5 Reasons To Go Gluten-Free For Your Fertility
When you think about the cost and frustration associated with infertility treatments, any time a simple (and free!) solution is available… why not explore it?
Gluten-free diets may get quite a few eye-rolls as being the latest trendy diet fad, but countless studies have shown it is the real deal for people with Celiac disease and gluten sensitivity.
Aside from stomach troubles and inflammation, one of the more common problems associated with Celiac disease and/or gluten sensitivity is infertility issues.
So I’m here to show you 5 great reasons why you should give a gluten-free diet a try for your fertility.
1.Celiac and Infertility Are Connected
Celiac disease is an autoimmune disorder where consuming gluten leads to small intestine damage – and a whole laundry list of other issues. To understand this complicated and frustrating health problem, watch this helpful 5-minute video on the basics:
Quite a few negative symptoms of Celiac have to do with reproductive problems. This list includes:
- Low birth weight newborns
- Shorter duration of breast-feeding
Compared to the average population, there is a “significantly increased prevalence” of having Celiac disease among those with unexplained infertility.
It goes like this: the Celiac goes undiagnosed, women continue to eat gluten, the gluten wreaks havoc on their bodies, and then they have trouble conceiving.
But I am here to spread some hope. Fixing this problem is a simple as changing your diet.
Another study looked at 188 women with unexplained infertility. After testing for Celiac, 4 of these women came back positive. They started their gluten-free diet, and all four patients conceived less than one year after their diagnosis and diet change.
2. Gluten Sensitivity And Fertility Issues Are Connected
Not only those with Celiac do better by dropping the gluten.
While you might not have Celiac disease, your body may not handle gluten very well. This intolerance can lead to fertility issues.
Alisa Vitti, author of the WomanCode: Perfect Your Cycle, Amplify Your Fertility and founder of Flo Living, talks about telling her infertility clients to get off gluten when she suspects a sensitivity:
“For women who suffer with gluten allergies or sensitivities, when they consume gluten, their immune system responds by creating inflammation or even damaging the villi (small, finger-like projections) on the small intestine. This leads to poor absorption of nutrients in the small intestine and a slower transit time of food passing through the large intestines. Slower transit time means that excess estrogen and other hormones and toxins are not eliminated from the body properly. This contributes to a hormonal imbalance that can interfere with ovulation.
I’m not saying eating gluten makes you infertile, but eating gluten does make it harder for your body to reach optimal fertility (which is ideal for your health, whether you want a baby at this time or not).”
3. Gluten-Free Diets Can Help Endometriosis
Without a doubt, the discussion of infertility includes talking about endometriosis. Since 30% to 50% of women with endometriosis struggle with infertility, they go hand in hand.
And it just so happens that gluten-free diets have been shown to help with the symptoms of endometriosis as well.
Here is another interesting fact to consider: people with celiac disease have more chances of also getting endometriosis. One more connection between infertility and gluten; one more reason to get off the gluten.
While the “relationship between these two diseases is still unclear and further studies to address this issue are required” there are still positive results of keeping gluten-free diet when you have endometriosis.
In fact, one study showed that endometriosis’s most painful symptoms would decrease within 12 months of getting rid of gluten.
4. Gluten Can Hurt Your Hormones
Your endocrine system is in charge of all your hormones – including your sex and reproductive hormones.
It is widely known that Celiac disease is an endocrine disrupter. Simply switching to a gluten-free diet can help rebalance these hormones.
And there’s more…
Outside of balancing your hormones to help you conceive, a gluten-free diet can help bring you to healthy, live birth. A study showed that a gluten-free diet could help bring fewer spontaneous abortions.
This is a reason why women in the “not yet trying to conceive, but want to someday” category should still think about a gluten-free diet. Your reproductive hormones affect your day-to-day life at every age. Balancing them:
- Makes you feel better today
- Helps boost your chances of getting pregnant with ease tomorrow
5. Going Gluten-Free Is Easy And Cheap
One of the best reasons to give the gluten-free diet a go is that it is simple and cheap.
If you are having visions of only eating raw celery and almonds to survive, let me ease your fears. The fact that going gluten-free has become trendy means more and more companies have decided to provide delicious gluten-free options.
And those who are off the gluten for genuine health reasons get to benefit.
Most of what you already eat is gluten-free: meat, veggies, fruits, nuts, beans, rice, etc. The gluten filled foods you eat have plenty of replacement options. Gluten-free bread, pasta, soy sauce, breadcrumbs, cookies, baking mixes, etc. are available at any regular grocery store.
When it comes to cooking meals at home, some of my favorite websites for gluten-free recipes:
Pinterest is a great (and addictive) tool that leads you to good recipes, brands, tips, and restaurant menu lists in your gluten-free adventure.
Speaking of restaurant menus – eating out is quite simple these days. Nearly every chain restaurant will offer gluten-free options, and most independently owned restaurants will too. To find a gluten-free restaurant near you, check out the helpful Find Me Gluten Free app.
Remember the gluten-free diet is all or nothing. It’s not a cheating diet. Give yourself a solid 3 to 6 months without any gluten-containing product to offer your body a chance to heal.
Gluten-Free And Your Fertility
The very first thing you should do (even before buying that gluten-free bread) is to have your doctor test you for Celiac. It can be harder to get a real result if you have not consumed gluten recently.
The test is as simple as a blood draw (sometimes it requires a colonoscopy). If it comes back positive, you can make the full switch to gluten-free eating within a few days.
Even if the test comes back negative (keep in mind Celiac testing is also has a reputation of false negatives), you still may want to give the gluten-free eating a try.
Attempting a gluten-free diet becomes a “Why not?” sort of deal. You may not be sensitive to it, but you just may be.
It can’t hurt. It’s simple. Finding delicious options are easier than ever. And if the diet works for you, it is priceless.