Welcome to Episode 274 of The Intermittent Fasting Podcast, hosted by Melanie Avalon, author of What When Wine Diet: Lose Weight And Feel Great With Paleo-Style Meals, Intermittent Fasting, And Wine and Cynthia Thurlow, author of Intermittent Fasting Transformation: The 45-Day Program for Women to Lose Stubborn Weight, Improve Hormonal Health, and Slow Aging.
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Melanie Avalon: Welcome to Episode 274 of The Intermittent Fasting Podcast. If you want to burn fat, gain energy, and enhance your health by changing when you eat, not what you eat with no calorie counting, then this show is for you. I'm Melanie Avalon, biohacker and author of What When Wine: Lose Weight and Feel Great with Paleo-Style Meals, Intermittent Fasting, and Wine. And I'm here with my cohost, Cynthia Thurlow, Nurse Practitioner and author of Intermittent Fasting Transformation: The 45-Day Program for Women to Lose Stubborn Weight, Improve Hormonal Health, and Slow Aging. For more on us, check out ifpodcast.com, melanieavalon.com, and cynthiathurlow.com. Please remember, the thoughts and opinions on this podcast do not constitute medical advice or treatment and no doctor-patient relationship is formed. So, pour yourself a mug of black coffee, a cup of tea, or even a glass of wine, if it's that time and get ready for The Intermittent Fasting Podcast.
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Melanie Avalon: Hi, everybody and welcome. This is Episode number 274 of The Intermittent Fasting Podcast. I'm Melanie Avalon and I'm here with, Cynthia Thurlow.
Cynthia Thurlow: Hey, there.
Melanie Avalon: How was your trip?
Cynthia Thurlow: Amazing. I think that's the best, the best way I can describe it. I think on a lot of levels that far too many of us don't take breaks from work. For me, I was really, the entire time during the book launch, I kept saying to myself, “If I can get till June 15th, if I can just get to June 15th, then as soon as I got on that plane, I was so ready to disconnect and spend time with my family” and it was absolutely perfect. We had great weather, we ate amazing food, we saw amazing things, we had a lot of togetherness. I'm sure the teenagers would say that they loved it, too, even though, there was a lot of togetherness and a lot of disconnection from their electronics because we didn't allow them to have an international plan on their phones, which I thought was the best decision ever.
Melanie Avalon: My family is actually in Europe right now and they did get a plan. It's so funny how things have changed because I remember when they would go to Europe years ago, now, it just feels the exact same as them being here in the US with the international plan.
Cynthia Thurlow: I didn't even have an international plan. That was my decision that I really did not want to be that accessible. My husband has an international plan. So, I kept saying, “You know what, anyone that was, the dog sitters, the house sitters, anyone that needed to reach us, they could reach my husband, but I only had Wi-Fi in my hotel.” And so, it was wonderful.
Melanie Avalon: That's so nice. What was the highlight of the touring and everything that you saw?
Cynthia Thurlow: Oh, I think Prague. We started our journey in the Czech Republic. We as a family have all said the same thing that Prague absolutely blew our minds like everything about it. The fact that we just really explored every square inch of the city, and we're able to do a laundry list of things, the kids had prioritized, and my youngest has been learning German, and so, he's been really interested in going to Eastern Europe, and he identified very specifically as is his personality. things he wanted to do, and so, we hit all the things that everyone wanted to do, and just really enjoyed the culture, and the people, and whether or not listeners know this about me or not. My first undergraduate degree was in international studies. I had a foreign affairs degree and I was all pre-law and undergrad, and gotten into law school and didn't go. But here's the big thing. I was in college when the Berlin Wall came down. I was in college when Eastern Bloc countries really started to dismantle. And to actually be there, and to be able to ask people what it was like to live under communist rule, and what it was like when the Soviets occupied a lot of these countries, for me being a gigantic international studies nerd, it just-- My kids were so embarrassed like, “Please don't tell another person that you were in college, when the Berlin Wall came down.” They were so embarrassed. But for me, I just savored every bit of it and love the people.
When you think about just the influence on architecture and the hardships that people have really grown up with, I found everyone in Prague to just be so gracious, and humble, and interested. Another thing that really impressed me was the support for those in the Ukraine throughout Eastern Europe. Everyone was happy to take in the refugees and there were a lot of demonstrations, very peaceful ones. But for me, I would say probably, Prague. I was really surprised. It's a very, very special place for all of us and I think it's really cool that my kids got to see so much history during this trip, not just in the Czech Republic, but throughout Eastern Europe.
Melanie Avalon: Here's a question for you related to the show, because Gin and I used to discuss this a lot. So, how do you change or how do you adapt to your fasting and eating windows when you travel?
Cynthia Thurlow: Yeah, it's a question I got so often that I just didn't ask me anything on Instagram, because I was like, “Thank you for the 500 questions I've gotten in my DMs.” I adopt a more relaxed pattern. And so, it may be that I have a wider feeding window, I may do a longer fast, I definitely had days where I really wanted to travel and savor the foods of where we were traveling to. I might have had something around breakfast time, I might have eaten something midday, I might have had a dinner. I would say, I allotted a lot of flexibility. We did a lot of walking. We were very physically active. So, I wasn't worried if I was consuming more food because I know for myself personally. It isn't dessert unless it's chocolate and there's just not a lot of chocolate there. For me, there wasn't the temptation of having dessert. It was more-- one place or we traveled to, they would make me gluten free bread, which I then felt obligated to eat, which I then slathered a lot of butter on. And so, I just savored the fact that I was on vacation.
The honest answer is everything was a little different each day, I definitely had some days where I would have-- there might have been a day where I eat more than I normally did. The next day I might have just fasted longer. The thing that I found most humorous was obviously, I've teenage boys. So, they ate voluminous amounts of food 24/7. I would sit down and try to explain to a waiter or waitstaff that I wasn't eating, they were like, “Are you sick, are you on a diet?” And so, finally, it just said, “No, I intermittent fast” and they're like, “What is that?” That was a very easy way to make conversation with people, but I just leaned into my body, I made sure I hit those protein macros more often than I asked for extra protein. Anytime there was a steak served, I always asked for a bigger piece of steak, which they were humored to say they're like, “You really want more steak?” I was like, “More steak.”
