Tuesday, June 23, 2009

A food thing

I am all better now, by the way. It was a 24-hour bug thingie, so I was actually feeling pretty tip-top by about 5pm on Friday. Weird.

Anyway, I wanted to write about food. And specifically whether it contributes to infertility. My aunt has been diagnosed with some gluten intolerance issue within the last year, and she's lately been reading a book all about it, and called me up in a lather. She said she kept thinking of me as she read how gluten intolerance could cause infertility, lead to weight gain, fibromyalgia, fatigue, etc, etc, all things that I have had. Now, personally, I think I got fat because I ate too much, not from any other reason. But whatever, I indulged her in the conversation although I pointed out that the infertility aspect was pretty much moot by this point. She said that she was reading how it could be genetic, and could lead to all sorts of microcirculation problems later in life (that she is dealing with now), and eventually to stroke. Which we have running rampant in our family - if family history is anything to go by, we are both doomed to have strokes. Well, actually, I am. She's already had a minor stroke, so I should say she is doomed to have more and I am doomed to rinse and repeat. [I mean, actually, it's a minor medical miracle that my aunt is walking around - both her cardiologist and her internist have told her that she's their most interesting/confounding patient, and would probably not be here if she hadn't led such a healthy lifestyle. Personally, I wish they'd use their interest to finally diagnose the root of her many issues, but they're working on it. Anyhoo, it's a good incentive for me to live a healthy lifestyle, as I don't want to drop dead in my 50's of an aneurysm.]

So I thought I might give it a go. Although I've tried cutting out wheat before, but didn't specifically go to the extent of trying to be 100% gluten free. And I'm not yet gluten free, either, as I refuse to throw food out so I'm using up things in my cupboard. I'm trying to buy gluten free things as I shop, though.

But then, as a vegetarian, it's damn hard to be gluten free AND dairy free. So I decided I would reintroduce more dairy. I'd cut way back on the dairy intake as the Chinese frown on it, but the decision to try gluten free was coupled with the discovery that greek yogurt is, like, totally the best thing in the world so I thought, hey, perfect excuse! Except, I'm starting to wake up in the mornings with the old arthritic feelings in my hands and feet. And I'm feeling a bit more phlegmy in the sinuses. I had forgotten about how those issues used to bug me and how they went away when I reduced the dairy to a very small amount. So, sadly, I may have to cut out the dairy again as well as it looks like I have a slight intolerance to it. Bleh. I feel like I will be a complete social pariah, not able to eat out anywhere.

Of course, it all makes me wonder. If I have a slight intolerance to dairy, and a slight intolerance to wheat, and I know I have an intolerance to peanuts, did a combination of these things contribute to my infertility? Are they contributing to yours? How on earth would we know, and how could we find out? I tried so many things while I was TTC'ing, from cutting out caffeine, to cutting out alcohol, wheat, and dairy. But only for periods of a couple of months at at time - after all, when you're under that much stress, it's only natural to want to comfort yourself with pizza and ice cream after a while. And it wasn't as if I was doing it scientifically, as I was flailing around and grabbing on to anyone's half-baked theories of what and what not to eat, hoping it would bring a result, and then giving up in disgust when it didn't. If only someone would figure this out - if you know about any studies on these issues, please let me know in the comments, as I'd like to read them for my own edification (and, you know me, I'm already planning my infertility treatments for future patients).


gwinne said...

Hi. I've been reading your blog for a while but haven't yet commented. I'm largely--though not exclusively--wheat, dairy, and soy-free. Though I went on this diet more to deal with migraine symtpoms than anything else, I'm paranoid when it comes to food and ttc, as I've read that undiagnosed celiac disease, even in subclinical forms, can result in infertility/miscarriage. That said, I crave wheat when I'm pregnant and am now trying to get back off wheat since my latest m/c. I don't really believe the m/c was caused by the wheat consumption, but I'm also not planning to take any chances with my current cycle. Sorry I don't have any specific research to quote. Just wanted to say that these are issues I think about, too.

SS said...

Hi- I am curious about you saying you had fibromyalgia- do you no longer have it? My sisters suffer from this condition and with the limited medication available even with a good rheumatologist they've had trouble controlling it. Were you able to do this through acupuncture or diet? Did you have positive ANA titer? Just curious- good luck with the diet changes. They tried a million of those to no avail.

Sam said...

Wheat flares up my fibro, and I have found that most pre-packaged vegetarian food is full of wheat to take the place of meat. There are more and more restaurants that feature gluten free menus if you look for them. If you have any questions, lemme know!

Ladybird said...

Sarah, I was diagnosed with longterm gluten intolerance last year in September. I've been quite good at sticking to gluten free but didn't go dairy free entirely although not a big dairy person at all and have been eating sheep's yoghurt which I love. Anyway, having had stomach issues all my life, everything now works. I have a lot more energy and have lost about 14 lbs. Most nutritionists will suggest you give up dairy at the same time as gluten intolerance causes gut permeability and when your gut is healed you can probably go back to dairy. The joint stiffness you mention is interesting. When I started studying nutrition I started eating a lot more oats to balance blood sugar (definitely had issues there). Within a few weeks I had bad joint stiffness in my fingers, as soon as I went off gluten it was gone. Gluten is all or nothing pretty much though, even a small amount will hold back your progress.....

lilacdreams said...

Hi Sarah,
Yes I read the same thing as your aunt. What she says deserves some merit. In fact my IVF center was conducting the celiac disease test to study co-relationship with infertility. I took the test (and found out I do NOT have it.) It is a simple blood test though, so you can find out it easily if you are gluten intolerant or not. I agree, to go dairy and wheat free together would be a bummer. You could make yogurt your exception in dairy. Plain goat and sheep milk yogurt and kefir are very good for stomach health. As for lowering wheat intake, I recommend oats and sprouted whole multi-grains. sheba