Intermittent Fasting for PCOS

Intermittent Fasting for PCOS

“Intermittent fasting” seems to be popping up everywhere within the world of nutrition and weight loss lately.  It’s not a new concept. In fact, it has been used safely and effectively for many years, and in many cultures around the world.

The most popular use for intermittent fasting is weight loss. That said, considering the impact intermittent fasting has on insulin levels and inflammatory markers, it can be an effective treatment option in women with PCOS.

What is intermittent fasting?

Fasting, intermittent fasting, or timed eating simply means that you go for a period of time without food. In medical terms, it takes a minimum of 12 hours to be in a “fasted state” where your body has used up its stored glucose (AKA glycogen) and starts breaking down fat for energy.

There are several different fasting plans out there, here are some of the most popular ones:

  • 5/2 plan:  Limiting to 500 kcals 2x/wk and then eat as you please the other 5 days.

  • Alternate Day: Limiting to 500 kcals every other day and eat as you normally would on alternate days.

  • 16/8: Fast for 16 hours a day then have an 8-hour “eating window”.  This type of fasting can be used daily, every other day, or just a few times a week.

  • 24-hr or Eat Stop Eat: Water, tea or coffee for 24 hours and then eating sensibly on non-fasting days.  These longer fasts are challenging and only used a couple of times a week rather than daily.

 

How does intermittent fasting work?

Research shows a whole host of potential benefits of intermittent fasting. These include weight loss, blood sugar regulation, inflammation reduction, lowered LDL cholesterol, and improved cognition.

Intermittent fasting’s impact on weight loss is primarily due to its insulin-lowering effects1. Insulin is a hormone that’s produced and released by the pancreas in response to a rise in blood sugar. Every time we digest and absorb our food, blood sugar levels rise and insulin levels rise in response.

How Does Insulin Work?

Insulin works by binding to receptors on the cells, which open up mini gates that allow blood sugar to flow out of the circulation and into the cells. As such, insulin is an anabolic hormone, meaning it’s involved in building and storing sugar in the cells. Whenever insulin is high, we’re in storage mode: pushing energy into our cells.

When someone does intermittent fasting, they’re putting their body through prolonged periods of time without eating, thus lowering blood sugar. If blood sugar levels are lower, insulin is lower as well. In contrast, if insulin is kept low, the body can move out of storage mode and into fat-burning mode!

There are a few other mechanisms that contribute to intermittent fasting’s role in weight loss. It can also increase growth hormone2 levels, reduce pro-inflammatory cytokines such as IL-6 and TNF alpha3. Additionally, it increases circulating norepinephrine, which may enhance the resting metabolic rate

How does intermittent fasting help in PCOS?

Intermittent fasting can be a great treatment for women with PCOS because of its insulin-lowering effect.

Elevated insulin levels are a major driver in many PCOS cases. Women with this condition often have higher insulin baseline levels and an exaggerated insulin response to food compared to healthy subjects.

This high insulin can lead to increased testosterone production by the ovaries. In turn, this can contribute to the acne, facial hair growth, and hair loss commonly seen in PCOS. High testosterone also impacts the ability to ovulate properly, and contributes to long menstrual cycles.

How Does Fasting Help?

By incorporating intermittent fasting along with other dietary and lifestyle changes, women with PCOS can reduce their fasting insulin levels dramatically. In turn, they can move away from this fat-storage mode and into fat-burning mode. If insulin can be brought down, women with PCOS should experience weight reduction, improved skin, and hair growth, as well as increased ovulatory cycles.

PCOS is also associated with increased inflammatory markers. Since intermittent fasting reduces inflammation within the body, this could be another huge benefit to this population.

Proper testing needs to be done to confirm whether insulin resistance is a part of your PCOS picture. A thorough explanation of insulin resistance testing can be found here.

Should intermittent fasting ever be avoided?

Although intermittent fasting can be very helpful for women with PCOS, it’s not for everyone. If you’re struggling with extreme stress and insomnia, for example, intermittent fasting may cause increased cortisol secretion and worsen these symptoms.

Additionally, if you have any history of an eating disorder, intermittent fasting isn’t right for you.

If intermittent fasting causes you to binge and overeat during the day, then it’s also not right for you.

Finally, it must be noted that more extreme fasting isn’t always better. One study found that prolonged fasting windows could be associated with increased risk of gallstone formation5.

Key Takeaways

  • Intermittent fasting isn’t a diet, but rather a type of eating pattern, outlining when to eat and when to avoid food
  • It has been shown to reduce insulin, increase growth hormone circulating levels, reduce pro-inflammatory markers, and increase circulating epinephrine
  • This type of fasting can be an effective strategy in women with PCOS because it impacts insulin resistance and inflammation
  • It’s not right for everyone, and should be avoided if you have a history of eating disorders, are going through extreme stress, and/or if it causes binge eating or if you are pregnant.
  • Start slowly or get some advice from an experienced practitioner

References

  1. Sutton, E., Beyl, R., Early, K., Cefalu, W., Ravussin, E., & Peterson, C. (2018). Early Time-Restricted Feeding Improves Insulin Sensitivity, Blood Pressure, and Oxidative Stress Even without Weight Loss in Men with Prediabetes. Cell Metabolism27(6), 1212-1221.e3. doi: 10.1016/j.cmet.2018.04.010
  2. Hartman, M. (1992). Augmented growth hormone (GH) secretory burst frequency and amplitude mediate enhanced GH secretion during a two-day fast in normal men. Journal Of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism74(4), 757-765. doi: 10.1210/jc.74.4.757
  3. Faris, “., Kacimi, S., Al-Kurd, R., Fararjeh, M., Bustanji, Y., Mohammad, M., & Salem, M. (2012). Intermittent fasting during Ramadan attenuates proinflammatory cytokines and immune cells in healthy subjects. Nutrition Research32(12), 947-955. doi: 10.1016/j.nutres.2012.06.021
  4. Zauner, C., Schneeweiss, B., Kranz, A., Madl, C., Ratheiser, K., & Kramer, L. et al. (2000). Resting energy expenditure in short-term starvation is increased as a result of an increase in serum norepinephrine. The American Journal Of Clinical Nutrition71(6), 1511-1515. doi: 10.1093/ajcn/71.6.1511
  5. Sichieri, R., Everhart, J., & Roth, H. (1991). A prospective study of hospitalization with gallstone disease among women: role of dietary factors, fasting period, and dieting. American Journal Of Public Health81(7), 880-884. doi: 10.2105/ajph.81.7.880

Article by By / July 3, 2019

List of Covid-19 clinical vulnerable/extremely vulnerable

Clinically vulnerable people
People in this category of risk include:
Anyone aged 70 and older (regardless of medical conditions)
Anyone under 70 with an underlying health condition (that is, anyone instructed to get a flu jab as an adult each year on medical grounds) – such as:
chronic (long-term) mild to moderate respiratory diseases, such as asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), emphysema or bronchitis
chronic heart disease, such as heart failure
chronic kidney disease
chronic liver disease, such as hepatitis
chronic neurological conditions, such as Parkinson’s disease, motor neurone disease, multiple sclerosis (MS), a learning disability or cerebral palsy
diabetes
a weakened immune system as the result of conditions such as HIV and AIDS, or medicines (such as steroid tablets )
being seriously overweight (a body mass index (BMI) of 40 or above)
pregnant women

Clinically extremely vulnerable people
People in this category of risk include:
Solid organ transplant recipients.
People with specific cancers:
people with cancer who are undergoing active chemotherapy
people with lung cancer who are undergoing radical radiotherapy
people with cancers of the blood or bone marrow such as leukaemia, lymphoma or myeloma who are at any stage of treatment
people having immunotherapy or other continuing antibody treatments for cancer
people having other targeted cancer treatments which can affect the immune system, such as protein kinase inhibitors or PARP inhibitors
people who have had bone marrow or stem cell transplants in the last 6 months, or who are still taking immunosuppression drugs
People with severe respiratory conditions including all cystic fibrosis, severe asthma and severe chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
People with rare diseases that significantly increase the risk of infections (such as severe combined immunodeficiency (SCID), homozygous sickle cell).
People on immunosuppression therapies sufficient to significantly increase risk of infection.
Women who are pregnant with significant heart disease, congenital or acquired.
Other people have also been classed as clinically extremely vulnerable, based on clinical judgement and an assessment of their needs. GPs and hospital clinicians have been provided with guidance to support these decisions.

More information about who has been classed as clinically extremely vulnerable is available on the NHS Digital website.

Return to practice key changes

KEY CHANGES

Consultations
To reduce the amount face to face contact time all pre-treatment consultations will take place via Zoom or Cliniko the day before treatment takes place. A Health Consultation Information Consent form will be emailed to you after the consultation which should be emailed back to me if possible or bought to the treatment appointment ( emailed version would be preferred).
A Consent Form will be need to signed with every visit until otherwise notified by the British Acupuncture Council

Temperature Check
Your temperature will be taken on arrival using a Hands-Free Thermometer
Hand Washing/Sanitising
On arrival before entering the treatment room you will be asked to sanitise your hands as per instructions . This is repeated before leaving too.
Treatment Spacing
There will be a minimum of 30 minutes between each patient treatment to ensure thorough cleaning/disinfecting and airing of the room via opening of windows.
Please arrive as close to your appointment time to prevent any meeting of other patients. Please come alone to your treatment
Masks
Please ensure that you wear a face mask as soon as you arrive, if you do not have one, one will be provide for you. This mask should be worn for the duration of your appointment.
PPE for Practitioner
During the appointment I will be wearing fluid resistant surgical mask, disposable gloves and apron and visor. Also hand washing before and after any contact with you or surfaces.
Cleaning
All surface will be deep cleaned between each patient following a cleaning schedule. This includes surfaces such as door handles, key pads, desk and treatment surfaces, treatment couches, plastic chairs, payment terminals and bins.
All couches and pillows have PVC covers and are disinfectable, but will be also covered with disposable paper towel and any cloth towels used will be changed for every patient and will be washed at 60 degree.
Clothes
I have specially dedicated clothes for the clinic that will only be worn during the time of treatment. I will be using disposable aprons over these dedicated clothes and will change the aprons after each treatment.
High Risk Patients
At this time, I will not be seeing Clinically vulnerable people . If you are uncertain whether you fall into this group please call and I can clarify this for you. This is for your safety. I will continually monitor the BacC Guidelines for additional information.
The ‘clinically vulnerable’ category includes ‘pregnant women’. The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists have identified that women in the third trimester of pregnancy are at a higher level of vulnerability then those in the first and second. You can find out more detailed information on this point here https://www.rcog.org.uk/globalassets/documents/guidelines/2020-05-22-occupational-health-advice-for-employers-and-pregnant-women-during-the-covid-19-pandemic.pdf

Payment
Please note all payments should be done online prior to treatment. No cash will be accepted

Patients must inform me if they develop any Covid-19 symptoms or have a confirmed diagnosis within 14 days of leaving my practice. Government Track and Trace Procedures will then be followed.
Please see Data Protection information in the link below:

https://ico.org.uk/global/data-protection-and-coronavirus-information-hub/data-protection-and-coronavirus/health-social-care-organisations-and-coronavirus-what-you-need-to-know/?fbclid=IwAR0RKixFsc3fVaiB7JTymv62754EYiMTXzct380J3xgUxcPPxzivUoPpG4Y

Research shows Acupuncture has positive impact on IVF

Acupuncture has positive impact on the birth rate of sub fertile women undergoing IVF/ICSI, studies show.

