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FertilityFor YouGut HealthNutrition

Nutrition and Inflammation

By October 28, 2021November 30th, 2021No Comments
Nutrition and inflammation

Inflammation is something we probably associate with injury or acute inflammatory conditions such as arthritis. However, many of us could be suffering the negative effects of inflammation in our bodies without even knowing it. Acute inflammation caused by injury produces symptoms such as pain, redness and swelling, however a chronic low grade inflammatory response can be happening in our bodies without producing any obvious symptoms. Research indicates that this low level of chronic inflammation can have a negative impact on reproductive health for both men and women trying to conceive. Hence, knowledge on inflammation and nutrition is important, especially if you are on your fertility journey.

When our body is in an inflammatory state we can pick up elevated numbers of inflammatory markers in our blood. For women elevated levels of these markers have been found to be associated with poorer egg quality, irregular ovulation, and reduced chances of both getting pregnant and staying pregnant. The two most common female reproductive disorders, endometriosis and PCOS, promote inflammation in the body and this is one way in which they can negatively impact fertility.

Men experiencing infertility have been found to have higher than normal levels of inflammatory markers and it is believed that inflammation can negatively impact the sperm production process, potentially leading to a lower number of poorer quality sperm being produced.

 

The gut inflammation connection

An imbalanced gut can be a major source of inflammation in our bodies. If the population of good bacteria that live within our intestines is out of balance inflammatory messengers called LPS can enter our bloodstream through the gut wall. These LPS are known to promote inflammation and have been found to interfere with both male and female reproductive health. The research also indicates that using a probiotic supplement containing the bacterial strain Lactobacillus Rhamnosus GG reduces the number of LPS in our bloodstream and therefore reduces this gut-associated inflammation.

 

Diet and Inflammation

The foods we eat can either increase or decrease the levels of inflammation in our bodies and, therefore, including specific anti-inflammatory foods in our diets while also reducing our intake of pro-inflammatory foods can help prevent inflammation from having a negative impact on our chances of conceiving.

 

Get your fats right

Inflammation and Nutrition

Fat has had a bad reputation for too long, in fact increasing our intake of certain good fats is the most important dietary change we can make to reduce our levels of inflammation. Omega-3 fats that are most commonly found in oily fish have a powerful anti-inflammatory effect, our body actually converts these fats into anti-inflammatory messengers (called resolvins because they resolve inflammation). We should be aiming to get around 3 servings of oily fish (such as salmon, mackerel or sardines) every week to get enough omega-3 fats in our diet. However, it can be difficult to source quality oily fish, and when trying to conceive poor quality oily fish can expose the body to high levels of toxins and heavy metals, which we really don’t want.

Sourcing a high quality omega-3 supplement from a brand that screens for toxins or heavy metals can be an appropriate way to get your omega-3 fats when trying to conceive. Click here for a rich omega-3 fats recipe: Glazed Salmon with Mustard. We can also increase our intake of omega-3 fats from non-fish sources such as walnuts, flaxseeds and chia seeds.

However, it isn’t just enough to try and increase our consumption of these good fats, we must also try and reduce our consumption of fats that can be converted into pro-inflammatory messengers. If we have too many of these pro-inflammatory fats it can actually block the beneficial activity of omega-3 fats. The bad fats that promote inflammation are the omega-6 fats mainly found in vegetable, corn, or sunflower oil (yes, those fats that we were encouraged to eat for our heart health). Even if you don’t use these fats to cook with they are often added to processed or convenience foods so keep an eye on food labels to make sure you aren’t eating much more of these fats than you are aware of.

Extra virgin olive oil is another potent anti-inflammatory fat that can directly reduce inflammatory activity, possibly one reason why the Mediterranean diet is known to reduce inflammation. So why not copy some of those Mediterranean habits and have some extra virgin olive oil daily drizzled over salads or vegetables.

 

Did you know that fibre is anti-inflammatory?

Inflammation and Nutrition

For a long time, we’ve focused on the role of fibre in promoting good digestive health and keeping us regular. But, eating enough fibre can actually help reduce levels of inflammation throughout our whole body. The problem is that most of us don’t get enough fibre: on average we eat around 18g daily when we should be aiming for at least 30g. Try filling up on the following high fibre foods:

 

Food Fibre content per serving
Oats 8g in 1 cup
Chickpeas 12.5g in 1 cup cooked chickpeas
Lentils 13.1g in 1 cup cooked lentils
Pear 5.5g in one medium pear (with skin)
Banana 3.1g in a medium banana
Aubergine 8g in ½ an aubergine
Flax seeds 5g in 1 tbsp
Dark chocolate (80% cocoa) 3g in 30g piece

