Category: Nutrition

Natural Remedies For Heartburn & GERD

Natural Remedies For Heartburn & GERD

One of the most over-prescribed and profitable medications (for Big Pharma) are acid suppressing drugs used to treat heartburn and gastro esophageal reflux disease (GERD). These strong medications should be used as a short-term therapy (a few weeks) rather than for years as people often do. Long term use of these medications make them difficult to stop, lead to increased susceptibility to infections such as clostridium difficile and pneumonia, and increase the risk arrhythmias and bone fractures due to decreased mineral absorption. Fortunately, there are other safer, healthier and natural solutions to relieve heartburn and GERD.

Our Stomach Produces Acid For A Reason

Why is the overuse of these drugs so disturbing? These pills essentially turn off your digestion. The stomach is meant to be an acidic environment that protects you from bacteria, parasites and other yuckiness that sneak in with your food. This acid environment also signals the pancreas to secret digestive enzymes to break down food in the small intestine. Without this perfect system, digestion becomes compromised and vitamin and mineral deficiencies ensue. Or worse yet, parasites and bacteria can easily enter your body without the normal protection.

Natural Solutions For Heartburn & GERD

So what is a person with heartburn to do? Keep reading to discover natural and safer solutions for this uncomfortable condition.

  • When a client of mine complains of heartburn or GERD, the first thing I look for is food allergies or sensitivities. Sometimes a test is warranted, but often taking out common food triggers for a month will identity the source of the problem. I usually recommend a 100% gluten free/dairy free trial to start. Other foods that may need elimination include peanuts, eggs, soy, citrus, coffee, alcohol and corn.
  • This may seem counter intuitive but heartburn is often a sign of LOW stomach acid. That burning sensation is really fermenting undigested food products and/or a poor functioning gastro esophageal sphincter that is not closing properly. Yes, there are some people who have hyperacidity or ulcers, but the majority of people suffer from low stomach acid, especially as we age.

    One simple test to know if you lack stomach acid is to drink 1-3 teaspoons of organic apple cider vinegar mixed with a couple of ounces of water during your meals. If you feel better and experience less burning, that is your clue that you need more stomach acid. The next step is to do a trial of Betaine Hydrochloride enzymes to further support stomach acid production and digestion. Start with one pill per meal and increase the dose gradually until you feel a slight burn or discomfort. Once that occurs, go back to the last dose where you had no discomfort and use that as your dose per meal.

  • Finally, some people benefit from more comprehensive digestive enzyme support, which includes Betaine Hydrochloride for the stomach as well as pancreatic enzymes to support digestion of fats, carbohydrates and proteins. One of my favorites can be found here. Look for less heartburn, bloating, gas and indigestion when supplementing with this product.
  • Keep in mind that if you are coming off an acid blocker, it is common to have a rebound effect if you stop it suddenly. Talk to your medical doctor about tapering off gradually over a couple of weeks. You can also support your digestion while reducing your dosage by using the methods listed above and supplementing with natural herbs that soothe and heal the GI tract. These include marshmallow root (not the stuff you make s’mores with, sorry), slippery elm or okra. My favorite natural antacid is deglycerized licorice, which will help calm the fire if you suffer from rebound acidity. You can find these items individually in your natural health food stores. For a comprehensive all-in-one product that also repairs the intestinal lining look here.
  • Use some common sense when eating. For example don’t drink large amounts of fluids while eating as this dilutes the acid environment of the stomach. Don’t go to bed right after finishing a meal and don’t overeat in general.
  • Finally, one of the most common reasons for heartburn is excessive body weight. Rather than pacifying the symptom, go to the source of the problem and drop a few pounds. One way to do that is to ensure you have optimal digestion to begin with. I can guarantee, if you are taking an acid reducing medication, you have just shut off your digestive capabilities and will be sliding down a slippery slope.

If you need additional assistance, please don’t hesitate to call the office at 608-467-9711 or book an appointment today.

