Balance, hormones and constipation

How Constipation Has An Essential Role In Hormonal Balance

No one knows quite how this happened, but about 5 years ago, beavers reappeared in England, 400 years after their extinction on the island. They faced been removed, but the Devon Wildlife Trust won a 5 years licence to study them and their impact on the environment. Beavers are well known for their building ability. As they erect their burrows, they are creating dams and pools. This changes the landscape around them, and farmers feared the dams could flood agricultural lands.

But the study showed that the opposite happened. When beavers are building their lodges, they are also working as natural flood defence, helping manage the risk of flooding. In doing so, beavers won their ‘right to remain’ in English rivers.

Because of various anatomical reasons, women are more likely to suffer from constipation. Just like the beavers’ dams creating a pool behind them, constipation leads to a build-up in the intestines. This, in turn, has some substantial effect on hormone levels and contributes to oestrogen dominance. In this article, we will review:

      • What oestrogen dominance is
      • Why oestrogen dominance is an issue
      • How constipation is one of the causes of oestrogen dominance
      • How you can support the digestive system to ease constipation and less oestrogen dominance.


Oestrogen dominance is having too much oestrogen in the body relatively to progesterone.


Oestrogen is known as the ‘female’ hormone. With progesterone, it is the primary hormone regulating the female menstrual cycle. It affects the entire reproductive system.

Both progesterone and oestrogen go up and down during a woman’s menstrual cycle, often in opposition to each other. When there is too much oestrogen in relation to progesterone, we are talking about oestrogen dominance. This can happen because there is too much oestrogen in the body or because progesterone levels are low.

Perimenopause and menopause are two times in a woman’s life when women are likely to experience oestrogen dominance as progesterone levels drop more quickly than oestrogen levels. But this situation can happen at any other time in a woman’s life.


Oestrogen dominance is at the root of many symptoms.


Oestrogen dominance affects the body directly and can give some of the symptoms below:

  • Weight Gain (especially abdominal weight)
  • Fatigue
  • Low Libido (low sex drive)
  • Mood Swings
  • Hot Flushes
  • Night Sweats
  • Headaches/Migraines
  • Tender Breasts
  • Insomnia
  • Bone Loss
  • Irregular Bleeding
  • Bloating
  • Hair Loss
  • Inflammation
  • Brain Fog
  • PMS
  • Irritability
  • Cold Hands and Feet


Oestrogen dominance is also be at the root of many illnesses such as breast, ovarian and uterine cancer, endometriosis, thyroid disease, blood clots, PCOS and infertility or some auto immune disease such as lupus or MS (1).

The causes of oestrogen dominance are varied.


Many different factors are affecting the levels of oestrogen in the body. One contributing factor to oestrogen dominance is xenoestrogen, a human-made chemical that is very close in structure to oestrogen. They are mimicking our natural hormones and disrupt our hormonal balance. They can be found in some plastic, drugs, herbicides or some skincare products!

Some medications, such as oestrogen replacement therapy also increase oestrogen levels in the body. Our fat cells are an internal source of oestrogen in the body too (2).


But a critical cause of high oestrogen levels is impaired oestrogen metabolism.


As oestrogen is produced in the body, any excess is normally eliminated through a complex detoxification process. The first step happens in the liver where oestrogen is bound to a molecule to facilitate its excretion. It is then sent into the bowels to travel with food through the whole of the intestines.


However, a small part of the oestrogen is reabsorbed in the intestines.


The longer the oestrogen is staying in the intestines, the more oestrogen is reabsorbed. Just like the beavers building a burrow creates a pool behind it, constipation creates a backlog in the intestines. It allows oestrogen levels to build up again in the bloodstream. This is why constipation is so crucial to oestrogen detoxification and its regulation (3)


Easing constipation can help regulate oestrogen levels.


Maintaining regularity in bowels movement is a crucial step in hormone balance. And food is one of the best allies to combat constipation.


Fibre Fibre binds to oestrogen increasing elimination through the faeces.

Fibre lower transit time in the colon and eases constipation.

Soluble fibre found in beans, oats, barley, citrus fruit, apples, strawberries and peas.

Probiotics Not having enough of the ‘good bacteria’ such as  Bifidobacteria (4). A supplement including some prebiotics as well as Bifidobacteria might help ease constipation.

