Pregnancy

Can a Gluten - Free Diet Improve Fertility?

 

 

Image credits: Fertility Family

 

Fertility can be defined as the natural processes and capacities of a body to conceive a child. It can be a complicated and sometimes tiring journey.

Fertility does not occur easily for everyone. Almost every couple grapples with infertility, be it the fear of it or experiencing it.

Every 11 couples out of 100 face infertility. It is the inability to conceive naturally after continuous efforts of intercourse. (1)

Once discovered, most couples do everything in their power to improve their fertility to increase their chances of conceiving a baby.

They encounter countless obstacles – which doctors to consult, which medicines to try, what foods to eat and what to avoid, what activities to engage in and not.

Sometimes, this process can get a little overwhelming.

 

1. What Factors Affect Fertility

 

 

Image credits: Premier Health

 

There can be many things that can affect a person’s fertility down the road. While some may seem harmless at first, they can have irreversible effects.

It is essential to understand these factors and how to deal with them.

 

Age

Female fertility usually peaks at ages 21-23 and, after hitting 35, starts to decline rapidly. This gives women a window of about 10-15 years, where conceiving should be easiest for them, without any complications.

Once menopause hits, women become entirely susceptible to fertility and can no longer conceive.

It is therefore vital to understand your body and know when the right time is.

Male fertility is also affected by age, but the rate of decline is much slower than that of women. (2)

 

Existing Chronic Diseases

While some diseases may not be related to a pregnancy, they still can cause hindrances for a body’s fertility.

Several conditions have rigorous treatments, which can leave the body feeling exhausted and weak.

This can cause a decline in the fertility rate.

 

Medication Side Effects

Some medications like allergy meds, vitamin supplements, antidepressants, and cancer treatments can inadvertently affect the fertility of a person.

 

Unhealthy Lifestyle

A healthy lifestyle is essential for any person, regardless of their state of fertility.

Maintaining a healthy hormonal balance is extremely important.

which can only be possible with a healthy lifestyle full of good food, exercise, and happy and positive thinking.

 

2. What Does A Gluten-Free Diet Look Like?

 

What is Gluten?

 

 

Image credits: MedicineNet

 

Gluten is a naturally occurring protein found in wheat plants and other grains.

Gluten is often found in almost everything we eat and drink – bread, pasta, beer, cakes, etc.

Gluten-free diets can be helpful for those who have celiac disease, which causes the small intestine to malfunction due to gluten intake.

Switching to a gluten-free and keto diet has been known to improve fertility in some individuals.

People who have wheat allergies should also avoid gluten.

While it might help someone to undertake a gluten-free diet, they need to ensure that they compensate for their diet with enough protein and whole foods. (3)

Partaking in a gluten-free diet requires commitment and careful attention to detail. Certain foods and grains become red zones, such as –

  • Wheat
  • Barley
  • Rye
  • Some oats

Any foods containing the above grains need to be avoided.

However, to compensate for the missing protein, it is essential to fill your diet with other whole foods such as –

  • Fruits and vegetables
  • Beans, legumes, nuts, and seeds
  • Eggs
  • Lean meats, fish, and poultry (usually unprocessed because sometimes, processed meats have gluten added to them)
  • Low-fat dairy products
  • Guava leaves
  • Papaya
  • Okra (If not fried and breaded)

 

3. Gluten-Free Diet and Fertility – How Are They Related?

 

 

Image credits: Johns Hopkins Medicine

 

Gluten, often mistaken as a highly harmful component, has been blamed as the catalyst for many ailments, including infertility.

A study conducted in 2016 found that infertile women were 3.5 times more susceptible to celiac disease – an intestinal problem due to gluten intake – than fertile women.

Therefore, it is natural to conclude that gluten is a cause of infertility.

Gluten intolerance can cause inflammation throughout the body, forcing it to enter a danger zone that is not safe for pregnancy.

Due to this inflammation, the small intestine's lining gets corroded, which interferes with nutrient absorption.

These nutrients include protein, fats, vitamins, iron, etc., which are all important for conception and healthy pregnancy.

More and more families are opting for a gluten-free diet to improve fertility. (4)

Some also opt for a fully plant-based diet for fertility or keto diet for boosting fertility. 

 

4. Does A Gluten-Free Diet Help With Pregnancy? 

While it is not scientifically proven that a gluten-free diet increases fertility chances, there have been certain cases where doctors claim differently. (5)

Patients who have been trying to conceive for 10-12 years go on gluten-free diets and can get pregnant within a matter of months.

A fertility diet rich in gluten-free recipes can benefit those facing infertility. As research shows, gluten-free diets improve hormonal balance and reduce inflammation; both of which bolster fertility.

Fertility diet recipes include antioxidant and healthy fat-rich foods, such as avocado, nuts, and leafy greens; as well iron and folic acid dense foods like eggs and lentils.

 

 

Image credits: Intermountain Healthcare

 

These cases mainly depend on the women’s bodies and how they react to a diet.

However, there is nothing wrong with consulting your doctor, getting a few tests done, and seeing if a gluten-free diet for fertility is exactly what you need.

 

5. Gluten and Male Fertility – How Does it Affect Men?

 

 

Image credits: Verywell Health

 

Women aren’t the only ones whose fertility can be affected by gluten.
Gluten intolerance can alter sperm formation and mobility, which makes conception harder. (
6)

 

6. How does Celiac Disease Affect Fertility in Males?

Many researchers have theorized that celiac disease, which hasn’t been diagnosed, can impact male fertility by reducing nutrient absorption and inflammation of the small intestine and its linings.

Since enough research hasn’t been done, there can be no definitive answer about the exact effects of gluten and celiac disease on men; there is some configuration that celiac disease may be a convincing argument about the factors leading to infertility in men.

 

7. Going Gluten-Free – A New Lifestyle

 

 

Image credits: New Hope Network

 

Your body is an extremely responsive and highly sensitive system.

It needs constant care and reassurance, and rightly too. Fertility is a fluid concept that has different circumstances for different couples.

Going gluten-free might be the answer for you – it can cause fewer chances of contracting gluten intolerance, keeps chronic diseases away, reduces inflammation, and increases chances of conception.

Adapting to gluten-free diets leads to adopting a new lifestyle, and one should only embark on this journey after careful deliberation.  

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