I think the message I would send to our community is to just be open, to not being so strict on vacation. To me, I just enjoyed eating foods I don't normally eat and then not stressing about it, because I was doing so much walking and I knew I could just augment what I was doing very easily. The next day, it's like, “Okay, yesterday, I had gluten free bread twice. Am I going to beat myself up? Absolutely not. Am I going to make sure I fast maybe a little bit longer today and then I really lean into those non-starchy veggies and lots of protein? Absolutely.” I came back from vacation. I have not weighed myself, but my clothes fit the way they did before I left for vacation. And so, from my perspective, it was a win-win without feeling any sense of guilt. Having a conversation with my kids all along the way. They think I'm weird anyway that need as much food as they do. But just encouraging them, “Try something new, I tried lots of new food,” and I definitely felt it was the perfect balance of having fun, hitting most of my macros most days because I can conventionally, visually evaluate like, “Did I hit my protein macros,” and then just enjoying the rest, and not being super strict.
But I might be one of those people that's just unusual or odd that I've never been someone like I go on vacation. I blow the Mother Lode on my nutrition because I just don't feel good and it's more important to me that I sleep well and I feel good then it is that I eat something that I know isn't going to agree with me. So, it's easy to avoid those kinds of things. For me, those kinds of foods are generally alcohol and a lot of sweets. In Eastern Europe, there just aren't a lot of sweets, at least, not where we were. If they did, it was more like bread sweets, which just isn't really my thing anyway. But if they had showed me a lot of chocolate and I did indulge in some chocolate in Vienna, there was this amazing chocolatier that was there and we got some tiny truffles, but they were delicious and I was like, “That was worth it.” But beyond that, unless it's chocolate, it's not dessert in my mind.
Melanie Avalon: Well, first of all, for me for traveling, I haven't traveled that much recently. But the one thing I used to dread before adopting a Whole Foods type lifestyle and intermittent fasting, I would be the type that would just go crazy with all the food and everything. Now, I remember feeling so happy once I found a dietary approach that I genuinely-- I love the foods that I eat, and I can still eat the way I eat at restaurants and such and still enjoy it to the same extent that I would have before with the way I used eat. I'm super grateful that-- It gets rid of the one stress I had surrounding traveling, which was just going off the rails with diet, because now, I just keep doing what I'm doing with the jet lag and such. Have you ever used fasting to align your circadian rhythm with the new time zone?
Cynthia Thurlow: Yeah, I definitely do that. In fact, I'm the person on the plane that never eats. [laughs]
Melanie Avalon: You and me both.
Cynthia Thurlow: Yeah, I don't eat on the plane and I have to always just explain to-- Yes, I know. They ordered me a gluten free and dairy free meat. Yes, I know that they did. I won't eat it. Thank you very much. And then they just look at me like I have two heads, but I just find that I do a whole lot better especially if I'm not sleeping well on the plane. I didn't on the way to Prague and we had a two hour-- It's not worth boring the listeners with the two-hour ground delay we had. We were on the plane, and there was some maintenance form that hadn't been properly signed, and so, we had to go back to the gate, so, it ended up being a 10-hour flight. By the time that we touched down in Prague, I hadn't slept much at all. I always credit hydration electrolytes and fasting for helping me get pretty quickly on schedule. And so, for me, it's just one less thing to worry about.
Then I'm not dealing with eating food that is not going to agree with me, although I always travel with Paleovalley beef jerky and salted macadamia nuts, and a little bit of dark chocolate. Those are things I typically travel with. If I were exhausted and starving, I could have something. But I do think that utilization of fasting as an adjunct to improving jet lag, I think I really credit it with being able to travel as much as we do and feeling-- When I hit the ground, I don't have the degree of jetlag I used to have when I was younger, which you would think would be completely the opposite seeing as I'm now older, but I think a lot of it has to do with the fact that the circadian biology, it's get light exposure, get hydrated, get yourself moving. We did a lot of walking on the first day in Prague, a lot. I really credit that with everyone being able to get on that schedule, 26 hours ahead of me, it's manageable, but not feeling quite as jetlagged as we could have been.
Melanie Avalon: I think it's such a valuable hack that a lot of people don't realize and there's actually been studies on it. They've studied using fasting. I'm trying to remember-- It's been a while since I read it, but there was one on jetlag and using fasting patterns to basically alleviate those symptoms, because like you said, they are such a-- What's the word? Zeitgeist? Oh, no, no, zeitgeber, so basically something that informs your body of the time. [chuckles] You can travel, and essentially adopt the pattern you would have had in your normal time zone, and it can sink your body to the new time zone. If I'm just traveling, because when I was in California, I would often travel back and forth between Eastern time zone and Pacific, and that's not a huge difference, but there was zero issue with switching back and forth. Continental travel for me is no issue, because I just always stick to my window which is an evening dinner and I just basically reset my body wherever I go.
Cynthia Thurlow: Yeah, the fasting longer piece is usually how I do that. I'll be in Austin in a couple days and I already know-- I’ve an early morning flight, I'll land there at 12, and my plan is to get off my flight. I know exactly where I want to go for lunch. I'm going to have a big lunch, and I'll you know break my fast which will probably be fairly long, almost probably I would guess closer to 24 hours at that point, but I'll break my fast, so that I'll get as quickly as I can, because if you look at conventional research on changing time zones, you need one day per hour of difference, where is time for that. I don't have time for that. I know you don't have time for that. And so, I do all the things to make sure I try my hardest to buffer those time differences as quickly as possible. But I love that you even at your stage, you're able to go back and forth to the West Coast and then just keep that consistency with your meal timing.
Melanie Avalon: Yeah, it was literally no issue doing that for me. You mentioned that when you were in Prague and such, people would look at you strange with the fasting, so, did you find that--? Because now in the US, I feel fasting is a known thing, intermittent fasting is. Did you find it wasn't as much of a thing there?
