted from a highly stressful life in advertising. She started with Graves’ disease and Hashimoto’s; both are autoimmune conditions causing thyroid failure, which many of our listeners know, to adrenal fatigue and estrogen dominance. Today she is full remission, lives a symptom free awesome life, and teaches women how to accomplish the same in her various online coaching programs. Welcome to the show!
Magdalena Wszelaki: Hey Diane, thank you. I couldn’t stop myself laughing. {laughs}
Diane Sanfilippo: I do it too.
Magdalena Wszelaki: You took it very seriously. I thank you for that. {laughs}
Diane Sanfilippo: I do my best. So, welcome to the show. We were lucky enough to meet just a couple of weeks ago out in Berkley. We were at the Mission Heirloom brunch, right?
Magdalena Wszelaki: Yeah, that was an awesome book. I got your book. I was salivating just driving back home, looking at the photography. It was just amazing.
Diane Sanfilippo: In the Mediterranean Paleo Cooking?
Magdalena Wszelaki: Yeah, the Mediterranean Paleo Cooking. That’s where I got the book from, at the event.
Diane Sanfilippo: Awesome.
Magdalena Wszelaki: And we do have a beautiful sunny day in California today. And I do want to make you jealous, only because I hope you do move. {laughs}
Diane Sanfilippo: {laughs} Eventually. Eventually. Sooner than later. I originally thought that it would be on a many years plan, but I don’t know how much longer I can take it.
Magdalena Wszelaki: Mm-hmm.
Diane Sanfilippo: Spring keeps trying to peek out around here, and then this week it has been 30 degrees and below, and I hear it’s going to snow on Friday. So, yeah, it’s going to be crazy.
Magdalena Wszelaki: Wow.
Diane Sanfilippo: So why don’t you give our listeners a little bit of background about you. I know we mentioned in your bio that you have a lot of experience in working with folks with hormone issues and thyroid. So why don’t you tell a little bit of your story, and we can get started from there.
Magdalena Wszelaki: Sure. We like to tell our stories from a time of diagnosis; in my case, definitely the huge turning point was being diagnosed with Hashimoto’s in 2008. I lived in China at that time, in Shanghai, and it was even worse than what it would be here, because you have very little access to doctors. The pool of doctors is very, very limited. Especially English speaking doctors. So it’s one thing about being diagnosed, but it’s another thing when your doctor tells you, they look at your file, they flip it around and say, you’re 36 years old. Of course you’re tired.
Diane Sanfilippo: {laughs}
Magdalena Wszelaki: And send you back home with absolutely no solutions. For some people who get put on Synthroid or Armour, there’s some sense of hope and a momentary relief of symptoms, but its different when you absolutely have nothing that western medicine could offer you. And they told me that Chinese medicine doesn’t really treat autoimmune conditions.
So this really was a turning point in my life. But really, when I look back at my life, which is something that I often do when I created a hormone history for myself, just to see all the things that I went through, including my mom when she was pregnant; she was a smoker. I was not a breastfed baby, I was fed formula right from day 1. And in the first month already, I ended up with pneumonia in the hospital. So a very weak immune system right from day 1.
Throughout my childhood, I always remember having horrendous eczema, ear infections, and sinus problems on a chronic basis. You don’t typically remember much when you’re 5 years old, but I do remember being taken to the hospital and having my ears cleaned with a tube sucking the pus out of my ears. That’s how severe it was. And my mom had no idea at that time, I had huge food sensitivities to gluten, eggs, and dairy were my main problems. But as a western child, that’s what you grew up on, right? {laughs} Especially milk and eggs.
I went into my early adulthood struggling with horrendous acne. We’re talking about cystic acne, having a zit on top of a zit. Not just on my face, but on my back and even on my chest. And always bloated; a lot of digestive issues throughout my 20s. I still remember, one of my best friends was getting married, and she asked me to be the maid of honor, and she designed these amazing dresses with an open back. If anyone who has zits on their back; you know how sensitive you are about showing your back with pimples. Because on the face, you can cover it up, but not on your back. That’s when I hit the internet, and I thought, you know, I’m 28 years old, I should not be having zits.
That’s when I came across a site, I think it was Mercola’s website that said, get off gluten. And I did, and soon after that I realized that eggs were my problem, as well. So, starting clearing out these food intolerances made a humungous difference as a turning point, which created definitely clearer skin, less migraines, and less ear infections, which I was always struggling with. So that was a big turning point already at that time. This was when I was beginning to believe that food can really be your medicine, it can really play a role in how we feel.
Interestingly, was that enough? Probably not, and I probably didn’t do it 100% the way I should have. Again, not realizing that having those lingering, still being bloated, not being a very good sleeper, always pushing myself. I was a semi-professional athlete, I had my own athletic team and we used to do adventure races around Asia. We would travel for adventure races. All of that, and working 12-14 hour days, you know, anybody who knows advertising or have seen Mad Men; Mad Men actually is quite reflective {laughs} of what life in advertising is still today.
Diane Sanfilippo: {laughs} Maybe without the smoking and the drinking in the offices? Or is that pretty much?
Magdalena Wszelaki: Well, you just do it outside.
Diane Sanfilippo: {laughs}
Magdalena Wszelaki: Maybe the smoking not so much. It depends in Europe where everybody smokes. In Asia, they smoke. In the US, people don’t smoke but they do other things, you know? {laughs} The drinking is outside, but there was still a lot of that. I used to say I will sleep when I die. I know you had adrenal fatigue also from working out like crazy. My workouts were more outdoor focused, but I was still always training for something.
The big highlight was when I was living in Shanghai, training for the Great Wall of China marathon. It’s a serious marathon to train for, because you’re running 26 miles in the mountains. You’re actually going up and down, so that’s not a joke. So pushing your body while you’re doing 12-hour day work, it was just too much. So I most certainly ended up with adrenal exhaustion, which is something I didn’t really realize when I was living in China.
