Updated: Feb 22
Our conversation this week is centered around infertility and helping us navigate that topic is dietician, functional nutritionist, author, and creator of the Mommy Maker Method, Annette Presley.
From genetic, environmental, and nutritional challenges, Annette helps her clients struggling with infertility all the way to postpartum and a healthy baby.
If you are currently walking this walk we hope you find this conversation of use.
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Conversation with Annette Presley
*Text has been edited for clarity
Calla: I'm dying to know what made you get into this work?
Annette Presley: Well, I've been a dietitian for 30 years now. And about 14 years in, I actually found out I had a license to kill. Which is how I describe it.
Calla: Do explain.
Annette Presley: So I found out that the advice I was giving out, specifically on fat and cholesterol actually caused chronic disease and obesity.
Annette Presley: Yeah.
Leanne: So what advice was that?
Annette Presley: To eat like canola oil and vegetable fats and donate saturated fats and you know, avoid egg yolks and all that kind of stuff. Like getting rid of cholesterol and saturated fat. So yeah, it turns out, so I spent about a year going through the science on all that, and we've never had any scientific support for this fear of saturated fat and cholesterol. And so that totally changed my trajectory. I kind of got into functional nutrition. And, and then one day, I'm at church, and God told me to go tell Sharon, I can help her get pregnant.
Leanne: Just out of the blue?
Annette Presley: Yeah, I'm just at church and you know how after church you kind of scan the audience for someone you're looking for.
Annette Presley: As soon as she came in my eyesight. God said, Go tell Sharon you can help her get pregnant.
Calla: Oh, my gosh. Were you nervous
Leanne: Yeah, no pressure.
Annette Presley: I didn't know her that well. I didn't even know if she was trying to get pregnant. And of course, I'm thinking who does that? Just walk up to somebody and tell them I can help them get pregnant. That's weird.
Calla: Oh, man, the holy spirit was moving today.
Leanne: Have you ever done anything with pregnancy before?
Annette Presley: I had never done anything with pregnancy before and so this went on for about four weeks. So every single Sunday, every time Sharon would come into my line of sight, I get the message, "Go tell Sharon, you can help her get pregnant." And so finally, I'm like, "Okay, fine just stop harassing me."
Calla: Come on, God. Geez.
Leanne: Loud and clear.
Annette Presley: So I gathered the courage I went over to her and, you know, I'm kind of eyeing the exit while I'm talking to her. And I'm just like, okay, Sharon, this may be nothing, but if you're trying to get pregnant, and it's not working, I can help you. And, and she took a step back, her eyes got really wide. And she told me, you know, we've been trying for almost two years. And we decided we didn't want to do IVF. Which is in-vitro fertilization. And so I was so excited. You know, she needed help. Oh, great, then I can help you. So I didn't have to make a quick exit. So that was good.
Calla: So she was receptive, clearly?
Annette Presley: Yeah. So I met with her and her husband, and I tweaked a few things or a diet and specifically how to take iodine. I did a little skin patch test, and she was definitely deficient. So we did that. And three months later, she was pregnant.
Leanne: Three months?
Annette Presley: Yeah.
Leanne: And that was your first kind of patient that you helped with infertility?
Annette Presley: Yeah
Annette Presley: But I was homeschooling my kids at the time, and I wasn't really thinking, you know, about having a business or any of that. But then a couple years ago, I was scrolling Facebook, nothing better to do, right?
Annette Presley: And someone in one of my local mom's groups posted about her second failed IVF. And I was reading the comments and the number of women who responded with similar stories, and some of them were on their ninth cycles.
Annette Presley: Like, I I was floored, I have no idea that this was so common. And that's, I mean, this is just my little area in Texas here, you know, not even nationally. And so, and I just I fell on my knees and I cried, and I said, God, we have to do something about this. I just can't imagine. I mean, I can imagine a little because I actually struggled to get pregnant with my first child. So I understand. Like, the toll that takes on your relationship and sex becomes a chore, and those kinds of things. and it's, it's just irritating, frustrating and exhausting. I quit trying because I couldn't hack it. So, you know, so many women are, this is years of struggle, and I just I just thought there has to be a way out.