Key Points

  • A recent high-level review found acupuncture to significantly improve birth rate.
  • A summary of 11 reviews up to 2017 found acupuncture to significantly improve clinical pregnancy rate but scientific methods need to be improved.
  • Experimental research should explore the impact of acupuncture on follicular development with the aim to improve embryo/blastocyst quality.
  • Acupuncture is a suitable treatment option to help reduce stress and anxiety levels.

What should you know?

A recent systematic review and meta-analysis (the highest level of research for evaluating the effects of a treatment) investigated the effects of acupuncture on sub fertile women during in vitro fertilisation (IVF) or intra-cytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI).1

A total of 3,188 sub fertile women from 12 randomised controlled trials were included in this latest investigation.

What did the research find?

Acupuncture significantly improved the live birth rate of sub fertile patients undergoing IVF/ICSI.

Why is this important?

In the UK, the overall birth rate following assisted reproduction is only 21% to 22% (fresh and frozen transfer). The birth rate varies with age and the type of transfer (see Table 1).

Table 1 UK birth rates per embryo transfer2
Age Range Fresh Cycle Transfer Frozen Cycle Transfer
35 and under 29% 26%
35–37 23% 23%
38–39 15% 21%
40–42 10% 15%
43–44 7% 14%

Live birth rate can be considered the most important measure of success for sub fertile people undergoing assisted reproductive treatment.

Acupuncture has been shown to have a significant treatment effect on live birth rates, indicating that it may complement an IVF/ICSI cycle.

What is different about this new systematic review and meta-analysis?

Researchers did not just focus on trials with a limited number of sessions around the time of egg collection or embryo transfer but also included those with more extensive acupuncture treatment.

What has other research indicated?

A recent overview of systematic reviews from 2009 up to 2017, found that acupuncture given at the time of egg collection/embryo transfer improved clinical pregnancy rates3.

The authors did not find a significant effect for live birth rates when acupuncture was administered around egg collection only or embryo transfer only. This evidence was graded as low quality, which means that the true effect of acupuncture administration could be substantially different from this overview’s findings.

The inconclusiveness of the evidence-base in this overview reflects the inadequacy of the scientific methods applied so far to evaluate the effects of acupuncture. Future experimental recommendations included a focus on acupuncture to influence embryo quality via improvement of egg quality, rather than treating women only after fertilisation.

One very recent trial from Australia is not included in the reviews discussed above4. It was the largest randomised trial so far of acupuncture with IVF but technical issues make its conclusions hard to relate to routine clinical practice.

A 2018 trial from China looked specifically at having acupuncture just during the follicular phase of IVF/ICSI and found it improved ovarian blood supply and pregnancy rate5.

Overall, research on acupuncture alongside IVF/ICSI is by no means conclusive and is ongoing.

Acupuncture improves emotional wellbeing during IVF

Assisted reproduction treatment can be stressful and interventions to support the psychological impact of subfertility and fertility treatment should be offered. Studies indicate that acupuncture treatment can reduce stress and/or anxiety and increase women’s ability to cope with the IVF process6.

When should I have acupuncture?

A comprehensive acupuncture treatment management strategy may be required leading up to an IVF/ICSI cycle (pre-treatment), and then during ovarian stimulation, with an aim to influence the development of ovarian follicles. In addition, treatment may also be provided around embryo transfer, and shortly afterwards during the two-week wait prior to a pregnancy test, to possibly influence implantation and relieve stress and anxiety resulting from uncertainty.

Research indicates that the effectiveness of acupuncture may be dose-dependent, i.e. you need to have a sufficient number of sessions over an adequate period of time.

References

  1. Zhang X et al (2018). Effects of acupuncture during in vitro fertilization or intracytoplasmic sperm injection: An updated systematic review and meta-analysis. European Journal of Integrative Medicine 23: 14–25.
  2. Human Fertilisation & Embryology Authority (2018). Fertility treatment 2014–2016: Trends and figures. Available at: https://www.hfea.gov.uk/media/2563/hfea-fertility-trends-and-figures-2017-v2.pdf [23 October 2018].
  3. Xi J et al (2018). Effects of Acupuncture on the Outcomes of Assisted Reproductive Technology: An Overview of Systematic Reviews. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med 2018:7352735.
  4. Smith CA et al (2018). Effect of Acupuncture vs Sham Acupuncture on Live Births Among Women Undergoing In Vitro Fertilization: A Randomized Clinical Trial. JAMA 319(19):1990-1998.
  5. Xu ZZ, Gao Y (2018). Effects of acupuncture on ovarian blood supply and pregnancy outcomes in patients receiving assisted reproduction. Journal of Acupuncture and Tuina Science 16(4):253-259
  6. Smith CA et al (2014).The effect of acupuncture on psychosocial outcomes for women experiencing infertility: a pilot randomized controlled trial. J Altern Complement Med 17(10):923-30

Additional Info

  • Terms and conditions: Terms and conditions The use of this fact sheet is for the use of British Acupuncture Council members and is subject to the strict conditions imposed by the British Acupuncture Council details of which can be found in the members area of its website www.acupuncture.org.uk.
Last modified on Monday, 26 November 2018 22:21

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RE-OPENING OF CLINIC

After being closed for over 12 weeks due to the COVID 19 ,I have now decided to re-open and start booking appointments from Monday 22nd June 2020.
This will be done following the ‘ STAYING COVID -19 SECURE IN 2020’ guidelines issued by the government and the British Acupuncture Council my governing body.
Hopefully it will still remain a welcoming and relaxing environment for you. Please find below all the steps that will be necessary to keep us all safe
If you feel that you are not ready to resume face to face treatments, but would like to discuss any issue with me book a mini consultation with me. https://www.ecotherapies.co.uk/bookings/

KEY CHANGES

Consultations
To reduce the amount face to face contact time all pre-treatment consultations will take place via Zoom or Cliniko the day before treatment takes place. A Health Consultation Information Consent form will be emailed to you after the consultation which should be emailed back to me if possible or bought to the treatment appointment ( emailed version would be preferred).
A Consent Form will be need to signed with every visit until otherwise notified by the British Acupuncture Council

Temperature Check
Your temperature will be taken on arrival using a Hands-Free Thermometer
Hand Washing/Sanitising
On arrival before entering the treatment room you will be asked to sanitise your hands as per instructions . This is repeated before leaving too.
Treatment Spacing
There will be a minimum of 30 minutes between each patient treatment to ensure thorough cleaning/disinfecting and airing of the room via opening of windows.
Please arrive as close to your appointment time to prevent any meeting of other patients. Please come alone to your treatment
Masks
Please ensure that you wear a face mask as soon as you arrive, if you do not have one, one will be provide for you. This mask should be worn for the duration of your appointment.
PPE for Practitioner
During the appointment I will be wearing fluid resistant surgical mask, disposable gloves and apron and visor. Also hand washing before and after any contact with you or surfaces.
Cleaning
All surface will be deep cleaned between each patient following a cleaning schedule. This includes surfaces such as door handles, key pads, desk and treatment surfaces, treatment couches, plastic chairs, payment terminals and bins.
All couches and pillows have PVC covers and are disinfectable, but will be also covered with disposable paper towel and any cloth towels used will be changed for every patient and will be washed at 60 degree.

Clothing

I have specially dedicated clothes for the clinic that will only be worn during the time of treatment. I will be using disposable aprons over these dedicated clothes and will change the aprons after each treatment.
High Risk Patients
At this time, I will not be seeing Clinically vulnerable people . If you are uncertain whether you fall into this group please call and I can clarify this for you. This is for your safety. I will continually monitor the BacC Guidelines for additional information.

Payments
Please note all payments should be done online prior to treatment. No cash will be accepted

Fertile Cervical Mucus , Nature’s way of letting you know that you are now fertile !

Cervical Mucus

What is it? It is comprised of mucus molecules, water,   various enzymes and proteins, sodium chloride and potassium.  Without Fertile Cervical Mucus sperm would not survive long enough to even get the opportunity to fertilize the egg.

It is produced by the cervix as your oestrogen levels start to increase in the first half of your menstrual cycle, (follicular phase) on average about 5 days before you ovulate. These days before ovulation are known as your fertile window. During this time it is possible for the sperm to survive in the fallopian tubes until ovulation happens and the egg is released from the ovary and travels along the tubes to meet up with the surviving sperms. If you have sex during this window(before ovulation) it is  possible to get pregnant

Why is Fertile Mucus so important

  • It changes the pH in the vagina from its usual acidic state to a more alkaline during the fertile window. The  normal acidic state inside the vagina would only allow the sperm to survive there for just a couple of hours.
  • It keeps the sperm alive for up to 5 days ,providing nutrients
  • transports the sperm into the uterus and  into the fallopian tubes
  • filters out poor quality sperm
  • It prepares the sperm to be able to fertilize the egg via a process called capacitation

After ovulation the mucus changes in response to the hormone progesterone produced after ovulation( from the left over shell known as the Corpus Luteum ). It dries up forming a mucus plug that blocks the cervix and vagina becomes acidic again.

How to identify fertile cervical mucus

During your fertile window 2 types of cervical mucus are produced, peak mucus and non-peak.

Peak mucus is clear, stretchy,and or lubricative/slippery, very similar to raw egg white and stretches between your fingers. You will notice when you wipe yourself after using the toilet it feels slippery and you experience a feeling of wetness during the day.

Non-peak mucus is white, not stretchy between the fingers, it feels similar to white hand lotion or maybe sticky. This usually appears after the dry days after your period and then transitions into  peak  mucus.

Though both mucus are considered to be fertile, the peak mucus is produced closer to ovulation and is higher in the sperm friendly qualities.

Things that can affect the amount of mucus you produce

  • Recently stopped taking the birth control pill
  • As you get older
  • Antihistamines, Clomid  & Progesterone
  • Water in take
  • Paraben free lubricants can be helpful

So if you take note of  the signs your body is showing you ,it is possible to know your most fertile time, whether you are trying to conceive or trying to avoid pregnancy.

If you feel that you would like some coaching on how to discover your fertile window or fertile signs, please book a free 10 minute consultation here to see if you would like to work with me

If you would like to read more about the cervical mucus  a great book to start with is ‘The fifth vital sign’ by Lisa Henderson-Jacks

Are You Struggling to get Pregnant or Stay Pregnant?

Are You Struggling to get Pregnant or Stay Pregnant?

If you’re struggling to or stay pregnant that’s a sign that something isn’t right with your health, even if you’ve  not had a diagnosis from your GP.

Your body is incredibly intelligent when it comes to your health and conception. It has an innate ability to know when the conditions are optimal to conceive a baby and when they are not. Your body identifies that you are not healthy enough to have a baby or its not the right time to conceive.Fertility is all about survival.

Often couples are given the diagnosis of “Unexplained infertility”, but there is no such thing, there is always a reason, but often conventional medicine doesn’t dig deep enough or they don’t have the right tools to get to the root of the problem.

This is where  I can use my experience and the tools Functional Medicine and  Chinese Medicine to help you work to identify what it is that might be getting in  the way and interfering with you body’s natural ability to conceive.

We will work together  to fix the roots cause of your struggle to conceive naturally or support your journey through IVF if necessary.

My Online Video Fertility Coaching Program can help couples whether you are already struggling with your fertility or  you know you want a baby in the future and want to prepare.

