Interview with Alisa Vitti, a functional nutritionist, women’s hormone expert, best-selling author and founder of floliving.com, chatting about how to adjust the ketogenic diet to compliment your menstrual cycle, heal your hormones, and boost energy and vitality… every day.
For podcast transcript, scroll down.
SHOW NOTES + LINKS
- Start your high-fat, keto life
- Get your FREE 7-day keto meal plan
- More from Alisa on her site, FloLiving or grab her app, MyFLO App, or her book, WomenCode
- Grab a Diva Cup
- Subscribe on iTunes or your favorite podcast app
- Fats that cause PMS (14:34)
- FREE hormone testing from the comfort of your home (33:43)
- Eating to support your cycle (50:56)
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TRANSCRIPT FOR THIS EPISODE
Leanne Vogel: You’re listening to Episode Number 42 of the Keto Diet Podcast. Today, we’re chatting about fats that cause PMS, free hormone testing from the comfort of your own home, and eating to support your cycle. So, stayed tuned.
Hey, I’m Leanne from HealthfulPursuit.com, and this is the Keto Diet Podcast, where we’re busting through the restrictive mentality of a traditional ketogenic diet to uncover the life you crave. What’s keto? Keto is a low-carb, high-fat diet where we’re switching from a sugar-burning state to becoming fat-burning machines.
All listeners of the podcast receive a free seven-day keto meal plan complete with a shopping list and everything you need to chow down on keto for seven whole days. Download your free copy at HealthfulPursuit.com/ketomeal. The link will also be in the show notes for today’s episode; perfect if your daily keto meals have become a bit lackluster, if you’re new to keto and a bit lost when it comes to eating what and how much, or thrive on being guided on what to do and when to do it. Again, that’s HealthfulPursuit.com/ketomeal. Let’s get this party started.
Hey, guys. Happy Sunday. Can you believe that it’s July already? At the beginning … Well, the end of May, Kevin and I traded in our newer RV for a pretty old RV that we’ve been renovating for the last, well, almost two months. And I think we’re almost set to hit the road with it. We’re so stoked. It’s been so much work. This has been a dream of ours for forever. If you’re curious about RV life and how we did the renovations, you can always follow us at Explorking.com. And we’re also Explorking on all of the social medias. I’ll also include a link in the show notes if you want to check out our adventures and, really, the ultimate goal, I mean maybe it’s wishful thinking at this point, but we’d love to live in the RV for quite a long time. So, we’re going to see how it goes, but we’ve been working hard at renovating. That’s what we’ve been up to this summer so far. I hope you guys are having an awesome summer.
The show notes and full transcript for today’s episode can be found at HealthfulPursuit.com/podcast/e42. The transcript is added to the post about three to five days following the initial air date of this episode. Let’s hear from one of our awesome partners.
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If you have an idea for a podcast episode or want to submit praise over and above the review, which you can leave by going to HealthfulPursuit.com/review, you can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Today’s guest is phenomenal. I mean I say this every time because I just really enjoy all the guests we have on the podcast, and having Alisa Vitti on was no exception to this. She is fabulous, so knowledgeable. She’s a functional nutritionist, women’s hormone expert, bestselling author, and founder of FloLiving.com, and is also known as the “hormone whisperer.”
Alisa has opened up on the conversation about menstruation while helping and inspiring women to tap into their inner wisdom and feel good all month long. Alisa is also the author of the bestselling book WomanCode, public speaker and creator of the period tracker app, MyFLO. MyFLO is the first-ever functional medicine based period tracking app that helps users track symptoms and know what to do to become symptom-free. She has been featured on the Dr. Oz Show, has a Web series on Lifetime, and has been a regular contributor for CBS, Fox, Shape, Women’s Health, Mind Body Green, and The Huffington Post.
Alisa and I chatted about so many different things. I think my favorite part of the conversation was tracking your period blood and what that can mean for you. And I really enjoy providing you guys with free tools that you can use to monitor your health without having to go out and spend a bunch of money on testing or extra things. So, I really love that Alisa went into detail about what to watch for when it comes to your period blood. Let’s get right into it.
Hey, Alisa. How’s it going?
Alisa Vitti: It’s great, Leanne. It’s so great to be here.
Leanne Vogel: Yeah, thanks so much for coming on. I can’t wait to dive into all of the awesome things we’ve planned to chat about today.
Alisa Vitti: It’s going to be good.
Leanne Vogel: Yeah. For listeners that may not be familiar with your work, why don’t we start off by you telling us a little bit about yourself?
Alisa Vitti: Sure. I am a functional nutritionist. I am the founder of the FLO Living Hormone Center. I’m the author of the bestselling book WomanCode, and I am the creator of the MyFLO period-tracking and Cycle Syncing app. What I have been doing for the past 17 years professionally is promoting a conversation with women around how do you nourish your hormones properly, how do you put menstrual conditions into remission naturally, and how do you live in a female body in a way that is creating more energy and vitality each and every day of the month. Right? Because you’re meant to thrive and feel good all the time. That’s who I am and what I do.
Leanne Vogel: Wow. Energy and vitality, I mean that’s something we’re all so interested in. Really, I know a couple of years ago I never thought that that could be a reality, where you feel energetic and full of life at every moment. There is going to be ups and downs, but just for you to say that, it’s a really powerful statement. That’s huge.
