Category: Nutrition

Should you get rid of gluten to improve your fertility?

Gluten is like glue in your digestive system! Remember how you made glue by mixing flour and water together when you were little? The same thing is happening in your digestive system…eek!

Gluten is a rubbery protein found in wheat, rye, triticale and barley. It is a big problem for people with Coeliac Disease but it is actually problematic for everyone, especially when trying to conceive.

Usually when we eat something the stomach and intestines break it down and absorb the nutrients but our body cannot break gluten down properly and this contributes to leaky gut!

WHY LEAKY GUT DOESN’T HELP WITH FERTILITY

The weakening of the tight junctions of the stomach wall causes the immune system to become more reactive to the contents of our stomach, often leading to food intolerances. This inflammation of the stomach wall will also impair your ability to absorb nutrients. Since the health of your egg and sperm are dependent on high levels of nutrients in the body gluten is a great thing to eliminate from your diet.

When the mucous membrane of the stomach becomes irritated the protein molecules of gluten can then cross into our blood stream where our body’s immune defences recognise it as a foreign. If this occurs often our body can get confused between what is the gluten floating free in our blood and our own organs and body parts and it will begin to attack those. This process causes all sorts of issues the worst being autoimmune issues resulting in a myriad of other symptoms such as:

  • Skin problems, such as those little bumps on the back of the arms, psoriasis and eczema
  • Joint pain and swelling
  • Chronic fatigue
  • Brain fog, depression, mood swings anxiety and dizziness. Studies have shown that for people who are sensitive to it, gluten has a benzodiazapam like effect on the brain i.e. it has a very numbing, sleep inducing effect on the brain thus reducing cognitive function.
  • Digestive discomfort: such as gas, irregular bowel patterns and bloating.
  • Hormone imbalances such as PMS, unexplained infertility and PCOS.
  • Gluten can negatively affect any tissue in the body.

    If your stomach is in a really bad way, you may even react to other grains in what is known as ‘cross-reactivity’. This means that your body may have the same sort of reactions to corn and rice due to the same leaky gut issues. We can decide in my clinic, based on your symptoms or doing an IgG antibody test whether going completely grain free is warranted or perhaps going gluten free will is enough to get you to your optimal fertility. If you question that you may have food intolerance of some kind, I would advise doing an IgG intolerance test such as the Food Detective.

    Most people will notice a difference in themselves pretty soon after removing gluten, usually somewhere between 2 days and two weeks. This may be feeling lighter, less bloated, better sleep, increased energy, less pain, skin feels less dry or brain feels clearer.

    There are so many foods available that are gluten free, that avoiding gluten should not cause you any problems. Nearly all foods have a gluten free option, including treats!

    Begin by eating more ‘real’ foods i.e. fresh fruit, vegetables, meat, eggs, nuts, seeds, legumes and gluten free grains like rice, corn, quinoa and buckwheat. Read your labels. If a product is labelled gluten free, then you can be confident that you can eat it. If there are any ingredients that contain gluten it legally has to be declared on the label, so sometime it may say “may contain gluten” and these foods are best to be avoided as well.

    Things to look out for when choosing gluten free (GF):

  • Preservatives. Some of the GF bread has pretty nasty preservatives in it. If the ingredients list contains numbers, check them out using additive free pantry guide or the chemical maze, and make an educated decision.
  • Excessive sugar. Some processed GF snack options are quite high in sugar or may be really high GI as they are based on white rice flour. Use these sparingly.
  • Fake foods. Soy sauce contains gluten. You can get a gluten free soy sauce but the ingredients are water, salt, colours and preservatives. This is not a smart substitute. Choose tamari or a soy sauce alternative made from coconut instead.
  • Remember that just because a product is gluten free doesn’t mean that it is good for you! Wherever possible choose wholefoods.

    We have included some delicious recipe options for you in The Fertility Formula, but don’t be limited. With Google at your fingertips all you need to do is type in ‘gluten free breakfast/bread/zucchini slice’ whatever you are thinking of there is always a delicious gluten free alternative.

    BEFORE GOING GLUTEN FREE CONSIDER THIS

    Once you have gone gluten free you will probably never want to go back to eating gluten on a regular basis and to be accurately tested for Coeliac Disease you need to be eating gluten regularly. So if you feel that there is any chance that you may have Coeliac Disease i.e. you have a family member with Coeliac Disease, you have had more than one miscarriage or you are experiencing symptoms of Coeliac Disease such as: pain, nausea, vomiting, anaemia, fatigue, unexplained weightless or gain, bloating, flatulence or irregular bowel motions I would suggest that you see your medical doctor or naturopath to have some coeliac blood screening done.