So What Does the Online Coaching Program involve?

1 hour Initial Online Video Consultation- This is where it starts, here we get to know each other, an in depth consultation takes place, you tell me about your fertility journey so far. I will ask a variety of questions such as what age did you start you periods, were they regular. What types of childhood illness did you have, are suffering with any present health issues. What tests you or your partner have had so far and how long ago. Is there a family history of fertility?  How are you monitoring your fertility? Do you have any allergies or food sensitivities and how well to you cope with stress and how much good quality sleep do you get? and much more.

As you can see there are so many questions that I need to ask to get to the root cause of your particular fertility issue, no two couples are the same.

At the end of the consultation I will usually  give you some homework to do until our next session and in the next a couple of days I will email your Fertility Plan of Action

After your initial consultation we will meet on a weekly or every other week to coach you on various aspect of fertility and you any ask me questions that have come up since we last spoke.

  • Testing
  • Diet and Supplements
  • Toxins
  • Sleep, stress and exercise

Each of these session will last approximately 30minutes

If you feel that this is what you have been looking for, you can book a 10 minute free consultation Here to ask any questions Or you can book your Online Video Fertility Coaching Program Here

 

 

VITAMIN D AND FERTILITY

VITAMIN D

Vitamin D is actually a hormone, one of its main role is to balance the levels of calcium and phosphorus  in our blood.

Other functions include:

  • Regulating blood sugar and insulin sensitivity
  • Immune health
  • Gene expression
  • Mental health
  • Cell growth and differentiation
  • Cardiovascular health

Recent studies suggest that vitamin D status may have an impact on fertility, pregnancy, miscarriage, preeclampsia, gestational diabetes, pre-term birth and  negative birth outcomes.

Biological actions of vitamin D are controlled through vitamin D receptors (VDR) that are distributed across various tissues .

The presence of VDR in reproductive tissues in both males and females suggests a possible important role in the regulation of reproductive processes. In females, VDR are expressed in the ovaries, placenta, and endometrium . In males, VDR can be found in smooth muscles of the genital tract, testicular tissue, and sperm .

Studies in women suggest that the vitamin D is involved in  endometriosis  and associated with insulin resistance and Polycystic ovarian syndrome and early miscarriage

A recent study showed that the levels of Vitamin D in the  serum and follicular fluid concentrations  in the ovaries  were associated  with higher  rates of success in achieving a clinical pregnancy in IVF cycles.

Decreased vitamin D levels  in men have been associated with poor semen quality, low sperm count, and abnormal motility and morphology.

How to get enough Vitamin D

The best way to get your Vitamin D is through sun exposure. Hence the name the Sunshine Vitamin. It  can be difficult to get enough from the sun if you live in the Northern hemisphere, especially during the winter, if you have dark skin tone or you wear sunscreen.

Best food sources of Vitamin D are:

  • Cod liver oil
  • Fatty Fish (salmon, trout, tuna, sardines)
  • Egg yolks
  • Beef liver
  • Full fat milk from grass fed cows

It can often be difficult to get sufficient from the sun and food alone

Its always best to test and not guess to find out if  your levels of vitamin D are optimum . Levels above  75nmoI/L are optimum. Easy to test your vitamin D levels  here

If your Vitamin levels are deficient, it is easier to increase  them with Vitamin D supplements, then retest in 3 months time

Food based Vitamin D supplements available here

Interesting article to read  10 things you didn’t know about Vitamin D

 

 

Which Supplements can help with PCOS?

Which Supplements can help with PCOS?

Before we jump into supplements, please understand that you cannot out-supplement a poor diet. Your diet is your best weapon for fighting PCOS. (see 10 steps to improving PCOS)

Inositol

Secondary insulin messengers helps insulin to function  inside your cells. It improves insulin sensitivity, reduces androgen and restores regular ovulation. There are two main types D-chiro-inositol and Myo-inositol (often known as just inositol).

Magnesium

Improves insulin sensitivity – natural metformin. 300mg daily with food. Magnesium available here

 

Vitamin D

The sunshine vitamin – this improves insulin sensitivity and promotes healthy ovarian follicular maturation.

Ideal you should test your vitamin D levels . Minimum dosage 1000IU daily more if deficient . Vitamin D available here

Zinc

Zinc is a key nutrient for ovarian health, promotes healthy ovulation and progesterone and also has an anti-androgen effects, improving hirsutism. Recommended dose 20 to 50mg daily with food as zinc on an empty stomach can cause nausea. Zinc available here

Peony and Licorice

Peony inhibits the production testosterone . Licorice lowers testosterone and blocks androgen receptors ( Licorice can raise blood pressure so do not take if you already have high blood pressure). This combination of herbs is powerful, so is best taken after seeking professional advice.

Saw Palmetto and Milk Thistle

Saw Palmetto help to reduce the production of  male hormones, especially DHT ,thereby protecting the hair of the scalp and preventing it from falling out.It also protects the follicles over the rest of the body to keep body hair from growing longer, thicker, and darker. Dose 160mg daily

Milk Thistle has been shown to protect the liver from stress and to help repair existing damage. The liver is the body’s clearinghouse and must be in good working order to maintain healthy skin Dose 200mg daily

Not to be used by women who are breastfeeding, pregnant, or trying to become pregnant, unless directed by your physician.

Available here

Inositol, magnesium,zinc and vitamin D are my first to go to especially if you have insulin resistance type PCOS

Articles of interest :4 types of PCOS

4 Types of PCOS

How do Food Allergies or Sensitivities Impact your Fertility?

 

How do food allergies or sensitivities impact fertility?

When considering healthy eating it is very important to factor in how food allergies/sensitivities impact fertility, your ability to conceive, your pregnancy and the health of your offspring.

Your immune system and fertility are closely related. More and more research shows that what we eat not only directly correlates to how fertile our bodies will be, but also dictates the health of our offspring and subsequent generations.

In fact, more and more studies are discussing the concept of immunological infertility. One of the causes of immunological infertility is food allergies, which illustrates the profound effect of food on our ability to conceive and maintain a healthy pregnancy. Since more than 65% of our immune system ‘lives in the gut’ it is no wonder food impacts our health and fertility.

The actual process of conception initiates an immune response because the body initially perceives the embryo to be foreign. An ‘over-reaction’ of the immune system may translate into a negative immune reaction against the developing embryo.

Some researchers believe that increased irritation and inflammation of the gut (possibly due to allergies and other aggravating substances), combined with an overactive immune response, may damage the embryo, prevent implantation and possibly even lead to miscarriage.

Another important point regarding food allergies is that research now shows that an allergic parent may pass his/her allergies onto a developing baby, thus contributing to an allergic child.

So, constant immune assault from toxins or allergens may turn the body against itself, leading to auto-immune antibodies and conditions that affect fertility. Hashimoto’s disease, an auto-immune condition that causes hypothyroidism  has been linked to gluten sensitivity. A healthy functioning thyroid is important for fertility . Conditions such Endometriosis are often associated with sensitivities too

Hence I recommend to my patients that all known allergens/sensitivities be totally avoided in the important time prior to conception and during pregnancy. The message is simple: Why should you risk it? Your general health will be so much better too.

Sometimes people don’t connect unpleasant symptoms with their allergies/sensitivities:

  • Symptoms of food allergies/sensitivities include:
    • Lack of energy
    • Bloating
    • Wind
    • Nausea
    • Stomach pain
    • Gas, cramps or bloating
    • Heartburn
    • Irritability or nervousness
    • Anxiety (acute or chronic)
    • Arthritis
    • Asthma
    • Attention Deficit Disorder
    • Bed wetting
    • Bronchitis
    • Coeliac Disease
    • Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
    • Constipation
    • Cystic Fibrosis
    • Depression
    • Diarrhoea
    • Fibromyalgia
    • Gastritis
    • Headaches
    • Hyperactivity Disorder
    • Inflammatory Bowel Disease
    • Insomnia
    • Irritable Bowel Syndrome
    • Itchy skin problems
    • Malabsorption
    • Migraine
    • Sleep disturbances
    • Water retention
    • Weight control problems

 

so, to be safe, it is always best to investigate via comprehensive allergy/sensitivity testing. Checking for food allergies is vital because they are so prevalent (see below):

Most Common Food Intolerances and Sensitivities Prevalence
Dairy(including lactose intolerance) ~75% 3 in 4 people
Yeast(e.g. Candida infections) ~33% 1 in 3 people
Gluten(including wheat intolerance and coeliac disease) ~15% 1 in 7 people
Fructose and/or sugar ~35% 1 in 3 people
Miscellaneous foods ~1% 1 in 100 people

Source: www.foodintol.com

The most conclusive way to find out whether you have allergies or not, is by having a comprehensive food allergy test, with a referral from your health care practitioner.

Most basic (i.e. dairy, gluten eggs) allergy tests are too basic to show you the entire picture so it is important that you find a practitioner who knows how to order and interpret comprehensive tests (90+ foods), or you may waste your money and lose the opportunity to transform your health.

If you choose to have a food allergy test you should only begin avoiding the foods you think, or know, you are allergic to AFTER you have completed testing. Otherwise, your allergens may not show up in the test and you will not have an accurate report on which to base future eating habits.

Obviously, the benefit of a food allergy test is that it eliminates the trial and error method of figuring out what to avoid. Why do you need to avoid allergens completely? Well, why would you want to (even slightly) provoke your immune system, particularly when the health of your unborn child is at stake? For more information Food sensitivities and testing click here

Other articles on food allergies and sensitivities:

FOOD ALLERGY OR INTOLERANCE ?

Food Intolerance Indicator Test

The Oestrogen ‘Roller Coaster’ of Perimenopause

Natural alternatives for the Menopause

As an experienced Acupuncturist and Functional Medicine Practitioner, I have found that combining acupuncture  with nutritional, supplements and lifestyle advice may provide natural effective relief from some of the numerous symptoms from hormonal imbalance such as the menopause/perimenopause.

 is it menopause  or Perimenopause?

Perimenopause can start in your early 40s, Hot flushes, insomnia, mood swings and very heavy periods. This is not the menopause, this could still be another decade away, this is the Perimenopause.  The word Menopause is often used instead of perimenopause. Menopause is a time of low ostrogen, were as perimenopause is a time of oestrogen roller coaster, a time when you can have more ostrogen than you have had before. It is actually a time of low progesterone.

Perimenopause can last between 2 and 12 years. Menopause is the life phase that begins 1 year after  your last period, when most of these symptoms calm down.

What are the symptoms of perimenopause?

There are a number of symptoms attributed to perimenopause according to the Canadian endocrinologist Jerilynn Prior such as:

  • Onset of heavy and/or longer periods
  • shorter cycles (less than 25 days)
  • New sore, swollen or lumpy breasts
  • New mid-sleep waking
  • increased menstrual cramps
  • onset of night sweats particular just before periods
  • new/increase migraines
  • new/increase premenstrual mood swings
  • weight gain without changes in exercise or eating patterns
  • These changes can come on quite quickly
  • All the above symptoms(especially brain fog/poor concentration) can look like Thyroid issues, it couldbe either or both, so please get your thyroid checked (26% of perimenopausal women have autoimmune thyroid disease)                             Get a comprehensive thyroid test here

 

 Menopause- Life after periods

Menopause can be difficult for some, but often its the perimenopause/ transition period that’s troublesome. Often menopause can be easy and some women may not require treatment.