Alisa Vitti: Well, I think that there’s so much … There’s like this cult of bad period mythology out there that you’re destined to suffer, that your period is supposed to be painful, that perimenopause is supposed to be a nightmare, that you’re supposed to dry out, postmenopausally. There’s a lot of mythology that holds us back from even thinking that we should do something to take charge of our health and reclaim the vitality that is part of our genetic destiny.
I’m just really passionate that women should know about how their female physiology works and how to feed it properly to get the best results out of their health. I think it’s pretty straightforward once you get that information, but we just haven’t been given it, and so we’re operating, we’re making healthcare decisions that sometimes lead us down the wrong path.
Leanne Vogel: That was definitely my experience and I always thought that a vegan diet for me would be the best way to approach my hormones, and it wasn’t. I mean I went eight years with no period and had amenorrhea for that whole time. It wasn’t until I really checked in and said, “Okay. What have I not tried?” That to me was a ketogenic diet, but we were even talking about it, before we started recording, of the standard ketogenic protocol didn’t work for me. It wasn’t until I then again looked at it and said, “Okay. How do I make this work for me and how does my body respond to certain macronutrients and even activity, and how do I make that work for my hormones?”
Then I got my period back after nine months. So, it can be such a simple thing, but you’re right, when it’s education, it’s such a huge piece and we don’t know what we don’t know. That’s what it’s so cool that we get to do what we do and kind of share our experiences and what we’ve seen in our practices to try to educate people so that they can make choices that are right for their body.
Alisa Vitti: I think it’s so powerful that you share your story of amenorrhea, for a couple of reasons. One, most of us are told when we go to the gynecologist that whatever it is that you’re dealing with, it’s either all in your head, or if you eventually get a diagnosis of something you’re told that there isn’t much that you can do except going down the road of pharmaceuticals, birth control, et cetera, or basically like if a surgical procedure isn’t involved, then perhaps just to wait until your next annual exam.
When people are dealing with fibroids and endometriosis and polycystic ovarian syndrome, which is what I used to have for a decade, or amenorrhea, like you had, and you’re told to just come back in a year, 50% of your month, if not all of your month, is a time where your energy is zapped, your vitality is diminished, you have brain fog, you’re not thinking clearly. You also think that you’re the only one going through it, because everybody else seems to be functioning normally and we do this great thing as women, where we just become really self-critical.
You’re like, “Well, I’m the only one and no one else has got these problems and I’ll just suck it up. I’ll just be quiet and suck it up.” We go years and decades not getting the care that we need because of this culture of silence around our issues. So, I’m really happy that you shared your story about the amenorrhea. I think if we were all given the right kind of education and orientation to our bodies, like I remember sex ed in sixth grade, and I thought … Sex ed was basically, what? It’s like, “Okay. You’re going to get a period. Use pads and tampons and don’t get pregnant.” That is not sex ed.
Leanne Vogel: No.
Alisa Vitti: Stuff like, “Thank you, Captain Obvious.” For me when I think about like what is the right kind of education that a young girl should be receiving, well, certainly it’s about, “Wow, you have this whole hormonal cycle and there’s specific foods you want to eat each week of the cycle to offset the effects of estrogen, to minimize any PMS that you might experience, to make your period pain-free.” Certain fats make more of the prostaglandin that causes cramps and certain fats make more of the prostaglandins that cause uterine relaxation.
So, you should know what to eat to balance out your pain and to manage that without, again, pharmaceuticals. That’s the kind of education that we should be getting as young girls. If you had received that education, Leanne, yourself, myself any woman listening, you already know before I say this that you would have not ended up in a situation where you went eight years without a period or I went a decade without a period, and having all sorts of other hormonal problems, or even in a situation where you were making … Just wasting time not feeling good, precious time in your life where you could have been pursuing your passions and your dreams, and all sorts of things.
As someone who went through a period, a large period of time where my health and vitality were really drained to their lowest points, to have that time back is precious. So, yeah. I’m just a little passionate about women understanding how their bodies work and how to eat for their hormonal cycle, and for them to really just get rid of all these symptoms, because you don’t have to have any of them. You don’t have to have these conditions. you don’t have to have these symptoms. They can all be a thing of the past.
Leanne Vogel: So cool and so many amazing things you just touched on. To speak to the belief that no one has these problems, I really thought that I was the only woman in the world that had amenorrhea. It wasn’t until I wrote a blog post when I started hormone replacement therapy being like, “Hey, guys, true story. I haven’t had my period in five years.” Then it was amazing to see how many people were experiencing it, too. Had I not come out with that, I just thought I was this lone wolf in this experience.
It was just like, “Okay. Well, if I’m the only one, then I’ll just leave it be. I don’t want to deal with it.” It’s also really embarrassing. I found it to be really embarrassing like I wasn’t … I believed that I wasn’t a “true woman” without it, and I just felt really embarrassed over it. Another thing that you said that I know that every listener was like, “Wait, wait. Go back. What do you mean?”
More on my interview with Alisa Vitti after this message from one of our podcast partners.