Calla: I'm so curious because you said, you needed to find a way out. So then you started looking to food? Can you help me like piece how the nutrition component came into it and kind of how you started walking through that?
Annette Presley: Yeah. So I actually, I started thinking about it. And I'm like, why is infertility on the rise? And I found out, Infertility has been rising by 1% a year since 1990. And so yeah, in like in 1980, less than a million women struggling with it in America. And today, that number is close, we're getting close to seven. And so I just asked the question, okay, what has changed between 1980. And today? What's different? And then it really hit me is that most people focus on the mechanics of getting pregnant, like getting the egg and the sperm connected. But what's really happening is that our biology is no longer a match for our environment. Technology has changed, and that impacts our health. We have hydrogenated oils and canola oil, and you know, all the bad fats, we are told that we shouldn't be eating, like, over. We have, you know, the childhood vaccines have gone from I think I got six. And now it's like 70.
Leanne: 70 between what ages?
Annette Presley: Yes, from like, one to six? I mean, it's 70. It's insane and we've never tested any of this stuff. And then genetically modified organisms were put into the foods by 1990 without telling anybody about it, but they do cause infertility in animals.
Leanne: Can we back up just a second? Because I'm so curious how you made the connection between the vegetable oils, creating chronic disease, and kind of where you turn to to get your information within that next year to kind of learn the science behind it.
Annette Presley: Yeah, I was actually preparing to do a talk on fat and local health food store. And so I just thought it would be good to brush up on my fat chemistry, because it's been a while since I went to school. And I'm kind of a nerd.
Leanne: Same, we get it.
Calla: Why do you think she asked the question?
Leanne: Well, I read a book last year. Sorry, Calla's heard this so many times. It's called the Big Fat Surprise. Ok, so you've read it?
Annette Presley: I have read that. But that wasn't the one that changed my mind. So there is a book called Know Your Fats by Mary Enig. And she had a PhD in biochemistry, and she was an expert on fat chemistry. And so I reading her book, and, and I'm realizing she's contradicting everything I've been taught. So I'm reading the book, it disagrees with everything I was taught. And we were taught in school pretty much to automatically reject anything that goes against what we're taught. That's how the healthcare system works.
Calla: That's not the first time we heard that statement. Yeah.
Annette Presley: But I knew she was right about trans fats, because I've already seen evidence that those were bad. And so I figured it's right about that. I have to admit, you could be right about everything else. And I'm the kind of person I just want to make sure I'm not giving out advice. You know, I actually want people to get better. And that works. So. So that's when I went through all the references in our book and just looked at all the studies. And what I found is a lot of the studies, like in the 80s, combined trans fat with saturated fat. So you're, you're not going to get results from saturated fat to transplant and skew that. Because we know those are bad.
Leanne: And those are manmade, right?
Annette Presley: Those are the manmade ones like in margarine. Yeah. And so when when you combine those two, you're not getting an accurate result. And then other studies checked for so many things like salt and vegetable intake decision taken all these things? And it's like, well, how do you know, it was the saturated fats that cause problems? Because there are too many other things going on. That could have been responsible. You know, so there's those kinds of things and then one study the lipid research coronary clinical trials or something. Back in the 70s. They might have, it's probably in the 80s. So they study two groups. So one group got a cholesterol lowering drug the other group did not. They were both put on low fat, low cholesterol diet and educated by a dietitian The conclusion in the abstract was that it seems prudent to follow a low fat diet. The problem is that the diet wasn't studied in this study. So you can't say that with any kind of scientific integrity. Because both groups are on the same diet.
Leanne: Why do you think saturated fat was demonized, and targeted?