10 Essential Tips to Boost Fertility

10 Essential Tips to Boost Fertility
  • If overweight, just a 5% weight loss can enhance fertility. Being underweight can be problematic as well. Gaining even 3-5 pounds can restore menstrual regularity and increase fertility. An ideal BMI (body mass index) is 18.5-24.9. To calculate your BMI click here.
  • Look for slippery, “egg white” cervical mucus as you near ovulation. This is the time to start getting busy between the sheets! Remember that sperm live for several days so they can stick around while waiting for that egg to drop.
  • Chart your basal body temperature to detect when ovulation is occurring and to observe the length of your luteal phase. This method shows ovulation after it has occurred, so it should be used to watch overall patterns in your cycle.
  • Give up unhealthy and highly allergenic foods to enhance overall health, as well as fertility. Give up gluten, soy, sugar, caffeine and alcohol.
  • Make sure your foods are organic and hormone free! Especially meat and dairy products, which can contribute to hormone imbalances.
  • Don’t be afraid of healthy sources of fat. Remember that cholesterol is the precursor to all downstream steroid hormones. Good fat sources include olives, avocados, raw nuts/seeds, coconut oil and organic dairy products and meats. For more diet advice please read my blog post on healthy eating for weight loss, blood sugar control and PCOS here.
  • If you have been trying to conceive for a while, make sure you see your MD to gather some basic information. Have your husband’s sperm checked. Ask for some hormone testing such as FSH, LH, estradiol, progesterone, TSH, prolactin and testosterone. A physical exam looking for fibroids, polyps or blocked tubes is also a good idea.
  • Be mindful of your stress level. It is often blamed for everything, and for good reason. It can throw off hormone levels that can affect your fertility.
  • Invest in your health by receiving regular acupuncture treatments. It improves blood flow to the uterus and ovaries, enhances egg quality, balances hormones and regulates the menstrual cycle. It can help couples conceive naturally as well as increase success rates when combined with western reproductive techniques like IUI’s and IVF. Numerous scientific studies have shown its benefits.
  • Increase the omega 3’s fatty acids in your diet by eating wild caught salmon or supplementing with a quality fish oil product. They can improve sperm quality and hormone health.

Weight Loss Tips to Improve Blood Sugar Control, PCOS & Fertility

Weight Loss Tips to Improve Blood Sugar Control, PCOS & Fertility

Happy New Year! The holidays and all the decadence that often comes with them are behind us, literally and figuratively. As a result, for many people the new year often comes with the goal to drop a few pounds. Below you will find my general dietary recommendations that I share with people every day in my practice. These recommendations are helpful for weight loss and signs of blood sugar instability, such as cravings for carbohydrates and sugar or fatigue after eating. I am a firm believer in making life style changes for more effective weight loss, rather than trying the newest fad diet. These recommendations may also be helpful for my overweight fertility clients with PCOS as scientific studies have shown that women with PCOS can regain ovulation, menstrual regularity and decrease insulin by losing 5-10% of their body weight.

Some tips for weight loss and better blood sugar control include:

  • Eat real, whole foods. No packaged foods please.
  • Your plate should always contain a healthy mix of all the macronutrients: a healthy protein (organic always), non-starchy carbs (lots of veggies) and healthy source of fat (cold pressed, non-refined oils, butter, avocado, raw nuts).
  • Animal protein and dairy products should come from grass-fed, organic sources to avoid the added hormones and antibiotics that are fed to the animals. Portion sizes should be the size of a deck of cards.
  • All refined carbohydrates and sugars should be eliminated. This includes, breads, pastries, candies, breakfast cereals, sodas, juice and alcohol.
  • Carbohydrates from non-starchy veggies are great and can be eaten without limits.
  • As a rule of thumb, if you are tired or crave sweets right after you eat, the carbohydrate portion of your meal was too high (assuming there are no hidden sensitivities we are unaware of).
  • Fruit is a great snack, but should always be combined with a healthy fat &/or a protein. Aim to eat only low to moderate fruits on the glycemic index chart. High glycemic fruits will cause an insulin surge. A good example is berries with unsweetened organic Greek yogurt or apple slices with raw almond butter.
  • Avoid trans fats, which are artificial fats, made from hydrogenated oils. They cause inflammation and arterial plaque. Findings from the Harvard Nurses’ Health Study found that eating trans fats decreased women’s fertility. Trans fats are found in most processed, packaged foods.
  • Don’t be afraid of healthy sources of fat, as the cholesterol is needed for hormone production. Some good examples include, cold pressed unrefined oils, raw nuts, organic diary products, avocados, olives.
  • Eat your dinner off of salad plates to help with portion control.
  • Exercise is essential for blood sugar stability and weight loss. Aim for 30 minutes per day 4-5 days/week. A combination of cardiovascular and weight training is optimal.
  • Find ways to nurture yourself, so that food is not comfort for you. Some things to consider: take a walk in nature, soak in a tub, meditate, do yoga, read an inspiring book or journal.