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When you are saying fats that cause pain, when you’re going through your menstrual cycle and others that can cause relaxation, can we go there? Because all of us eat 80% fat and we’re thinking, “Oh my gosh, is that why my period is so painful?” Or whatever the case may be.
Alisa Vitti: No. No. I would imagine that anyone who is following good keto practices is probably more pain-free than anything because, well, depending on which fat you’re eating, obviously. The main super bad fats that caused the PGE2 levels to be increased are canola oils and certain animal fats. But the good fats that caused the increase of prostaglandin 1 and 3 that caused more uterine relaxation and, therefore, get rid of cramps are avocados, coconut oil, sunflower seeds, basically those types of fats. The more of those that you’re eating, the more pain-free your periods are going to be.
Leanne Vogel: A lot of us eat a lot of, I’m going to list off all the animal-based fats that I eat probably on a weekly basis, duck fat, lard, tallow, suet, bacon grease. I mean it’s it’s like bacon from the butcher literally across the street from my house, and the farm is right there, but any of those, like those should be pretty good, because they’re not part of the inflammatory PG series.
Alisa Vitti: Exactly.
Leanne Vogel: Okay. Cool.
Alisa Vitti: Yeah, of course. Of course, if you’re getting all of these from super clean sources and there’s no … That’s ideal. I didn’t mention butter, good quality ghee is also great. It’s really more of the pro-inflammatory animal fats that you want to stay away from. And it sounds like you guys are on the money with what you’re doing.
Leanne Vogel: Yeah. Quality is a really big thing. I was actually speaking at a conference recently into a bunch of nutrition educators and health and wellness coaches, and a lot of them were more plant-based and they had a really hard time with me talking about a ketogenic diet. They were like, “What about the inflammation and all these things?” I remember when I was studying nutrition animal fat and even animal protein was just completely off the table, because it’s so inflammatory. What we don’t talk about, and we talk about it more now, but just in the past, like when I was studying a decade ago, crazy how fast time flies, but we didn’t talk about the quality. The quality is so important for our fats, like so important.
Alisa Vitti: Well, I have a two and a half year old daughter and since I know that she shares my genes, I’m certainly really keen to use food, well, even from before I conceived her to set her up to avoid hormonal problems in her developmental years. One of the things that is so critical for her health and well-being are really good quality fats for brain development, for healing and sealing the gut, for metabolism regulation. So, all of these types of really healthy fats, tallow, bone broth that is full of the good fats from the chicken, the good quality egg yolks, cod liver oil. All of these things are so, so critical for her health and well-being.
Things that I unfortunately feel pretty wary of, for example, are fish oil, aside from the fermented cod oil, but it’s hard to find good sources of clean fish oil. When you’re talking about fats, the problem with the plant-based fats versus the animal fats is bioavailability, which obviously you know about. I think with some of the research coming out around lectins in some of these plant-based foods, creating similar tears in the lining of the intestines like gluten does, like casein does, these lectins do same thing. There’s just more clinical research coming out around these very specific actions of specific foods and how they affect our digestive process and it’s just so important to get the right foods in your system.
Now I think that with women and their hormonal patterns I think the challenge with all diets, whether it’s keto or paleo, or a raw diet, a vegan diet, any dietary theory, any exercise theory for that matter is that it’s all predicated on a 24-hour male circadian hormonal pattern. What do I mean by that? I mean that most diets, most dietary theories assume Groundhog Day, right? If you remember that movie with Bill Murray, right?
Leanne Vogel: Yeah.
Alisa Vitti: He wakes up and every day is the same day. From a male circadian hormonal standpoint that is true. They go to sleep with their lowest levels of hormones. They make testosterone while they’re sleeping. They wake up with their highest levels of testosterone and cortisol. Then the day progresses and they have less and less, and then they go to sleep, and the day starts over. For them it is very appropriate for them to have the same diet and exercise routine day in and day out. Makes a lot of sense based on their circadian rhythm.
For women, however, we have a 28-day cycle and our hormones fluctuate weekly. Our hormonal ratios are distinct each week of the cycle. For you to put that sort of expectation on yourself that you should have the same kind of diet every single day, day in and day out, it sets you up for failure in a lot of ways, because you’re going to some weeks out of the month feel like you can really nail it with your diet like, “Okay. I’m doing the same thing I said I was going to do. Every day I feel okay.” Then something shifts and you you’re not quite sure what it is. All of a sudden, you feel like the diet isn’t working for you and you’re more susceptible to binging or craving things or indulging in things you don’t want to be.
This is all very driven by the micronutrient needs that are the requirements for progesterone manufacturing, for dealing with estrogen, for magnesium, I mean all of these things that our body needs to produce a healthy cycle. So, I’m just a real big champion that whatever, like I think of all the diets, by the way, I think keto is a really great one, because it is so much about eliminating a lot of inflammation, keeping the gut healthy, having a lot of good quality healthy fats.
Protein, amino acids are the building blocks of your hormones. So many women like you yourself, Leanne, when you were a vegan person, not having enough animal protein is very much the cause of why you weren’t having enough hormones available to produce the cycle. So many women don’t eat enough protein in their diet to keep their hormone levels healthy and they age themselves prematurely as a result. I think there’s a lot of great things about the keto diet.