Fermented foods are also full of probiotics. These include sauerkraut, miso, kefir or kombucha.

Bitter foods Bitter foods encourage the production of digestive enzymes, including bile acids, which are a natural laxative (5).

Bitter foods include cruciferous vegetables (kale, cabbage, broccoli, Brussel sprouts..) coffee, cacao (dark!) or green tea as well as teas made of chamomile or dandelion.


Last but not least, a great way to reduce constipation is … to relax.


Stress, through the production of cortisol, has a considerable impact on the digestive system. As the fight or fly mechanism is set into motion, the body is redirecting all its energy towards ‘running away from the tiger’. That means more energy for the heart or the muscles and less energy for the less essential functions such as the digestive system.

Eating slowly and mindfully will help the whole of the digestion, including constipation. Having some activity that will help reducing stress will also make a difference. This includes having a nice warm bath with Epsom salts, doing some (gentle) exercise or yoga or having a massage.


In summary, oestrogen balance and constipation are strongly linked.


  • Constipation increases reuptake of oestrogen by the body.
  • You can ease constipation through foods
  • Increasing fibre, pre and probiotic foods and bitter greens can help
  • Reducing stress is also key to relieving constipation.



Are you currently struggling with hormonal issues and don’t know which advice is the right one for you? Give me a call to book a free consultation, and we will talk about how nutrition could help you.


You might also be interested in:


Why feeding your gut flora is the best thing you can do right now

Why constipation is a common sign of PMS




  1. Patel S, Homaei A, Raju AB, Meher BR. Estrogen: The necessary evil for human health, and ways to tame it
  2. Cleary MP, Grossmann ME. Minireview: Obesity and breast cancer: The estrogen connection
  3. Lewis SJ, Heaton KW, Oakey RE, McGarrigle HHG. Lower serum oestrogen concentrations associated with faster intestinal transit.
  4. Ohkusa T, Koido S, Nishikawa Y, Sato N. Gut microbiota and chronic constipation: A review and update
  5. Wald A. Bile Acids and Bowel Function: Do They Play a Role in Constipation-Associated Irritable Bowel Syndrome?

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Why Constipation Is A Common Sign Of PMS (And What You Can Do About It)

For about 18 months, a small village in Wales experienced frequent internet problems. Every day, without fail, broadband would down at 7.00 am. The first solution, replacing the internet cable in the village, failed to produce any result, and the residents still struggled to connect daily.

Then the engineers decided to do a full investigation and what they found baffled them. Every day, at 7.00 am, one of the residents was switching on his old TV. It was that particular TV set that was creating electrical interferences so strong that it stopped people in the village from accessing the internet.

During their cycle, some women experience first-hand how female hormones can interfere with their health too. Just before their periods, hormonal change can disturb the digestive system, leaving women struggling with constipation every month. In this article, I will review:

  • How hormones levels are changing through the cycle
  • How hormones can affect the digestive tract
  • How you can help regulate hormone levels to stop them from affecting you ever month


Women are more likely to suffer from constipation than men.


There are a few reasons for that, but a crucial cause of constipation in women is hormones. As women go through a normal cycle, hormone levels go up and down, impacting the whole of the body. Towards the end of the cycle, this manifests in what we usually call PMS or Premenstrual Syndrome. Symptoms of PMS include mood swings, breast tenderness, tiredness, cramps and digestive disturbances (1). Digestive issues are quite prevalent, with some studies showing that up to 73% of women experiencing digestive problems whilst 53% also report tiredness just before their periods (2).

3 main hormones are affecting the digestive tract, oestrogen, progesterone and prostaglandins.

      • Oestrogen typically rises in the follicular phase of the cycle (day 1 to 14), drops around ovulation and then rises again in the second part of the cycle (3). Its role is to encourage the growth of the uterine lining.
      • The corpus luteum produces progesterone after ovulation. Progesterone levels increase during the luteal phase (day 14 to 28 of the cycle) (3). It is indispensable to establishing a healthy pregnancy.
      • Prostaglandins have two peaks, one just before ovulation and one just before the period starts. The role of prostaglandins is to encourage uterine contraction at the time of the period, to help the body shed the uterine lining (3).


As constipation just before periods occurs at the time of significant variation in hormone levels, some authors suggest that oestrogen and progesterone may contribute to hormonal constipation (4).


Progesterone slows intestinal transit.


