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  o not eat low fat products –as the fat is replaced with sugar
  3. Try not to skip breakfast, 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

 

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 and protein 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 pieces per day)

 

 

 

 

 

 

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 article : What exactly is PCOS and how to get diagnosed

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.