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  • Gluten Causes Infertility

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    Ever wonder why so many people have to see fertility experts just to have a baby?  The body has an innate intelligence that prevents pregnancy when the health status of the mother and/or father are poor.  To force pregnancy through unnatural means is a dangerous practice.  Miscarriage, spontaneous abortion, birth defects, infant developmental problems are common among those having children through fertility treatments.  Gluten intolerance is a modern plague on human fertility.  It is often overlooked when physicians perform infertility lab work-ups on couples.

    by Dr. Kelly Brogan, M.D.

    There are few anxiety triggers as provocative as the primal desire to conceive. To experience that drive, and to be thwarted by seemingly uncontrollable and unidentifiable factors is maddening. Many patients end up in my office because they feel they need help managing these feelings. Instead of medicating their anxiety, I help them to learn relaxation and mindfulness in the midst of stress, and then I help them get pregnant. How?

    I have many tools in my kit, but the most powerful one is a grain, sugar, and dairy free diet. In traditional cultures, the preconception couple is offered prime access to nutrient dense foods such as egg yolks, fish eggs, and organ meats, high in fats, fat-soluble vitamins, B vitamins, and choline. Perhaps they appreciated the recently discovered importance of nutrients on both the egg and the sperm.

    A woman's body needs to sense that it is …

    Owing to the higher risk of CD in these populations, and the likelihood that the GFD improves pregnancy and fertility outcomes as detailed later, we argue that given the low cost of serological screening compared with the great medical expense associated with infertility and complications of pregnancy, CD testing should be strongly considered. We have reason to believe that our current methods of testing grossly underestimate how many women are being negatively impacted by gluten. This is secondary to limited testing for compounds in these grains and also for other foods that may be triggering a related response.

    Most physicians who do a “celiac panel” are only testing for alpha gliadin, tissue transglutaminase 2, and endomesial antibody. In a grain consisting of 6 sets of chromosomes, capable of producing greater than 23,000 proteins, this testing may just be too small a window into a very complex space. Testing should optimally include response to all known gluten epitopes, lectins, glutenin, gluteomorphin, and cross-reactants such as dairy, corn, and millet as examined in this study.

    Some degree of gluten reactivity is thought to occur in up to 80% of the population and is driven by shared and distinct immune response mechanisms. Response to gluten free diets in placebo-controlled trials and inflammation in the guts of non-celiac patients, even without gliadin antibodies (such as in this study of exposed non-celiac patients) argues for the universal effects of this food, and the individuality of our immune responses accounting the variations in severity and presentation.

    The take-home to take-home your baby

    One of the reasons I love working with infertility patients is because they are uniquely motivated to improve their health and wellness. My recommendation is to eliminate gluten, at a bare minimum, and to do it for 3-6 months. Find an enlightened practitioner who can help you with these changes and recommend other fertility promoting interventions. Data will continue to emerge around this connection, but if you've been in the infertility mill, or if you are just looking to promote a healthy pregnancy, don't wait. Just do it!

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    michael

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