Plus, I lived in China during the time it was at the worst point of the pollution out there. And there’s just nothing you can do about it. What are you going to do, stop breathing? Walk around with an oxygen mask? But also food, they had food that was labeled organic, but you couldn’t really trust that it was really organic. So, it was just a combination of toxicity, lack of sleep, adrenal exhaustion. I was trying to eat; and this is another point I want to bring up, because I think this is very relevant to a lot of people. I feel like these people who contact me, and I suspect you have the same thing, Diane, the first thing people will say, women say is, I eat really well. Do you get that? “I eat really well…but” And there’s this “but” in there.
Diane Sanfilippo: Yeah {laughs}
Magdalena Wszelaki: And there’s this long list of symptoms that come after that, but I’m still losing hair, and I still can’t lose weight, and I’m still depressed. The list goes on. I can totally relate to that, and my heart goes out to people like that because that was exactly me. And I didn’t think that over exercising or doing crazy hours or lack of sleep was something that was detrimental to my health. I was type A personality, I was out there conquering the world and having the most amazing clients. I worked with Fortune 100 brands like Nike and L’Oreal. It doesn’t get better than that.
The problem with that was I wasn’t eating right. I was eating fairly well, what I thought was well, but I wasn’t eating right for what my body needed. And there’s a very big difference between, when we say I eat well because I eat a lot of salad, and I eat lean meat, and I eat a lot of avocado. Well, the question is, is your body really loving that? Is that right for your body? And most certainly in my case, that was not the case. I was still eating eggs, which I shouldn’t have, that was creating a lot of problems. So it was really that appreciation, today in retrospect, the appreciation for, not really adjusting the lifestyle and the nutrition needs to what my body really needed.
So I came crashing down with Hashimoto’s, and that’s when I decided to really take things into my own hands. I requested for a transfer from China to the US. I lived in Asia for 22 years of my life, so I never really lived in western countries as an adult, so I really wanted to have the western world instead of that 9-5 kind of job. So I requested for a transfer to the United States. I moved to Seattle, and soon after that I got fired from my job. {Laughing} They moved me across the world, and there were sudden changes in the company, and I got laid off.
Diane Sanfilippo: I always think that’s a blessing in disguise.
Magdalena Wszelaki: Oh my god, you know, absolutely is.
Diane Sanfilippo: I’ve almost never heard of somebody getting laid off from a job they truly loved. I don’t think I’ve ever heard it happen. They truly loved it, through and through. You know?
Magdalena Wszelaki: Oh yeah. Yeah.
Diane Sanfilippo: You can say you love it, but {laughs} you know what I mean.
Magdalena Wszelaki: I loved my job in China. Just working on the incredible brands, and doing so much breakthrough work. But it was different here. Anyway, definitely that was the biggest blessing. It creates an opportunity, an opening, for really taking a huge change in your life. So I ended up going to nutrition school and setting up my first nutrition practice, called Thyroid Diet Coach; obviously, because of Hashimoto’s.
I’ve made a lot of changes in my life. I know your listeners are familiar with Hashimoto’s, so just to give you an idea, my antibodies were in the thousands, over 1000, which shows incredibly high inflammation, and I’ve managed to bring them down today to 66. There are a couple of tweaks I’m still doing to bring them below 30 so I can say I’m in total remission, but I still use, maybe liberally, that expression I am in remission just because I am symptom free.
Diane Sanfilippo: Mm-hmm.
Magdalena Wszelaki: I don’t have what I used to have, and that is that horrendous fatigue, lack of concentration, incredible forgetfulness. Nike would brief us on a new project, and this is one of those turning points, where Nike briefed us on a new project and I was super excited about it because it was about running, they were just bringing the running platform to China, and I’m a runner, I thought, oh my god it doesn’t get better than that. And I got back to the office the next morning to start working on the plan, because I used to do strategic planning, and I could not remember what on earth they were talking about. I was looking blankly at my notes, and thinking I just have no recollection of this meeting. And that’s when I knew there was something going on, chemically in my brain, it just was not working the way it should.
All of that is gone. I’m 42 years old today. I have more energy than when I was in my 20s.
Diane Sanfilippo: That’s awesome.
Magdalena Wszelaki: My skin is beautiful and clear, I feel amazing, my hair is healthy again. I used to have a lot of hair loss because of estrogen dominance. That’s another thing I was diagnosed with. It’s just a huge turn around, that’s why I say I am in remission, even if my antibodies are slightly elevated. My adrenals look really good, I have a nice curve.
Diane Sanfilippo: {laughs}
Magdalena Wszelaki: And estrogen dominance is gone. So that’s really what I’m passionate about and teaching and helping women to achieve the same.
3. When Magdalena finally realized something was off [18:47]
Diane Sanfilippo: So when you said that your Hashimoto’s was hitting, and you came crashing down was your expression, when you were working, this is when you were still in China, or when you had come back? And was your crash, like your rock bottom, there’s something going on here. Was it that memory loss and fatigue? What exactly happen that told you, ok something is going on. Because for a lot of women who listen to the show, it’s unexpected weight gain despite still eating the same way or, it’s other systems that maybe they don’t necessarily ascribe to being a thyroid condition. But if you could describe a couple of weeks leading up to the diagnosis, what was it that told you, I need to go see someone that can tell me what this is?
Magdalena Wszelaki: Sure, yeah. It’s a good point about what you’re saying about symptoms, but I mention my symptoms but we also have to respect the fact that everyone is different. There are 30 different symptoms on the list of Hashimoto’s; some people might argue it’s even longer. I had definitely a lot of fatigue, to a point of really not being able to get up in the morning. I thought the wired and tired feeling was related to the thyroid, but I only realized later that was adrenal exhaustion. Basically, late at night I’ll come home, 7 or 8 o’clock, I’ll make dinner, and I’ll be so wired up that I put on running shoes and I’ll go for a run. Like, a 7-mile run, and come home at 1 o’clock in the morning, have a bath, and sleep at 3.
