National Women’s Health Week kicks off on Mother’s Day each year in May. While the pandemic may have helped bring conversations about various women’s health issues to prominence in public forums, the reality remains largely unchanged.
Prioritizing women’s health and well-being is beneficial for not just women but for their families, the community and countries at large. Preventative care is crucial, just as having the right test or screening at the right time is important to save women’s lives and help them live longer.
Annette Presley, an author, speaker and personal nutrition coach, has in her 30 years of being a dietitian seen the toll that poor health can take on our bodies, our freedom, finances and families. With so much conflicting and overwhelming information on nutrition available on the internet, caring for our health can be quite challenging as well as time-consuming.
This is where Annette comes in, easing how you get to the root of a problem and providing a simple, individualized plan that fits your schedule and lifestyle. She has also studied nutrigenomics, the study of the impact of food on genes and gene expression.
I spoke to Annette recently in an attempt to understand how food can help us improve our health and how healing involves both physical and mental aspects for a fuller and healthier life.
What inspired your journey in nutrition and using food as a key to healing?
When I was 16, I had aerobics during one of my PE classes in high school. I realized I liked it a lot and picked up a copy of Shape magazine in the grocery store after school. When I read the magazine, I found the articles on nutrition more interesting. I went on to take a summer nutrition class after graduating high school and thus began my journey in nutrition.
For a common person who doesn’t have a good understanding of nutrition in our daily food, how do you help us learn what to look for and what to avoid?
Food serves or harms our body. Food that serves us includes whole unprocessed animal foods and produce. When we include processed food like cookies, ready-to-eat food and refined oils, the food becomes harmful to us. This practice of harmful food began in the early 1900s when butter was replaced with margarine. This is the first step to understanding nutrition.
While going shopping, I ask my patients to pay attention to the ingredients list. If there are more than ten ingredients, it is best to put it back on the shelf. We should look for words like hydrogenated, artificial, food coloring, fructose, canola, sunflower, safflower, soy, and cottonseed in the ingredients list. If these words are present, we should avoid the product. As manufacturers keep changing ingredients according to the industry standards, it would be helpful to stick to the non-GMO labeled products. An example of how ingredient names are frequently changed is high-fructose corn syrup, which is now labeled as fructose.
How does one learn to listen to their body? Without knowing your body and what’s normal, how do we recognize when things aren’t the way they should be?
We must understand that bloating after eating, indigestion, gas, fatigue, and experiencing insomnia are not normal. Your body is clearly telling you something important, and you want to pay attention immediately. Try changing what you eat, reducing processed food and increasing the quantity of naturally available food. Do you notice the changes in how you feel?
Let us talk about fibroids. Talk to us about the current situation women are facing with regards to uterine fibroids.
The one thing we never hear when it comes to fibroids is that an iodine deficiency can cause fibroids. Some years ago, when I was researching saturated fat and cholesterol, I noticed a thread of iodine popping up in all types of studies which I found really eye opening, especially since no one was talking about it. I think women deserve to have a choice between correcting an iodine deficiency or having a hysterectomy, or just living in pain for the rest of their life.
I was diagnosed recently with a uterine fibroid and given my iodine-deficient state, that isn’t very surprising. The only symptom I had was weight gain, fortunately, but I would rather work on balancing my minerals than taking a drug that won’t fix the root cause or having a surgery that will create more problems down the road. I want to have a choice, and I think all women deserve to have that same choice.
I am taking 150 grams of iodine daily, which is much more than the recommended dietary allowance of 150 micrograms for adult men and women. I am not getting enough iodine despite taking supplements in excess. The absorption of iodine is not happening as it should in our bodies. Toxins such as bromide, fluoride, and chlorine obstruct iodine absorption in our bodies. These toxins are everywhere, from the water we drink to our furniture, food and even clothes that are flame resistant. It is, unfortunately, difficult to avoid these toxins.
Iodine and its critical role in our health is not something new. Iodine deficiency is real and is a huge concern for women here. We thought we have had iron deficiency and copper toxicity, but the truth is the other way around. We are copper deficient and iron toxic. Copper helps our bodies produce energy and metabolize iodine.
Other sources of nutrients are whole foods containing vitamin C, niacin and riboflavin. You have to include enough unprocessed salt in your diet to compensate for the effect of bromide in our bodies.
What services or treatments do you offer for women suffering with fibroids?
I first look at the things that harm these women and stop them from continuing with it. You should stop taking synthetic vitamins and processed foods and instead take desiccated liver as a natural source of nutritional supplement. I help women go back to what our bodies are built for, through prescribing natural supplements. I also recommend doing hair tissue analysis, stress tests, and regular labs to check for mineral imbalances and vitamin A deficiency. You can fix anything once you find out the root problem.
I am curious to understand the connection between unresolved emotional issues we may be carrying and how it affects healing ourselves.
The traumas in our past or any kind of stress that we underwent need to be healed. When I was five years old, my grandfather passed away in my arms. For many years, I carried the notion that any death in the family was because of me. For a child of such a young age, it was a tremendously huge burden to carry. It took time but I am now healed from that traumatic thought.
I had a bulging disc that was impinging on the S1 nerve in my thigh. I increased the amount of minerals I was taking, especially magnesium, and did some Theta Healing® to resolve emotional issues from past traumas. I still have a bulging disc impinging on my nerve, but I no longer have any pain. Emotional healing is very powerful.
The stress our bodies go through can also be from simply holding grudges. I do sessions with people to understand their life from the time of being in the womb, their mother’s health and the stress she went through when pregnant, and so on. I then make the connections through muscle testing beliefs. We work toward changing those beliefs and helping you forgive and heal completely.
What is the best way to bring more awareness about women’s health and the issues we go through?
I am currently focused on building an army of women who will join me in demanding better healthcare for women. My role is to educate women and enable them to see the options available for them. Doctors may prescribe antidepressants for women without understanding the root problem, but these very drugs are creating more problems. Women should be aware that they have the option of non-drug and non-surgery treatments. We do not get all the facts so we cannot make truly informed choices about our health and healthcare. The medical system in our country is good for treating acute illnesses, but for chronic illness, the system needs to change.
As an expert in nutrigenomics, have you worked with women from across the world? What differences do you see?
Women from other parts of the world are healthier, I have seen. In the US, we enrich flour with iron. Iron depletes copper, which is important for iodine absorption and for mitochondria to work properly. This practice of enriching flour with iron is not followed in other parts of the world. Another observation I had was that other countries do not have near the level of gluten intolerance that we see in the United States.
What is your message to women reading this blog?
Don’t give up. There is hope, and there is a solution. You will feel joyful and live a life that doesn’t need surgery. This journey takes time, but it definitely won’t give you more problems in the future. Trust your body.
Our health is our future. We need to take care of our bodies to be able to do what we want in our lives and achieve our dreams. Thank you, Annette, for being the voice driving the change for a better future for women and helping them align with their bodies.
Annette would like to personally invite you to watch RED ALERT! A Conversation about HER Health, a virtual summit about uterine fibroids and the women whose lives they impact, based on the upcoming documentary Red Alert: The Fight Against Fibroids directed by Erica L. Taylor. You won’t want to miss this!