By Chad Larson, NMD, DC, CCN, CSCS
Infertility was once seen as a woman’s reproductive problem. 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. It’s 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 the body has to certain foods can trigger an autoimmune response, causing devastating symptoms, including inflammation, nutrient malabsorption and organ function abnormalities, just to name a few. Such conditions can negatively impact fertility for both men and women.
Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome 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. While there are many foods that are likely to cause inflammation, there are also some that may help to 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.
Connection to Gluten?
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.1 While a gluten intolerance or sensitivity alone cannot directly cause infertility, the symptoms can. Inflammation in the gut can affect reproductive organs or inhibit proper absorption of nutrients, which are needed for optimal sperm and hormone production.
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.
Lab Tests for Sensitivities
For those looking to identify which, if any, foods they are sensitive to, testing is available that can helpevaluate reactions to these specific foods. For example 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, other lab tests can accurately identify gluten reactivity, measuring antibody production against eight wheat proteins and peptides, three essential enzymes, and gliadin-transglutaminase complex.
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 recongnizing 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, speak with a physician about how diet may impact infertility.
1. Male Infertility. Available online. http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/male-infertility/basics/causes/con-20033113. Accessibility verified March 31, 2016
Chad Larson is an advisor and consultant on the clinical consulting team for Cyrex Laboratories, a clinical immunology laboratory specializing in functional immunology and autoimmunity.