So that’s when I realized that something is not right. I couldn’t sleep properly, not a deep sleep, a very light sleeper, waking up exhausted. I did not have weight gain, but then again, genetically all my family is very thin, so I don’t have the genetic predisposition to putting on weight. But you’re absolutely right; thyroid classic symptom is weight gain.
I definitely had swelling around my neck. I love to wear chokers, and so my chokers suddenly began to choke me, you know.
Diane Sanfilippo: Wow.
Magdalena Wszelaki: That was a sign, that was not cool.
Diane Sanfilippo: And they were pretty popular then, too.
Magdalena Wszelaki: Well, aren’t they still? {laughs}
Diane Sanfilippo: I don’t know, but I know there was a time when, I don’t really, I don’t know anything about fashion. I only know what the people at Stitch Fix tell me about fashion.
Magdalena Wszelaki: {laughs} Ok.
Diane Sanfilippo: Because they send me things. But I know there was a time, if I was even wearing them, they were pretty popular for a while. But anyway, go ahead.
Magdalena Wszelaki: The other thing that was really prominent, I really started feeling like I didn’t recognize myself anymore. There was a time when a colleague asked me something about my family, and I went on this rant. And I went on, and on, and on. And if you know me, I’m a positive person. I’m very upbeat, I’m very positive, and she was looking at me in total disbelief, and I said to her, that doesn’t sound like me does it? And she says, no, I’ve never seen you like this before. That’s when I realized there was this sense of negativity and just bitterness and anger suddenly.
Diane Sanfilippo: {laughs} I think I have experienced that for the last 3 years not being in California. {laughing}
Magdalena Wszelaki: {laughing} You know what, when you live in Shanghai, even when the sun is out, there used to be so much pollution you just couldn’t get the sun beams through.
Diane Sanfilippo: Ugh.
Magdalena Wszelaki: So those were mine, but if you’re talking about other symptoms, people with Hashimoto’s and just hypothyroidism, hair loss is another huge thing. And funny enough, I did not have hair loss from the thyroid. I actually managed to really get my thyroid under control; it’s estrogen dominance that caused hair loss, so it was really quite interesting how all these symptoms can be somewhat similar, but it can be caused by different hormonal imbalances.
The other things that are usually connected to the thyroid, most definitely, a lot of people have body pains and aches, just muscle fatigue. A lot of mental functions, like depression and anxiety. That was the other thing; I had a few anxiety attacks. They were probably not as frequent as I know a lot of my clients have on a daily basis. Even hearing that a child is going to be late for school by 5 minutes gives them a massive anxiety attack, and that’s very common.
The list is really, really long; unfortunately a lot of the symptoms can be connected to a lot of other things. Osteopenia, osteoporosis; is it really Hashimoto’s causing it, or is it your diet, or genetics, your toxicity, your pH level. It’s hard to say, right? Just get diagnosed properly. That’s really the greatest starting point to really know what’s going on.
4. Symptoms of estrogen dominance [23:51]
Diane Sanfilippo: You mentioned estrogen dominance being at the root of your hair loss issues. Can you talk a little bit more about estrogen dominance and what some other symptoms of that, or maybe some confusing symptoms that people might have that they assume are one thing, but really if they were to test female hormones, they would find this dominance?
Magdalena Wszelaki: Sure. Estrogen dominance can happen for two reasons, or two scenarios. One is when there is just too much estradiol, which is labeled the aggressive form of estrogen. That estrogen is not only produced by our ovaries, but also produced by our body fat cells. So if you have a lot of body fat, that produces estrogen. On top of that, when we are using skin care products from the big brands that you see on the television, there’s a lot, everything from parabens to phalates, all the chemical nasties are considered xenoestrogens, external estrogens. So they act like estradiol as well.
There is this excess of estrogen that can happen, compared to progesterone. So this is the tricky thing; a lot of women get tested for progesterone, and their blood work shows that they have sufficient progesterone, and they have sufficient estrogen. But the interesting thing is that it is the relationship of how much more estrogen do you have; or rather I should say it the other way around. How much more progesterone you have to oppose estrogen. That’s really key. And that’s very much over looked in conventional western medicine.
In functional medicine, a doctor would, first of all, insist on doing steroid hormones such as progesterone and estrogen, cortisol levels, testosterone, DHEA, etc., always through either saliva or urine. There’s pros and cons on every one of them, but definitely not blood. Blood doesn’t show you the free available steroid hormone, it shows you the total. And total is kind of useless because you don’t know how much of that total is really bioavailable for the body for the receptors to utilize. So when you do the testing, that’s when it shows you what is the relationship between progesterone, and do you have enough progesterone to oppose that estrogen. That’s one situation .
The other scenario is, of course, when we have too little progesterone, period. Even if our estrogen is not too high, we just have too little progesterone, low progesterone levels, and this is when estrogen dominance will manifest. The typical symptoms are, something that we as women got so used to living with and that’s PMS. It really doesn’t have to be this way; just to share with you, I don’t even have PMS anymore. My period just comes and goes, about 28-30 days, and it just shows up and I can obviously feel it on the first day, but there is no PMS whatsoever. It was not like that before. So PMS is one thing.
Also having very tender, enlarged breasts. Especially the more painful it is, the more of an estrogen dominance symptoms can be. Women who develop fibroids, cystic breasts are also signs of estrogen dominance. The whole thing with breast cancer; breast cancer and ovarian cancers are actually estrogenic cancers. So that’s another huge, super interesting topic. So many women don’t realize that estrogen dominance can be the cause of breast cancer.
Everything else in between; having menstrual headaches, or having headaches during ovulation. Hair loss for some women; it’s not the most common symptom, but certainly it was for me. Being puffy, having water retention. You go on a flight, and suddenly you can’t take your ring off, you puff up really easily. It doesn’t even have to be a flight; some women get really puffy, anyway. So that’s another one for estrogen dominance.
Obviously, having difficulty getting pregnant. Infertility is another big topic. Inability to hold on to pregnancies, so going beyond the third trimester, the problem is low progesterone levels.