Cynthia Thurlow: No. I think it has a lot to do with Europeans overall. They eat smaller portions. They don't understand-- You ate last night, but now, you're not hungry at all. You're hungry, but you're not going to eat. And so, just trying to explain to them that this is not a diet. This is a lifestyle. I do this, so that I can enjoy all the other things I eat in my feeding window and so, I definitely felt I had a lot of conversations, although, ironically, for part of our trip we were on a ship, there was a very large table of Americans sitting next to us, and I heard a woman say, “Oh, yeah, I've been using this new strategy. It's intermittent fasting.” And so, I heard that, my whole table, my kids and my husband, their ears perked up. I was humored to listen to her talk about this. She was probably a woman in a different life stage than I am, but she was talking about it very openly and saying, this is how she has been able to fuel her lifestyle and feels good. She was explaining it to the waitstaff as well. And so, I feel I was probably not the only one that talked to them about that. But they were fascinated. They're like, “You choose not to eat, even though you could.” I was like, “Yes.” They're fascinating.
Melanie Avalon: This is something I haven't looked up. I wonder if there are any other countries that-- I feel it's well known in the UK because we have a lot of UK listeners and Canada. I wonder if there are any other countries that practice this as a lifestyle more and more.
Cynthia Thurlow: What's interesting is, a lot of the Eastern European countries we were in are predominantly Roman Catholic, at least based on the guides that we had, discussions that we had. And so, a lot of the major religions, it's an aspect of practicing their religion. I would imagine that there's probably some degree of fasting, although it's probably more related to high holy days as opposed to something people are doing ritualistically every day. But I can tell you that when I talked about fasting with people who are curious, they were like, “Wow.” But what's interesting to me consistently and I was in five different countries, people were much more active and it could have also been that we were closer to cities and where people are just more active to begin with. But I didn't see the amount of obesity we have here in the States. People were very active, portions were small, certain countries, there's a lot more smoking, but people were just more focused on enjoying lives. They're enjoying their lives. They don't work the same hours that Americans do. I think that there's a lot more savoring experiences in their lifestyle. And of course, this is a gross generality. I was not in every square inch of each one of those five countries, but just my general observations, being a tourist, I was really pleasantly surprised to see that.
Melanie Avalon: And speaking to the religious piece, I'm actually currently reading-- It's funny. I thought I had read the book, but I actually haven't. It's Jason Fung and Megan Ramos’ Life in the Fasting Lane. So, I'm enjoying that book. But I think it's in that book, they were saying, they made the case that every single major religion has fasting in it. I was like, “hmm.”
Cynthia Thurlow: It really does. It's interesting that when people try to, “Oh, it’s new and novel.” No, it's not. [laughs] It dates back to Biblical times, people and beyond.
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Melanie Avalon: Last question. So, you're a chocolate person?
Cynthia Thurlow: I'm absolutely a dark chocolate aficionado snob/patron. Love it. It's my one like vice. It's the one thing my husband will say to my kids, “Don't touch anything of your mother's as it pertains to chocolate without asking her first.” I'm always like, “It's the only thing in the house that's mine.”
Melanie Avalon: That's my mom, too. I'm fascinated why there's a dichotomy between chocolate and vanilla. Why? Because that must just be cultural. It's not they're opposites in their compounds inside of them, but I am very much a vanilla person.
Cynthia Thurlow: I like vanilla, but I love chocolate.
Melanie Avalon: I like chocolate, but I don't crave chocolate ever. I think I have once and I was like, “What does this mean?”
Cynthia Thurlow: [laughs] Well, that's why we say to people, when our waiters would always offer dessert options, I was like, “No, I'm good.” They were always like, “We don't understand.” I said, “Unless, it's chocolate, it's not dessert.” That's my mentality. I've been that way my whole life. It's not even a chocolate cookie, chocolate cake, it's like, “Give me a piece of chocolate and my life is good.” That is my mentality. Whereas my kids and my husband, if you give them ice cream, they don't need anything fancy. They would just love some ice cream. And so, I think each one of us in our minds designate. For me, it's not a craving. It's a polyphenol rich substance that if used appropriately is something that can be beneficial to your lifestyle. But for me, I'm not eating a Hershey's chocolate bar. I don't even like that kind of chocolate. I am a purveyor of higher end dark chocolate, and I just have a little bit, and I'm so happy. In a pinch, I might have some stevia sweetened dark chocolate in a pinch. However, that chocolatier in Vienna, oh, my gosh. I even took photos, I took videos, it's all in my fasting stories, little thing for Austria. Yeah, for me, those are moments that make me so happy. Something really simple like that. I don't have to make it complicated, it doesn't need to be Black Forest Cake or some type of intricate latticework on a pie. Nope, just give me a piece of dark chocolate and I'm happy and very simple.
Melanie Avalon: I know listeners know exactly what my equivalent is to that. Do you know what mine is?
Cynthia Thurlow: No, I don't. You have to tell me.
Melanie Avalon: Funfetti cake.
Cynthia Thurlow: Really?
Melanie Avalon: Yes.
Cynthia Thurlow: That's--. Is it the moistness, is it the little sprinkles?
Melanie Avalon: There's some chemical they have that just speaks to my brain. But yeah, the Funfetti cake, so any birthday cake with the Funfetti flair to it, it used to be a running thing on the show because I hadn't had it since changing my diet. Gin was insistent that if I were to have it now, I wouldn't like it anymore and I was like, “No, you don't understand.” [laughs] It will taste amazing. And then finally I tried. They have a gluten free version. So, it wasn't even the original and it was the most fantastic thing. Oh, here's a question. Did you do ZOE, the muffins?
Cynthia Thurlow: It's still in my freezer and my husband is so mad at me because we just had a colleague of mine, they have a cow share, and they had too much meat. They gave us part of their cow share, which means our freezer is completely packed with grass-fed meat and my husband's like, “Please get rid of these.” I was like, “I promise I'm going to do them” and he's like, “You've been telling me that for three months.” “No, I need to do it. It's embarrassing.” I'm saying this to the entire IF Podcast community. I will be doing that the month of July. I will be doing it. It's some two-day, one-day interval. It's coming up.
