In my last blog post, I began to introduce the topic of inflammation, how the health of your gut can cause chronic inflammation and the impact of that kind of inflammation on our fertility. If you missed it, it’s worth a read…
It’s a huge topic.
Reducing it to a couple of blog posts is optimistic, but hopefully these blogs are offering you some food for thought (ha! No pun intended) and perhaps helping to give you a better sense of what might be going on for you.
If you’re wondering how chronic inflammation can have an effect on fertility, well, there are a few possible mechanisms or “pathways”.
Malabsorption: If the digestive tract (or gut) is inflamed and the very delicate lining of the gut wall is damaged, absorption suffers. I’m sure you’ve heard that expression “We are what we eat”? In fact, I think it’s more accurate to say, “We are what we eat, digest & absorb”. Not a great soundbite, admittedly, but gives an insight into how important absorption is. No matter how fabulous our diet is, if our body cannot digest & absorb those nutrients, we’re scuppered.
Can you imagine how your body makes reproductive hormones if it doesn’t get the building blocks from food?
Bacterial Dysbiosis: This term describes a scenario where the profile of bacteria that are resident in your gut is out of whack. There is an imbalance between the bacteria that support your health and those that do not. Inflammation can cause this kind of dysbiosis, as can certain foods, anxiety, stress, antibiotics, pollution…the list is pretty long. This kind of bacterial imbalance can affect your fertility in a few ways. Firstly, certain bacteria aid in the elimination of hormones that the body has already used and is ready to discard. If those bacteria are unable to do their job, it’s possible that these “old” hormones can be reabsorbed into your blood, which sends hormone levels out of whack, like oestrogen for example. Secondly, a bacterial imbalance can impact the level & type of endotoxins (or chemicals) that gut bacteria produce, which can cause further stress and systemic inflammation, which can also affect inflammatory conditions like endometriosis. It’s a vicious circle, eh?
Autoimmune Conditions: I explained how a damaged gut wall can impact our immune system in my last blog post. How this over-reactive immune system behaves can vary hugely from person to person, depending on our personal history, our genetic predispositions, our lifestyle choices… For some people, just one organ is affected, resulting in a condition like Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism. In others, many organs are effected.
Any of these auto-immune conditions can affect the function of your reproductive system, so dealing with the root cause is the first port of call and that is almost always the health of the gut.
How to eat if you’re working on reducing inflammation is not necessarily a simple task, as foods that are pro-inflammatory (or inflammation-causing) are everywhere! Refined grains, sugar, pasteurised and homogensied dairy foods, intensively produced red meat and poultry and any highly processed foods need to be reduced. The only way to truly change your diet to one that is anti-inflammatory is to get into the kitchen and cook from scratch. Fresh vegetables, oily fish, seeds and nuts are all incredibly nourishing and are pretty easy to convert into yummy meals.
I’m currently working on a collection of recipes, all of which are easy to prepare and supportive in your quest to reduce inflammation and nourish your body for pregnancy. Until then, check out this video, where I show you how easy it is to make an anti-inflammatory chai latte that is not only utterly delicious but is comforting, satisfying and helps to stabilise blood sugar levels!
If you’ve enjoyed this blog post, please share it with your community! I’d love to hear what you think, if you’ve struggled with changing your diet or if you’ve tried this chai latte and love it or hate it?!