If eating cleanly, and still unable to drop weight, looking for food sensitivities is a good next step. Speak to your practitioner for testing options.

Functional Fertility: Part 1- Food Sensitivities

Functional Fertility: Part 1- Food Sensitivities

When it comes to fertility challenges or the label “infertility,” it can be much more complicated than egg and sperm quality or uterine linings. Fertility can be affected by the foods we eat, our immune systems, life stress and structural imbalances to name a few.

Today, we look at food and how it affects fertility. Most of you are already aware of the obvious things when it comes to diet, such as limiting sugar and processed foods, avoiding alcohol and eliminating caffeine. However, many people don’t realize that food sensitivities, even to healthy food items, can impair fertility.

I often recommend a lab that uses a patented technology, the ALCAT test, to identify food sensitivities. This test involves observing your white blood cells in the presence of common foods. If the blood cells enlarge, burst or shrink when combined with a food, this indicates a sensitivity. Based on the response, ALCAT classifies foods and herbs into four categories: severe, moderate, or mild reaction and acceptable foods. These sensitivities can manifest in a multitude of ways including headaches, heart burn, gas, bloating, weight gain and they can even impair fertility.

What is the link between food sensitivities and infertility? There are several we know about and probably more we haven’t identified yet.

When an immune reaction occurs, macrophages, a type of white blood cell, releases interleukin 1, which suppresses the release of luteinizing hormone (LH) and follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) and disrupts the steps needed for follicle development and ovulation.

Dr. Lene Hoj, an allergy specialist from Copenhagen has observed many patients become pregnant after eliminating foods identified on the ALCAT test. Her belief is that the immune response causes inflammation in the fallopian tubes, preventing proper movement of the egg to the uterus. In addition, she has observed improved sperm counts, motility and morphology in men following the ALCAT elimination diet.

Any autoimmune condition can benefit from ALCAT testing, including endometriosis and autoimmune infertility. The cause of endometriosis is unknown but European countries classify it as an auto-immune condition and acupuncturists classify it as a Liver and Blood Stasis pattern of imbalance. Food intolerance, chronic infections and stress all exacerbate autoimmune symptoms.

Unexplained infertility is a diagnosis that leaves women feeling confused and frustrated. Following the ALCAT diet recommendations empowers women, improves hormone levels and benefits overall health. For many of my clients, this along with acupuncture leads to a healthy pregnancy and baby.

Poly-cystic ovaries is a condition that affects women who are both overweight and of normal weight. The cause is not fully understood, but there can be a genetic tendency, ovarian overproduction of testosterone and elevated insulin levels. A result of these hormone imbalances is an improper ovarian response leading to poorly developed follicles, lack of ovulation and/or ovarian cysts. The ALCAT test results, combined with a healthy diet and exercise program, can facilitate weight loss for my overweight clients with a diagnosis of Poly-cystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS). Often a small amount of weight loss can normalize hormone function and enhance overall fertility.

The following symptoms are possible indications of food sensitivities. Take a look and see if any apply to you. If you have many symptoms, the ALCAT test may be one useful tool to use.

  • Arthritis or joint pain
  • Asthma
  • ADHD
  • Chronic diarrhea
  • Chronic constipation
  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
  • Stomach pain or cramping
  • Intestinal bloating
  • Fatigue
  • Diabetes
  • Infertility
  • Frequent infections
  • Eczema, rashes or acne
  • Hay fever
  • Headaches or migraines
  • Inability to lose weight
  • Persistent canker sores
  • Stuffy or runny nose
  • Hives

If you are interested in detecting your food sensitivities, please Book an Appointment or call 608-467-9711 to schedule a consultation.

Gluten & Autoimmune Thyroid Disease: What is the Connection?

Gluten & Autoimmune Thyroid Disease: What is the Connection?

It is estimated that 90% (1) of hypothyroid cases are autoimmune related. Autoimmune conditions occur when the body misfires its immune response, and makes the target certain tissues in the body. In autoimmune thyroid disease, the target is your thyroid gland, which is disrupted in its ability to secrete thyroid hormones properly. You are probably wondering why your doctor never mentioned this.

Often, medical providers do not look for the antibodies that are attacking your thyroid, because it does not change their course of treatment, which is to prescribe thyroid hormones. The problem with this scenario is that the root problem, the autoimmune condition, is not being treated. Thyroid hormone supplementation is often necessary, but addressing the source of the problem is equally important.