Anti-inflammatory Super Foods

Inflammation and Nutrition

Brightly coloured fruits, vegetables, and herbs contain antioxidants that reduce the impact of inflammation in our bodies. So filling up with 5 servings of vegetables and 2 servings of fruit daily is a must and cooking with spices is a great way to prevent the

negative impact of inflammation. Certain fruits and vegetables deserve special attention because they have been shown to have powerful anti-inflammatory effects:

Broccoli – is rich in sulphur, which the body uses to make anti-inflammatory compounds

Pomegranate – pomegranate seeds contain unique compounds that have powerful anti-inflammatory activity

Onions – boring old onions contain a potent anti-inflammatory compound called quercetin, which is also found in green tea and apples

Cherries – cherries are rich in anti-inflammatory substances and the antioxidant melatonin and are sometimes used to treat arthritis

Turmeric – an anti-inflammatory powerhouse try and include it in your diet on a regular basis

Ginger – eating raw ginger root in curries and stir fries will reduce inflammatory activity in the body

Avoid pro-inflammatory foods

While increasing our intake of anti-inflammatory foods, we must also aim to reduce our intake of foods that are known to increase levels of inflammation in our body. In addition to the omega-6 fats found in sunflower oil or vegetable oil other foods known to increase inflammation include:

Trans fats:  found in margarine and processed baked goods

Processed meats: salami, bacon and sausages

Refined carbohydrates: crackers, crisps, white bread

Alcohol: binge drinking leads to an increase in LPS from the gut in the bloodstream

Sugary drinks: soft drinks (even diet drinks) and fruit juices

By keeping our intake of these foods to a minimum (for example have bacon and sausages once a week as a treat) and filling our diet with anti-inflammatory foods we can make a huge difference to the impact of inflammation on our reproductive health.

 

References

Boots CE, Jungheim ES. Inflammation and Human Ovarian Follicular Dynamics. Semin Reprod Med. 2015 Jul;33(4):270-5.

Davis JS. Connecting Female Infertility to Obesity, Inflammation, and Maternal Gut Dysbiosis. Endocrinology. 2016 May;157(5):1725-7.

Weghofer A, Barad DH, Darmon SK, Kushnir VA, Albertini DF, Gleicher N. Euploid miscarriage is associated with elevated serum C-reactive protein levels in infertile women: a pilot study. Arch Gynecol Obstet. 2020;301(3):831-836.

Bhandari P, Rishi P, Prabha V. Positive effect of probiotic Lactobacillus plantarum in reversing LPS-induced infertility in a mouse model. J Med Microbiol. 2016 May;65(5):345-350.

Zhang L, Li N, des Robert C, Fang M, Liboni K, McMahon R, Caicedo RA, Neu J. Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG decreases lipopolysaccharide-induced systemic inflammation in a gastrostomy-fed infant rat model. J Pediatr Gastroenterol Nutr. 2006 May;42(5):545-52.

Wdowiak A, Gujski M, Bojar I, Raczkiewicz D, Bartosińska J, Wdowiak-Filip A, Filip R. Chronic Inflammation Impairs Male Fertility-A Case-Control Study in Ulcerative Colitis Patients. J Clin Med. 2021 Apr 2;10(7):1460. doi: 10.3390/jcm10071460. PMID: 33918143; PMCID: PMC8038073.

Katia Keglberg Hærvig, Lene Kierkegaard, Rikke Lund, Helle Bruunsgaard, Merete Osler & Lone Schmidt (2018) Is male factor infertility associated with midlife low-grade inflammation? A population based study, Human Fertility, 21:2, 146-154,

 

Zhan XX, Qing XR, Shang XJ, Huang YF. [Lipopolysaccharide affects male reproductive function through Toll-like receptors]. Zhonghua Nan Ke Xue. 2013 Feb;19(2):163-8. Chinese. PMID: 23441460.

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Amy Martin

Marketing Director

Amy is a high achieving individual with a number of marketing awards under her belt, including Young Digital Business Person of the Year 2019. She is a big believer in digital marketing and an expert in executing personalised targeted campaigns. Amy strives to learn from data and campaigns that show return on investment.

Robert Gordon

Managing Director, Gordons Chemists

 

Robert Gordon, director at Gordons Chemist's. Gordons Chemists is a chain of more than 60 pharmacies, located in NI and Scotland. Gordons Chemists is Northern Ireland's largest independent pharmacy chain.

Dr. Debbie Collins

MBBchBAO MRCGP

 

Dr. Debbie Collins MBBchBAO MRCGP, a practicing GP and partner in Belfast. She has a passion for patient education and advocacy. Her special interests are Women's Health and Fertility

Sarah Trimble

Nutritional Therapist

 

Sarah Trimble - a nutritional therapist with a passion for good food instead of fad diets. Sarah has a particular Interest in using the power of nutrition to support hormonal imbalances and reproductive health.