As food travels through the gut, it is moving in the colon thanks to the contraction of the intestinal muscles. Progesterone interacts with receptors in the gut wall responsible for intestinal muscle contraction. Several studies show that lower levels of progesterone decrease bowel transit time, leading to harder, drier stools (5)(6).

It seems to be the reason why women experience more issues with constipation during pregnancy and the menopause too.


However, oestrogen also plays an important part.


In recent years, researchers have demonstrated that oestrogen is implicated in many gastro-intestinal diseases, including IBS (7). Oestrogen receptors in the gut cells modulate intestinal contractions and transit time. Further studies have shown that oestrogen rather than progesterone might be at the root of constipation before periods (8).

Oestrogen also weakens the pelvic floor, making it harder to have a bowel movement.


Regulating hormone levels is key.


Regardless of whether oestrogen or progesterone is the critical cause of constipation, the key to avoiding such negative symptom is to support the body in regulating hormone levels.

One essential organ is the liver, as the detoxifying organ in the body. Thanks to various enzymes, the liver can recognise and dispose of toxins in the body, including hormones such as oestrogen and progesterone.

Many phytochemicals (chemicals produced by plants) have a positive impact on the liver detoxification process, including foods rich in folic acid and cruciferous vegetables.


Eat the rainbow!


Eating a varied, colourful range of vegetables, herbs and spices is vital to support the liver function. Some vegetables are particularly important. These are listed in the table below.


Leafy green vegetables such as: Onion
·      Kale Garlic
·      Spinach

·      Cabbage

·      Beet greens

·      Watercress

·      Romaine lettuce

·      Endive (Chicory)

·      Pak Choi

Cruciferous vegetables such as:

·      Broccoli

·      Cauliflower

·      Brussel sprouts

·      Kale

·      Rocket

·      Watercress


Well, I never have any issue with constipation, I have loose stools instead!!


And that’s not unusual either. Instead of having issues with constipation, about a quarter of women report a problem with loose stools and diarrhoea instead (2). This time, its prostaglandins that are involved.

Prostaglandins are responsible for increase the uterine contraction during the periods. The same process means they are also increasing the contraction of the digestive tract. This means a quicker transit time. The body has less time to absorb water from the stools (a process that happens in the colon). This leads to loose stools instead (3).


In summary


Just like the old TV set, hormones are interfering with other processes in the body. In particular, we have seen that:

  • Female hormones influence the reproductive organs but also other organs in the body such as the digestive tract
  • Progesterone and oestrogen may be responsible for the slower transit in the intestines
  • But prostaglandins have the opposite effect and play a role in loose stools before the periods
  • To regulate the bowels, eating a varied, colourful plate is essential, insisting on green vegetables.


If you have enjoyed this article, you migth also like:


Why is the feeding your gut flora the best thing you can do right now

How to translate the language of your periods to improve fertility


Next steps:


If you have enjoyed this article and are currently struggling with PMS, have a look at other articles on hormone balance. And if you’re not sure where to start, give me a call for a free consultation to see how nutrition can help you.




  1. PMS (premenstrual syndrome) – NHS
  2. Bernstein MT, Graff LA, Avery L, Palatnick C, Parnerowski K, Targownik LE. Gastrointestinal symptoms before and during menses in healthy women.
  3. Clark, K, Myatt L. Prostaglandins and the reproductive cycle.
  4. Heitkemper MM, Chang L. Do fluctuations in ovarian hormones affect gastrointestinal symptoms in women with irritable bowel syndrome?
  5. Çelik AF, Turna H, Pamuk GE, Pamuk ÖN. How prevalent are alterations in bowel habits during menses?
  6. Xiao ZL, Pricolo V, Biancani P, Behar J. Role of progesterone signaling in the regulation of G-protein levels in female chronic constipation.
  7. Chen C, Gong X, Yang X, Shang X, Du Q, Liao Q, et al. The roles of estrogen and estrogen receptors in gastrointestinal disease
  8. Oh JE, Kim YW, Park SY, Kim JY. Estrogen rather than progesterone cause constipation in both female and male mice.

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How to translate the language of your periods to improve your fertility

Anyone who has been watching bees in a beehive will know how busy it looks and how each bee seems to be moving in a precise, purposeful way. Each of their movements is part of the ‘waggle dance’, a complex communication system that allows bees to explain precisely where a food source is. We’ve known the basics of it for a while. But it was also apparent that a lot of what the bees said was ‘lost in translation’.