Annette Presley: I think because the pharmaceutical industry gets a lot of money on cholesterol lowering medications. So that really was the start of it, when we were able to test cholesterol in the blood. And in 1984, they had the cholesterol consensus conference, where they basically determined that a cholesterol under 200 was bad. And so everybody needed to be put on these drugs. But they didn't prevent any or present any science really supporting that. And they neglected to present any of the opposing views. In the they had opposing views at the conference, but in the right of afterward, they left all
Calla: Omitted those out. How convenient.
Annette Presley: Exactly, it's very convenient. So I mean, when you have consensus like that, like, even whats happening now is, you know, that's not science. And it doesn't mean you're right.
Leanne: It's so hard to just do any kind of valid trial on someone's diet, because no one's walking around, you know, telling them not to eat certain things, or making sure they are eating right things that they're supposed to be. There's so many factors.
Annette Presley: Yeah. And they're all based on food frequency questionnaires. And we all know, those are inaccurate, people kind of know what to put in there. You know, to make them look better.
Annette Presley: Not judging, just saying that's what happened. So they're not that accurate. And then when we do these food frequency questionnaires, we lump things together like saturated fat with sugar. And I mean, sugar is going to skew the results of that. So and then the Framingham study, they actually came out that lowering cholesterol, prevented heart disease or whatever. The actual study showed the exact opposite. So those who lower their cholesterol actually a higher risk of dying.
Leanne: How did they get away with that not becoming the new rule?
Annette Presley: I have no idea.
Annette Presley: I mean, yeah.
Leanne: The sugar industry. Yeah. So what would you say contributes to chronic disease if it's not saturated fat?
Annette Presley: Vegetable oils So there's saturated fat polyunsaturated fat volume and saturated fat and trans fats. And so I kind of like in the two Red Rover red. I don't know if you remember that game.
Annette Presley: Okay. So saturated fat is like a line of 300 pounds football players and the polyunsaturated fats are like a line of toddlers. And so if you have the football player running into the toddler,
Leanne: Quite an image! Hide yo Kids!
Annette Presley: Yeah. Somebody's gonna get hurt, right? Yeah. So that's polyunsaturated fats do they have these double bonds in their structure, that saturated fat doesn't have an every double bond makes the structure weaker. And so it's kind of like wearing a kick me sign, you know, when you're inviting damage.
Leanne: And that's from what?
Annette Presley: From inflammation. So the These oils are just so inflammatory. And they'll get incorporated in to your cells, but the cells can't really use them. Because they need those saturated fats. And, and so this is one reason the aging, anti-aging industry. Because these oils make your skin really weak and wrinkly, and all that. So we have to, you know, put creams on and fix that. Yeah, and then the food industry makes money because it's cheaper to use transparency and last longer, and cheaper. And so, yeah.
Calla: What a mess we've made!
Leanne: Reading that Big Fat Surprise book infuriated me. And then, you know, it's a I'm a personal trainer. So I talked to my clients about nutrition, but getting people to think away from what has been, you know, pounded into their minds for the last 30 years is almost impossible. I mean, especially because I don't have a doctorate in anything. So it's kind of like, "Ha, okay, like my trainer says this", you know what I mean? But it those those studies that they have in that book, were just it's It sounded like a lot of the studies validating that saturated fats weren't bad for you were defunded or kind of swept under the rug, which is manipulative and terrifying. And now our country's, what is it? Over 60% overweight now?
Annette Presley: Yeah. Yeah. And we took that huge increase in weight ever since we put these vegetable oils on the market and got rid of saturated fat.
Leanne: Do you know if if dietitians are still being taught the same way? Like do you take continuing education with any of that information in there or anything?
Annette Presley: Yeah, I tried to do continuing education that's not sponsored by
Leanne: How sad is that?
Annette Presley: It is very sad. But I do, I think they are still being taught that. Because yeah, there's still a lot of, you know, eating more of the canola oil, or avocado oil or olive oil. So it's at least they're switching to like avocado or olive, which is a little bit better. But they're still trying to avoid the saturated fat.
