As you probably know – the removal of gluten is a recommendation for women trying to conceive. At the beginning of the year, I decided to go 100% gluten free since I had been tested positive for thyroid antibodies. Research has found a clear connection between thyroid antibodies and gluten sensitivity. It appears the protein called gluten activities the immune system in the gut, allowing miss signaling to occur and primes the immune system to attack the body or in my case the thyroid. This has refocused my attention to possibility of “gluten sensitive” women who have no other symptoms except problems conceiving.
What are signs of gluten sensitivity? Well some very common symptoms can be caused by gluten, such as: bloating, constipation/diarrhea, fogginess and sleepiness after eating, abdominal cramping, skin rashes and many more. I believe the best rule of thumb is trying out the 80/20 gluten free rule. That means eating 80% of your diet from gluten free products, fresh fruits/veggies and protein. The other 20% coming from gluten products when the situation does not provide the flexibility, such as eating out or eliminating that last favorite product. If after a month you feel increased energy, less bloating, consistent bowl movements and stable blood sugars, more than likely you might be sensitive to gluten. At this point you might want to try a complete gluten free diet and see if your health improves. Generally most of my clients feel a hundred times better on the 80/20 gluten rule.
How does gluten potential effect fertility? When the gluten sensitive body digests food containing gluten three common components happen:
1) Gluten molecules stick to the gut lining causing inflammation.
2) Inflammation/destruction of the gut lining causing mal absorption of basic nutrients, such as Vit D, B and iron resulting malnutrition.
3) Inflammation of the gut activates the immune system. Over activation of immune systems causes miss signaling and autoimmune disorders. I often wonder could POF or the poor responder be caused at some level by antibodies attacking the ovaries or reproductive hormones. I have yet to find information supporting this idea, but researchers are only starting to understand the power of the immune system.
The above items can lead to imbalances in the body, thus infertility.
What does it mean to go gluten free? lNothing fancy here, just simple little modifications can make a big difference. As time passes I will post more information about this topic.
What’s the hardest part of the gluten free diet? I found substituting gluten products in my kitchen’s pantry to be the hardest. Even my clients feel overwhelmed by this, since gluten is in almost everything. With time I have learned a lot (and still learning) but I want to pass this knowledge on. I will post the products I am buying and give mini reviews as a tool for my clients and women reading this blog to integrate these small changes for improved well being (and of course improved fertility).
Almost three months later, I have not looked back and don’t miss the gluten products I gave up. Developing new habits and dealing with uneducated friend’s weird comments at restaurants has been difficult. Yet the power of this simple step is never ending, treating your body with respect, recognizing its need for support and making the steps to heal it.