Melanie Avalon: I'm very excited to hear your experience and lot to talk about it on the show. I have a theory about it, though, and I polled my audience, and my polling confirmed my theory, which is that the muffins, people will talk about how they're the worst tasting thing. I was looking at the ingredient list before doing it. Again, it's something Gin and I would talk about and I was like, “I'm going to love these muffins.” I can just tell. These muffins are going to taste like heaven and they did because this was the first time eating a sugar fat process combination and probably, I don't even know how many years. It was literally, I saw my brain light up. It felt like a drug to me. And then I pulled in my Facebook group and I asked, “Did you like the muffins?” There were four options. It was like, I liked the muffins and I don't normally eat processed foods, I like them and I do eat processed foods, I don't like them and I—So, every combination of that. Basically, the people who don't normally eat processed foods liked the muffins and people who do, do not.
Cynthia Thurlow: I'll be interested. I'm not a vanilla cake person. Here again, you can see, there has not been this desire to eat said muffins, but I'm like, “I have it, I'm going to do it. I'm probably going to have a love-hate experience with this,” because three muffins is a lot. I was like, “How am I going to eat all that, especially because they're not chocolate?”
Melanie Avalon: I was like, “This is going to be a breeze.” I was licking the foil, I was like, [chuckles] “I need more.” Because then there's this miserable period where you can't eat for so many-- For listeners, I'm just assuming listeners know what ZOE is because we talk about it all the time on the show, but it's a program created by Tim Spector, who I've had on Melanie Avalon Biohacking Podcast, if you want to listen to that episode. Have you interviewed him?
Cynthia Thurlow: I have not. The reason why I have not is because I think I literally went through-- I got them and then I had that whole histamine response, head to toe hives after being treated for Candida and parasites. And so, then that put the kibosh on doing anything. I explained to them, I was like, “I had three days of systemic hives, something's amok.” And so, that got stabilized and then I had surgery, and I was not-- Because you can't exercise when you eat those things. I was like, “There's no way I'm eating this and then being completely sedentary.” I've just had a million excuses, which I didn't mean to make excuses. It's just been a couple of things have happened that I've not been able to do it sooner, but it is on my to do list, it will happen in the month of July. So, I haven't had them on yet, because I haven't done the testing. I had to explain to his assistant very nicely, I was like, “I am so sorry. It will happen this summer and then we'll get him on in the fall.”
Melanie Avalon: I really, really think his work is very nuanced. He's very plant based and everything, but he just does a really nice-- really, at least from my perspective approaching as unbiased as you can be analysis of the literature. His chapter on wine and alcohol was-- It's the first time I've read somebody basically-- He talks about the role of wine, and alcohol, and health, and he literally says in the book that and this is very controversial. So, I don't even want to say it. But even with pregnancy, it's probably not as much of an issue as people think. But in any case, so, for listeners, what the program is, it's these muffins that you have, and you wear a CGM, they provide you with the CGM, and it evaluates how your body processes sugars and fats, you also do a gut microbiome test, then it gives you a personalized interpretation of how you basically handle food, and what foods you should be eating. I think I have a code for that. Had they given you a code yet?
Cynthia Thurlow: I'm the slacker that they're waiting on me to get my act together. So, I will eventually have a code.
Melanie Avalon: My code is MELANIEAVALON10, yours will probably be CYNTHIATHURLOW10, because I think that's the format they use. One last thing about it, though, that's funny is, so, when I looked at how you have to do it, because basically the first day you eat these muffins, and then I think you have to wait four or five hours. For me, they were a miserable four or five hours because you basically eat something that just spikes your blood sugar, and then you have to fast. It's so hard. I was like, “This is what it's like to not be adapted to fast, to live in the blood sugar swinging state.
Cynthia Thurlow: Eating a Standard American Diet.
Melanie Avalon: Yeah. Mm-hmm. I was like, “This is what this feels like.” It gave me empathy for people who haven't experienced the ease of fasting yet because I'm like, “This is probably what they're thinking fasting would be,” which is just really unpleasant. If you do a dinner only eating window like me, you can still hack it. I started it at, I don't even know what I did. I timed it so that I still could eat my dinner pretty late, and still have the muffin, and all be within the evening window. I think I was eating at 2 AM.
Cynthia Thurlow: Yeah, for me, because I am so protein centric, the thought of having something that I know is going to dysregulate my blood sugar so substantially, which has not been-- The N of 1 experiment has not been the one I've been looking forward to doing. I'm like, “Okay, this is not going to make me feel good.” Years ago, before I started putting two and two together as a perimenopausal woman, I would say to my husband-- Sometimes, we would have these dinner parties, and we would all eat good food, and then you'd have, I don't know-- Back in the day, when I could get away with eating a little more dessert and having a little more alcohol or having any alcohol, and then I would want to take a nap, and I didn't realize because my blood sugar had crashed, I was like, “That's just not a good feeling.” And so, I'm going to think optimistically that I'm going to be able to weather whatever happens. But for me personally, as much like you do, I think because we eat such a nutrient dense Whole Foods diet and keep our blood sugar really within a very healthy range, those extremes don't make you feel good. And so, I need to just rip off the band-aid and do it.
Melanie Avalon: I was so apprehensive about doing it. What I do recommend is planning it out, so that in that time following it, you have an activity, something very distracting. Actually, a fun fact they might have changed this. I feel I probably drove them crazy. I was asking them, because they have really amazing customer service and the app when you're doing it, and you can message and ask a lot of questions, and I asked so many questions. You technically, at least when I did it don't have to do day two of the muffins. Just a little fun fact.
Cynthia Thurlow: Oh, I'll have to check that out because I have a package of three and a package of two, and I just kept saying, “God.”
Melanie Avalon: Yeah. At least when I did it day two, it did not inform your personal results. It only informed their data collection. So, I was like, “Well, if it's not affecting me, I don't know if I'm going to--" But then actually, I did end up doing it because they were so delicious and I was like, “I want to repeat this experience.”
Cynthia Thurlow: Your fun Funfetti ZOE, that's hilarious.
Melanie Avalon: Yeah, So, for listeners, we'll put a link to everything that we talked about in the show notes. Okay, shall we answer some listener questions?
Cynthia Thurlow: Absolutely.