Then in March 2019, researchers at Virginia Tech had a breakthrough. After immersing themselves in the beehive and studying the movements and the intensity of the noise bees were making, they were able to interpret the language of bees and translate what bees are telling each other.

When women come to see me with fertility issues, we spend a lot of time talking about their periods and what they look. Periods have a language of their own, one that can help us understand better what sort of hormonal imbalances there are. Chinese Medicine allows us to translate what periods are trying to communicate. We can then find out how women need to be supported to improve their chance of conceiving. In this article, we will address:

  • What the language of periods is
  • Why the language of periods is important to understand fertility challenges
  • What sort of signs during your periods are essential for fertility
  • How periods can help us figure out what kind of support women need


The language of periods includes of all the symptoms you get during your bleed.

 This consists of (but is not restricted to):

  • how heavy the bleeding is,
  • the presence of clots or pain,
  • the colour of the bleed
  • how long your cycle is.

It could also include other symptoms happening at the same time. For example, you might feel more tired during your periods or have more vivid dreams. You might notice that you are feeling more irritable or that, on the contrary, when your period arrives, you experience a huge relief from stress.

All these signs put together gives us a picture of what is happening in the body and what sort of imbalances there are. In particular, this provides us with a view of what kind of imbalances there are in relation to the reproductive system and fertility.


Our periods are telling us about what is happening in our reproductive system.

To improve the chances of conception, we need to ensure that the environment is best one for an egg to develop well, be released and then, once it’s fertilised, for the embryo to implant in the uterus.

Through all the symptoms we’ve mentioned above, our periods are telling us:

  • if the egg has enough time to mature,
  • if the egg is getting all the nutrients and Energy it needs
  • if the uterus lining is developing well so the embryo can implant
  • if there are enough nutrients and oxygen arriving to the uterus lining so the embryo can grow well.


Each symptom gives us inside information.

This is essential to check if the environment is right for conception throughout the cycle.

For the egg to develop and mature well, we need to be sure that it receives plenty of nutrients. Both the Energy and the Blood need to be able to flow well to nourish the egg. The egg also needs enough time to mature. The length of the period and how heavy or light the period is will give us some clues about that.

When the egg is released, there is movement as it bursts out of the follicle. This is not possible if the Energy doesn’t move smoothly (we say it’s stagnating). If the period is too long, this could be a sign of the Energy stagnating.

And finally, once the egg is fertilised, the embryo needs to implant to start growing. This is only possible if the lining of the uterus is welcoming, aka it’s thick enough and there is enough Blood coming to the uterus to feed the embryo. If there isn’t enough Blood coming to the uterus, we might get some lighter periods, for example. Or the Blood might not be flowing as it should, thereby not bring the nutrients the embryo needs. In Chinese Medicine, we talk about Blood stasis. Blood clots or very heavy periods can give us some clues about Blood Stasis.


Knowing what sort of imbalances there are helps to choose the right treatment and self-care activities.

Finding the right treatment to optimise fertility means you need to know what are the imbalances in the body. By correcting those, we can improve the environment in which the egg is growing and the embryo is implanting. It also tells us about what we shouldn’t be doing!

An acupuncturist will use all of those symptoms in the context of all the other symptoms you might have outside of your periods to establish the appropriate treatment. They will also be able to give women on what they can do at home. For example, for some women using a castor oil pack will be appropriate, whereas, for others, this would be contraindicated.


Following your symptoms also gives you an idea if things are improving without resorting to blood tests.

Because periods reflect our internal imbalances, there isn’t such a thing as the perfect period. We all have imbalances and this is reflected in our periods. However, knowing how, in that best but unattainable world, they should be is giving us a reference. We can then compare our periods to that reference and see how things are progressing.

For example, we know that, as a reference, the female cycle should be between 27 and 32 days long. If a woman has a cycle that is 45 days long and it is reducing to 42 and then 36 days, we know the body is getting more in balance and things are improving.

If, on the other side, a woman is starting to see many small clots in the bleed when they weren’t there before, you might want to investigate why. Regularly going swimming in a (cold) lake could be a reason for that.