I’m really just a champion that you want to listen to your body. As you were saying, listen to what your body is saying to you and pay attention to it from a cyclical standpoint, where am I this week of the month, what kinds of cravings is my body calling for, and what do those cravings translate into from a micronutrient standpoint, right? If you’re craving dairy or salt or sugar or fats, those are for specific reasons, and what kinds of subtle shift could you make with your diet within the context of that week to front-load more of those micronutrients to help offset the levels of estrogen that might be spiking at a given time in your cycle, to help your liver handle that better. How can you be responsive to the shifts that are happening within your body’s endocrine ecosystem?
Leanne Vogel: Yes, it is so true. When you take a step back to kind of look at everything, without even knowing it, when I started getting my period again, when I was ovulating I craved more protein. I can’t get enough protein in my body when I’m ovulating.
Alisa Vitti: Interesting.
Leanne Vogel: I know that it’s coming when I’m just like, “All I want is a steak right now.”
Alisa Vitti: That’s unusual. That’s un-
Leanne Vogel: Is it?
Alisa Vitti: Yeah. I think that probably has to do with your vegan historical context. Most women crave that kind of protein concentration during the bleeding week because levels of estrogen and progesterone and testosterone are at their lowest levels. So, having extra protein at that time kind of helps you offset the decreased concentration of the hormones. But for you, you might just feel the extra need for that protein because ovulation is a pretty, pretty intense process. To make sure that you have enough hormones to do the job to get you all the way there, you may be craving that protein.
It’s interesting. This is why I find fascinating about working with women’s bodies, is it’s based on historical … Your past diet history and medication history can really affect your cravings throughout the cycle. As you get more balanced, the thing that a lot of women want to do during ovulation is really address some of that excess estrogen. Estrogen spikes the highest at any time of the cycle for the shortest period of time during ovulation. You may have increased levels of estrogen for a longer period of time during the luteal phase, but never as high during ovulation.
If you have something like a little breakout on your chin or a little pain in your ovary or any of those things that can happen during ovulation when estrogen dominance might be at play for you, using more foods that help the liver break down estrogen in phase one and two of its detoxification process is really helpful. Those are foods that are rich in selenium and glutathione, primarily B vitamins, vitamin C. Those four are the key to helping the liver do its job.
So, taking a B vitamin is good, having some berries, if you can, would be good, or using some sort of powder like Acerola cherry powder or something to that effect, eggs and really good fresh produce. This would be a time to do like a raw salad or something like that would be really helpful to getting a lot of glutathione in the body.
Leanne Vogel: What about during your period? I know that about two, three days before I menstruate I crave a lot of carbohydrates, like I need carbs.
Alisa Vitti: Okay. Right there, I want to just pause there. You said what about during your period. Your period is when you’re bleeding.
Leanne Vogel: Yes.
Alisa Vitti: Okay. What you’re talking about is the luteal phase, the premenstrual phase.
Leanne Vogel: It’s like …
Alisa Vitti: Which is 10 to 12 days long in the cycle. The first half of it, estrogen and progesterone is increasing and you feel really pretty good. But as soon as the body has registered that you have not conceived, then the levels of estrogen and progesterone start to decrease pretty rapidly. When they reach their lowest level, it triggers the shedding of the lining of uterus, and you begin the bleeding week.
Those three to five to seven days leading up to the bleeding beginning, where the levels of estrogen and progesterone are diminishing, is when you can start to crave a lot of carbohydrates, because your body is looking for additional B vitamins and specifically B6 to help you make enough progesterone in the corpus luteum, which in the ovary is building up enough progesterone to help you set you up for the next cycle, to hold the lining of the uterus in place for the next cycle.
The carbohydrate cravings are about vitamin B. This is when I suggest women, if you’re going to use whole grains at all in your life, this would be the few days to do it. Of course you wouldn’t absolutely need to prepare them properly with soaking and all of that to get out the phytic acid. Of course, you would want to choose grains that are the least offensive, like buckwheat and maybe millet and maybe … There’s not too many that I love, but those are okay. Then, additionally, sweet root vegetables are another great thing to try as well to offset those carb cravings.
You can really get rid of the carb cravings altogether if you’re taking a B-100 complex at that time that you are actually absorbing. That also is a conversation about the quality of supplementation that you’re taking and making sure that that supplement is breaking down in your body, and ultimately that you’re not dealing with any leaky gut issues that would prevent you from actually absorbing the nutrients properly. So that’s an important thing to do.
Leanne Vogel: I would imagine that if your gut is sensitive and you’re dealing with that leaky gut stuff, then probably whole grains aren’t a good option for carbs or how do you feel about that?
Alisa Vitti: Right. Right, agreed. I would say there’s two phases to the FLO approach. The first phase is what I call triage where we’re healing the body. The first three steps of the protocol are about stabilizing blood sugar and dealing with the adrenal issues that disrupt the cycle. Then the third is dealing with inflammation and elimination. So, healing and sealing the gut, and working on estrogen elimination through the four main pathways of elimination in the body. You must do those three things first in order for you to move into the cycle-based diet that I’m talking about in a successful way.