During this phase you have much less oestrogen  and progesterone, but your body does produce small amounts from your ovaries, adrenal glands and from inside your  cells from the precursor hormone DHEA.

In certain conditions such as Premature or surgical menopause HRT will be required.

Menopause symptoms due to low oestrogen:

  • Hot flushes
  • vaginal dryness
  • reduce libido
  • painful intercourse
  • increased bladder infection/leaking urine
  • pelvic prolaps
  • weight gain
  • osteoporosis

 Treatments

The types of treatment required depends at which phase you are in Perimenpause will focus on supporting progesterone and menopause may need oestrogen support.

Many women are offered  Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) to ease their symptoms by their doctors. Some women prefer a more natural approach or they may not  be able to take HRT due to previous medical history.  This can be very effective, but I would always recommend you request body-identical (Bio-identical) forms of HRT (less side affects)

Natural approach

Using acupuncture, supplements  along with a changes in your diet and life style can  help to relieve the symptoms of hormonal imbalance of the perimenopause/menopause.

 

If you interested to find out how I can help with Perimenopause/Menopause  in Leigh on Sea, Essex or the London Area and want an appointment telephone 07949407336 or email me.

FOOD ALLERGY OR INTOLERANCE ?

 

If you suffer from sensitivities to foods and other substances you are not alone.  A very high percentage of people in the UK suffer from food intolerance and other allergies, which produce a wide range of symptoms that often cause problems over many years.  The British Allergy Foundation estimates that some 1 in 60 people have a specific allergic reaction to a particular food, and around 1 in 2 have a more general intolerance to one or more foods, often contributing to other chronic illnesses.

There is a lot of confusion about the difference between an Allergy and an Intolerance but it is actually fairly simple.

Food Allergy

When the body perceives something as potentially harmful or foreign it launches an attack by producing antibodies. If you have a ‘classic food or an inhalant allergy’ then the body produces a type of antibody called an IgE antibody. These antibodies are responsible for the reaction seen when people eat an offending food such as peanuts, shellfish and strawberries. Symptoms are immediate and can be very severe such as wheals and swelling of the lips and throat.

Food Intolerance

When you have an intolerance to a food a different type of antibody is produced – this time an IgG antibody, these antibodies can be responsible for many of the symptoms and as the are not always immediate it can be difficult to identify which food or foods may be causing a problem. For more information on Food Intolerance See Below. For information about testing for Food Intolerances click here

Inhalent Allergies

Some people are unlucky enough to react to pollen and other environmental allergens.

Food Intolerance

Perhaps you are suffering from a chronic condition, or you just don’t feel 100% or perhaps you suffer from bloating and digestive problems. If that is the case then it could simply be the food you are eating is affecting your body.

Food Intolerance is a reaction to food that may cause unpleasant symptoms and is associated with a host of chronic conditions. Symptoms can occur swiftly after eating an offending food but they can also take as long as five days to occur meaning that it can be very difficult working out exactly which foods you are reacting to.

Wouldn’t it be great to know which foods you could eat with confidence and which you are best avoiding.

Symtoms of food intolerance include:

  • Lack of energy
  • Bloating
  • Wind
  • Nausea
  • Stomach pain
  • Gas, cramps or bloating
  • Heartburn
  • Irritability or nervousness
  • Anxiety (acute or chronic)
  • Arthritis
  • Asthma
  • Attention Deficit Disorder
  • Bed wetting
  • Bronchitis
  • Coeliac Disease
  • Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
  • Constipation
  • Cystic Fibrosis
  • Depression
  • Diarrhoea
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Gastritis
  • Headaches
  • Hyperactivity Disorder
  • Inflammatory Bowel Disease
  • Insomnia
  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome
  • Itchy skin problems
  • Malabsorption
  • Migraine
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Water retention
  • Weight control problems

Testing for food intolerances

It is simple and easy to test for food intolerances with an at home skin prick test and there are a range of different test panels which test for different foods  available so you can pick a test to meet you needs. For more information please Click Here

Food Intolerance Indicator Test

All About the Food Intolerance Indicator Test

Perhaps you are suffering from a chronic condition, or you just don’t feel 100%. You could be suffering from bloating and digestive problems or you could have problem skin. All of these conditions and many more have a possible link with food Intolerances that could be well worth investigating.

Food Indicator Test

When you have an intolerance to a food an IgG antibody is produced and these antibodies can be responsible for many of the symptoms associated with a food Intolerance and as symptoms are not always immediate it can be difficult to identify which food or foods may be causing a problem.

Symptoms of food intolerance include

  • Nausea
  • Stomach pain
  • Gas, cramps or bloating
  • Vomiting
  • Heartburn
  • Irritability or nervousness
  • Anxiety (acute or chronic)
  • Arthritis
  • Asthma
  • Attention Deficit Disorder
  • Bed wetting
  • Bloating
  • Bronchitis
  • Coeliac Disease
  • Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
  • Constipation
  • Cystic Fibrosis
  • Depression
  • Diarrhoea
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Gastritis
  • Headaches
  • Hyperactivity Disorder
  • Inflammatory Bowel Disease
  • Insomnia
  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome
  • Itchy skin problems
  • Malabsorption
  • Migraine
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Water retention
  • Weight control problems

The Food Intolerance Indicator Test

This yes/no test is a quick way to determine whether or not your symptoms could be related to foods.

The finger prick indicator test gives you a clear Positive or Negative results tested against 40 foods but does NOT provide you with a list of which foods you are reacting to.

If you are sure that food Intolerances are causing you a problem you may like to skip this step and go straight onto A Food Intolerance Test.

A NEGATIVE indicator result means you can rule out food as the problem.

A POSITIVE indicator result means that IgG antibodies have been detected against one or more of the foods, indicating that this may be causing your symptoms.

If you have a POSITIVE result, you can choose to ”upgrade” from the Indicator test to a 40 , 60 , 120 or 200, vegetarian or vegan food intolerance test.

There is no need to send another blood sample if you choose to upgrade with in a month of receiving your results as we can arrange for your indicator blood sample to be used.

If you do wish to upgrade to a more comprehensive test, you will only pay the difference in price between the Indicator test and the upgrade of your choice.  To upgrade please email us or give us a call or click on the which ever buy now upgrade button you need.

The indicator test checks for intolerance to:

Cow’s milk, egg white, egg yolk, cod, crab, haddock, lobster, plaice, shrimp/prawn, apple, blackberry, grapefruit, lemon, orange, pear, raspberry, strawberry, barley, corn, durum wheat, gliadin, oats, rye, rice, wheat, beef, chicken, lamb, pork, turkey, almond, cashew nut, hazelnut, peanut, red kidney bean, white haricot bean, broccoli, cabbage (savoy & white), cauliflower, pea, potato, soya bean, baker’s yeast, brewer’s yeast.

Turn Around Time

12 days

Is a gluten free diet harming your health?

Is a gluten free diet harming your health?
Growing availability of testing uncovers more people each day that have gluten intolerance. For them, gluten free must become a way of life. It’s likely that some of people are struggle with undiagnosed gluten intolerance as well. But while many transition to a gluten free life to reduce symptoms, they often adopt some bad gluten free habits. A gluten free diet doesn’t always equal healthy.

Having recently been diagnosed with gluten intolerance I can relate to this.

What is Gluten Intolerance?

Those with gluten intolerance have a difficult time digesting the protein Gliadin. Gliadin can be found in most grains. The inability to digest gliadin properly causes a wide variety of symptoms. It also results in immune reactions throughout the body. Gluten intolerance has also been linked to autoimmune disease.

A Gluten Free Diet is Not Always Healthy

Today’s modern diet typically contains a large amount of foods that contain gluten. While switching to a gluten free diet, many simply swap out highly processed gluten filled foods for gluten free ones. Eliminating the gluten that causes problems in their body is good. But eating highly processed foods with high amounts of refined sugar and carbohydrates should be avoided. These foods cause blood sugar fluctuation and promote disease just like their gluten filled cousins. “A gluten free sugar laden cake , is just a cake without gluten’

 

Food manufacturers have jumped on the gluten free bandwagon. Gluten free foods have become big business. Just go to your local grocery store and you’ll see plenty of highly processed, unhealthy gluten free foods.

The Simplicity of a Healthy Gluten Free Diet

A healthy diet includes plenty of natural whole foods such as meat, fruit and vegetables. People have consumed these foods for millions of years. These foods also help to rebuild good health. And none of these foods contain gluten, which helps those avoiding it.

A Change in Diet Can Be Healthy

Many face challenging emotions when having to eliminate gluten from their diet. Completely changing how they eat and giving up favourite foods can be a struggle. But moving away from gluten and highly processed gluten free products can lead to a much better quality of life.

 

Most people with gluten intolerance don’t feel good. Many have come to accept it as normal. But by choosing a healthy, whole food, gluten free diet, they often eliminate digestive discomfort, fatigue, mood problems and skin issues and much more.. And they may even reverse disease. Following a healthy gluten free diet based on natural whole foods increases their chances of being active, pain free and disease free well into their old age.

Choosing the healthy diet

Awareness of gluten intolerance spreads more each day. With it comes even more gluten free alternatives to popular processed foods. I try to educate my clients about the dangers of these foods. And encourage them to opt for a diet filled with gluten free, natural whole foods and help them to rebuild their health and thrive

I recommend a gluten free diet to clients that are struggling with infertility, especially if they have endometriosis, Polycystic ovarian syndrome, thyroid problems or any type of autoimmune issue

 

The importance of the thyroid gland for fertility

New research suggests that a slightly underactive thyroid may affect a women’s ability to become pregnant

even when the gland is functioning at the low end of the normal range, according to a study published in the Endocrine Society’s Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism.

The study found women who have unexplained infertility were nearly twice as likely to have higher levels of a hormone that stimulates the thyroid gland than women who did not conceive due to known issues with their male partner’s sperm count. Thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) is produced by the pituitary gland at the base of the brain and tells the thyroid gland to produce more hormones when needed. Elevated TSH levels can be a sign that the thyroid gland is underactive.

Unexplained infertility occurs when couples are unable to get pregnant despite months of trying and a medical evaluation shows no reason for their infertility. About 10 percent of American women between the ages of 15 and 44 have difficulty becoming or staying pregnant, according to the Office of Women’s Health in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Between 10 percent and 30 percent of affected couples have unexplained infertility, according to the JCEM study.

“When couples who are ready to start a family are unable to conceive despite extensive planning, multiple doctor’s visits, and expensive treatments, it can be emotionally devastating,” said the study’s senior author, Pouneh K. Fazeli, M.D., M.P.H., of Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School in Boston, Mass. “Since our study shows that women with unexplained infertility have higher TSH levels compared to women experiencing infertility due to a known cause, more research is needed to determine whether treating these higher TSH levels with thyroid hormone can improve their chances of getting pregnant.”

As part of the cross-sectional study, the researchers analyzed data from female patients between the ages of 18-39 years of age who were diagnosed with infertility at Partners HealthCare System hospitals in Boston, Mass., between 2000 and 2012. Only women with regular menstrual cycles and a normal fertility evaluation were included. The researchers looked at TSH levels taken as part of the fertility evaluation from 187 women with unexplained infertility and 52 whose partners had severe male factor infertility.