Western medicine treats some autoimmune conditions by trying to dial down the immune system with strong medication. However, these medications are generally reserved for more dire conditions. Thankfully there are some natural steps that can be taken to calm down your immune system.

The most important of these are dietary changes. One thing that science has discovered is a strong connection between thyroid disease and celiac disease (another autoimmune condition), which is intolerance to wheat and gluten-containing grains. Many medical providers will test for celiac disease by doing a blood test looking for particular antibodies, but once again we have a problem here. You will be diagnosed with celiac disease only when the process has progressed to the point of a permeable gut lining and antibody detection in the blood’s serum. A better option is to look for antibodies in the stool, when the intestinal lining is still intact. This allows you to catch the immune reaction to gluten earlier on, before more destruction takes place. In addition, one can be sensitive to gluten containing grains without having full blown celiac disease.

Not to complicate matters here, but you can also have a scenario where your immune system is no longer able to create antibodies, and in this case you can get a false negative on these tests. In this case, a genetic test can be performed to look for genes that predispose you to celiac disease or simple gluten sensitivity. This is a simple test that requires you to collect cells from your mouth using a cotton swab and then sending the sample to a lab for evaluation.

New and more comprehensive testing for gluten sensitivity have recently been developed which allow for testing of numerous peptides that lead to these reactions.

But the bottom line is if you have thyroid abnormalities, it is wise to eliminate all wheat and gluten-containing foods. It is also important to remember that this situation is an immune reaction; therefore, it is imperative to eliminate wheat and gluten 100%. Any exposure, no matter how minute, can fire up your immune system for many months! Our goal is to calm the immune system down, so that it is not attacking your thyroid gland.

If you are interested in doing either stool testing for wheat/gluten antibodies and/or genetic testing visit For serum and saliva testing visit A great, comprehensive book about Hashimoto’s Disease and Hypothyroidism is “Why Do I Still Have Thyroid Symptoms When My Lab Tests Are Normal?” by Datis Kharrazian and can be found at

(1) Baillière’s Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism
Volume 2, Issue 3, August 1988, Pages 591-617

The Miracle of Magnesium

The Miracle of Magnesium

Many who see me professionally know that one of my favorite supplements to recommend is magnesium. It is a mineral that has become depleted in our soils and food supply leading to widespread deficiency.

Magnesium is a mineral that is required for 325 enzymatic processes in the body, including the creation of energy by the activation of ATP, our fundamental energy storage molecule. It is nature’s muscle relaxant. When there is excess calcium in the cell and insufficient magnesium, cramping, twitching and spasms occur. Magnesium also helps to transmit nerve impulses to and from the brain and is required to synthesize protein.

What Does Magnesium Help?

Magnesium has been proven to help with numerous health conditions including the following:

  • Anxiety and panic attacks
  • Asthma
  • Blood clots
  • Constipation
  • Cystitis
  • Depression
  • Detoxification
  • Diabetes
  • Fatigue
  • Food cravings (especially carbohydrates, chocolate & salt)
  • Heart disease, arrhythmia & palpitations
  • Hypertension
  • Hypoglycemia
  • Insomnia
  • Kidney disease
  • Migraines & headaches
  • Musculoskeletal conditions (including fibromyalgia, muscle spasms, eye twitches, cramping, chronic neck/back pain)
  • Gynecological conditions (including PMS, painful periods, infertility, premature contractions, eclampsia of pregnancy)
  • Osteoporosis
  • Reynaud’s syndrome
  • Tooth decay

Unfortunately, many of these conditions are treated using painkillers, diuretics, bronchodilators, insulin, birth control pills, antibiotics or cortisone which further deplete magnesium stores. Interestingly, highly driven individuals who are under chronic stress are also prone to magnesium deficiencies due to the overproduction of adrenaline, which in turn depletes magnesium. Other factors that lead to deficiency include: excessive exercise, heavy sweating, alcohol &/or caffeine intake, high sugar intake and an imbalanced diet.

60-65% of magnesium is stored in our bones and teeth. The remaining 35-40% is found in the muscle/tissue cells and the body fluids. The highest tissue concentration of magnesium is found in the heart, which is why it can be considered nature’s calcium channel blocker, as well as in the brain.