By virtue of eating ketogenically, you are addressing a lot of the blood sugar issues, you’re addressing a lot of the internal stress response that can get triggered from eating foods that create a lot of pro-inflammatory response in the body, reducing any sort of adrenal output. Then I would assume bone broth and good fats are really helping with healing and sealing the gut. I would imagine that many people who have been on keto for a while are in a good position to take on the cycle syncing, where they might find that occasionally introducing grains does not trigger them.
But if you’re at the very beginning of your healing process and you’re using keto to really restore from leaky gut and things of that nature, then I agree. I would not suggest that you do grains. You can experiment with sweet root vegetables and see if that is okay for you. It might not be. You have to maybe then continue to double back into the triage and do your more gut healing work for a while. As the gut is improved you should have decreased permeability and have some ability to expand your food repertoire, occasionally.
Again, supplementation can help dramatically, B vitamins, in general, since they’re water-soluble. We’re just constantly being depleted of them. If you’re drinking caffeine, forget it. You’re urinating out your B vitamins on a regular basis. So, taking those daily is a good practice for women. Sometimes, just even increasing a little vitamin B6 towards the second half of the cycle can really be helpful in terms of offsetting those cravings.
Leanne Vogel: Cool. What about women that are in menopause or perimenopause? How do things change for them? We’ve talked about ovulation and menstruation, all those things, but how is it different for them?
Alisa Vitti: Well, I always think that menopause is something to look forward to in so many ways, which I know goes against sort of conventional mythology, but it’s you … Instead of having access to the cycle-based cognitive and physiological effects of your shifting hormonal patterns, you actually settle into a really beautiful static hormonal pattern that gives you access to the best of the cognitive and physical effects of your cycle-based hormones.
If you’re healthy and you’ve taken good care of yourself through your reproductive years, menopause should feel really good. You should feel great all the time. Women who have been cycle syncing and then get into their postmenopausal portion of their life find that really like the structure that a cyclical self-care routine provides, where you’re not doing the same thing day in and day out, that they really enjoy that. We have found that women like to stay connected to that seasonality approach by syncing their self-care routines with the lunar cycle so that you can still cycle sync your exercise and your foods, and your body’s care with the phases of the moon in terms of just giving you that, keeping the time that way for you, because your ovaries are no longer doing that in that way.
Leanne Vogel: Brilliant. We’ve chatted a little bit about helping our body’s hormonally and we both know what the ketogenic diet is, and a lot of people listening are ketogenic, specifically women, because most of our community are women. How do you feel the ketogenic diet needs to be adjusted for women, and specifically for women that have hormonal concerns? I know that I have a bunch of thoughts on it, but I want you to run with it.
Alisa Vitti: Alright! Well, I think I’ve said it already, which is that I think that it simply just needs to be modified if you are menstruating to take into account the fact that you have fluctuating levels of estrogen and progesterone throughout the month that need to be nutritionally supported. You may have slight modifications that you need to make. For example, in the cycle-syncing diet, for example, in the follicular phase, we ask women to eat a predominance or sort of front-load their diet with lightly steamed vegetables and fermented vegetables, so that it really gives the digestive system a break from what you learn you’re eating in the menstrual phase, and also helps to restore the gut if anything has happened in the luteal phase that went awry, which we’ll get to in a second.
Then, during ovulation we ask women, like I’ve talked about, to increase foods that support estrogen elimination due to the fact that you have a huge spike in estrogen at this time. It’ll be things like more raw-based foods. If you’re going to do raw at any time in the diet in the month, this is the only few days that you could do that safely where that works digestively and really benefits you from a hormonal standpoint.
In the luteal phase, we ask women to do fully cooked everything, from vegetables to root vegetables. If you’re going to do grains, this would be the time to do it, and then really, really up the game. I mean animal protein throughout, by the way, just to say, and then throughout the cycle, and fats.
In the menstrual phase, this is when we ask women to really turn up the volume on proteins and fats a lot, a lot. If you’re just eating that way for the week that you’re bleeding, just protein and fat. You’re going to feel the best and you’re going to set yourself up again for the continuation.
It’s about building an upward energy spiral so that you’re never experiencing like an energy dip due to this fluctuating hormonal pattern that is predictable and continues to happen every month. It’s about really using food strategically to offset any sort of estrogen overload that can cause brain fog and physical symptoms, and also supporting the building of progesterone, which again, without adequate levels of progesterone, we feel very symptomatic around our PMS week. So, eating in these particular ways. I think this dovetails really nicely into a keto plan, which just modifies it in such a way that allows you to have access to a little bit more at the right times to help your hormonal cycle function optimally.
Leanne Vogel: It sounds like your approach is more, we know what’s going to benefit your hormones, so just do this, and maybe you don’t need to test. Do you find that hormone testing is helpful or …
Alisa Vitti: I think it’s great. I think I think every woman approaches testing differently. Meaning, some women really need to know what the data is in order to be motivated to make changes. Other women just are more somatically driven and so they feel physically the symptoms creating a sense of pressure to create changes in their diet and their lifestyle. Whatever brings you to getting into a better relationship with your self-care around your cycle is worth it.
If getting some blood work or saliva done to see what your levels are, is going to be the trigger that allows you to pivot your diet and lifestyle, then beautiful. If just feeling miserable for several months in a row is going to be the thing that takes you to the next place with your self-care, then that’s also good. But whatever gets you there for me is equally valuable.