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5. Hormone balancing protocols [29:17]
Diane Sanfilippo: Awesome. I think our listeners are always really interested in learning more about what you do with people who come to you with different hormonal imbalances. For example, if you have someone who comes to you and maybe assuming they have an issue with their thyroid or maybe this estrogen dominance, that sounds like them. What’s the process that you would take someone through, just to give us an example of the type of work that it might take, whether it’s working with you or any other practitioner. Because I think, also people need to hear about the process, because it’s never, “Oh, you definitely have this.” I mean, even if it’s easy to diagnosis one thing from blood work, there’s always something else going on at the same time.
Magdalena Wszelaki: Exactly.
Diane Sanfilippo: What can you tell people about how that process works?
Magdalena Wszelaki: Everyone is a little different, and I think that’s the whole difference with coaching. I meet a person where they are, and there are some people who really love to see things for themselves and they want to have testing in front of them, so I’ll guide them on how to test for different things. For example, thyroid you can very easily get that from your doctor. Make sure you get a full panel of all the T3, T4, free T3, free T4, obviously everybody will do a TSH, but also the antibodies, TPO and TGB antibodies; really, really important to get those done. So that one is an easy one to do, and you can even do it yourself online; go to and order that yourself. If you’re in New Jersey or New York, you just have to go to So that’s one way.
When it comes to steroid hormones, it can be a little tricky, because it’s either urine or saliva. I do order things for saliva. And it kind of depends on the budget of a person; if a person is really on a tight budget and says, look, that’s all I can spend is on coaching with you, then we go based on symptoms. If somebody comes to me and says I’m wired and tired, I can’t go to sleep, I’m having crying spells. Right? And I’ve been having a lot of stress, my mom just died and my husband is unemployed, there’s probably adrenal exhaustion going on here.
Or somebody having those symptoms about estrogen dominance, then we would just either do testing, or start making changes to support that. Now, here’s the thing that’s really interesting about working with hormonal changes is that I don’t go straight into, oh you have estrogen dominance, we’re going load you up on DIM and then if you have adrenal exhaustion, we’re going to put you on licorice or rhodiola right away. I tend to do that as the second step. My approach is to really lay the foundation for good hormonal balance.
My foundation consists of, and I’m sure you can relate, is having a really well functioning digestion; number two is having stable sugar levels, so no sugar cravings, no sugar dips; and then supporting the liver like crazy to be in a really good place. Something that most people don’t realize is that our liver helps us to metabolize our hormones. And there are specific pathways; literally your body utilizes these hormones, and then the go back into the blood stream, the liver separates them, metabolizes the used up hormones, and we know through the help of the bile, we poop them out. I mean this is how it works, right?
Diane Sanfilippo: {laughing} Yep.
Magdalena Wszelaki: And when your liver is sluggish, which is something that a lot of people, inevitably. We live in an environment that creates a perfect environment for a sluggish liver. Then that’s when a lot of hormonal imbalances start happening. My foundation that I like to lay is to be working on repairing the gut, stabilizing the sugar levels, and working on the liver. Just by doing those three things, people get incredible results pretty quickly.
Of course, if I work with somebody with, for example, estrogen dominance, we might then be adding in specific protocols to it, for example flaxseed is a wonderful thing to add on. It’s not for everybody, because some people actually get much more estrogen from flaxseed, but I would say 8 out of 10 people I work with we manage to shift how estrogen gets metabolized, but using flaxseed. So that’s a solution.
If somebody’s got adrenal exhaustion, we’ll be starting copper and a lot of vitamin C, a lot of really good fats into the diet, and then starting on rhodiola maybe a week or 2 weeks into the protocol. So that’s how I work.
Diane Sanfilippo: Awesome. I think it is totally in line with what I’ve been teaching for years. I think I usually tell people to start with blood sugar; but it’s kind of like, chicken or egg. You can start getting your blood sugar in check, you can start with digestion. I think the blood sugar can get in check a little more easily on your own. So if somebody is listening, and they’re like, I don’t know what to do and they’re not ready to go see somebody, and you want to do 70-80% of the work on your own first, which I always recommend. Do as much as possible.
Which is why I think people love Practical Paleo, because they end up getting a lot of the information in their hands. And a lot of what you’ll take people through is in the book. I actually like having it as a reference for practitioners such as yourself where, you can actually walk somebody through and say ok, what she’s talking about here, here is what we’re going to do, and here’s why it works for you, and here’s why it’s right for you or not. I think people can take themselves a really long way just by changing their food, and the digestive stuff does take a little more effort with changing your food and looking at some supplements here and there. Or even just changing the food and getting supplemental super foods, like more omega-3 fats and getting rid of anything that’s irritating them.
Absolutely, supporting the liver is something that I talk about with the Sugar Detox a lot, because as you mentioned, the liver is doing so many things, and one of them is also regulating metabolism. So it’s like, yes of course to help detoxify the body and clear out hormones as you said, but we’re going to line right up next to that with processing anything you’re eating in terms of how you’re storing fat or not. Your liver is totally in charge of that, because it’s working on everything.
Magdalena Wszelaki: Yeah.
6. Liver supporting tips [36:05]
Diane Sanfilippo: So I think that’s a really great point, and letting people know that supporting the liver is really important. What kinds of liver support tips would you have for people who are at home, and they’re like, what can I do from here to help myself to support it.
Magdalena Wszelaki: Absolutely. I’m curious about what your three are; I’ll give you three and see whether we can combine forces here.
Diane Sanfilippo: {laughs}
Magdalena Wszelaki: When I was diagnosed with estrogen dominance, it was a real shocker to me. Because I was already running my practice, I was teaching people about that stuff, and I was like, why; me? Me having estrogen dominance? Me having hair loss? And I really thought there was heavy metals. Which, to get a green card into the United States, I had to get vaccinated, believe it or not. I was sick for 2 weeks after those vaccinations, I’ll tell you that.