Calcium and magnesium are equally important in our body, however at a biochemical level, they work antagonistically and any imbalance can create numerous problems. Magnesium is required to dissolve calcium properly, and without it, you may experience calcium excess conditions like, muscle spasms, fibromyalgia, hardening of the arteries, calcium deposits and kidney stones. In people who are magnesium deficient, they often require a 1:1 ratio of calcium to magnesium. If they are severely depleted, they may in fact require more magnesium than calcium, despite common beliefs.

Why Are We So Magnesium Deficient?

There are numerous reasons why we all lack adequate magnesium levels. Primarily, our soils have become depleted through modern farming methods using pesticides and herbicides, which has led to poor quality soil and therefore foods that lack adequate magnesium. In addition, our consumption of calcium containing foods has increased 10–fold compared to the diets of our prehistoric ancestors, creating even more need for magnesium rich food. Other factors include soil erosion, burning off magnesium from acid rain and increased consumption of mineral deficient processed food. In addition, the fluoride in our tap water and toothpaste binds with magnesium and makes it unavailable to the body. Inadequate stomach and intestinal digestion, either due to aging or chronic antacid use, also leads to magnesium and other nutrient deficiencies. Certain foods can block magnesium absorption such as: tannins in green and black tea, raw spinach/chard, a high grain or protein diet and unfermented soy products (including tofu, soy milk, soy protein powders).

What is necessary to make magnesium work? Both calcium and magnesium are required for the other to work properly. In addition vitamin D is required for the body to utilize magnesium. Vitamin B1 is required for magnesium to enter into the cell to do its work. Selenium helps magnesium to stay inside the cell where it belongs.

What foods increase magnesium? Increase your consumption of green vegetables, nuts, legumes, green beans, seeds, wheat germ, kelp, brewer’s yeast and sea salt. Some herbs that are high in magnesium include, cilantro, burdock root, chickweed, dandelion leaves, dulse and nettles.

Best Forms Of Magnesium

My favorite form of magnesium supplementation comes from magnesium glycinate, which has lower gastrointestinal effects. The brand I suggest to my clients can be found here. Other good forms include, magnesium taurate (good for cardiovascular problems), malate (good for fibromyalgia), citrate, orotate and topical magnesium. Look for the amount of elemental magnesium contained in your product, that is the amount to count towards your daily dosage. Avoid magnesium oxide which is very poorly absorbed (only 4%).

Topical magnesium is a great way to replenish the body’s stores of magnesium quickly. According to Norm Shealy MD, a pain management expert, oral supplementation can sometimes take 6-12 months to restore intracellular levels, especially if you experience a laxative effect, but topical magnesium can do it in 4-6 weeks. The topical form I recommend is magnesium chloride derived from deep in the earth’s interior, untouched by pollutants and ultra-pure. The topical magnesium I recommend to my clients can be found here. Another option for topical administration is a 20-30 minute soak in the tub with 2 cups of epsom salts.

Optimal Magnesium Dosing

Take your first dose of magnesium when you wake up in the morning and the last dose at bedtime. If a third dose is required, take it late in the afternoon. My preferred method of dosing is to increase by one tablet every 2 days until loose bowels occur. 2-3 soft bowel movements per day is acceptable, but loose diarrhea indicates excessive magnesium intake &/or the need to split up the dosage. If after splitting up the dosage to 3-4x/day, you still experience loose stools you should lower the dose, until your stools become soft rather than loose. If you are unable to reach the level of soft stools, you may have an extreme deficiency and need to use a topical magnesium as well. Other rules of thumb in dosing include: 3.0-4.5 mg/lb of body weight per day, which translates to 600-900 mg/day for a 200 pound man. Others recommend slightly higher levels for athletes or those under extreme stress. Your amount needed may also change over time. As your deficiency is eliminated, your total daily dosage may be reduced. Use your bowel consistency as a guide.

To increase absorption: If you suffer from gas and bloating, take your supplement with a digestive enzyme that includes betaine hydrochloric acid. Magnesium can be taken with or without meals, but it is preferable to take it between meals. It is alkaline, and therefore can act as an antacid and inhibit the digestion of your food if taken with a meal. If loose stools occur, make sure you are not taking all your daily dose at once, rather dividing the dose throughout the day. If you experience diarrhea, split the dose up to 4x/day. If that does not help, then reduce your dosage.

Contraindications For Magnesium Therapy

Those with kidney failure should avoid magnesium supplementation, as they are unable to clear it from the kidneys properly. People with Myasthenia Gravis should avoid IV magnesium therapy, due to the muscle relaxant properties. People with excessively slow heart rates should avoid magnesium as it can slow the heart even further. People with bowel obstructions should avoid magnesium, as they can not eliminate it properly.