Leanne Vogel: I’m definitely a testing person. There’s nothing like lighting a fire under my belly like giving me test results. I’m like, “Okay. I got to get on this.”
Alisa Vitti: Yeah. Some women need both. Some women need to feel … Some women don’t believe their symptoms. Right? They’re like, “Oh, but maybe it’s just in my head.” Some women need to feel the suffering and then go get the test, and then see in black and white like, “You know what? I’m not crazy. I do have a hormonal imbalance.” So, again, it’s just whatever you need.
We actually created a free diagnostic tool on the FLO Living website. It’s called the Period Type Quiz. A couple years ago I was on Dr. Oz and I made television menstrual and feminist history by simulating menstrual blood. There are five different colors that the period can be and I took women through what those five combinations might be, and what that means for your estrogen and progesterone levels, and what that means for your health. Then a few years, maybe two years ago, the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecologists just decreed that your period is now your fifth vital sign, along with the four vital signs that anyone going into the ER would be tested for, like blood pressure and temperature, for example.
Your period is a really powerful tool. We now have a free tool on the site called the Period Type Quiz and you can answer seven questions about your cycle that are going to help you understand what your estrogen and progesterone levels are, and what that means for your health and what kinds of things you might need to consider shifting in your diet and lifestyle to bring that back to where it should be, period type-wise.
So, I think it’s really important to recognize that there are many paths that can help a woman assess whether or not she’s in a place where she has to take action. But my favorite one is actually looking at your bleed because it’s … We’re talking about blood tests, right? Or saliva tests. Here’s a blood test that you are excreting once a month, right?
Leanne Vogel: Totally.
Alisa Vitti: It’s blood and it’s just as good as if it goes in a vial. It’s free. You don’t have to make an appointment. You can see it. If you get the right information about how to interpret the color, then you have an almost just as accurate as the blood test will come back, gauge as to where your hormone levels are. This is so powerful and empowering that I think more women should be looking every month before they flush, because it’s a real biomarker in real time, because you don’t want to just do a hormone test once a year, Leanne to know, “Okay. My hormone levels are off. Now I could do this heroic, life-changing thing and get my hormones ‘back’ to where they should be.”
Your hormones are susceptible to negative impact every day. I mean it’s not easy out there in the world for ovaries anymore and the chemical exposure and the stress and the lights from your screen that screw up your melatonin production. It’s not easy to maintain hormonal balance and you can’t get blood tests or even practically do saliva tests from a cost standpoint, or even just to do ability standpoint every month. But you do bleed every month, if you’re healthy, and you can see what the color and texture of your period is, absolutely revealing to you about estrogen and progesterone levels in real time so that you can make dietary shifts immediately to right yourself as quickly as possible.
That’s what I’m really interested in women doing, is getting into this compassionate call-and-response relationship with their body. Your body is going to call out to you with some symptoms around your cycle, whether that be breast tenderness or bloating or clotting in your bleeding week, or whatever it is. You need to listen to that and say, “Okay. What does that mean and then what did I do with my diet and lifestyle for the past 30 days that might have resulted in this symptom, presenting itself to me today? As a result of that what can I do to shift my diet moving forward?”
This is why I was so excited to develop the MyFLO app because you know there’s so many period tracking apps that are about helping you know what’s coming, right? You put in all your data, your symptoms, whatever, and it tells you, “Okay. You’re going to have some symptoms now,” or “Okay. You’re going to bleed today.” What’s the point of that? I think it’s great to track data, but if the data isn’t something that you can use to make an improvement, then it’s just kind of like entertainment for your brain, right?
I wanted to build the first functional medicine period tracking app, so whenever you have a symptom you can actually learn why you’re having that symptom, if it’s breast tenderness, if it’s bloating, if it’s whatever, clots, if it’s for the cramps. Whatever it is, learn the functional root causes of that symptom and be told what to eat right now to get that symptom to start to move in the right direction. Then it tracks recurrent symptoms and customizes the four-week, cycle-based food protocol for you to shift and put that symptom into remission.
The more you use the MyFLO app the less period symptoms you have, the better period you can have next month. Isn’t that the whole point? And even learning what color your period is and what that means is all there for you right when you need it.
Leanne Vogel: I will definitely include a link to your app in the show notes so people are like, “What? This sounds awesome,” like I’m doing right now. I use the [Life 00:39:53] app and it just kind of tracks at least when I was first getting started, like how long my period was and all those things, but it doesn’t do what you’re saying. That is so cool to me.
Alisa Vitti: My gosh. Thank you. Yes, thank you. It’s MyFLOTracker.com, M-Y-F-L-O Tracker.com. Basically the other thing that it does, it will tell you which phase of your cycle you’re in. A lot of women struggle to know at where I’m … We all know about ovulation and menstruation, because they’re kind of famous and, frankly, because they also are in important in reproduction, in terms of involving other people. We don’t really know if we’re in our follicular phase, when does our luteal phase start, am I actually ovulating. We’re a little a lost when it comes to where we are in the cycle.
This app will tell you which phase you’re in and it will also tell you what are the optimal foods, exercise, things to focus on with work projects, and even what kind of foreplay to have, to have your best orgasm that phase of the cycle so that you can plan it into your main calendar. It will present you with a list of options of those things or those activities that are optimal for each phase. Then you just tap on the ones you want to do and it schedules them into your main calendar.