So I had heavy metal problems as well in the past. I decided, you know what, I’m going to work on what I can right away. Because chelation of heavy metals takes time, right? And I wanted to do everything the natural way. So I decided I’m just going to focus on my liver for this whole estrogen dominance stuff. And the first thing that really appealed to me was to do copious amounts of cruciferous vegetables; but again, because of the thyroid, always making sure it’s cooked, because they contain a substance called DIM. DIM stands for diindolylmethane, and that is one of the compounds that helps with the toxification of estrogen through one of the pathways, the methylation pathway.
So that’s something that was huge, and I made a point to do 3 servings a day of any cruciferous veggies. For those who are not familiar with the term, cruciferous veggies would be anything from broccoli to kale, Brussels sprouts. I know you just had a recipe out, Diane, for Brussels sprouts with bacon. Yum!
Diane Sanfilippo: So good.
Magdalena Wszelaki: Right? And what else, bok choy, cabbage.
Diane Sanfilippo: Anything that smells sulfury.
Magdalena Wszelaki: That’s right.
Diane Sanfilippo: Those sulfur smelly veggies are really good for us.
Magdalena Wszelaki: If you have a thyroid condition, you just do not want to be juicing them.
Diane Sanfilippo: Yeah, or eating them raw. Which I think most cruciferous veggies, quite frankly, and I think this is the approach to take with most vegetables. If they’re not palatable raw, cook them. I think the one exception is slaw, like cabbage as a slaw is palatable that way, but it’s sort of getting cooked by the salt when you put salt in it. But for thyroid conditions, that is something that I’ve generally recommended based on my education and experience.
Magdalena Wszelaki: And you know, some people have a problem with these vegetables just because they don’t digest them well, period. I guess part of it is because it’s sulfur that is causing it. In that case, you can just go with the supplement. Go and get a DIM supplement from any health store, and that’s the way to go. So that’s one of my favorite things.
The second thing is I really embrace the whole idea of limonene. Limonene is the compound that is found in the skin of the lemon. And religiously, every day, half a lemon I will be zesting and putting into my salad or smoothie, and that was something I grew to really, really love.
The other thing that I did, maybe I’ll mention something outside of food. So my other thing was, I love to do liver packs; castor oil liver packs. That’s basically as simple as, when you’re chilling out, in the evening you’re reading a book or watching a movie, lying down horizontally and putting castor oil on your liver, so that will be right over your ribcage on the right side and slightly below. And then putting an old towel or an old shirt that you could throw away. It’s a good idea to presoak that towel or shirt with the oil so the oil goes into your skin and not into the cloth, and then putting a hot pack over it. It could be a hot water bottle, or just anything that emits heat. That is just a wonderful way, when you get the castor oil in through the skin, it does help to open up the pathways in the liver to help with detoxification. For the first three months, I was doing it 2 or 3 times a week. I really grew to love it, because it was just such a soothing, nurturing things to do. It’s lovely.
Diane Sanfilippo: I’ve never done one. {laughs}
Magdalena Wszelaki: Yeah? I really recommend, even for people who have Candida. I have clients using castor oil packs on their small intestines, and just the tummy, and they had some great results. What about you, what are your favorites?
Diane Sanfilippo: I was just going to say, I know that my friend Hayley from the Primal Palate has done some of the castor oil packs, because she’s been dealing with a lot of different detox issues, and Candida, and all of that. I think she’s enjoying the way that feels.
I really like herbal teas for different reasons, and I think that a tea that has milk thistle in it; I know people use it for a lot of different reasons. You can take milk thistle as a supplement, but I’m just a really big fan of tea form, because I feel like it’s the most nutritionally based, and I really like the idea of having that open up into the water and being really easily digested that way versus a capsule. I think that it’s also drinking herbal tea whenever there’s a supplement that can be obtained that way, I think there’s a calming effect. {laughs} You can’t be scattered and frantic and sipping herbal tea.
Magdalena Wszelaki: Yeah.
Diane Sanfilippo: I guess maybe you can, but I know I can’t. So I think it pulls in that lifestyle factor too, just inherently, when you sit down to sip a warm cup of tea. So I really like that as well. I think generally for liver support, people who are in an environment where there are a lot of chemicals being sprayed or applied, I think it’s just that awareness of your environment that helps a lot. People don’t realize maybe they moved into a new home with brand new carpets, and all of a sudden they’re feeling sick a few months later, and they forget to realize that that could have had a really big impact. And I know that affects children pretty drastically, as well. New carpets, new mattresses, new couches, paint, everything that comes loaded with toxins and just making sure that we’re aware of that stuff and minimizing the exposure from it as much as possible.
As much as people think those low toxins paint are woo-woo, well if you’re dealing with health struggles and you’re moving to a new place, it’s not really the time to …
Magdalena Wszelaki: Question.
Diane Sanfilippo: Yeah, just get the one that’s going to be the least impact for you and not put you in that situation. So sort of like on a defensive mode there, that’s one of the things that I think is really helpful for people, too.
Magdalena Wszelaki: Absolutely. And you know, you talked about milk thistle tea. That’s another thing that I would do a lot, making dandelion root tea, as well. And dandelion, same as milk thistle, is hugely supportive. Actually, anything that’s bitter, really.
Diane Sanfilippo: Mm-hmm
Magdalena Wszelaki: Helps to create bile, produce bile excretion.
Diane Sanfilippo: Yeah.
Magdalena Wszelaki: And that’s going to help deliver tremendously. So that’s a good one. I just want to mention one thing about milk thistle, because that’s an interesting one how, it’s a wonderful thing to use in western herbalism, it’s been used for generations as a liver detoxifier for people who were alcoholics are put on milk thistle in various forms to help support the liver. Here’s an interesting thing about milk thistle that I discovered through my own practice doing this work; milk thistle can also be very estrogenic for certain women. So, if anybody finds themselves drinking the tea and then suddenly having more tender breasts, and the worst PMS than before; then stop it. Do something else.
Diane Sanfilippo: Interesting. Yeah, I feel like it’s kind of that way with everything. You mentioned the flax; for most people it works, and for some it doesn’t.
