Infertility was once seen as a woman’s reproductive problem. In the pre-feminist world, motherhood proved a woman’s worth. This is no longer the case. Modern medical science and research have taught us that infertility affects both, men and women. Beyond that, we have also learned that the causes of infertility don’t start and end with the male and female reproductive systems. With March as National Nutrition Month, it’s the perfect time to take an in-depth look at one of the influences that may largely impact infertility: one’s diet.
Among a vast number of root causes leading to infertility is diet. More specifically, sensitivities that your body has to certain foods can trigger an autoimmune response, causing devastating symptoms in your body, including inflammation, nutrient malabsorption and organ function abnormalities, just to name a few. Such conditions can negatively impact fertility for both men and women.
Likewise, Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) is the most common endocrine disorder in women of reproductive age. Many of the health issues associated with PCOS directly impact fertility due to the inflammatory response, which can be triggered by eating certain foods, especially if your body has sensitivities to them. While there are many foods that are likely to cause inflammation, there are also some that may help reduce inflammation, such as leafy green vegetables. As each person is molded differently, it is important to be aware of how different foods affect you as an individual.
While there are many foods that cause inflammation and autoimmune reactivity, gluten is by far the number one culprit. Celiac disease, a digestive disorder caused by sensitivity to gluten, can cause male infertility according to Mayo Clinic studies. While a gluten intolerance or sensitivity alone cannot directly cause infertility, the symptoms can. Inflammation in your gut can affect your reproductive organs or inhibit proper absorption of nutrients, which are needed for optimal sperm, egg and hormone production. Therefore, celiac disease and gluten sensitivities/reactivity can lead to infertility in both men and women.
While there is a celiac panel to test for gluten autoimmune reactivity, this does not eliminate the possibility of sensitivities. This simple blood test fails to identify response to all known gluten epitopes, lectins, glutenin, gluteomorphin, and cross-reactants such as dairy, corn, and yeast, which can all trigger inflammation and other symptoms, again affecting fertility.
For those looking to identify which, if any, foods they are sensitive to, testing is available that can help evaluate reactions to these specific foods. For example, Cyrex Laboratories’ Array 10, a unique, revolutionary panel, measures reactivity to 180 food antigens in the cooked, raw, modified and processed form and monitors the effectiveness of customized dietary protocols. Additionally, Cyrex Laboratories’Array 3 accurately identifies gluten reactivity, measuring antibody production against eight wheat proteins and peptides, three essential enzymes, and gliadin-transglutaminase complex. If you suspect you may have sensitivities or reactivity to foods, or you’d like to learn more about Cyrex’s Arrays 3 and 10, all you need to do is consult with your doctor about how to get tested.
In the last decade, we have learned so much about the power of food and its ability to affect our health and well-being. There are so many factors that can cause infertility, leading many to a grueling journey of IVF procedures, drugs and the high costs associated with it all. But what if the solution to your fertility struggles was as simple as your diet and unknown sensitivities to certain foods? The solution could be a lot simpler than you anticipated! If infertility is a concern for yourself or someone you love, this National Nutrition Month is a good reminder to speak with a physician about how diet may impact infertility.
About the Author
Dr. Chad Larson, NMD, DC, CCN, CSCS, Advisor and Consultant on Clinical Consulting Team for Cyrex Laboratories
Dr. Larson holds a Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine degree from Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine and a Doctor of Chiropractic degree from Southern California University of Health Sciences. He is a Certified Clinical Nutritionist and a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist. He particularly pursues advanced developments in the fields of endocrinology, orthopedics, sports medicine, and environmentally-induced chronic disease. Dr. Larson is a clinical consultant to Cyrex Laboratories, a clinical immunology laboratory specializing in functional immunology and autoimmunity.