Leanne Vogel: You’re blowing my mind right now. That sounds so great. Oh my gosh.
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Alisa Vitti: You know what it is? I was just like, “Okay, all these boys …” I’m sure we’ve all heard of like the biohacking conferences and whatnot, and if I might be so bold as to say, they’re a little bit of dude parties, right?
Leanne Vogel: Yeah.
Alisa Vitti: Of course they are, because poor men, they have 24 hours to be as efficient and productive as possible. They only have that amount of time and they run out of testosterone and cortisol really quickly, and they go into brain fog, and estrogen overload, and things earlier on in the day, which is if you look at corporate culture, it’s why it’s all set up the way that it is; early morning meetings, early morning exercise, and then pub culture, and sort of social time starting at 3 o’clock. This maps perfectly onto what’s optimal for them to be productive.
We on the other hand have a completely different neuro-hormonal experience and it’s very exciting to think about how to optimize your productivity and your success, and your self-care onto what’s actually happening in your internal ecosystem that is uniquely female and completely governed by your reproductive cycle. And trying to operate any other way is sheer madness and will make you have more symptoms, as you are already experiencing.
So, stop being crazy. We’re not men with breasts. We’re women with reproductive systems and extraordinarily powerful hormones that create life in so many different ways. Beyond just having tiny humans we literally have the creation matrix encoded into our reproductive system and that process of bringing anything to life. Whether it’s a person or an idea or a book or a business, there’s a process by which that happens and a timing for that to be happening over the course of the month that you want to align with for your optimal well-being and vitality, but also your optimal creative expression and productivity.
Leanne Vogel: Wow. That was beautiful. Yes.
Alisa Vitti: The app will help you do that, because I just want to make this as easy for women as possible, because we’re just given all the wrong messaging that it’s a 24-hour, has to be done now now, now, now and all the same way, the same day, the same thing. It’s just not the case. There’s a different reality waiting for you and it’s one that has you embracing your cyclical nature versus trying to fight against it.
Leanne Vogel: Totally. I’m really excited with the whole monitoring the color of your blood. That’s so fabulous.
Alisa Vitti: The [inaudible 00:44:50] blood test.
Leanne Vogel: It’s so great. I use a DivaCup specifically for that reason because I geek out on that. I’m like, “Oh, what color is it?” I’m even like, “What consistency is it?” I’m all about it, but I don’t know what to do with that information other than it’s different than last month, and this month I don’t have as many cramps, so I guess maybe this is a good thing that it’s this consistency and this color. So, I’ll with it. I never even thought that anyone had that information.
Alisa Vitti: Hello.
Leanne Vogel: Hi.
Alisa Vitti: Here I am.
Leanne Vogel: That’s so cool. Are there, just off the top of your head, certain colors that you want or is consistent …? Like you were saying texture is important. What are we shooting for?
Alisa Vitti: There’s one. There’s only one good one.
Leanne Vogel: Okay. Go for it.
Alisa Vitti: We call it the red type, right? You have fresh healthy red blood, no clots, no brown staining, no dark coloration to the blood. That’s very beautiful balance of estrogen and progesterone. Everything is working well. That’s what you want. Anything else, dark blood, clotting, brown staining at the beginning or end, all of that is indicative of hormonal imbalance and can be corrected with the FLO Protocol.
Leanne Vogel: What do you mean by brown staining?
Alisa Vitti: I liken it to the color of prune juice, right?
Leanne Vogel: Okay.
Alisa Vitti: So that kind of brown staining, if you’ve not experienced it, then it might be hard to visualize. But women with insufficient progesterone will have oxidized blood from the last cycle retained in the uterus that comes out at the beginning of the next bleed. That’s where the brown staining comes. It’s just old oxidized blood that’s coming out.
Leanne Vogel: Wow.
Alisa Vitti: It looks a lot like prune juice. Anyway, yes, your blood test is available for you every month. Take the Period Type Quiz. It’s free. You can take it every month. It’s just there. I just thought the world, women need to have a way to test this to get results for their monthly blood test. It’s just something that we put on for free and it’s my pleasure to have that available for everyone.
Leanne Vogel: That sounds great. I’m going to be doing that after we record today. I guess what we should have maybe talked about upfront was, what is even the benefit of figuring out our hormones? Why is this important, like whoop-dee-doo? Then we’ve talked about creativity and I know that when I started menstruating and all of these things were happening, I find that I’m much more of a creative individual and I bring life to a lot more things now than I did before when I was ashamed of a lot of different things that were going on my body.
I’d love to kind of talk about what are the benefits that one could experience when she really gets a handle on where hormones are at and where her cycle is at, and how to how to improve that for herself.
Alisa Vitti: Well, I’ve certainly covered, and I know that at this point you’ve all heard me say what the key benefits are, which are the fact that you will make sure that you have no symptoms. It is your destiny to feel vibrant and vital all month, not to have painful suffering miserable periods. That’s not what you’re supposed to have happen. That’s just a lie. It’s not based on anything scientific. It’s not based in the facts of your body. Let go of that cultural mythology that it is biblical destiny to suffer.