    Along with the commonly requested transglutimase blood test ask your health practitioner to also request THE COELIAC GENE TEST (HLA, DQ2, DQ8) if you have symptoms and test positively for these tests you may want to do further testing, see your health practitioner for advice on further investigations.

    It is also important to note, that there are people who have ‘silent coeliac’ i.e. some people with coeliac disease don’t have ANY symptoms.

    We do know that gynaecological issues, infertility and recurrent miscarriage is common among women with Coeliac Disease. Men with Coeliac Disease may have lower testosterone levels and abnormal sperm. New York Times February 3, 2010

    If you are diagnosed with Coeliac Disease feel confident in the fact that with a strict gluten free diet, herbal and nutritional supplementation it is possible to conceive and deliver a healthy baby.

    If you would like more information on going gluten free and loads of fertility friendly gluten free recipes, you will find The Fertility Formula a great resource.

    Exercise to improve your fertility

    Evidence suggests that moderate regular exercise i.e. 30 minutes on most days of the week, positively influences fertility and assisted reproductive technology (ART)

    In a study of 26,955 women, vigorous activity was associated with reduced risk of ovulatory infertility.1

    Cycling for males, can be negative for the sperm concentration and their ability to swim, both of these parameters were shown to be decreased in males who cycled for five or more hours per week. 2

    So what is the right amount of exercise?

    Of course this is a very individual recommendation, dependant on your current weight and your fitness level. As a general rule though, following national and international evidence-based physical activity guidelines is recommended. This includes at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity on most days. Choosing a combination of cardiovascular exercise along with walking and some resistance exercises to build muscle mass will assist you in improving your fertility and reduce the risk of miscarriage.

    More importantly, develop a program that you enjoy and that you can stick with! Both yoga and walking are wonderful to continue on with in pregnancy so these are excellent exercises to include in your preconception exercise routine.

    Exercise has a beneficial impact on appetite, and provides long-term health benefits. For most patients it is recommended to aim for, or build up to, 30 minutes of moderate intensity exercise, that is where you’re puffing but can still talk, at least four days per week. Activities can include a combination of aerobic and anaerobic exercise such as:

    • Walking
    • Yoga/Pilates
    • Swimming
    • Weight bearing exercises

    Don’t Wait for Weight Loss – DO IT NOW!

    Achieving and maintaining a healthy weight is important for your overall health and is one of the best steps you can take in preventing many chronic health conditions. With our new guided professional weight management program, achieving and maintaining a healthy weight is easy! Now is the best time to start tackling your weight loss goals, so you can be your happiest and healthiest.

    Taking the first steps to healthy weight is a common goal for many of us. If you find that your indulgences have settled on your hips, or you have been carrying excess weight for some time now, it is time to find your motivation for change. Set yourself the goal of a fantastic new you! It really saddens me when consulting with my clients to learn how their unwanted kilos hold them back from health and happiness.

    It’s important to ensure good muscle mass is maintained during weight loss, as this will promote healthy metabolism and enable you to keep the fat off long term without the rebound.

    Our new weight loss program will help you successfully lose fat while maintaining muscle. This convenient and simple to follow dietary program will help to keep you feeling full, decrease your appetite and limit those sweet cravings in order to facilitate successful weight loss goals.

    1. Rich-Edwards JW, Spiegelman D, Garland M, Hertzmark E, Hunter DJ, Colditz GA, Willett WC, Wand H, Manson JE 2002. “Physical activity, body mass index, and ovulatory disorder infertility.” Epidemiology 13:184-190. The Fertility Society of Australia.
    2. Wise LA, Cramer DW, Hornstein MD, Ashby RK, Missmer SA 2011. “Physical activity and semen quality among men attending an infertility clinic.” Fertil Steril 95:1025-1030. The Fertility Society of Australia.

    Is your weight stopping you conceiving?

    If you’re overweight, or carrying a few extra kilos, you may already have tried one of those ‘fad diets’ advertised in magazines and on the internet. However, many of these diets can leave you feeling hungry and slow down your metabolism, making you more likely to suffer from rebound weight gain. This is because these diets frequently focus on low fat foods which are often higher in sugar or carbohydrates and low in protein. You may register weight loss on the scales, but be losing valuable muscle rather than fat. It is important to ensure good muscle mass is maintained during weight loss, as this will promote healthy metabolism and enable you to keep the fat off long term without the rebound.