Calla: We talked about this. And because of that, now, there's this infertility issue, on top of it that that is now coming to light, you know, since the 1990s. So when you're helping women with this is, does it always start with food and what they're putting in? Is that where it usually is the baseline?
Annette Presley: Yeah, so I always do, like, the first thing I do is test for iodine deficiency.
Calla: What's the connect there?
Annette Presley: So iodine and we know this, because we've studied, you know, third world countries. But without if you really can't get pregnant, or if you do get pregnant, you're not going to stay pregnant. And if you manage to stay pregnant, you're probably going to have a child that has allergies, asthma, autism, ADHD, low IQ. Like it's, it's huge. We know that iodine makes healthy babies and we know what makes healthy pregnancies. And iodine actually every cell in the body needs iodine. And it's stored in a very high level in the ovaries. So anything like polycystic ovarian syndrome, endometriosis, fibroids, cysts, all of that is probably an iodine deficiency and nobody checks for it.
Calla: I was going to say, I could have used that 11 years ago. That's how old my twins are now we went through IUI and I have PCOS as well as endometriosis. I had all the cysts. I had surgeries to get pregnant, you know all those things and put my body through that. And to know that was never even anything that was mentioned to me. And I hate that.
Annette Presley: Yeah, it is it makes me angry because so much of this we could prevent and and we could reduce so much of the suffering that goes on. I mean, I find is a cheap trick. I mean, it's a cheap cure. It's easy to test for.
Leanne: So would people be taking like iodine drops as supplementation? Or can you get it in your diet from specific foods enough to?
Annette Presley: Yeah, you can't really get enough from foods. So you could try to put like kelp flakes on your food or eat seafood. The problem there is you have to make sure it's clean source because that's contaminated. But generally, if you want to fix an iodine deficiency, you're going to have to take a supplement.
Leanne: Okay. And do you kind of see how deficient somebody is? And then dose their supplementation.
Annette Presley: Yeah. And then you have to look at other nutrients like Selenium that has to be in good supply before you start iodine. Salt is actually hugely important. So that's another thing that we're telling people not to eat. And actually a low salt diet is a contraceptive so it can actually prevent elating pregnant.
Leanne: Why is that?
Annette Presley: Well, the body just needs solved and it actually helps prevent things like preeclampsia and complications of pregnancy. And so there's this Tribe of Indians in Brazil think they're the Yanomami Indians.
Calla: We will fact check, youre good.
Leanne: It's actually "Yahmo - Mahmo"
Annette Presley: They have a very low salt intake. They have a live birth about every four to six years. They're actually violent people too, and so that there might be some relations with salt there as well. But they have a lot of sex. They don't use contraceptives, but their low salt diet just prevents them from having a lot of babies.
Calla: It might be a good thing if they are angry.
Leanne: Yeah, don't need any more Yanomami coming around. What is it about iodine? That is helpful for women getting pregnant?
Annette Presley: Yeah, so iodine actually helps balance the hormones. And, and so like, all the hormones need to dance with iodine, and if iodine isn't available, you might get estrogen kind of doing a dance all alone on the floor naked. You know, which nobody wants to see. Right?
Calla: Yeah, been there.
Leanne: A typical Sunday for Calla. Go ahead. I'm sorry.
Annette Presley: Iodine keeps all the hormones on the dance floor doing their part. So they're, they're doing their part, not kicking everyone else off the floor, doing a solo kind of thing. Yeah. And we are deficient, because all of the toxins that we are exposed to either have bromide chloride fluoride attached to them a. And those three things so I call them... Do you remember The Munster family?
Annette Presley: Okay, so iodine is like Marilyn, she's the normal human face. So bromide fluoride and chloride are like the Munster families. The monster. Yeah. So, iodine lives in a family of monsters. Only they're not nice. Like, the monsters are.