No. None of that is true. None of that is founded at any good science. You are supposed to feel fantastic all month long and you can. That’s the first thing. That’s one of the huge reasons to get your vibrancy and your whole vitality back, because when you have your health, you are truly, truly rich and abundant with just all the good things in life, right? That’s really what it’s about.
Secondly, the reason why you want to get your cycle working for you is because, like I was talking about before, this creation matrix is the way that your body is keeping time. The pacing of your life, the timing of your life, it should be done, mapped onto this cycle. However you want to bring things to fruition, from conceiving of an idea to bringing that to reality, there’s a timeline that that has to follow. That aligning with your cycle and your neuro-hormonal processes, if you align with that, you get things done with more ease.
It’s like you’re bending time, right? It’s a better way to go about it than just trying to push. You’re really working with the way things exist, things come to life in nature. It’s the difference of, I don’t know, putting a seed in the ground and expecting it to turn into a full-sized oak tree overnight with that expectation, right? Or versus putting a seed in the ground and understanding that it has to go through a bunch of different experiences before it reaches maturity.
Having that different expectation is the difference between being happy and being frustrated. And so, understanding that you create in a particular cyclical pattern makes you feel more joyful about going after your passions and your dreams, and building whatever it is that you’re building. Of course, it makes you more effective at doing that.
But beyond those two huge wins or gets or gifts from taking care of your hormones, addressing your hormones, fixing your hormones, doing the FLO Protocol, is this idea that we live in a very masculine culture that, for so many of us on an unconscious level, has us make a decision that we want to stay disconnected from anything that reminds us as being female, right? Because we’re worried that we won’t succeed or we won’t be safe, and this is all sometimes on the unconscious level.
By organizing your self-care around what is essentially female about your body, you bring that unconscious belief to the light and you get rid of it, and you say, “You know what? It is safe and it is more powerful for me to embrace my femininity, myself as a woman.” That is the power position. I don’t need to try to act like a man to succeed and be happy and be fulfilled. It’s actually about by fully stepping into my feminine energy and embracing my female body that I can truly come to life and truly fulfill my desires this life. That’s what’s in it for you to get excited about taking care of and focusing on your hormones.
Leanne Vogel: Well, you’ve sold me. So beautifully said. My last question, because you said that you had suffered from PCOS in the past, so I’m sure you’ve come a hugely long way to where you were then. If you could speak to your previous self, what are maybe three things that you would tell her to look at first when it came to her overall hormone health? What would you say to her to focus on to heal herself?
Alisa Vitti: Cut out the obvious no-no things, caffeine, sugar, dairy, gluten. I would probably talk to her about changing her diet. A cycle-based diet is the way to heal. Then I would tell her that her body is – to be a woman is the ideal thing. It’s such a gift. I feel so fortunate to have a female body. So, I would just remind her that her body is there for her as an ally and to be a partner with, and it’s not something that she needs to fight to tamp out any symptoms that she’s having.
Leanne Vogel: Yes. Amazing. Where can people find more from you? We talked about your app, but let’s hear more. Social media, all the places?
Alisa Vitti: Sure. If anybody is struggling with fibroids, endometriosis, perimenopause, infertility, PCOS, PMS, any period problems, irregular cycles, then I would encourage you to go to the FLO Living Hormone Center, which FLO, F-L-O, Living.com. There you can find our women’s health library, you can find any of our programs that address your cycle, and you can access one-on-one calls with our FLO coaches to help you navigate you know anything that you’re dealing with, with your period issues.
Then the book, you can find it on Amazon. I’m sure there are other online retailers as well, but it’s called WomanCode, as one word. That’s actually back up as a bestseller the past couple of weeks. I’m really thrilled. It was published four years ago, but it’s been in the top 20 bestselling women’s health books since that publication. I think just the hunger that women have to know what their hormones are doing it’s obvious to me from the fact that the book has just continued to be like a cult bestseller, the little purple period book.
Then the app, MyFLOTracker.com, as I mentioned. We always spell FLO without a W, because we’re just we’re just taking it back that way. Social media, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram is all @FLOliving. If you need any assistance, if you want to reach out to us directly you can just email us at support@FLoLiving.com, and we’ll take care of you.
Leanne Vogel: Amazing. Thank you so, so much for coming on the podcast. Our episode flew by. I have so many more things to chat with you about. Alisa, thank you again for coming on, and we’ll have to have you back on the show, because, oh my gosh, hormones.
Alisa Vitti: Oh my gosh, it was so fun. Thank you so much for having me. I hope we changed some ovaries today.
Leanne Vogel: Yeah. I love it. The show notes and full transcript for today’s episode can be found at HealthfulPursuit.com/podcast/e42. I’ll make sure that your book is on there and your app is on there, also a link up to the DivaCup, because I find it really easy to monitor things just right from the cup. So, I’ll include that in the show notes as well. We will see you guys very soon.
That does it for another episode of the Keto Diet Podcast. Thanks for listening in. You can follow me on Instagram by searching Healthful Pursuit, where you’ll find daily keto eats and other fun things. And check out all of my keto supportive programs, bundles, guides, and other cool things over at HealthfulPursuit.com/shop. I’ll see you next Sunday. Bye.