    TONIC’S totally natural and healthy Weight Management Program can help you successfully lose fat while maintaining muscle. Our convenient and simple to follow dietary program will help keep you feeling full, decrease your appetite and limit those sweet cravings in order to facilitate successful weight loss.

    Look Good, Feel Great

    Losing extra body fat with our professional Weight Management Program not only brings the benefit of looking good and feeling great, but can also help improve your energy levels, reduce your risk of developing many chronic diseases and encourage healthy ageing. It can also be a very rewarding and empowering experience.

    Benefits of Regular Support

    Keeping motivated and staying on track with your weight loss goals can be difficult to do on your own. Regular visits to our clinic can often be the key to success in fat loss and feeling great. We can provide professional advice to overcome your obstacles to weight loss as well as using our Bio Impedance Machine to measure exactly how much fat, muscle and fluid you’re carrying. This helps us design the perfect diet and exercise program for you.

    6 Easy Steps to Looking and Feeling Great

    The professional Weight Management Program uses a low carbohydrate, moderate protein approach to food intake, which promotes steady and consistent weight loss. The six simple steps of our program are:

    1. Consume two healthy meals per day consisting of a palm size portion of protein and three handfuls of allowable vegetables. One handful of vegetables may be replaced by an allowable portion of fruit each day.
    2. A high protein meal replacement once per day in the form of a shake or a delicious bar.
    3. Include two low carbohydrate protein snacks per day.
    4. Incorporate healthy oils as a part of your daily diet.
    5. Aim for 40 minutes of moderate intensity exercise four times per week, or as individually recommended.
    6. Measure your ketones using Ketostix™ twice daily. Ketones appear in your urine if you are burning fat. By measuring ketone levels every day, you can monitor your fat burning in real time!

    Kylie’s Green Smoothie My favourite morning or afternoon snack is a Green Smoothie. Click on the link above to download my free favourite recipe.

    Tea for Fertility

    I love the ritual of making herbal tea…I love using my favourite teapot and cup, the teas too are fragrant and a perfect source of easily absorbable vitamins and minerals. Of course if you know me, you have probably tried one of my herbal medicine tonics and no, they do not taste amazing, unlike my favourite fertility tea. So what type of tea is best?

    LOOSE LEAF TEA OR TEA BAGS?

    I prefer to use the whole leaf/root or flower rather than teabags when making my teas, this way you avoid, the bleach used in the bags, glues and staples. Of course it is always essential to choose organic teas. When using the whole flower, or larger parts of the plant as we do in loose leaf teas, you are able to absorb more of the essential oils, vitamins and minerals as they haven’t been chopped up so finely that they have oxidised.

    ARE TEAS SAFE AND CAN THEY HELP WITH YOUR FERTILITY?

    Herbal teas don’t give you hormones but rather they provide the body with the building blocks i.e. the minerals and phytochemicals to support the body to manufacture its own tissues and hormones.

    The herbs that I have blended together to make the delicious Fertility Tea, have been used for thousands of years helping women conceive; balancing their hormones and supporting the reproductive system. This blend of herbs is safe to use and recommended for any woman, including those struggling with; PCOS, PMT, endometriosis, hormonal imbalances, fertility and digestive issues. It is delicious drunk hot or cold.

    The herbs used are all organic and include:

    Red Clover: This is the single most useful herb for establishing fertility. Its high vitamin content is especially useful for the uterus; its high protein content aids the entire body. It’s very absorbable calcium and magnesium relax the nervous system and promote fertility. Red clover is also known to alkalise the body and may balance the acid/alkali level of the vagina and uterus in favour of conception.

    Raspberry Leaf: When combined with Red Clover this herb is an excellent fertility herb. It is known to tone the uterus and prevent miscarriage. This herb contains fragrine, which gives tone to the muscles of the pelvic region, including the uterus. It also has a rich concentration of vitamin C, vitamin E, vitamin A, vitamin B, phosphorus and potassium and the easily assimilated calcium and iron.

    Licorice: Has been used for thousands of years in eastern medicine to promote ovulation. It also supports the adrenals, helping the body cope with stress, whilst it is soothing on the body’s mucous membranes and a beautiful bowel cleanser.

    Nettle: Is said to contain more chlorophyll than any other herb and contains lots of vitamins and minerals including vitamins A, C, D and K, calcium, potassium, phosphorus, iron and sulphur. It is known to increase fertility and supports both mother and fetus once pregnancy occurs.

    Peppermint: This herb is stimulating and gets you moving, it is an effective anti-nauseant and helps to balance the acid levels in the stomach therefore allowing better absorption in the gut. Mints are also recommended to improve sexual desire.