Calla: Yeah. Do they attack the iodine supply? Why don't they cohabitate?
Annette Presley: Yeah, yeah, they kick her out of the way. And so they will actually attached to the iodine receptors. And the bodies of the iodine can't attach. And unfortunately, bromide, chloride fluoride can't use those. They don't work the same way as iodine. And so they kick her out. And then we have all these toxins and we're not getting the iodine that we need to balance hormones so everything's just going crazy.
Leanne: Would you ever tell someone who's not trying to get pregnant or asking for a friend not not trying to get pregnant at the moment? Would somebody like that need iodine potentially, as well?
Annette Presley: Yeah. I actually think every woman should probably test for it. Because it's also involved with breast cancer. And we never hear anything about that either. It's probably one of the biggest reasons why we have such a high rate of breast cancer is because we're iodine deficient. Even ovarian cancer, cervical cancer. So like with Sharon, she actually had the beginning stages of cervical cancer. And she didn't tell me this when I saw her. But three months later, she got up a church, told her story about getting pregnant. And she mentioned that she was diagnosed with cervical cancer. And it was like, too soon, , for the doctors to be able to do anything about it so she had to wait for it to get worse.
Leanne: Oh, my God.
Annette Presley: Yeah. Which is insane. But when she got pregnant, she no longer had cervical cancer. And I think it was the iodine that cleared something in the system.
Calla: Yeah. You know, I've heard with like, estrogen, and especially like after hysterectomy, and things like that, that like the synthetic estrogen can really cause a lot of like the breast cancer issues and things like that. And so I wonder what that correlation is there is if it could be offset by a little bit of that iodine. that's very interesting.
Leanne: Have you done any research on birth control and how it affects the female body?
Annette Presley: Not a lot, but I do know that it does negatively impact the body. And the problem with birth control is it doesn't fix the problem. And so you know, the root cause of whatever hormonal issues going on birth control just mask the symptom. It's like putting a bandaid on. So you're not actually fixing the problem. And so I don't recommend a lot of people take it. It's pretty bad for a lot of people.
Leanne: Yeah, that was my experience. Over and over and over.
Annette Presley: Yeah. And it's an easy quick fix for the doctors, you know, they get rid of your symptoms, and, you know, they don't have to deal with you.
Calla: I need to process that's a lot.
Leanne: How would somebody get an iodine metric? Is it a blood test for iodine is that works?
Annette Presley: The iodine loading test is the best one and it's a urine test. It's not fun when you have to collect your urine for you take a 15 milligram dose of iodine and then collect your urine for 24 hours. But that's definitely the best way to determine how deficient you are and then if your result is less than 90%, your deficient.
Leanne: Less than 90? And how many women that you see are iodine deficient?
Annette Presley: So far? 100%?
Annette Presley: Yeah.
Leanne: Like heavy periods or terrible PMS symptoms. Wow.
Annette Presley: Yeah, I think any hormonal kind of issue. Iodine should always be checked first.
Calla: Why haven't we heard of this? Why is this like not like a normal and out there?
Annette Presley: Yeah. Well, so obviously it used to be in every medicine cabinet in the military carried it in War. They may still do that. I'm not sure. But it's not in every medicine cabinet anymore. Yeah. And then what happened? They, there was some study that they did on rats and they found that iodine caused hypothyroidism, or something. The study was very poorly done. Nobody has ever been able to replicate it, which is kind of a standard in science, you know? Kind of validate results and stuff. And then penicillin came on the market. And you know, you can't make any money on Iodine.
Leanne: And we're back.
Calla: Im like Why we really do mess everything up for everybody. We're the cause of our own, demise?
Annette Presley: Yeah. And I think one of the reasons, you know, so many people are having a hard time with the infection going on, is because of all the bad advice we've been getting as far as health. And of course, you know, we're handing out doughnuts. which just makes no sense whatsoever.
Calla: No, it doesn't.