The researchers found that women with unexplained infertility had significantly higher TSH levels than women with infertility due to a known cause. Nearly twice as many women with unexplained infertility had a TSH greater than 2.5 mlU/L compared to women whose partners had male factor infertility.      Get your TSH tested here

“Since we now know from our study that there is an association between TSH levels at the high end of the normal range and unexplained infertility, it is possible that a high-normal TSH level may negatively impact women who are trying to get pregnant,” Fazeli said. “This could open up new avenues for possible treatments. The next step will be to see if lowering TSH levels will help this group conceive.”

Get a comprehensive thyroid test here

Journal Reference:

  1. Tahereh Orouji Jokar, Lindsay T Fourman, Hang Lee, Katherine Mentzinger, Pouneh K Fazeli. Higher TSH levels within the normal range are associated with unexplained infertility. The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, 2017; DOI: 10.1210/jc.2017-02120

7 Toxins Lurking in your Deodorant

 7 Toxins Lurking in your Deodorant

 While many deodorants may work for sweat patrol, they can be a sneaky source of toxins that are dangerous to your health.

Your skin is an absorbent sponge. Whatever touches it has the potential to be absorbed through your skin’s layers and enter your bloodstream. This includes toxins and chemicals that can be found in lotions, makeup, shampoo, and even the deodorant you swipe on every day.

Many of the conventional body care products we use on a daily basis are made with a long list of chemicals, many of which haven’t been tested for safety. When these chemicals are absorbed into our bodies, it’s our liver’s job to detoxify them. While this creates extra work for your liver, many of the chemicals found in body care products have been shown to disrupt hormone and cognitive function, and in some cases, promote the growth of cancer cells (1).

The deodorant you use can directly affect your breast health.

Today, there’s a growing concern regarding underarm deodorant and breast health. Since deodorant is applied directly beside the breasts, it’s suggested there’s potential for harmful chemicals to damage breast cells. Clinical observations have shown “a disproportionately high incidence of breast cancer in the upper outer quadrant of the breast, just the local area to which these cosmetics are applied” (2).

However, you don’t have to give up deodorant altogether. When it comes to 100% natural, chemical-free body care products, such as coconut oil or shea butter, dermal absorption isn’t a problem. But knowing which chemicals to stay away from when choosing your deodorant can make all the difference to your health and well-being.

Here are 7 of the worst ingredients found in deodorants and how to find a safe, natural replacement that actually works.


The 7 Worst Ingredients Found in Your Deodorant

alum.jpg

1. Aluminum

If you have an antiperspirant stick somewhere in your bathroom, I’m willing to bet that if you look at the ingredients list you’ll find some kind of aluminum component on the label, such as aluminum chloride, aluminum zirconium or aluminum chlorohydrate.

You see, aluminum, or aluminum-based compounds and salts, are the main ingredients in most antiperspirants. The aluminum helps “plug up” sweat ducts so less sweat is produced.

Now, this may be helpful in the short-term for controlling perspiration. However, chemicals such as aluminum found in antiperspirants may alter the balance of odor-causing bacteria in your armpits, which can make the smell of your B.O. worse.

Even more concerning is research showing that aluminum can cause changes in DNA when absorbed – preventing certain cells in your body from working properly (3).

Aluminum deodorant can cause changes in DNA and hormones.

Based on where deodorant is applied – right next to breast tissue – research suggests that aluminum may interfere with estrogen receptors and alter estrogen gene expressions. This is troubling data, as estrogen is the hormone that can promote the growth of cancer breast cells (4).

And let’s not forget: while breast cancer is thought of as a female cancer, it also affects approximately 2,600 American men each year (5).

As a heavy metal, aluminum is also recognized as a neurotoxin that can promote serious cognitive disorders, such as dementia and Alzheimer’s disease (6). And while it’s argued that the amounts of aluminum we absorb from our environment and body care products are miniscule, it’s suggested that only a very small amount of excess aluminum in our bodies is needed to alter the structure of cells.

The first step to finding a safe deodorant is looking for “aluminum-free” on the label.

2. Parabens

Parabens.jpg
(Propylparaben, benzylparaben, methylparaben, butylparaben)

Parabens, a preservative and antimicrobial found in commercial deodorants, are linked to hormonal imbalances within the female and male reproductive tracts (7).

Studies on breast cancer tumors have shown concentrations of methylparabens in breast tissue, which suggests there’s a link between parabens and breast cancer cell development (8).

In addition to deodorant, parabens are also found in other cosmetics, body lotions, perfumes and moisturizers.

3. Propylene Glycol

(1,2-propanediol, methyl glycol, 1,2 dihydroxypropane and trimethyl glycol)

Propylene glycol helps absorb water, making it an ideal ingredient for antiperspirants.

Unfortunately, research suggests that propylene glycol has a negative impact on the central nervous system, and may be linked to seizures and depression. Although more research is needed on how the propylene glycol in deodorant impacts health, studies show that as a main component in burn creams, propylene glycol is most dangerous when it’s applied to and absorbed through injured skin (which includes a nick or cut from underarm shaving) (9).

4. Talc

talc.jpg
Talc, which also goes by the name hydrous magnesium silicate, is one of the ingredients that provides the chalk-white color to deodorant.

There’s a lack of evidence to show the long-term effects talc can have when it’s absorbed into the bloodstream, but some sources suggest it contains asbestos, a known irritant and carcinogen (10).

5. Triclosan

As an antibacterial and antifungal agent, triclosan is a chemical that’s used to help keep the odor-causing bacteria out of your pits. However, the FDA has issued warnings against triclosan for its ability to disrupt the functioning of thyroid hormones (11).

While the long-term impact of triclosan on human health is still being studied, it’s worth noting that coconut oil is a natural ingredient that has the same antibacterial and antifungal properties. When it’s an option, why not go chemical-free and natural?

6. Silica

Silica.jpg
If you’ve ever felt irritated or itchy from your deodorant, silica could be to blame. Silica is added to deodorant to help absorb moisture from sweat, but it’s also known for being a skin irritant.

Silica helps absorb sweat, but can irritate your skin when it’s in deodorant.

The silica found in deodorant may also be contaminated with a compound called crystalline quartz, which has been linked to respiratory diseases and the development of cancer cells (12).

7. Steareth

(Steareth-2, Steareth-15, Steareth-20, Cetereath-20)

Steareth are waxy chemicals that help keep the deodorant’s ingredients from separating. In other words, steareths prevent you from ending up with an oil and vinegar, salad dressing-style deodorant.

The toxicity of steareths are said to be low according to the EWG (13). Nonetheless, you’re rolling the dice when it comes to applying any untested chemical to your skin.


The Problem with ‘Natural’ Deodorants

natural-deodorant.jpg
While there are many natural deodorants on the market, there are a few problems when it comes to trying to beat B.O. and excess perspiration naturally.

First of all, many natural deodorants aren’t strong enough. Luckily, this can easily be resolved with natural ingredients such as apple cider vinegar and baking soda, which help control and eliminate odor-causing bacteria. Witch hazel has also been said to lower the pH of the skin in your armpits, preventing bacteria from being able to survive there.

Apple cider vinegar and baking soda can help make homemade deodorants stronger.

The second problem with natural deodorants is that the world of marketing uses “natural” as a buzzword without much authenticity. By this, I mean that you’ll see many deodorants with the word “natural” on the label, based on a few natural ingredients such as tea tree oil, while the rest of the ingredients list is still loaded with the chemicals listed above.

This is also true with deodorants that are advertised as being aluminum-free. While choosing an aluminum-free deodorant is the first and most important step to finding a safer deodorant, it’s important to be aware of the other chemicals that may be present. It should also be noted that many natural deodorants are made with baking soda as the base, but aluminum is almost always present in baking soda unless it’s labeled as aluminum-free baking soda on the ingredients list.


How to Find a Safe Deodorant That Works

woman-putting-on-deodorant.jpgThe easiest way to find a safe, natural deodorant is to read the ingredients list and scan for chemicals. It’s best to find a natural deodorant that uses organic ingredients such as:

  • Aluminum-free baking soda
  • Essential oils
  • Beeswax
  • Apple cider vinegar
  • Unrefined coconut oil
  • Witch hazel

Our recommendation:  NO PONG.

Cocos Nucifera (Coconut Oil), Sodium Bicarbonate (Baking Soda)-Aluminium Free, Corn Starch, Beeswax, and a proprietary blend of 100% pure, certified organic essential oils consisting of Orange Sweet, Vanilla, Lemongrass, Cedarwood Atlas, Bergamot, Lime, Frankincense, Ylang Ylang, and Geranium, that together give No Pong it’s fresh gender neutral smell.

 

 


The Bottom Line

Give what goes on your body the same amount of attention you give to what goes into it. Choose your body care products like you choose your food. When it comes to finding a safe deodorant with no harmful side effects, it’s important to choose products that contain no aluminum, no parabens, no GMO, no additives, and no chemical toxins. Make sure what you’re using uses trusted, organic ingredients and gets the job done naturally.

7-Toxins-Lurking-in-Your-Deodorant-infog-updated.jpg

 Information sourced from Paleohacks  Brandi Black

10 STEPS TO IMPROVING PCOS

10 STEPS TO IMPROVING PCOS

The biggest part of the problem with PCOS is insulin resistance. Resistance to insulin increases the body’s insulin levels, which can have a negative affect on ovulation by limiting the maturation process of an egg and in turn delaying or preventing ovulation from taking place. Insulin resistance also makes it difficult for the embryo to attach properly to the uterus for implantation and increases inflammation and the chances of developing type 2 diabetes

 

  1. Eliminate all sugars and reduce carbohydrates from the list attached. You should aim for about 60 to 100 grams of carbohydrates from the list below, this does not include green vegetables or root vegetables such as carrots , beets , turnips etc. there is no limit, look for hidden sugars in tomatoes sauce mayonnaise etc. Avoid artificial sweeteners.
  2. Always eat some protein and health fats and fibre with low glycemic carbohydrates; this can be animal protein or vegetable proteins. Adding protein helps to slow down the absorption of carbohydrates even further . Eat organic if possible, Healthy fats include coconut oil, ghee, organic butter, olive oil and avocado etc. Fat helps to keep you satisfied, important for absorption of fat soluble vitamins., for hormone production and absorption of minerals and protects cell membrane  Do not eat low fat products –as the fat is replaced with sugar
  3.  Make  breakfast  a high protein, fat and low carb one. Ideally do not eat between meals, but  if your hungry between meals eat a small snack containing fat and protein e.g small amount of mixed nuts, small apple with sugar free nut spread, humous and carrot/cucumber sticks
  4. Eat oily fish and foods rich in omega3 fats to make your body more sensitive to insulin and overcome insulin resistance. (Mackerel sardines salmon, trout and herrings about 3 portions a week or flaxseed/ linseed if you are vegetarian.
  5. Try cutting out all dairy products for three months to help reduce male hormone levels. Dairy contains substance called insulin-like growth factor (IGF-1), which has similar properties to insulin and often contains hormones which effect your hormone levels(not essential it helps some people) if you do eat dairy eat full fat and organic. Eat a gluten- free diet
  6. Eat more green vegetable and pluses, especially cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, kale, cauliflower, brussel sprouts and cabbages). These help to increase the levels of sex-hormone binding globulin (SHBG) produced by the liver, which help to reduce the amount of male hormones in your system. SHBG tends to be low in people with PCOS. Do not eat them raw if you have thyroid problems, lightly steam or stir-fry.
  7. Cut out alcohol to help improve liver function, which is very important in balancing blood sugar and insulin levels
  8. Reduce or eliminate caffeine to give your adrenal glands a rest and reduce the levels of cortisol produced by the adrenals and for the same reason reduce your stress levels – the stress hormone cortisol competes with fertility hormones
  9. Eliminate hydrogenated and trans fats found in processed and junk food, processed vegetable oils (corn, soya oil) and margarines to reduce the inflammatory response and damage associated with PCOS
  10. Exercise regularly incorporating cardiovascular training with exercise to build muscles (helps to reduce body fat). Avoid excessive exercise programs because too much exercise overworks the adrenal glands which increases inflammation and in turn makes PCOS worse. Restorative exercise programs are best. You could walk and lift weights, or take a Pilates class and run on the treadmill, or do some Zumba and then Fertility Yoga. Discover what you enjoy doing and do this 5 days a week for at least thirty minutes a day
  11. This an extra  one, but important INTERMITTENT FASTING- EAT IN 8/10 HOUR WINDOW ONLY- helps to improve insulin sensitivity

 

Carbohydrates that need to restricted or included in 60/100 grams daily allowance

 

Bread, cereals, crackers, snack or breakfast bars, oatmeal, pastries, cookies cakes, pasta , fruit, fruit juices, fruit smoothies, fizzy drinks, honey sugar, beer/wine, milk, rice potatoes / sweet potatoes, beans and corns

There is no limit on green vegetables or root vegetables ( squash, carrots swede, parsnips etc) because of the high nutritional content

Good fats ,protein and fibre with every meal.