    Chaste Tree Berry: This bountiful berry works on the body’s master gland, the pituitary, to help the body achieve a perfect balance of hormones to regulate the menstrual cycle. It is especially helpful to regulate the menstrual cycle after coming off the oral contraceptive pill. In studies it has been shown to support the body’s natural progesterone and luteinising hormone production. In other countries it is used (even by doctors) to help reduce endometriosis. It is often prescribed by herbalists to help ease PMS, menstrual difficulties and infertility.

    HOW TO MAKE THE PERFECT CUP OF HERBAL TEA

    Place one heaped teaspoon per person into the plunger or tea pot and then one extra teaspoon ‘for the pot’. Pour over filtered boiled water and allow it to infuse and steep for 3 – 5 minutes (even up to 10 minutes if you are like me and like your tea super strong). Note, it is best to make your tea in a covered vessel to keep in the benefits of the essential oils. Then plunge and serve.

    I will often then refill this teapot or plunger and stick it in the fridge for a deliciously refreshing iced tea.

    Herbal teas are a delicious and nurturing way of improving your fertility. Our bodies are based on water and so are plants, making a herbal tea the perfect way to extract and make accessible the full range of vitamins, minerals and nutrients form your herbal preparation. Why not try reducing that caffeine containing drink which doesn’t help your fertility at all and enjoy a nice cup of tea instead.

    My Fertility Tea is available for purchase. Click here to add to your shopping cart – Fertility Tea. If you have found this article of interest you can download my FREE Preconception Checklist here.

    Detox and beyond……

    We’ve all heard of the benefits of detoxification, but do you need to detox?

    Do you suffer from; fatigue, recurrent infections, skin problems, bloating/flatulence/irregular bowel habits, hormonal imbalances, anxiety/mood swings, muscle aching/weakness, allergies, excess weight or poor concentration? If you answered yes to any of the above symptoms then your body is in need of help and a detox is the best way to start.

    We are not only what we eat, but also what we drink, breathe and touch. In today’s environment we are constantly surrounded by chemicals, plastics, heavy metals, foods and additives which are toxic to our system. Our bodies are designed to work best by digesting and absorbing pure and organic fruit, vegetables, nuts, grains, proteins and water. We certainly weren’t made with enzymes designed to break down, confectionery, alcohol, soft drinks, additives and preservatives, processed foods, medications, traffic fumes, cigarettes and recreational drugs. Over time continued contact with these toxins can overwhelm the body, resulting in us not feeling our absolute best.

    Most people with toxicity develop a problem called “leaky-gut syndrome”. In a healthy digestive system the lining of the digestive system is a very good filter, allowing beneficial nutrients like vitamins and amino acids to pass into the bloodstream, whilst keeping toxic bacteria and waste products of digestion within the bowel. This filter is easily damaged by infection, medications, bad bacteria, yeasts and parasites, which then lead to an unregulated transport of only partially digested foods and waste into the body, this places a tremendous stress on the other detoxification organs and ultimately the immune system. If you want to maintain high levels of energy and great health, start each season with a one or two week detox program. Team up with your partner, family or friends and get them excited about getting healthy. This is not only great for their health but also helps you by eliminating temptations.

    Top 10 detox tips:
    – Remove sugar, alcohol, preservatives, colours and additives from your diet.
    – Consume a minimum of 2 litres of filtered drinking water. Tap water may be contaminated with heavy metals and pesticides.
    – Eat regularly, every 3 hours is ideal. Fasting can impair detoxification. A lack of dietary protein makes the liver unable to process toxins.
    – Choose easily digestible proteins. Vegetable proteins such as legumes, tofu, tempeh and raw nuts are your best sources. Fish is also easily digested, choose smaller unfarmed fish.
    – Always choose fresh seasonal fruit and vegetables, it is preferable to buy organic produce where possible.
    – Remove saturated fat and sugar from the diet.
    – Remove gluten from the diet: 40%of people are intolerant to gluten causing it to decrease the absorption of nutrients which may lead to vitamin/mineral deficiencies, bowel problems and allergy symptoms.
    – Choose dairy free options, use rice milk or soy products made from whole soy beans (not soy isolates).
    – Exfoliate your skin daily with a pure bristled brush. A great way to stimulate the lymphatic system and help with elimination of toxins through the skin. Always brush towards the heart.
    – Show your liver some love, with St. Mary’s thistle. If you use medications or drink alcohol, the least you could do is take this herb to support the liver in elimination of toxins.