Melanie Avalon: All right. To start things off, we have a question from Deanna and the subject is: “IF and the aging menstrual cycle.” And Deanna says, “Hi, I have tried to search for answers on this. I googled, but I'm not finding any info from actual IF-ers. Only what Western medicine has to say. I've been doing IF for about three months. I started in February. I was really surprised at how simple it was right from the start. I thought, “Wow, I have finally found something that works” is totally doable and actually sustainable. Yay! I have been clean fasting since day three, which is when I learned what it was. Even the black coffee was a fairly easy transition. I originally thought it would be totally impossible and wasn't even going to try it, but I did and now, I crave my black coffee. I'm still amazed. That was one month-- One month ago, I experienced some cramping and a very short spell of bleeding. It stopped after a couple of days and it wasn't heavy at all, it was somewhere between spotting and light. But now, a few days ago, cramping again. Nothing sharp, but dull and constant, and the bleeding started again, but heavier this time around, also a longer duration for days so far.
I thought maybe I'd worked too hard. I raked and burned leaves all day, Saturday and Sunday for 15 hours. I'm 52 years old. I had an IUD placed in January of 2018. I stopped getting a period entirely early mid-2020, which was awesome. I was told at the time of the IUD that I was in perimenopause and that by the time it would need to be removed, it's a five-year thing. I would likely be in menopause and would probably not have a period anymore. What are your thoughts about my resurrected period? I’ve a doctor appointment this week, it's about something else entirely, but I will bring this up. I'm just afraid the doctor will poo-poo my IF lifestyle. I feel IF has to be a part of what's happening, but I was hoping it was just making me age and reverse. Ha, ha, could that be true? I think it sounds reasonable. I would love to hear what you think about all of this. I know I can't possibly be the only one that has had this issue, but I asked in my IF Facebook group, and everyone thought it was really odd, they had never heard of such a thing, and they all told me to contact my doctor. I'll be watching for podcasts about this, but if you don't, no worries, I'll keep reading and searching for answers. Thank you for your time, Deanna.” So, this is a fun, interesting question.
Cynthia Thurlow: Yeah. Well, I have multiple thoughts. Deanna, thank you for your question. Being 52 years of age, here in the United States, the average age of menopause is 51. When your doctor placed, I presume a progesterone-related IUD, intrauterine device. You mentioned that you went two years without any bleeding, whether or not that is a byproduct of the IUD, I'm not sure. Could that have been menopause already? Not sure. And then you started having more bleeding. There's a lot of anecdotal evidence about women. When they start fasting, sometimes, they may get changes in their menstrual cycle either lighter, heavier, more frequently, less frequently, and I always give women the advice that to weather whatever is happening, meaning it could be your body, just finding a way to recalibrate hormones in a healthy way. Really the only way to know where you are and at 52, you're very close to menopause. What we typically end up seeing is, as women are at the tail end of perimenopause, for anyone's listening, 10 to 15 years preceding menopause starts in your mid-30s, mid to late 30s, you're there, and this is when we start to get this drop off on progesterone. We get some relative estrogen dominance.
Women can have very different experiences in perimenopause. Some people breeze through it very easily, others really struggle through a variety of reasons. When you see your doctor, I would absolutely identify that you hadn't had any type of bleeding or cycles in about two years and whether or not that's a byproduct of the IUD. I'm not 100% certain. I have plenty of patients that don't get menstrual cycles while they're on the IUD. I have others that do sometimes have some ovulatory discomfort, although the closer you get to menopause, you're not ovulating every month. Could this have just been a quirky ovulatory period? Absolutely. But your doctor needs to run some labs. I actually have done quite a few podcasts on these kinds of topics. If you're not a listener of Everyday Wellness, most recently, I did two podcasts with Dr. Tabatha Barber. She's called The Gutsy Gynecologist. She's absolutely lovely. We talked about topics just like this. How do we find out where we are in perimenopause, are we in menopause, what's going on? The IUD is just a band -aid, so it can really mask knowing when that transitional period has occurred. They can draw an FSH, a follicular stimulating hormone, typically that needs to be drawn at least on two separate occasions. This is communication between the brain ovaries. And typically, when it's greater than 40 on two separate occasions, that can be a sign. It's not definitive that you are very close to menopause.
You can look at a DUTCH, a dried urine and saliva test and I've done a lot of podcasts with different experts talking about the DUTCH and the validity of that. But I think this is just one of those times where as your body is getting better balance, you're probably getting more insulin sensitivity, probably getting a little bit better balanced with your sex hormones, and better appetite regulation. You may see some changes in your menstrual cycle, but this is one of those vague questions. Meaning not that you haven't given enough information, it's just we need more information to be able to provide additional insights. But I would say Dr. Tabatha was a recent favorite. I actually did a podcast with Dr. Sara Gottfried recently. But if you do a Google search on my website, it'll bring up all the perimenopause and menopause-related podcasts that I've done. I can tell you from personal experience that a lot of women go from having super regular cycles to then having none, I've had women, as they get closer and closer to menopause, I've had a lot of other women that just start having more and more regular cycles, heavier, lighter, shorter, more frequent. For each one of us, it's really very unique. Sometimes, we can talk to our mothers to see what their experiences were like. But average age of menopause in the United States is 51. So, it's very likely you're very close to that period. Good luck. Do you have anything you want to add, Melanie?
Melanie Avalon: Well, first of all, I just knew that you'd be a wealth of knowledge about all of that. I'll just add two really quick things. I did find one really interesting review, especially because Deanna says, she likes reading and researching. It's called menstrual cycle variability and the perimenopause. It just talks about this whole transition, and process, and why those fluctuations might be happening. I always think it's funny when there's, what's the word, colloquial language, very casual language. The abstract is very scientific. It says, “another hypothesis is that the increased variability and that variability being the changes in your cycle” reflects “slippage of the hypothalamus, which loses the ability to regulate menstrual cycles at older reproductive ages.” Basically, the hypothalamus because it talks about how the dwindling pool of follicles is changing and creating changes. But I just love this concept of the hypothalamus. I don't know if I love the concept, but it's a funny concept to me that the hypothalamus is just--
Cynthia Thurlow: It’s a slipped gear.
Melanie Avalon: Yeah. It's not quite handling the signals that are coming in and not quite sure what's going on, which would make sense with something like hormonal birth control or an IUD affecting those hormones and further exacerbating how the hypothalamus is interpreting what's going on. So, that would make sense.