Food should be as natural as possible with as few ingredients on the label

Eat a variety of food

Do not eat too much fruit , it contains fructose, a type of sugar (1/2 pieces portion of low carb fruit day such as berries or green apples)

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you would like to work with me to improve you PCOS contact me at www.ecotherapies.co.uk

 

Next article: Which Supplements can help PCOS

WHAT IS PCOS and HOW IS IT DIAGNOSED?

What is Polycystic Ovary Syndrome?

Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a complex hormonal condition in women, affecting many aspects of their health, particularly the reproductive system.
It may present with a menu of symptoms including:

  • Polycystic ovaries(surface of ovaries covered in many follicles)
  • Irregular or absent periods
  • Infertility
  • Recurrent miscarriage
  • Acne
  • Hair loss
  • Weight gain
  • Excess body hair
  • Skin tags
  • Acanthosis Nigrican
  • Diabetes
  • Hypertension
  • Fatigue
  • Mood swings

The symptoms can be mild or severe and vary from women to woman.
These symptoms are due to abnormalities in some of the hormones
that control a women’s menstrual cycle. To understand how
these imbalances affect this cycle lets see what happens in a ‘normal’ cycle.

The Normal Menstrual Cycle

In a normal menstrual cycle, the first half, called the follicular
phase, starts on the first day of a period and lasts for about 14 days, in this phase the
pituitary gland in the brain, releases the hormone, follicle stimulating
hormone (FSH). This stimulates the follicles (tiny cyst containing
immature eggs) in the ovary to grow. As the eggs mature they produce another hormone oestrogen, which causes the lining of the womb to start to thicken in preparation
for pregnancy. When the levels of oestrogen are high enough, the pituitary gland release Luteinzing
hormone (LH) and the dominant matured follicle in the ovary releases its
egg in to the fallopian tubes in a process called Ovulation.

After ovulation the Luteal phase starts, here the cells from the ruptured follicle form a cyst, called Corpus Luteum. This produces the hormone Progesterone, which cause the thickened lining of the womb to secrete nutrients ready for the fertilised egg. If the egg is fertilized it will implant and the corpus luteum will continue to produce progesterone to support the pregnancy. If it is not fertilized
the corpus luteum stops producing progesterone. Progesterone and oestrogen levels
fall and the lining of womb breaks down and is shed as a period.

What happens in PCOS?

In PCOS there is an imbalance with the hormones that mature the follicles FSH and the hormone that triggers ovulation, LH, which means that periods are irregular or absent, which makes it difficult to become pregnant. Also because there
is no ovulation there is not an increase in progesterone to balance the hormone oestrogen in the second half of the cycle and you get symptoms such as fatigue, hot flushes, mood swings,
depression and no periods.

Because the body’s hormones system is interconnected, an imbalance in one hormone can affect the balance of others. PCOS affects the hormone Insulin, which is produced by the pancreas
to regulate the levels of glucose in the blood. Many women can become insulin resistant,  this means the body produce more insulin to push the glucose into the cells. Insulin also encourages the body to store sugar as fat.  This causes weight gain, difficulty in losing weight and often
development of type 2 diabetes.

The high levels of insulin, signals the ovaries to secrete testosterone and inhibit hepatic sex-hormone binding globulin (SHBG) production, which leads to an increased level of circulating testosterone. This is why many women with PCOS experience acne, facial hair growth and male pattern baldness (hirsutism). Excess insulin in the bloodstream also signals the ovaries to release more oestrogen, which can suppress ovulation.

PCOS women also suffer with low grade inflammation .

What causes PCOS?

Doctors do not yet fully understand what cause these hormonal abnormalities. It is thought that there is a hereditary link, whereby some women inherit a greater chance of having PCOS, but whether or not these women develop PCOS depends on a number of additional factors such as diet and lifestyle.

How is PCOS diagnosed?

The diagnosis is based on a patient’s symptoms and physical appearance and confirmed by ultrasound scan of the ovaries and blood test to check the levels of different hormones, these would include:

Pituitary and Ovarian Hormone serum levels:

  • Luteinizing Hormone (LH)
  • Follicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH)
  • Estradiol
  • Progesterone
  • Prolactin

Circulating Androgens:

  • Free testosterone
  • Free androgen index (FAI): 17-hydroxyprogesterone
  • Sex hormone binding globulin (SHBG): 24 hr. urinary free cortisol
  • Dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate (DHEA-S)
  • Some practitioners may include the following tests:

Glucose Tolerance Test
Thyroid Panel
Blood Lipid Profile

To be diagnosed with PCOS you will have to met 2 out of 3 criteria, known as the Rotterdam Criteria:

  1. Delayed ovulation or menstrual cycles (anovulation)
  2. Hyperandrogenism ( high androgenic hormone like testosterone/ signs of)
  3. Polycystic ovaries on ultra sound

 

As you can see PCOS is a complex endocrine condition, exhibiting itself differently in each women!

 

Next article: Conventional and Natural Treatment for PCOS

10 SIGNS THAT YOU MIGHT HAVE PCOS -Polycystic ovarian syndrome

10 Signs that You Might Have PCOS

  1. Irregular periods.

If your periods are irregular and in particular if they are far apart or if you skip periods altogether, you’ve got a major sign of PCOS. Women with PCOS have high levels of androgens (testosterone is the most well-known androgen). Too many androgens slow our ovaries down, stalling ovulation. When ovulation is inhibited, the period (which comes 2 weeks after ovulation) will also arrive late and in some cases, not at all. For women with irregular periods and PCOS, there is often irregularity right from the start of the periods in the teenage years. In some women, periods may start coming regularly and then after a few years become irregular. Women with PCOS experience irregular periods more often when they have gained weight or have experienced a lot of stress.

2 Hair growth on the chin, upper lip, stomach or chest.

The aforementioned androgens also cause excess hair growth in the areas of our bodies where hair is typically seen in males. This is known as hirsutism (pronounced HER-Soo-Tism). These hairs can be coarse in texture – removal can be a challenge and a major source of stress. If you are experiencing significant hair growth in these areas, it’s important to be checked for PCOS. It’s been estimated that up to 90% of women with hirsutism have PCOS.

3 Weight gain, particularly around the stomach area.

Women with PCOS tend to gain weight easily and losing weight can be exceptionally challenging. This is due to insulin and leptin resistance, two of the central factors involved in PCOS. Insulin resistance causes our bodies to store fat more readily, and leptin resistance makes our brains think we are in starvation mode – messing with our hunger and fullness signals. With insulin resistance, weight is easily gained around the abdomen- and we all know that this type of fat is the most risky when it comes to cardiovascular health.

4 Moderate to severe acne.

Moderate to severe acne is common in women with PCOS. It all comes back to those troublesome androgens again. Androgens cause excess sebum production in the skin, resulting in clogged pores and bacterial overgrowth. If a women has acne that started early compared to her peers as a teen, or if she has adult onset acne, it’s possible that PCOS could be the culprit. Other signs that acne may be related to PCOS: it is resistant to treatment or comes back after strong acne treatments. PCOS-related acne is commonly seen along the jawline.

5 Difficulty in conceiving .

Women with PCOS may have difficulty in conceiving for a variety of reasons. Firstly, if a woman is not ovulating regularly, it will definitely take a longer time to conceive as the fertile window can be difficult to detect. Ovulation tests are often ineffective in PCOS as the LH hormone it picks up can be too high across the cycle, causing false positives. Also quite simply, there are less fertile periods yearly. Women with PCOS also have egg quality challenges due to inflammation and hormonal shifts within the ovaries. The good news is that women with PCOS often have an abundance of eggs so it’s often just a matter of time until pregnancy is achieved, particularly with the right treatment.

6 Hair loss.

Hair loss is a common problem in PCOS. The pesky androgens once again are involved in this problem. Testosterone is converted into a strong androgen – known as DHT (Dihydrotestosterone) – within the scalp. DHT is the mortal enemy of your hair follicles – it shrinks and damages them, causing hairs to enter the telogen phase where they soon fall out. Hair loss in women with PCOS is often seen at the frontal area, just behind the hairline. It can also be diffuse, with loss all over the head and a widening of the part. Hair loss can also be caused by other common problems as well so it’s important to investigate these, too. Thyroid dysfunction and low ferritin (stored iron) levels can also cause hair loss.

7 Dandruff.

Oily scalp and dandruff are also commonly seen in PCOS due to elevated androgens and increased oil production. If you have persistent dandruff, and any of the other above signs, ask to be checked for PCOS.

8 Pigmentation in the folds of your skin and skin tags.

Known as acanthosis nigricans, this is a dark, velvety discoloration of the skin. It’s most commonly seen in the crease behind the neck, under the arms, or in the creases of the thighs. Acanthosis nigricans can make your skin look “dirty” but it doesn’t wash off – no matter how hard you scrub! Acanthosis nigricans is caused by insulin resistance and can be reversed when insulin sensitivity is improved.

Little tag-like growths of the skin can often be seen in PCOS. Skin tags are flesh coloured and small. They can appear on the neck, chest or other areas, and are related to insulin resistance.

9 Depression and anxiety.

Women with PCOS suffer with higher rates of depression and anxiety. Changes in mood are related to a variety of underlying causes including inflammation, emotional suffering due to the stressful symptoms of PCOS and hormonal imbalances.

10 Sleep apnea.

If you haven’t been getting restful ZZs, PCOS may be involved. Many women with PCOS suffer with sleep apnea and as such do not get the restorative deep sleep that they need. Research has found that women with PCOS who are the most insulin resistant are more likely to suffer from obstructive sleep apnea. Sleep apnea often results in daytime sleepiness and fatigue.

It’s been estimated that 50% of women with PCOS do not know that they have it Let’s increase awareness of this condition that affects 1 out of every 10 of us, by knowing and sharing the signs and symptoms. As PCOS is a lifelong metabolic condition linked to diabetes and cardiovascular disease, early intervention can prevent a multitude of health problems and safeguard a woman’s health for years to come.