    What to drink to support your detox:
    – Dandelion coffee, this supports the liver.
    – A minimum of 2 litres of filtered water daily.
    – Ginger Tea increases digestive enzymes and reduces nausea.

    Supplement with:
    – Acidophilus, this will ensure you put back the good bacteria that alcohol and medications destroy. Important for immune and digestive health.
    – A quality multivitamin. Vitamins and minerals aid in both protection of organs and elimination of toxins.
    – Slippery elm tablets, this will help to protect the bowel from damage.

    Post Detox
    Once you have completed your detox you should no longer have any awareness of your digestion, energy levels should of increased, skin cleared and overall you should be feeling great. If not perhaps we need to delve further into what is causing your digestive discomfort by doing a food intolerance test.

    By checking the blood and measuring its immune reaction against different possible intolerances we are able to easily identify the foods you need to avoid to promote gut healing and reduce your symptoms. Once the offending foods have been identified have been identified, we aim to create a nutritious, well balanced, natural fertility diet plan which excludes these particular antigens for at least 3 months.

    Reduce intolerances in the long-term
    Reactions to certain foods does not indicate that patients will need to exclude them from their diet forever. Multiple factors influence reactivity to foods, including immune system function, digestion, toxins, stress, gut flora, obesity, sex hormones, and more. Addressing these factors can reduce the problem of food sensitivity over time in many patients.
    After exclusion of reactive foods for at least 3 months, individuals may become more tolerant of the offending food. Rechallenges with small amounts of the food may be conducted at this time, and the food gradually reintroduced into the diet if results are negative. For long term health you need to take good care of your gut as this is directly linked to not you’re your digestive health but also your immune and emotional health.

    If this information has been of interest to you, you might like to download our FREE PRECONCEPTION CHECKLIST.

    Herbs for Health

    Herbs – what a wonderful gift nature has provided us with. As the musician Jacqueline du Pre once said “the intense perfumes of the wild herbs as we trod them underfoot made us feel almost drunk.” And it’s true, not only can their heady scents intoxicate us but can also invoke memories of baked dinners, grandma’s garden or simply relaxing at home with our favourite oils or candles.

    For thousands of years they have been used for perfumes, food enhancement, to protect against germs, for rituals and even as currency. However, their most potent and undeniably important use must surely be for health and medicinal applications.

    Simon and Garfunkel sung about Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme, but I would add don’t forget Basil, Coriander and Oregano! Even if you don’t have a large garden, I would encourage you to find a little space or pot to grow these, my favourite and most useful, common and healthy pregnancy herbs.

    Parsley
    Before it was commonly used in food as an ingredient and garnish, parsley was used medicinally. It contains plenty of vitamin C and A, iron, iodine and magnesium and is a good source of folic acid. Parsley can be helpful for the relief of rheumatoid arthritis and heart health.

    Basil
    The name ‘basil’ is derived from the Greek word ‘basileios’, meaning king. This reflects the high regard this herb had in the ancient cultures it is native to in India, Asia and Africa. Basil contains the vitamins C, A and K as well as iron and magnesium. It is also packed with antiviral, antimicrobial and antioxidant properties.

    Sage
    Sage is a lovely herb to have in your garden and has one of the longest histories of use of any culinary or medicinal herb. In ancient times it even was thought to extend life and was used as a fertility remedy in ancient Egypt. It contains vitamin K and has good antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and antibiotic properties

    Coriander
    Coriander, which is also known as Cilantro, makes use of its leaves and seeds and is an underpinning ingredient in many cuisines around the world. A rich source of vitamins A, C and K, beta-carotene and manganese it also has strong antioxidant and antibacterial properties.

    Thyme
    A great herb to have on hand, fresh or dried. Used by ancient cultures as an embalming agent to preserve the dead it was also used in funerals to assure passage to the next life! An antiseptic and antibiotic, Thyme is also packed with vitamins E, A, C and K as well as iron, manganese and calcium.

    Oregano
    Oregano is related to Marjoram and is sometimes referred to as wild Majoram. More flavourful when dry, it is associated with Mediterranean cuisine. Rich in antioxidants and antiseptic properties, Oregano is also useful for stomach and respiratory ailments.

    Rosemary
    A hardy and decorative plant, Rosemary has many uses both culinary and medicinally. Said to be helpful for improving memory, it’s for this reason it is symbolically used during war commemorations. Rich in vitamin B complex groups such as folic acid, it also contains good amounts of vitamins A and C and is a rich source of the minerals potassium, calcium, iron, manganese, copper and magnesium.

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