Cynthia Thurlow: Do you want to know something interesting? In my book, I actually talk about the five phases of perimenopause, because there's just not enough research done in this area, but I'm getting ready to interview Dr. [unintelligible [00:46:49] Brighton, and there is some research to show that if you're on oral contraceptives for years and years and years, like many of us were including myself that it may actually hasten going into menopause. So, it's something that I'm going to talk to her about in greater detail, but the use of synthetic hormones may actually shorten that duration of reproductive years. I thought that was really interesting. For listeners, once I interview her, I will then feel more comfortable talking about that. But I do talk about in my book about perimenopause pretty extensively that there are these five identified phases of perimenopause. Do all of us go through each one of those neatly and nicely? Probably, not. But I love that you brought up the interrelationship between the HPA axis or HPO, hypothalamus pituitary ovarian axis. There were always constant communication and it's a slipped gear that it was working efficiently and now, it's like slipping a gear on a bike.
Melanie Avalon: That actually reminds me of, I would be curious if you have any thoughts on this. I interviewed Simon Hill this week. Do you know him?
Cynthia Thurlow: I don't.
Melanie Avalon: The Proof Is in the Plants guy. He's really big in the vegan sphere. He was so nice. It was a really good episode. One of the things we're talking about, I don't remember why this came up, but we were talking about the role of reproduction evolutionarily, and how basically our bodies, the goal in our body from an evolutionary perspective is to have a child. And so, what I was wondering, I don't know if they've done studies on this and I haven't looked into this, but I wonder if you've had a child and you control for-- Let's assume that you have a child and you return, afterwards you regain your metabolic health to the same extent that you had it before. So, a healthy person who's equal levels of “health on both sides of a pregnancy” is her lifespan going to be shorter, because she's accomplished the goal compared to a woman who never has a child. If you haven't had a child as the body's still like, “We can do this.”
Cynthia Thurlow: These deep questions that Melanie comes up with I'm like, “I don't even know which angle to hit that from.” It's interesting because you'll see certain types of cancers are more prevalent in nulliparous, which means women who have not had a child.
Melanie Avalon: Oh, what's that word? I need this word in my vocabulary.
Cynthia Thurlow: Nulliparous. Yes, it's one of those weird, awkward medical words.
Melanie Avalon: Nulliparous. It a noun like I am nulliparous or it's an adjective?
Cynthia Thurlow: No, no, I am nulliparous or we would talk about a patient, this is a nulliparous female.
Melanie Avalon: Oh, so adjective.
Cynthia Thurlow: Yeah. From my perspective, looking at it from the perspective of whether it's by choice or someone tried and couldn't does that put them at greater risk for certain types of disorders, cancers, etc. I come at it from a different angle. This is the thing I love about Melanie as my friend is that she comes up with such creative, interesting, refreshing takes on topics maybe that I've never even thought of-
Melanie Avalon: Thank you.
Cynthia Thurlow: -things I love about you, I'm like, “Oh, I hadn't thought about that before.”
Melanie Avalon: I love that you love engaging with the content or [laughs] just like, “Okay.”
Cynthia Thurlow: No, that's more to critically thinking. It's putting those thoughts out there.
Melanie Avalon: When I asked Simon about it, it wasn't the first time I thought about it. I think I thought about it a lot because I don't know, but I don't think I'm going to have children. And so, I'm so obsessed with longevity. I've thought about this concept a lot. Is this hurting or helping my longevity?
Cynthia Thurlow: I think I would probably guess it might help your longevity and I love my children. Let me be very clear. I was meant to be a mom, I'm happy being a mom, but there are moments in my children's lives that I know have hastened my longevity when I say this with love and reverence, I have a child who fell out of a second story window when he was two and had no injuries. Said same child when he was 10 years old-- 10, yeah, it was four years ago. 10 years old, coming back from all stars practice for swimming, fell off his bike and broke his arms, and needed emergency surgery, and walked in the house and his arms were concave, and I was like, “If any child has hastened my life, it's this kid.” I have no doubt there have been moments as a parent that have been terrifying and have likely killed off a lot of telomere length, and given me gray hair that I now pay copious amounts to cover up and that's a whole separate topic. But yeah, I would imagine it would probably help your longevity, Melanie. That's my guess.
Melanie Avalon: Oh, my goodness. Two quick things. One, he fell out of a two-story window?
Cynthia Thurlow: Yes. To give context to this conversation, this was the same week after his brother had fallen and broken his arm, and we had to take ambulance to a tertiary care center, because the hospital near my house would not reduce his fracture. My anxiety levels as a clinician were through the roof. Yes, and this child who we call him like MacGyver, he managed to open up a window out of curiosity, he was looking at something outside, pushed the screen and fell out two stories.
Melanie Avalon: Did you see him fall out?
Cynthia Thurlow: I did. I was sitting in the den and I saw a flash of red, and it was my two-year old, and it was the worst thing that's ever happened to us.
Melanie Avalon: I can't even imagine.
Cynthia Thurlow: Yeah. And so, for listeners, he was fine. There was an ER physician walking her dog who was at his side and called EMS. I can get very emotional thinking about it. He was okay. We spent two days in the PICU and everyone was amazed, this kid did okay. From that point forward, I was like, “This kid is going to do big things,” because this could have ended very differently. I was an ER nurse, a trauma nurse. So, I've seen lots of horrible things happen with kids falling out of windows and the house that we lived in at the time any other window if he had fallen out if he would have fallen on something hard.
Melanie Avalon: What did he fall on to?
Cynthia Thurlow: Grass. We had a bay window and so, he must have pitched himself in such a way that he bounced off of this other window, and then fell into the grass, and it had rained the night before. So, the ground was soft.
Melanie Avalon: Was he all scraped up?