Source: The Magnesium Miracle by Carolyn Dean, MD, ND

Organic Acids: A Picture of Cellular Health

Organic Acids: A Picture of Cellular Health

Are you feeling a change in your energy levels? Do you find yourself craving sugar or caffeine as an afternoon pick me up? Are you gaining weight or unable to lose weight, despite proper diet and exercise? Are you experiencing anxiety or depression? Have you lost your mojo?

The fact is, there can be numerous reasons for all these complaints. We now offer a great test for screening a variety of complaints, called Organic Acid Testing. It involves collecting a urine sample and examining it for elevated compounds of cellular metabolism. Organic acids are involved in energy production as well as cellular maintenance and repair. This test allows us to see how well your body is functioning at a cellular level. This test identifies vitamin/mineral deficiencies, inhibited metabolism, energy production, impaired enzyme function, gut bacterial overgrowth and exposure to environmental toxins.

Organic acid testing can be great tool to identify the underlying cause of chronic disease and other health related conditions, such as:

  • Weight Gain
  • Poor Digestion
  • Leaky Gut
  • Bloating
  • Food Allergies
  • Autism
  • ADHD
  • Stress
  • Mental Disorders
  • Environmental Toxin Exposure
  • Chronic Fatigue
  • Hypoglycemia
  • Weakness
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Cold Hands/Feet Low Energy

Identifying your personal metabolic roadblocks (because it is your urine, right?) allows us to tailor nutrient interventions, maximize effectiveness and efficiently restore your health.

Can Foods Contribute to Infertility?

Can Foods Contribute to Infertility?

Found this question and answer in The New York Times and found it interesting.

Dr. Sheila Crowe, a professor in the division of gastroenterology and hepatology in the department of medicine at the University of Virginia, recently joined the The New York Times Consults blog to answer reader questions about celiac disease, an often overlooked digestive disorder that causes damage to the small intestine when gluten, a protein found in wheat, barley and rye, is eaten. Millions of people have celiac disease, but most don’t know they have it, in part because symptoms can be so varied. Here, Dr. Crowe responds to a reader concerned about the links between celiac disease and infertility.

Q. Can you explain the link between celiac and infertility? Are you more likely to be infertile if you have celiac?

Dr. Crowe responds: Yes, infertility, or the inability get pregnant, seems to be more common in women with untreated celiac disease, based on a variety of studies in different countries. Other gynecological and obstetrical problems may also be more common, including miscarriages and preterm births. Men with untreated disease may also face fertility issues. Although these problems were not always recognized as being related to celiac disease by doctors and other health professionals, this situation is starting to change.

Women with celiac disease are reported to start having periods later and stop menstruating earlier than average. They also suffer more often from secondary amenorrhea, a condition in which menses start but then stop. Together, these menstrual disorders lead to fewer ovulations, which results in less of a chance to get pregnant. Hormonal factors and poor nutrition are thought to play a role in causing these problems.

For men, problems can include abnormal sperm – such as lower sperm numbers, altered shape, and reduced function. Men with untreated celiac disease may also have lower testosterone levels.

Of course, for both men and women, how often a couple has intercourse affects fertility. If someone feels lousy from untreated celiac disease, infrequent sexual activity may be contributing to the problem. One study from Italy suggests that sexual relations occurred less often when one partner had active celiac disease compared with couples in which the partner’s celiac disease was being treated.

Once a woman with active celiac disease does conceive, other problems that can arise during the pregnancy include miscarriages and smaller babies because of preterm delivery or delayed growth in the uterus. These conditions are reported to be more common in women with untreated celiac disease, though miscarriages have many causes and occur in up to one-fourth of all pregnancies. Nonetheless, I would recommend that if a woman has repeated miscarriages or is unable to conceive, consideration should be given to screening her for celiac disease by antibody testing (see my earlier posting, “Confirming a Diagnosis of Celiac Disease”).

Indeed, there are many causes of infertility, miscarriages and small babies besides unrecognized celiac disease, and some studies have failed to show that the risks of these problems are actually increased by untreated celiac disease. Larger and better-devised studies are needed.

Still, my own clinical experience suggests that infertility and smaller or preterm babies are more common in women with untreated celiac disease than those without. I am sure some of our readers can share their own experiences in this regard. And the good news is that with proper treatment with a gluten-free diet and correction of nutritional deficiencies, the prognosis for future pregnancies is much improved.