Magdalena Wszelaki: Yeah. You know how we have this allergy season right now, and there is wonderful; now when we are recording we are going into spring; a lot of people are going to be suffering from allergies, right. One of the things that somebody posted in my group was about bee pollen. I’m a big fan of bee pollen; that stuff really can work. The problem is, if somebody is really sensitive to bee bites or even insect bites, and they really swell up and have a reaction, then you’ve got to be super cautions.
Diane Sanfilippo: Yeah. I remember when people were bringing that into my class in nutrition school years and years ago, and I was like, I’m allergic to bee stings, I’m not sure I want to put something bee related into my body. {laughs}
Magdalena Wszelaki: You don’t. You don’t. So that’s why I think it’s really important that whenever you try anything new, just do a little bit of it and see how your body takes it.
7. Seed rotation for balancing hormones [45:22]
Diane Sanfilippo: So, let’s talk a little bit about seed rotation, because I know that’s something that you focus on a lot and how it relates to rebalancing menstrual cycle, and hormones, and all of that. I think some people may have heard of it, but many may have not, so if you want to talk about what it is and how it works.
Magdalena Wszelaki: Sure. You know, I’m just so amazed how plugged in you are to knowing so many things about so many, you just have such a broad knowledge of so many things. Because I mentioned seed rotation to numerous people, including functional practitioners, including doctors, and including integrative endocrinologists, who have never heard of seed rotation.
Diane Sanfilippo: {laughs}
Magdalena Wszelaki: So I’m very happy.
Diane Sanfilippo: I just have a lot of friends in the alternative health industry who come to me with a lot of topics and questions, and ask what I think of different things. So I’m not very well versed in it, but I’ve heard of it and I understand what the premise in.
Magdalena Wszelaki: Awesome.
Diane Sanfilippo: I think people know that I won’t think they’re crazy if they ask me about something {laughs} because I’m pretty much like, nothing is crazy.
Magdalena Wszelaki: {laughs} Yeah, seed rotation can be used by women who are still menstruating, and is a wonderful way of rebalancing your menstrual cycle. So for women who are having estrogen dominance with the symptoms that I described, or you’re having irregular period or a period that just doesn’t want to stop, you’re having bleeding that goes on for 2 weeks, or you’re having very heavy bleeding. All of those conditions will benefit from seed rotation.
The premise of it is using, in the first part of your cycle which is day 1 through day 14; I’m basing this on a 28 day cycle, so whatever is your half point, just take the half point for you. So day 1 to day 14, day 1 counts from the first day of your period. What you do is during that time, you want to support your body with building up estrogen. Again, estrogen doesn’t have to be bad. From people who don’t really understand estrogen very well, it’s got a bad reputation. We need estrogen to function well. The strength of your bones and your muscles, and the fact that you can function properly and be strong; it all depends on the levels of estrogen that we have; your memory, etc.
So day 1 through 14 we want to help the body build up estrogen. We can have that through having flaxseed and pumpkin seeds in the combination of 1 tablespoon of each, and having that in the ground form, so you basically grind it in a coffee grinder. I prefer to make it fresh on the day itself, or you do maybe up to 4 days in advance. You can have it in a jar that is air tight. Flaxseed does get oxidized very quickly, so you want to definitely minimize that. So you basically add it to your smoothies, you can have it in a glass of water, you can put it on top of your salads. However you do it, just make sure you get two tablespoons; one tablespoon of flaxseed, one of pumpkin seed, day 1 through 14.
Then on the second part of your cycle, which is called luteal phase, which is day 14 to 28, we want to be working with sesame seeds and sunflower seeds. It is interesting because sesame seeds are rich in zinc, and sunflowers are rich in vitamin E, and both of them have been medical proven to help us produce progesterone. So this is your progesterone time. What we’re going to do is exactly the same thing; we’re doing 2 tablespoons a day, one of each. You continue doing that until you get your period.
So this is how seed rotation works. Some women get results within the first month or two. Others take a little bit longer, and some women don’t get results at all, and they need something a little bit more intensive, like maybe adding in primrose oil to the second part of the cycle in order to really boost their progesterone. Or they need to really work on their liver. Because we can be adding all this wonderful food, but at the end of the day, if your liver is still in a mess, and for example your cortisol levels are very high because you’re chronically stressed out, even if you’re producing progesterone, the interesting thing about cortisol is that cortisol blocks the progesterone receptors. So the seed rotation can be wonderful, but always take it in the context of what else is going on there in my life.
Diane, I’ve created a special handout for your peeps, and it can be found on my website for download. I’ve basically got recipes that use seed rotation, putting them into crackers so you can just carry those crackers around with you and not worry about all the grinding and stuff. You just make them in advance, you can use the oven, it doesn’t have to be a dehydrator. The recipes can be found on
Diane Sanfilippo: Cool. We will link to that from the show notes, too, so anybody can check that out.
Magdalena Wszelaki: Cool.
8. Superfoods that actually work and coffee [50:51]
Diane Sanfilippo: Awesome. You know, it’s interesting to talk about how food can affect hormones. I’m curious if you have other nutrient powerhouse foods or superfoods that you work with that you actually see working really well. Because we hear about a lot of them; there’s a lot of woo-woo and excitement in the media, but I don’t always want people listening to just what the latest article on the internet says. I want to talk to somebody who is using these foods. So what are some other super foods that you’ve seen actually working pretty well for people?
Magdalena Wszelaki: I actually don’t think I have anything up my sleeve. What I will say is that I feel like I get incredible results, my clients get incredible results when we get them off coffee. And I know this is going to be like, oh my god, that’s not what I want to hear!
Diane Sanfilippo: {laughs}
Magdalena Wszelaki: And I get it. But you asked me a question, so I’m being very honest.
Diane Sanfilippo: Mm-hmm. Yeah.