Cynthia Thurlow: He had a scratch on his toe. When I say my kid is meant to do big things, [laughs] I have no doubt. But for the longest time, anytime, I heard an ambulance or a fire truck because the ER doc, who was at my son's side said, “If it were really bad, I would have called the chopper” and she's like, “You know that.” I was just like, “Whoa,” as a parent. Then the kid, when he was 10, fell and broke both his arms and had to go in for major-- He has plates and rods in his arms because he did such a bang-up job. I've told him, I was like, “Liam, I can't handle another big thing [laughs]. you have done it all.” Yeah. So, I think that being a parent is a wild ride and one that I'm grateful for. [laughs] I can speak from two experiences being a parent that have definitely aged my husband and we joke about it. We're like, “Yeah, he keeps us on our toes.” Actually, that's why we don't have any more children. We're like, “That was God's way of telling us we were done.” We have our hands full and he reminds us of that every day why he would never have been a middle child.
Melanie Avalon: Wow. Well, the second thing that reminded me up was, last night, I listened to Rhonda Patrick's newest episode. It's with a guy named Stuart Phillips.
Cynthia Thurlow: Yes, I need to listen to that.
Melanie Avalon: I really recommend it for listeners. It's a deep dive into protein intake and muscle. Really, really fascinating. A lot of stuff we talk about on this show. They talk about, do you really need the amount of protein that they say, and he argues that, yes, that dietary recommendations should not be called recommendations, they should be called minimal intakes. But he was talking about why when you're very young, you break a bone or something happens and kids, they don't need rehab or anything. The body fixes itself. And then when you're older, not so much. So, he just talks about that concept. So, I can put a link to it in the show notes.
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Melanie Avalon: All right, shall we do one more question?
Cynthia Thurlow: Absolutely. This comes from Monica. Subject is: “Magnesium question.” “Can you share your favorite magnesium brand for sleep? I was using magnesium complex by Nature's Way. I ran out and I couldn't find it, and used another brand, and don't really care for it. Before I go looking for the Nature's Way, I wanted to see what you recommended. Thank you.”
Melanie Avalon: All right, Monica, thank you for your question. [chuckles] I always want to laugh when I get questions like this that are so perfect for what's happening in my life product wise. I feel like Cynthia I have to fill you in on all the inside jokes on this show. Gin and I used to laugh because one time we got an email from somebody who basically accused us of creating questions, making up questions to plug products or whatever and we were like, “If people knew how many questions we get, they would realize we would never need to [laughs] create a question.” We have hundreds of questions. But in any case, I did want to time this for this episode because I am currently this week. When this comes out, it will have already happened. But right now, the moment I'm in right now, we are launching my magnesium supplement this week, which is so so exciting. It's been such a long journey. That's with MD Logic. My first one, the AvalonX serrapeptase. This is AvalonX Magnesium 8 and then (broad spectrum complex). I know Monica's asking about sleep and I'm going to speak to that specifically because there is a certain type of magnesium that is better for sleep.
But just in general, magnesium and my head has been literally yesterday was just magnesium all day. Researching, and writing, and getting together promo material, but basically, if you go into the literature on magnesium, it is shocking the extent to which this mineral is crucial for so many processes in our body. They used to say over 300 in somatic processes, but I found a really recent article, I think 2022 saying, actually, now it's over 600. It's involved in basically, every single cell, so a third of the magnesium is in our cells, two thirds-is in our bones, less than 1% is actually in our bloodstream, and the significance, on top of that it's actually highly controlled in our bloodstream. It's calcium. It’s how people will say that a certain diet might not affect your calcium levels and you can get a blood test and look at your calcium. But pretty much your blood calcium is probably always going to be in normal range. Things have to be really off for it not to be.
The same is with magnesium, because so little of it is actually in the bloodstream. It might not be reflective of underlying deficiencies. It's so important. It's involved in energy production, creating ATP in the mitochondria, it helps create glutathione, so it can serve as an antioxidant, and then cardiovascular health, bone health, blood sugar control, muscle recovery, so many things, and of course, sleep, and mood. The AvalonX-- which was so exciting, you can buy this now. It is available. AvalonX Magnesium 8 will be great for all of that, it will also support sleep. So, Monica, definitely, definitely try that. On top of that there's a certain type of magnesium called Magnesium Threonate. It is actually a type of magnesium that specifically crosses the blood-brain barrier. It has an even more potent effect on sleep and relaxation. That would be something to consider. I'm going to be releasing a magnesium threonate probably next. So, stay tuned for that. I think we're going to call it Magnesium Nightcap or something. The reason Threonate is not in my blend is because you actually need a pretty high dose to get that therapeutic effect and so, we wanted it to be a separate add on type thing. But yeah, so basically, Monica, my recommendation is getting my Magnesium Spectrum 8, and then the Nightcap when it's available, and you can use the coupon code, MELANIEAVALON, and that will get you 10% off. So, that was a lot about magnesium. Cynthia, do you take magnesium?
Cynthia Thurlow: I do, I do. With my background in cardiology, I'm very mag savvy and I'm super excited about your new product. But if Monica is looking for something right now specific to mag L Threonate, while you're waiting for your next product to come out. I like designs for health. You're right. You do need quite a bit in order for it to be properly therapeutic, but that's actually the product I take before bed. I do take other types of magnesium during the day and I also fervently believe that people need both oral and transdermal magnesium to be able to absorb it properly. The product that I recommended to my cardiology, my electrophysiology patients, so people that were dealing with palpitations, and had defibrillator errors, and pacemakers, and all sorts of electrical issues with their heart, when I could get their magnesium levels more therapeutic, and then this started to work into all of my work with everyone. Everyone needs magnesium. There's no one listening who does not need repletion, we lose it when we're stressed, we lose it if we're having diarrhea, if we're having an acute illness. Certainly, when you travel, you're losing electrolytes. And so, I'm a big fan of transdermal applications. There's a company called Ancient Minerals. I have no affiliation with them. I just think they have high quality.
Melanie Avalon: I've used them before.