Let’s see what we have covered today:

  • The language of periods is telling us about what sort of imbalances are affecting the reproductive system.
  • The signs to look for are, amongst others, the length of the cycle, the colour of the bleed and how heavy it is as well as the presence of clots.
  • Each symptom tells us inside information on the environment the egg is developing and the embryo is growing.
  • And this will enable your acupuncturist to find the right treatment for you as well as the suitable self-care activities.



You might also be interested in:

Why diet is so important for fertility

Why gluten Intolerance is such an important factor in PCOS


Are you wanting to improve your chance of conceiving but you are not sure where to start? Give me call for a free 15 mins chat so we can see how nutrition can help you.


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Gluten, wheat and PCOS

Why Is Gluten Intolerance Such An Important Factor In PCOS

When I was about 12 years old, I went to the restaurant with my parents. It was an unusual treat, and I used the opportunity to eat something we rarely had, a dish with seafood such as shrimps and mussels.

But when I arrived back home, I started to feel queasy until I was seriously sick. The seafood clearly hadn’t been that fresh and had made me ill. It took me years after that to even be able to smell seafood without feeling nauseous again. I didn’t eat any seafood until I was well into my 20s. Just one dish was enough to have a tremendous impact on me.


When it comes to fertility and PCOS, some foods can have a substantial impact too. Gluten is one of them. Because it is present in so many foods, it can be hard to see the repercussions gluten can have on our health and fertility. In this article, we will look at:

– What gluten intolerance is

– Why gluten can affect PCOS

– In which foods you can find gluten

– How you can avoid gluten in your diet


So, what exactly is gluten intolerance?


Gluten is a protein commonly found in grass-related grains such as wheat, barley and rye. Gluten is responsible for the ability of the wheat to form an elastic dough, which is why it is so widely used to make bread, pasta etc…. (1).


Wheat and gluten in PCOSSome people find that eating gluten starts a cascade of symptoms. This is the case with coeliac disease. Coeliac disease is an autoimmune disease that can lead to intestinal damage, weight loss, nutrient deficiencies such as anaemia, fatigue, joint pain and infertility (2).

This is also the case with non-coeliac gluten sensitivity (gluten intolerance).


Gluten intolerance is hard to diagnose.


Unlike with coeliac disease, no blood test can determine gluten intolerance. We don’t really know how many people are gluten intolerant. Numbers vary widely from 1 in 3 people to about 15% of the population (3,4).


The best way to detect gluten intolerance is to do an elimination diet and remove all gluten containing foods for one month and then reintroduce some gluten in the diet. People will be able to see a change in their symptoms when transitioning to a gluten free diet and then when reintroducing gluten.


The best way to detect gluten intolerance is to do an elimination diet and remove all gluten-containing foods for one month and then reintroduce some gluten in the diet. People will be able to see a change in their symptoms when transitioning to a gluten-free diet and then when reintroducing gluten.


The symptoms of gluten sensitivity are varied.


The symptoms of gluten sensitivity include gastrointestinal symptoms as well as symptoms not related to the digestive system (5).


Gastro-intestinal symptoms Non gastro-intestinal symptoms

Abdominal pain


Epigastric pain




Lack of well-being




Foggy mind


Joint/muscle pain


Gluten increases inflammation in the body


In people who are sensitive to gluten, eating gluten starts a cascade of reaction in the gut leading to intestinal permeability and increased inflammation in the body (6). PCOS is also linked to elevated inflammation, either due to insulin regulation issues or due to chronic inflammation. Chronic inflammation can increase levels of testosterone in the body, one of the key markers of PCOS (7).

But in which foods can you find gluten?


Bread, gluten and PCOSApart from the obvious, wheat, you can find gluten in many different foods including rye, barley and malt as well as their derivatives. Those are also used as ingredients in many daily foods (See list below).










einkorn wheat




Malt in various forms including: malted barley flour, malted milk or milkshakes, malt extract, malt syrup, malt flavouring, malt vinegar

Brewer’s Yeast

Pasta and couscous


Bread and pastries


Baked foods (cookies, biscuits, cakes…)

Sauces and gravy (Wheat is used as a thickener)

Flour tortillas


Malt beverages, including malt vinegar (some)


Sometimes, it can feel that eating a gluten-free diet doesn’t make any difference.