Magdalena Wszelaki: I want to just also say, as a follow up to this, this is coming from a girl who used to do double espresso on an empty stomach and have a cigarette for breakfast, ok, so I get that. But here’s the thing. You don’t have to go cold turkey, and the deal with coffee is; I mean, there are so many issues with coffee. Sure there’s research showing that it’s great, but if you are still not making that huge of progress, and you’re having a lot of hormonal problems going on, there’s so many issues with coffee. I’m actually writing an article about that right now. It really does spike up our sugar levels, it does spike up your cortisol levels, it is highly inflammatory if you have antibodies elevated, TPO antibodies, it’s going to drive your antibodies up, and the list goes on.
But what I want to also give you substitution for coffee. Because we don’t have to give it up completely; you’ll have to wean yourself off of it, and have a deal with yourself. Like, ok, maybe on Sunday as a treat, right? But I want to encourage all of you guys who are real coffee addicts to replace it, if the taste is something that you’re really going to be missing, then I would suggest to replace it with roasted chicory roots. And for those of you who have been to New Orleans, that’s the New Orleans coffee, the chicory root coffee. It’s interesting because it tastes very, very similar to coffee, but of course it’s not caffeinated at all. You can get it online, organic roasted chicory coffee. I get mine on Amazon. And basically you brew it the same way you would coffee. Sometimes I like to add dandelion root to it, so that gives an additional support for the liver, roasted dandelion root as well. So that’s a great replacement.
I kind of stole the whole bulletproof coffee thing, and Diane what I do is I put that roasted chicory root, once I steep it, I would put the coffee, chicory root liquid in a blender and then I’ll put coconut butter or ghee and just a touch of a sweetener, either stevia or a fig or something, or a date, and then just blend the hell out of it. It’s just the most amazing latte.
Diane Sanfilippo: {laughs}
Magdalena Wszelaki: You know? It really is. It gives you this really great taste replacer, but it doesn’t have the caffeine. If you still feel like afternoons are hard for you to get by without caffeine, then my favorite go to, a little pick me up, would be matcha tea. My favorite brand is DoMatcha, I think it’s just amazing. It’s a ceremonial Japanese tea, the top quality. It has caffeine in it, but also the properties of giving you a real nice concentration of focus, but without making your jittery and spiking up your sugar levels the way coffee does.
So sorry for the long answer, I’m researching coffee now even more, and I’m like, the more I research it, and the more I’m like, oh that’s why people really get good results getting off coffee. What is your experience with coffee?
Diane Sanfilippo: Well what I’ve done for myself recently, because sleep was probably the biggest struggle for me for the last few years, but most noticeably in the last year, I have gone on and off of coffee so many times, and then recently made the switch to decaf. I tried to do some of the herbal coffees, and for me I was relying on that much coffee to where I felt like, ok, that little teeny bit of, there is actually a teeny bit of caffeine in decaf coffee. But that teeny bit, I was like let me see how I do with this before I say I’m not going to allow myself to have any of it. Because I like to balance enjoying my life with doing things that are healthy for me, you know?
Magdalena Wszelaki: Yeah.
Diane Sanfilippo: And not detrimental. And we were talking before the show. I’m really lucky that I don’t have a major health struggle, or a major health challenge. I have lots of little things that go on that’s usually a reflection of my current diet, lifestyle, stress level, all of that, but my body responds when I make changes. I just have to stick with them and be consistent with them. And that actually is the biggest challenge that I face, consistency, mostly because I do travel so much and time changes, and then it’s a day where I’m just too tired, and I have to sleep more, and it throws everything off.
So long story short, I’ve been doing decaf and I try and stick primarily to having it at home where it’s organic , and Swiss water processed, and I really try and keep the quality as high as possible, and I only have it once in a day and it’s not like this huge deal. But I do enjoy the ritual. And I did try the herbal, and I thought it was actually really good. I think the blend that I tried was something similar to what you described. And quite frankly, if loving coffee and that bitterness, and that dark brown, black beverage is what you want, I think what you recommended is some of the best. And I have seen some also that include some carob as well, so it kind of gives it that balance of, not sweet necessarily, but the same way coffee is where you kind of think it could be sweet.
Magdalena Wszelaki: Yeah.
Diane Sanfilippo: So I thought that was really great too. If I was still struggling with not being able to sleep, and waking up really exhausted, because that was what I was struggling with a lot, I would probably make that switch.
Magdalena Wszelaki: Absolutely. You know what, I think you’re coming from a different place from being already in a good spot, and you are in a maintenance mode and prevention mode right now.
Diane Sanfilippo: Right.
Magdalena Wszelaki: Most other people who come to work with me have been to at least 7 doctors, have done significant dietary changes. I don’t work with women who eat McDonalds and drink sodas. You know? And so if things still aren’t working, then we need to look at food medicinally. For some women, coffee is just a matter of getting out of it for 6 months to a year; especially when you have adrenal exhaustion. Drinking coffee on an empty stomach when you have adrenals pooped out, that’s just killing yourself. You know?
Diane Sanfilippo: Yeah.
Magdalena Wszelaki: So that’s where I’m coming from; if you’re sick, then you’ve got to reconsider your options. And the sleep thing is a good example of what you’re talking about. There are people who drink coffee like 3 or 4 o’clock in the afternoon, and then they don’t make the connection that that was the reason why they were having problems sleeping. We do, our liver does this massive piece of work between 1 and 3 o’clock in the morning, so again, it goes back to the liver and hormonal health. We rejuvenate ourselves, and we recover in sleep, so it’s so important to have good quality sleep. If that person can’t say no to having a 3 p.m. coffee because that’s the only thing that’s going to pick her up, apart from sugar, then that’s not the way to go. So, that’s where I’m coming from.
But I hear you. It’s all about balancing things out, and not feeling deprived. That’s why I wanted to give those ideas of how to replace things. So you can kind of go, oh I never thought about these new things, you know?