Cynthia Thurlow: Yeah, they have sprays, they have lotions. I’ll typically recommend people spray. The oil is my first choice. Couple pumps into two hands, rub it on your trunk, your arms and legs, leave it on for 20 minutes. Use it before you get in the shower. You need about 20 minutes for absorption. When people do both of those things, they supplement with oral magnesium and they also use transdermal magnesium, they find that that is the perfect combination. For a lot of people, they need the additional, literally layer of magnesium to help them with sleep quality. Now, I'll be completely honest and say that when we get questions about sleep, there's so much that goes into sleep. Maybe we'll have to do a whole separate-- We’ll have to do a whole episode just talking about sleep modalities, because there are so many things that can impact our sleep quality. I know Mel and I are very, very proactive about our sleep and I feel I have maybe finally for myself found the right combinations and the right things that I do prior to bedtime and right before I go to bed that have really netted an impressive amount of improved sleep quality measured by Oura Ring data, etc. But I do think that using that two-pronged approach with magnesium is generally what I recommend. Transdermal and oral therapies, it sounds like Melanie has an amazing option right now. Magnesium L Threonate is the thing I think is so helpful for sleep and then using transdermal magnesium as well.
Melanie Avalon: Is it true? They say that this is why you experienced this and I experienced this that, if you put on a transdermal and it stings, they say it's because your skin is sucking it in so fast. That's why it stings. Do you know if that's true?
Cynthia Thurlow: Well, what I used to tell patients was that it was just validating that they needed more magnesium. Now, there are definitely people who are sensitive to magnesium. They'll feel tingly and it's uncomfortable. A little bit of tingle is expected. Really tingly, uncomfortable.
Melanie Avalon: Mine was painful.
Cynthia Thurlow: Yeah. Those people sometimes need the sensitive skin varieties of which Ancient Minerals has plenty of options. But I usually tell people, “It's just validation that you need to do this more often.” If you can tolerate, obviously, don't shave your skin and put it on. That would be torturing yourself. 20 minutes in your bathroom with your privacy, then jump in the shower. Some people don't like how it feels a little oily and I would say, just do it before-- I used to do before I would take a bath. I would literally just load up, do whatever I needed to do for bedtime, then get in the tub, then I would soak in more magnesium. I'm a little magnesium crazy. I'll admit after all the impressive things I saw it improve in patients, I was like, “This is something I need to commit to doing regularly.” But yeah, the tingle is generally a sign that needed the repletion.
Melanie Avalon: Gotcha. I'm glad you brought u, because I didn't even touch on how our modern lifestyles deplete our magnesium and-- [crosstalk]
Cynthia Thurlow: Magnesium depleted soil. Just think about it. You could be eating all organic and you're just not getting the same nutrient profile that our grandparents did. It's just impossible.
Melanie Avalon: If you're eating conventional, specifically glyphosate, chelates, minerals. I know it can be controversial to talk about glyphosate. I literally read this in the PubMed scientific article I was reading.
Cynthia Thurlow: Have you interviewed Jeffrey Smith, yet?
Melanie Avalon: No. Ever since. [laughs] I feel so bad. I actually had it on my list to follow up with him. For listeners, he's a wealth of knowledge about GMOs, and glyphosate, and such.
Cynthia Thurlow: We'll plug my podcasts with him. But I interviewed him and the first thing I said to Melanie after I finished was, you need to interview him. He was just-- everything you wanted to know about GMOs, glyphosate in a way that is designed to educate and empower, and not scare the bejeebers out of you.
Melanie Avalon: What happened with that was he reached out to me independent of all of this and wanted to come on the show, and I got really excited, because I saw he had books on GMOs, and I was like, “Yes, I would love to do an episode on GMOs.” Then his people said, “Well, we really want to focus on his current work,” which was a little bit political and based on current events. I was like, “I just don't know if it's the best fit right now,” because this was a while ago and this was in the heat of a lot of political stuff. I don't think I really realized who he was. If so, I think I would have handled that differently and I reached back out to him ever since you told me about it, but I haven't heard back. So, I need to reach out again, because I really want to interview him now.
Cynthia Thurlow: I think you'd really like him. I know your listeners would really enjoy that conversation, too.
Melanie Avalon: Yes, to-do list. And then I will say just one last thing before we go. All the supplements that I make, I really wanted to make the best form of the supplements on the market and only what I would want to put in my body. It's free of all potentially problematic fillers, it's tested for allergens, super, high-quality, it has activated cofactors to help absorption, so, it has methylated B6, and then it has chelated manganese, because magnesium can actually reduce your manganese levels, so, it's to help with that. Definitely the way to go and that is again, avalonx.us, not to sound like a commercial. But this was absolutely amazing. I've missed talking to you, Cynthia, because it's been so long.
Cynthia Thurlow: I know. But the cool thing is, we're recording a second episode right after this.
Melanie Avalon: I know. [laughs] So, here we go. Well, this has been absolutely wonderful. A few things for listeners before we go. If you would like to submit your own questions for the show, you can directly email firstname.lastname@example.org or you can go to ifpodcast.com and you can submit questions there. You can get all the stuff that we like at ifpodcast.com/stuffwelike. You can follow us on Instagram. I am @melanieavalon, Cynthia is @cynthia_thurlow_ and we are @ifpodcast on Instagram, and I think I'll open up next week with something that we're talking about sleep. I started using something that I think has had a massive influence on my Oura Ring. So, maybe I'll start with that. All right, well, for listeners, this has been absolutely wonderful and I'll talk to you next week. But I'll actually talk to you right now. [laughs]
Thank you so much for listening to the Intermittent Fasting Podcast. Please remember, everything we discussed on this show does not constitute medical advice and no patient-doctor relationship is formed. If you enjoyed the show, please consider writing your review on iTunes. We couldn't do this without our amazing team. Administration by Sharon Merriman, editing by Podcast Doctors, show notes and artwork by Brianna Joyner, transcripts by SpeechDocs, and original theme composed by Leland Cox and recomposed by Steve Saunders. See you next week.
STUFF WE LIKE
Check out the Stuff We Like page for links to any of the books/supplements/products etc. mentioned on the podcast that we like!
Melanie's What When Wine Diet: Lose Weight And Feel Great With Paleo-Style Meals, Intermittent Fasting, And Wine
Cynthia's Intermittent Fasting Transformation: The 45-Day Program for Women to Lose Stubborn Weight, Improve Hormonal Health, and Slow Aging
The Melanie Avalon Biohacking Podcast
More on Melanie: MelanieAvalon.com
More on Cynthia: cynthiathurlow.com
Theme Music Composed By Leland Cox: LelandCox.com
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