One possible reason is if you are still having gluten even when you think you have removed all the sources. Gluten can make its way through many foods that we wouldn’t think about, such as soups, salad dressing or processed meats! A list of possible culprits can be found below, but the best way is still to look at the ingredients’ list carefully. Ingredients containing gluten will be marked in bold.


Energy bars/granola bars

French fries

Potato chips

Processed meats

Candy bar

Multi grain or ‘artisan’ tortillas


Salad dressing

Starch or dextrin

Meat substitutes made with seitan (wheat gluten) such as vegetarian burgers, vegetarian sausage, imitation bacon, imitation seafood

Brown rice syrup

Soy sauce (though tamari is gluten free)

Pre-seasoned meats (eg BBQ chicken)

Eggs served in restaurants (eggs are gluten free but some restaurant add some batter to omelettes etc..)


Once you’ve removed gluten-containing foods, the next step is to replace those with some gluten-free foods.


One possibility is to replace some wheat-based products with their gluten-free version. There are many of them nowadays (just look at the ‘Free from’ aisle at the supermarket), from gluten-free bread and pasta to cereals bars, crackers etc….

The other is to try and replace those foods with some equivalent. Buckwheat flour (despite having ‘wheat’ included in its name) is a gluten-free flour that can be used to replace wheat flour in many recipes. I use it to make the base of quiches and tarts, for example. You can find pasta made from rice flour rather than wheat. I also use quinoa to replace couscous etc…

Breakfast can be harder to deal with. We are very much used to have toast and cereals in the morning, all of which will contain gluten. It can be easier to just eat in a completely different way, maybe having eggs on a buckwheat pancake for breakfast.


That’s a lot of food to remove from my diet! Is it healthy?


In itself, a gluten-free diet isn’t unhealthy.

Issues arise when you are replacing gluten only with foods from the ‘Free From’ range. Those foods are often produced with highly refined grains and lack the fibre you can find in wheat. There are also containing a lot of additives. Replacing pasta, couscous with rice can lead to increased levels of arsenic and mercury in the diet too (found in rice and rice flour) (1,8).


The best is still to have a varied diet with foods that happen to have no gluten in rather than relying on one food or highly processed foods.


In summary, for some people eating a gluten-free diet can help with PCOS.


The best way to see if a gluten-free diet is to try it out for at least 4 weeks. A balanced, varied diet is essential, relying on foods that are naturally free from gluten (there are many, many of them) rather than their gluten-free equivalent. This will help reduce chronic inflammation at the root of higher levels of testosterone.


Next steps:


You might want to have a look at:

Why diet is so important for fertility


Are you wanting to improve your chance of conceiving but you are not sure where to start? Give me call for a free 15 mins chat so we can see how nutrition can help you.




  1. Diez-Sampedro A, Olenick M, Maltseva T, Flowers M. A Gluten-Free Diet, Not an Appropriate Choice without a Medical Diagnosis [Internet]. Vol. 2019, Journal of Nutrition and Metabolism. Hindawi Limited; 2019 [cited 2020 Aug 19]. p. 2438934.


  1. Jones AL. The gluten-free diet: Fad or necessity? [Internet]. Vol. 30, Diabetes Spectrum. American Diabetes Association Inc.; 2017 [cited 2020 Aug 19]. p. 118–23.


  1. Arámburo-Gálvez JG, Beltrán-Cárdenas CE, André TG, Gomes IC, Macêdo-Callou MA, Braga-Rocha ÉM, et al. Prevalence of adverse reactions to gluten and people going on a gluten-free diet: A survey study conducted in Brazil. Med. 2020 Apr 1;56(4).


  1. Aziz I, Lewis NR, Hadjivassiliou M, Winfield SN, Rugg N, Kelsall A, et al. A UK study assessing the population prevalence of self-reported gluten sensitivity and referral characteristics to secondary care. Eur J Gastroenterol Hepatol [Internet]. 2014 Jan


  1. Catassi C, Elli L, Bonaz B, Bouma G, Carroccio A, Castillejo G, et al. Diagnosis of non-celiac gluten sensitivity (NCGS): The salerno experts’ criteria. Nutrients [Internet]. 2015 Jun 18 [cited 2020 Aug 19];7(6):4966–77.


  1. Fasano A. Physiological, pathological, and therapeutic implications of zonulin-mediated intestinal barrier modulation: Living life on the edge of the wall. Am J Pathol [Internet]. 2008 [cited 2020 Aug 19];173(5):1243–52.