Diane Sanfilippo: Yeah. It can be really helpful. And I will say, it’s a pretty good replacement. If you’re struggling, and you’re like, I really don’t want to give it up. I think everyone has to come to that time where they make the decision that, ok enough is enough and I’m ready to try that next thing. Because that could really be it. I definitely think, I’ve had so many people; it’s funny when you have a certain struggle and you share information about it, more people ask you about it. I did have in the last few months a lot of people at events, different live events that I’ve done and kind of all over the place asking about sleep and energy throughout the day, and it ends up drawing me to that answer, hey do you drink coffee? How much do you drink? What time do you drink it? And if you just have one cup in the morning and you’re still not getting quality sleep, which that was me.
It was like, of course I have lifestyle factors that contribute to that. My mental and emotional stress around just what I’m doing for work, and how that’s going. Of course those all feed in. But if there’s a physical, dietary, nutritional change that I could make that’s consistent every day that would then maybe set me up better to handle stress.
Magdalena Wszelaki: Yeah.
Diane Sanfilippo: Because I know the foundation of, sleep is so critical, it’s like I won’t even touch 3 other things that I know could help until I’ve addressed that most aggressively, if that even makes sense.
Magdalena Wszelaki: Absolutely.
Diane Sanfilippo: To address your sleep aggressively, but you know what I mean. Even taking Epsom salts baths and all that stuff to kind of help further with sleep. So that’s really great information.
Magdalena Wszelaki: Can I just share with you one more thing about coffee?
Diane Sanfilippo: Yeah.
Magdalena Wszelaki: It is also another interesting data point, a lot of people get off gluten, and coffee interestingly enough is a gluten cross reactive food. So for some people who, if you feel that when you eat gluten, you feel a certain way, and if you drink coffee, you feel somewhat similar, that’s a big indicator you’re having the cross reactivity going on. For people like that, that is another reason it would be really beneficial to cut out those cross reactive foods, and coffee is one of them.
Diane Sanfilippo: And you know, people can try it for a period of time. You can wean off, and try not having it. You can try switching to a high quality decaf; that’s my advice, because I think people who do well with that, ok do it, and if that doesn’t work, keep taking the steps to figure out what’s going to work. So you mentioned your website, You have, if they go to that’s where they can grab a little recipe guide to get more information about how to make some of those crackers and more information from you. Is that the best place for people to find you,
Magdalena Wszelaki: Yeah, it is. And for people who are also having thyroid problems, you could head out to, and there’s plenty of information about everything related to thyroid. Where to test, what to test for, where to find doctors, foods, the whole starter kit is just about that. So just to get people started in the right direction, when they have a thyroid and Hashimoto’s or Graves’ disease.
Diane Sanfilippo: Awesome. Well thank you so much, that was a really awesome discussion. I think our listeners are going to love that. I know I learned a lot. It’s been really nice talking with you.
Magdalena Wszelaki: Thank you Diane. It was awesome to be here with you.
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9. Liz’s BMB tip of the week: Caffeine and coffee during pregnancy [1:03:54]
Liz Wolfe: Hey everyone! Liz checking in with a Baby Making and Beyond tip of the week, here as usual, with my BMB partner Meg the midwife.
Meg Reburn: Hey there!
Liz Wolfe: And last week, we talked about prenatal vitamin safety and testing. Today’s tip is about coffee!
Meg Reburn: {laughs}
Liz Wolfe: Yay!
Meg Reburn: My personal fave. {laughs}
Liz Wolfe: Yeah, me too. Remember, we’re not doctors, nor are we giving medical advice or offering diagnosis or treatment. This is just information for you to take to your health care provider. So Meg; please tell me a little bit about coffee and pregnancy. It’s a little too late for me to make any changes now {laughs} but I feel like most providers are actually pretty quick to say these days that coffee is just ok. But that’s not necessarily what we say, or at least we say there are nuances about it. So, what are your thoughts.
Meg Reburn: I kind of think care providers will say, oh yeah, it’s fine, don’t worry about it, or don’t have it all. There seems to be this radical shift on either side of the spectrum. But here’s what the research actually says. There’s a lot of contradictory studies about coffee in pregnancy. Some studies show that it increases the rate of birth defects and miscarriages, while others show that it makes absolutely not difference at all. So, what the heck do we do with it all?
Well, your body actually changes the way it metabolizes caffeine when you’re pregnant, thanks to an enzyme called CYP1A2, which is a whole other story, which we do get into in Baby Making and Beyond. But basically what it does, is it decreases your ability to clear caffeine from your system. So, your body is kind of telling you, enjoy it in moderation. What will happen if you’re not metabolizing caffeine well, is that it will just make you feel kind of wired and gross. If you get that feeling, that tells you that’s too much and maybe you need to hold off on that for a little bit of time.
The March of Dimes in the States, and Heath Canada says that somewhere between 2-300 mg a day is safe. 2-300 mg is actually quite a bit. It translates into about 2-3 shots of espresso, or a good 10 ounce cup of French press. Dark chocolate, it has some caffeine in it, but 1 ounce has about 20 mg. Kombucha has a little caffeine in it, 8-14 mg. Tea is somewhere between 10 and 90. Even decaf has up to 10 mg. You can have a little cup of coffee and some dark chocolate a day and be totally reasonably safe.
Liz Wolfe: I think a lot of the broad epidemiological studies on caffeine and pregnancy probably don’t control for lifestyle factors.
Meg Reburn: Yeah.
Liz Wolfe: Maybe coffee and smoking, or coffee and not sleeping, or coffee and stress, stuff like that. But when you really get down to those actual mechanisms that you explained, like the decreased ability to metabolize caffeine, that’s when we kind of get a little bit more to think about.
Meg Reburn: I totally agree.
Liz Wolfe: Awesome! So that’s it for our BMB tip of the week. Hop over to to sign up for program alerts, and we’ll talk to you again next time.
Meg Reburn: See you next week.
Diane Sanfilippo: Alright, that’s it for this week. You can find Magdalena at; and you can check for her recipes for you guys, our listeners. Don’t forget, you can find Liz at, and fine me, Diane, at While you’re on the internet, join our email lists for free goodies and updates you don’t find anywhere else on our websites or even on the podcast. And, while you’re there, drop us a review in iTunes. We’ll see you next week.

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