Do you think you may have PCOS? Which of the symptoms do you have?

Next articles: What exactly is PCOS and how to get diagnosed, 4 Types of PCOS, 10 steps to improving PCOS

Whats the difference between Folate and Folic Acid?

Vitamin B9, a water soluble nutrient, is one of the more confusing members of the B vitamin family due to the different names given to it when in supplement or food form. Its correct name when talking about food forms is ‘folate’ while synthetic forms are most commonly referred to as ‘folic acid’. Interest has increased into the types of vitamin B9 we might be ingesting and how genetic individuality affects absorption and our body’s management of a naturally produced substance called ‘homocysteine’.

 

So what is the key difference between ‘folate’ and ‘folic acid’?

 

Very simply, folates (plural) are found naturally in foods such as dark green vegetables, oranges, seafood, beans and legumes (e.g chickpeas and lentils) and dairy products. Within those foods there would be varying sub-category forms of natural folates, which all share a similar ‘architecture’ but they are still all natural folate. Imagine a patchwork quilt. Each square is slightly different but the general colours form a theme or pattern.

 

A synthetic form of vitamin B9 is usually called ‘folic acid’. This is commonly found in supplements and fortified foods (where a nutrient has been added to a food product).

 

Foods like commercially mass-produced breads and breakfast cereals may lack naturally occurring folate, so a company will add synthetic folic acid to nutritionally improve levels. You will see the same with added iron or other B vitamins. This is where the public can perceive a food to be high in a nutrient, when actually a synthetic form of the nutrient has been added. Folic acid is also stable because it is more resistant to heat and therefore favoured in manufacturing and processing.

 

If you were to pick spinach from your garden and eat it, you would not be ingesting folic acid. This is a very common misconception. You would be ingesting folates.

 

EU law stipulates that even supplements containing folate, need to be labelled as folic acid. This means that we have to be our own detectives. If the product does contain folate, it’s likely to be labelled elsewhere on the product, for example in the nutrition information panel (as opposed to the front of the bottle). Our Wild Nutrition formula’s use only natural folate, despite needing to be labelled in this way.

 

What do we need folate for?

 

  • Folate is required during pre-conception and for the first 12 weeks of pregnancy, to support the prevention of neural tube defects (such as spinal bifida) and this is usually in the form of folic acid. Taking folate through food and food-form supplementation beyond 12 weeks of pregnancy is recommend for health reasons beyond neural tube defects. Children at all ages and stages should be eating folate rich foods as part of healthy development.
  • Healthy blood in general and to prevent the folate deficiency, anaemia
  • Folate is required for healthy cell division, which is partly why it’s so important in early pregnancy but also into infancy and childhood.
  • Folate is also required for a healthy immune system (low levels of folate may effect white blood cell division).
  • Folate is required for the reduction of tiredness and fatigue
  • Folate plays a role in psychological function

 

Natural vs synthetic nutrients – absorption is the difference!

 

Nutrients found in food or supplements in Food-Grown (food form), will be more bioavailable for some key reasons:

 

  1. Food form folate provides all the patches of the ‘quilt’ has the necessary co-factors such as fatty acids, proteins and enzymes. These act as team mates to help the nutrient to get to where it needs. Synthetic nutrients which are effectively an isolated nutrient without these co-factors e.g folic acid.

 

  1. Folate found in food or as a food form supplement, will have naturally occurring Carrier Food Factors (CFF) which are a type of carrier protein. It’s the job of CFF’s is to chaperone nutrients, communicating with the body on a cellular level, to instruct how, where and when the nutrients are to be used. If you use the analogy that each CFF is an envelope with a different address, going to a different destination. Each destination in the body has its own address that is displayed in multiple areas of each cell. The CFF’s are then able to recognize this, lock into it and deliver the nutrient to the correct address within the human system. Our Food-Grown Folate, was formulated with this in mind).        https://www.ecotherapies.co.uk/product/wild-nutrition-folic-acid/

 

  1. Food form folate is ‘methylated’. Methylation is a normal biochemical process that allows one form of a nutrient or substance to be made into something else. Folic acid would be an example of an unmethylated form of vitamin B9 where as 5-methyltetrahydrofolate is a form of methylated folate (see ‘methylation’ below).

 

What is homocysteine?

 

When we eat protein-containing foods, we will be producing a specific amino acid called methionine. This methionine gets converted into a substance called homocysteine. Homocysteine must be at a healthy level otherwise, over time, it can cause damage elevated homocysteine is implicated in brain and mental health conditions, subfertility, cardiovascular conditions and more. Nutritional therapists can run a simple blood test to identify you level of homocysteine. Eating folate rich foods and taking a supplement in food form, should support healthy homocysteine levels (along with vitamin B12) because of a process called methylation.

 

What is methylation?

 

Methylation converts homocysteine back into a substance that is needed for critical health. This process requires folate and vitamin B12 to do this efficiently.

 

Research has shown us that some people are born with a genetic issue, called MTHFR, where they cannot produce an enzyme that allows 1 step in the methylation process to take place. Therefore these individuals must be taking folate through food and food form nutrients rather than synthetic forms like folic acid. Using a food form of vitamin B9 will also support healthy homocysteine levels.

 

Indeed, those carriers of the MTHFR are more at risk for elevated homocysteine if they don’t use food forms of vitamin B9. This is because homocysteine must be converted back into useable methionine for other critical health processes. If you lack this capacity because of a genetic issue, the way to get around this is to only consume folate form food and supplement with folate as it’s a pre-converted form. MTHFR sufferers will not be able to convert the folic acid because they lack the enzyme to complete the conversion process to turn higher levels of homocysteine safely back into methionine.

By

Lorna Driver-Davies BA (Hons), HD, DHNP, mNNA, CNHC Technical Assistant at Wild Nutrition and Nutritional Therapist.

 

13th May 2016

 

How to Check for Cervical Mucus

 How to Check for Cervical Mucus

When your trying to conceive, it is very important to know when is your most fertile time or often called your ” fertile window”.  There are 4 signs that your body gives you :

Basal Body Temperature

Cervical Mucus

Position of Cervix

LH Surge

In this blog we will be looking at Cervical Mucus, if want to know more about the others go to https://www.ecotherapies.co.uk/fertility_signs/

How to Check for Cervical Mucus

Cervical mucus is the single most challenging and also the most important aspect of the fertility awareness method. Cervical mucus tells you when you can get pregnant, and it also tells you a lot about your health. It can tell you whether or not you might have a cervical infection, and it can even serve as an early detection tool for cervical cancer.

There are many different methods of the fertility awareness method. Some methods are mucus only where a woman would use her mucus observations to tell when she is fertile or not without checking her temperature or cervical position. Other methods use the sympto-thermal method where a woman checks all 3 signs of her fertility.

But why is cervical mucus so important anyway?

Cervical mucus is amazing. It definitely doesn’t get enough love in my opinion. Did you know that cervical mucus filters out defective sperm so that they don’t make it into a woman’s fallopian tubes and get a shot at fertilizing an egg? Did you know that cervical mucus is the perfect pH for sperm, and not only does it keep sperm alive for 3-5 days, but it also feeds them and gives them energy? But most importantly, did you know that sperm can’t survive in a woman’s body without cervical mucus? Sperm actually die within minutes unless a woman has cervical mucus present.

What is cervical mucus?

Cervical mucus is a hydrogel produced by the cervix [1]. Before a woman ovulates rising estrogen levels trigger her cervix to produce mucus. In a healthy menstrual cycle a woman will notice that her mucus changes from a white/lotiony type consistency to a clear, stretchy consistency like that of egg whites. She’ll notice a slippery sensation when she goes to the bathroom or she might just feel wet throughout the day.

Unfortunately many women don’t know that cervical mucus is a normal and healthy party of the menstrual cycle. I’ve spoken to countless women who thought that there was something wrong with them, and ended up in a doctor’s office every month thinking they had a yeast infection or some abnormal bacterial overgrowth. Since many of their doctors didn’t know that cervical mucus was normal either, they would often end up getting tests that would keep coming back normal.

How do I check for cervical mucus?

Many women first learn about fertility awareness through a few great books on the topic. Taking Charge of Your Fertility by Toni Weschler, and Garden of Fertility by Katie Singer, are two of the most common resources.  Although some methods of fertility awareness encourage women to check internally for cervical mucus (i.e. placing your finger inside your vagina and trying to observe cervical mucus from the source), this method often leads to confusion. Many fertility awareness instructors teach how to check externally for two important reasons.

  1. When you check externally it is easy to identify the difference between a “dry” day and a “mucus” day.
  2. When you check externally it is actually possible to tell the difference between vaginal cell slough and cervical mucus

Many women who use the fertility awareness method often feel that if they don’t check internally they won’t see anything. But the thing is, that a woman’s vagina is always moist, and when women check internally they’ll always find something. This often leaves them thinking they have mucus every day and overestimating the number of days in their fertile window. When a woman is producing mucus it has to come out, an she’ll be able to see it at her vulva. It’s gravity! But she does have to check frequently throughout the day or she might miss an observation.

Here are the steps for checking mucus externally…

  • Use a piece of toilet paper folded flat
  • As you wipe pat attention to the sensation you feel. Does it feel dry, smooth, or slippery?
  • Look at your toilet paper…do you see any mucus you can pick up?
  • If you have mucus pick it up and see if it stretches between your fingers
  • Then mark down what you see! [2]

Pretty simple I know. The most important part is to get in the habit of checking for mucus throughout the day. Whenever you go to the bathroom, before you take a bath, before you go to bed…basically whenever your pants are down.

What else do I need to know about cervical mucus?

Sometimes women won’t see any “egg white mucus”. Many women now think that egg white quality mucus is the “gold standard”, but many women will experience a wet sensation and have slippery mucus that just doesn’t stretch. Wet slippery mucus is definitely fertile, it just has such a high water content that it doesn’t stretch. Other women may not produce cervical mucus at all and this can be for a variety of reasons. In a healthy cycle a woman would expect to see at least one day of clear, stretchy or slippery mucus. If she has no mucus that is definitely an indication of sub-optimal fertility because it can interfere with her ability to conceive.

Whether mucus is “creamy” “sticky” or “egg white” it is all fertile. There is no such thing as “less fertile” and “more fertile mucus”. It would be kind of like saying a woman is “less pregnant” or “more pregnant”. Since sperm can survive in all cervical mucus, all mucus is considered to be fertile!

With that being said, when a woman is trying to get pregnant the best time for her to have sex with her partner is when she sees clear, stretchy and slippery mucus! Clear, stretchy and slippery mucus tells you that your estrogen levels    are high, and your body is gearing up for ovulation. So forget the ovulation predictor kits, and have sex when you see mucus!

References

  1. Morphological characterization of different human cervical mucus types using light and scanning electron microscopy. Human Reproduction, Oxford Journal
  2. Justisse Method for Fertility Management: A User’s Guide by Geraldine Matus and Elaine Matus                                                                                                                                                    This article is  from  Fertilityfriday.com by Lisa Hendrickson-Jack  2 September 2014

Gluten and Fertility: Some Things You Might Want to Know

 

 

I’m always encouraging my patients to go “Gluten Free” and I found this article written by Aviva Romm MD Doctor, Herbalist, Midwife and Functional Medicine Practitioner with many years of experience in women’s health. She explains why you should go gluten free if you’re experiencing infertility.

