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
- Chronic diarrhea
- Chronic constipation
- Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
- Stomach pain or cramping
- Intestinal bloating
- Frequent infections
- Eczema, rashes or acne
- Hay fever
- Headaches or migraines
- Inability to lose weight
- Persistent canker sores
- Stuffy or runny nose