  1. González F. Inflammation in Polycystic Ovary Syndrome: Underpinning of insulin resistance and ovarian dysfunction. In: Steroids [Internet]. NIH Public Access; 2012 [cited 2020 Aug 19]. p. 300–5.
  2. Bulka CM, Davis MA, Karagas MR, Ahsan H, Argos M. The unintended consequences of a gluten-free diet [Internet]. Vol. 28, Epidemiology. Lippincott Williams and Wilkins; 2017 [cited 2020 Aug 19]. p. e24–5





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Why Is Diet So Important For Fertility?

There is something uniquely painful in trying to conceive and seeing the dreaded period come again and again. There is a heart-sinking feeling with each period. It is being resentful and angry at seeing friends or family members all getting pregnant around you, seemingly without any issue. And there is the stress from the waiting, from all the appointments with the GP and fertility specialists, and from the feeling that sex is now only this practical tool for conception rather than a way towards connexion and pleasure.

During that time, women often receive plenty of (well-meaning) advice. They are often advised to stop drinking alcohol and coffee by their consultant. But diet as a whole is often overlooked even though it’s the nutrients from the diet that are at the base of the healthy development of the egg and later on of the embryo.

A follicle takes around 90 days to develop into an egg that will be mature enough to be released. In that time, it will need the right nutrients to develop well. Amino acids and fats, including omega-3s, to develop the cell membrane. Vitamins and minerals to produce energy. The right level of oxygenation. The right hormones levels, which is influenced by our blood sugar balance and insulin levels. All of those are heavily influenced by diet. By looking after your diet, you are preparing the ground for the embryo to develop well just like you would prepare the ground, add fertilizer, compost etc… for flowers to grow well in your garden.

So what can you do to optimize the environment in which the egg and embryo will develop? 


1-   Eat real food, not processed, with plenty of vegetables

The bottom line from all the research available so far says that the best diet is one made out non-processed foods with plenty of vegetables. Sounds pretty reasonable, doesn’t it? So, let’s avoid instant noodles, breakfast cereals, and chicken nuggets. Sticking to the type of foods ‘that your grandmother (or great grandmother!) would have found’ will help create the right environment for the eggs to develop and then the embryos to implant.

Vegetables are essential too. Not only are they full of vitamins and minerals but they also have plenty of antioxidants that help the body function well.


All the research available so far says that the best diet is one made out non-processed foods with plenty of vegetables


2- Prefer nutrient dense foods

Some foods are particularly dense in nutrients and will give you the right sort of support.

The top Nutrient-Dense foods I would recommend are:

  • Liver and other organ meat
  • Fatty fish such as sardines, mackerel or salmon
  • Dark leafy vegetables
  • Seaweed
  • Garlic
  • Bone Broth
  • Eggs


3-   Eat some protein at each meal

This includes eating some protein at breakfast too. Eating proteins will help to regulate your blood sugar levels and will ensure you get all the amino acids (that’s the stuff you get from protein) you need.


4-   Don’t forget the fats

Fats are essential for cells to grow and divide as they form an integral part of the structure of the cell. We need them for the cell to develop well but also to manufacture all the hormones in the body. Omega-3s, in particular, are important. You can find them in oily fish such as salmon, sardines or mackerel, walnut, chia seeds or flaxseeds.

In general, be aware of all the fat reduced or fat-free products. Apart from the fact that they don’t have enough fats in them, the fat is often replaced by sugar to compensate.

Did you know? A very large study following nurses in the US showed that having full-fat dairy products rather than skimmed or semi-skimmed dairy products is linked to lower ovulation problems


5-   Ditch the sugar

This is probably the hardest thing to do but sugar is creating inflammation in the body and playing havoc with hormones.

Avoiding sugar is about avoiding the white stuff (sweets, biscuits, soft drinks or fruit juices) but also refined grains (such as white flour, white rice, white pasta etc….) and choosing the wholegrain versions instead. Be aware that often sugar is hidden. If you read labels more carefully, you will notice a high level of sugar in flavored yogurts, ketchup, some tomato sauce, soups, salad dressing etc etc….


Are you trying to conceive? We are offering a free 15 minutes consultation to learn more about how acupuncture can help you on your journey towards a healthy pregnancy. Simply give us a call on 01642 794063 to schedule an appointment.

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