Fertility challenges are so uniquely painful. There is the tremendous anguish of living with the uncertainty that comes with each attempt at conception and the sadness with each unwanted period that comes. There are the feelings of inadequacy, and the aching bittersweetness of meeting your friends’ and sisters’ babies that they seemingly pop out while you suffer, feeling alone, with a sense of wanting. There’s the stress that enters the marriage and makes sex outcome-based rather than juicy and pleasurable. It’s also often a long, expensive, time-consuming hormonal roller coaster of fertility treatments, doctor’s appointments, tests, and procedures. If you are struggling with fertility challenges right now, this article may offer an option you hadn’t considered.

While there are numerous reasons for fertility problems, one that is almost always overlooked by conventional fertility specialists, and that is easy to take into your own hands, is gluten intolerance. A recent study found that undiagnosed celiac disease may be the reason for “all cause” infertility in 3.5% of women, and unexplained infertility in 5.9% of women. It is possible that the rates are quite a bit higher, because celiac is so often underdiagnosed. Another study found that women undergoing fertility treatments had an increased success when they removed gluten from their diets.

While these studies were done looking at celiac disease, which most of us do not have in the full-blown form, many people are walking around with gluten intolerance – which day in and day out in my clinical practice I see causing the same spectrum of health problems as celiac disease.

The Latest Data on Celiac Disease & Gluten Intolerance

New research data shows us 5 things about celiac disease, and its little cousin gluten intolerance:

  1. Celiac disease is drastically under diagnosed. So is gluten intolerance. 
  2. It may be causing many more health problems than we previously realized.
  3. Our current standard testing methods are not adequate for detecting celiac disease, so many people go undiagnosed who have it. So while getting positive tests back gives you a definite diagnosis, normal tests don’t mean you don’t have celiac. So testing is probably not necessary at this time. But if you do want to get tested, my blog Is a Gluten Free Diet Right for You? 3 Ways to Find Out will tell you how.
  4. A substantial number of people have “subclinical” or “silent” celiac disease – there are no obvious or typical signs of digestive problems – and fertility problems may be the first time a gluten problem shows up.
  5. Celiac can show up for the first time at any age — and again, fertility problems may be the first sign!

Whenever a woman comes to me having faced the long, emotionally painful, and expensive road of fertility problems without success, and is now ready to try a natural approach, the first thing I turn to is not the pages of hormone and other lab test results she has brought to the appointment with her, but her diet and her symptoms.

While I do run lab tests for celiac disease, including checking for the common celiac genes HLADQ2 and HLADQ8 and gluten antibodies, again, tests often come back negative in spite of a potential problem with gluten – and a fertility problem is, in and of itself, a possible sign of celiac! Improvement on a gluten-free diet is also considered diagnostic for a problem with gluten – so an elimination diet, even in my medical practice, remains the “gold standard” that I use for testing – and it’s free!

Symptoms of Celiac Disease and Gluten Intolerance

Both gluten intolerance and celiac disease can cause a wide range of symptoms. While most people actually do not present with obvious, typical symptoms, here are the most common:

  • Mild to severe digestive symptoms including diarrhea, smelly stools, gas, bloating, fat in the stool
  • Dermatitis herpetaformis (a terribly itchy skin condition)
  • Irritable bowel syndrome
  • Burning, sore tongue or canker sores
  • Eczema
  • Acid reflux (also called heartburn or GERD)
  • Eosinophilic esophagitis
  • Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis
  • Nutritional deficiencies including anemia (iron deficiency), B-vitamin, vitamin D, and calcium
  • Osteopenia or osteoporosis due to nutritional deficiencies (calcium, vitamin D)
  • Weight loss
  • Fatigue
  • Hair loss or brittleness
  • Joint pain, carpal tunnel syndrome, muscle aches and pains
  • Numbness and tingling in your hands, feet, or other areas
  • Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, Rheumatoid arthritis, Type 1 diabetes, and other autoimmune conditions
  • Depression, anxiety, suicidal feelings, and other mental health problems
  • Migraine headaches
  • Elevated liver function tests
  • Menstrual problems
  • Infertility

Celiac disease can also cause pregnancy problems including miscarriage and gestational diabetes, the latter which can cause serious medical problems for mom, increases your risk of cesarean, and increases your baby’s lifetime risks of obesity, diabetes, and heart disease. It is possible that severe gluten intolerance in the absence of celiac disease can cause similar problems.

Since going gluten free is a relatively easy thing to do, why not try it? It’s an affordable, easy step to take.

How Does Gluten Intolerance Interfere with Fertility?

There are 4 primary ways that gluten intolerance and celiac interferes with fertility (and also optimal pregnancy health):

1. Chronic Inflammation: Gluten intolerance and celiac cause inflammation not just in the gut, but as a result, throughout the body. The chemicals that are produced when your body is in a chronic state of inflammation tell your body that it’s in a danger zone and so not a great time to get pregnant. Chronic inflammation is also associated with conditions that can interfere with getting pregnant – for example, endometriosis, which has also been associated with celiac disease. Inflammation is also associated with pregnancy problems, including gestational diabetes, high blood pressure, and preterm labor, so it’s important to get a handle on it before you get pregnant. Going gluten free and healing your digestive system, as described later in this article, will help you to do this!

2. Nutritional deficiencies: Your digestive system keeps you healthy in numerous ways, perhaps most obviously, through the digestion of food to provide you with nutrition. When you have gluten intolerance, inflammation develops in the lining of the small intestine that interferes with nutrient absorption. When the lining of our gut is damaged, for example by irritation due to gluten intolerance, the body is less effective at absorbing nutrients, including the ones needed for healthy conception. This includes protein, fats, zinc, vitamin D, iron, and selenium – all important for conception and healthy pregnancy.

3. Gut “dysbiosis”: It’s amazing how much our bodies mirror the natural world. In the human body there are layers of gut lining that, like soil in a garden, provide a home that feeds and nourishes the optimal bacteria, our microbiome, that we need to metabolize our food, break down, and absorb our nutrients, as well as get rid of waste.

The health of the vaginal flora is also dependent on the health of the gut flora. Like in garden soil, healthy microorganisms keep down the “bad bacteria” and other bugs in the soil that can harm the plant’s roots, damaging the whole plant. In the vagina, the good flora keep the vaginal environment at the right pH and sugar level at conception to support the passage of the sperm, and thus, facilitate conception. When the good flora aren’t hanging around in adequate numbers, the not-so-good guys that can contribute to or cause fertility problems become out of control. The wrong kind of gut flora can prevent conception, might reduce the effectiveness of IVF, and can lead to preterm birth when you do get pregnant, so now’s the time to get those flora in order. If you get regular vaginal infections, this is a sure sign that things are out of order down there, but even without those, if you are struggling to get pregnant, take an oral probiotic with Lactobacillus reuteri and Lactobacillus rhamnosus. You can additionally use these in the form of a vaginal suppository a few times weekly while trying to get pregnant. I recommend that my patients insert the capsules at night before bed; they will dissolve while you sleep. Several oral and vaginal suppository products are available on the market.

4. Autoimmunity: Because celiac disease is also an autoimmune condition, this can change the body’s ability to tolerate foreign cells including your partner’s sperm – or the baby. Additionally, celiac, both as a result of autoimmunity, and the selenium deficiency that it can cause, is associated with hypothyroidism, which can interfere with getting pregnant. If you have an autoimmune condition, gluten may be a culprit. Go gluten free, follow the 4R program below, and connect with a Functional or Integrative Medicine Doctor, or licensed Naturopath or Acupuncturist skilled in natural fertility treatment and gut health.

So What Can You Do?

The bottom line is you’ve gotta’ go on a gluten free diet (GFD) for at least three months, preferably six, to maximize the potential benefit.

Three to six months might seem like a really long time when you feel that your fertility clock is ticking, but I promise you, with the experience of 30 years of working with women trying to get pregnant, and pregnant moms, that the healthier you are when you become pregnant, the better your chance of an optimally healthy pregnancy – and healthy baby.

During this time, as hard as it is to do, putting your fertility urgency on hold while you optimize your gut health and overall well-being can bring a breath of fresh air and energy into your eventual conception, and might just allow you to let go of some stress. It’s a great time to revitalize yourself!

This is really important because stress itself affects your fertility hormones by also telling your body that there’s an emergency going on! I’ve seen the fertility challenge enough to know that everything can get affected – even a lovely sex life can become fraught with tension, anxiety, and disappointments. So use this time to also get juicy with your mate, and have some fun with your sex life again.

I’ve seen amazing babies come from taking breaks like this!

How to Go Gluten Free and Optimize Your Digestive Health

Going gluten free is sometimes as simple as eliminating all food products that contain wheat (including all wheat flour and most breads, pastas, cereals), rye, and barley. There are some great websites out there to help you along, for example, Gluten Free School. If you are highly symptomatic to gluten, you might want to also remove all of the potentially cross-reactive foods from your diet, too, especially corn. If you have celiac, or even suspect that you do, you might need to take one additional step – avoid accidental environmental contamination through foods being prepared for others in the same kitchen you’re using (dish towels, cutting boards, sponges) and checking your cosmetics for gluten – shockingly, many contain gluten products – so read labels.

Many people make the mistake of assuming that gluten free products are automatically healthier than those containing gluten. Gluten free “junk food” is actually just as unhealthy because it is often loaded with empty calories, and the same extra sugar and salt in any pastries, cookies, pasta, etc. So be careful – quite a number of people actually gain weight when they go gluten free because of gluten free food binging! The best thing is to remove the gluten, and switch over to simple whole grains like millet and quinoa, and wild rice (brown rice can be healthy but concerns have recently been raised on the amount of arsenic in all rice grown in the US, so while you’re trying to get pregnant, keep brown rice to not more than a couple of times/week).

In addition to going gluten free, I highly recommend doing the 4R Program I’ve laid out for you here to optimize your gut health and heal inflammation. If you get pregnant on the 4R Program, no worries, simply discontinue the supplements when you realize you’ve conceived. It’s that simple. But stay gluten free – this is a perfectly safe thing to do during pregnancy – you can get your nutrition from other healthy, non-gluten containing grains.

Going gluten (and stress!) free may be all your body needs to regenerate your gut, cool down the inflammation, and become less autoimmune reactive. One of my fertility patient couples decided to take a “get healthy” vacation and voila! They came back feeling great – and with a belly bump! May their pregnancy success be yours, too!

 

References
Choi JM, et al. Increased prevalence of celiac disease in patients with unexplained infertility in the United States. J Reprod Med. 2011 May-Jun;56(5-6):199-203.

Collin P, et al, Infertility and coeliac disease. Gut 1996;39:382-384 doi:10.1136/gut.39.3.382

Shah, S and D Leffler. Celiac disease: an underappreciated issue in women’s health. Womens Health (Lond Engl). Sep 2010; 6(5): 753–766. doi:  10.2217/whe.10.57

Singh P, et al. Celiac Disease in Women With Infertility: A Meta-Analysis. J Clin Gastroenterol. 2015 Jan 1. [Epub ahead of print]

Sirota I, et al. Potential influence of the microbiome on infertility and assisted reproductive technology. Semin Reprod Med. 2014 Jan;32(1):35-42. doi: 10.1055/s-0033-1361821.

Stojanović N, et al Normal vaginal flora, disorders and application of probiotics in pregnancy. Arch Gynecol Obstet. 2012 Aug;286(2):325-32. doi: 10.1007/s00404-012-2293-7.