Barbara Scott

Director, Seren Natural Fertility
Chair, Association of Reproductive Reflexologists

 

Barbara Scott is Chair of The Association of Reproductive Reflexologists, founder of Seren Natural Fertility and author of Reflexology for Fertility. In 2017, she was awarded ‘Complementary Therapist of the Year’ by the Federation of Holistic Therapists and has been nominated for several awards within the field of complementary therapy. In 2019 she was awarded the Innovation in Reflexology Award by the Association of Reflexologists.

Barbara speaks and lectures globally on her integrative approach to supporting couples having difficulties conceiving. She has spoken at many of the Fertility Shows and Fertility Fest. Alongside her own busy clinics, she also trains practitioners in providing this integrative, approach to fertility and reproductive healthcare and well-being. The ARR (Association of Reproductive Reflexologists) has trained practitioners globally, from Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Europe, and most areas of the UK.

Her expertise and passion is in advocating a patient-centred and integrative approach to supporting both men and women on their journey to parenthood.

Cindy Charles

Fertility coach and Founder of Fertilelife

 

Cindy Charles- Fertility coach and Founder of Fertilelife. Cindy is a committed advocate of social and personal development. Her own life experiences inspired her fertility support services. Cindy has worked with the Fertility Network UK, and has had the privilege to work as a resident Fertility Coach for the London Women's Clinic on Harley Street. Cindy believes in the importance of nurturing our own fertility.

Dr. Lyuda Shkrobot

MD, MSc Gynecologist, Fertility specialist at unq.life fertility clinic

 

Dr Lyuda has a special interest in reproductive immunology. Dr Shkrobot assisted in establishing the first European Donor Egg programme at Sims, coordinating and liaising with Intersono Clinic in Ukraine Advisors. She is passionate about patient-centred, results-driven care.

Jill Martin

Business Development Director

 

Jill Martin is a trained nurse and highly experienced pharmaceutical professional. Most of her business acumen and skills were developed by the world class training she received at Glaxo Smith Kline (GSK). Hard work and focus have resulted in a varied and successful career working in several different disease areas. As part of the Diabetes team at GSK, an opportunity arose to develop and support education programmes that were rolled out to the NHS across the UK, which resulted in improvement of Strategy and Patient Care. Jill feels that education is the key to understanding and has made it a personal goal to self-improve and support learning for others especially within the healthcare arena. The last 10 years have been devoted to trying to impart the importance of Fertility Health early in the life cycle of us all, rather than when infertility issues arise. She is delighted to have joined Nua Fertility on their mission to support people and communities to understand the importance of gut health on our fertility well-being.
 

Share a little about yourself—the things we wouldn’t learn from simply reading your professional bio.

The most important thing to me in life are family and friends, it breaks my heart when people are broken and I know that I am always trying to find solutions to problems. I love being outside rather than sitting at a desk and would rather lift the phone and have a chat with someone rather than email or message. I find people interesting and will often be that annoying person who starts a conversation on a train or plane.
 

What was your journey to parenthood like?

I feel very blessed to have had my family naturally, although not without some challenges. Following a miscarriage and thyroid issues conception wasn’t as easy as I would have hoped. My personal experience made me appreciate how important it is to value ways to improve your fertility health. This set me on my own journey to find out more, by surrounding myself with a network of experts in this area who I am continually learning from. When possible I take every opportunity to share best practice or send information to others that I know who are also seeking to understand more.
 

What is your ideal way to relax and unwind?

Juggling home life and working full time with a lot of travel, for most of my adult life made me find a way to relax that may seem strange. I love getting my trainers on and going for a long walk or run, even in the rain! Sometimes I will listen to a podcast and other times just be mindful of my surroundings. I find this a great way to clear my head, think about priorities and take time out for myself.
 

If there was just one thing you could impart on women on their journey to parenthood, what would it be.

From an early age I loved to make jigsaws, little did I know that this skill would help me later in life to understand the complexity of fertility and the miracle of life. Everyone is unique, every situation is different, like a jigsaw there are lots of pieces that need to be put together to become complete. Explore all options, chat to experts don’t be afraid to ask for help.

Aoibheann Murphy

Chief Financial Officer

 

Having trained with PWC, Aoibheann qualified as a Chartered Accountant in 1997. She subsequently spent eight years working in industry, gaining invaluable experience in many areas In 2005 Aoibheann became MD of Pangur Consulting, providing professional expertise to a broad client base. She is looking forward to the new challenge of Nua Fertility.
 

Share a little about yourself—the things we wouldn’t learn from simply reading your professional bio.

 

What was your journey to parenthood like?

Right craic!
 

Do you prefer podcasts or books? And of the one that you prefer, what is a show or title that you recommend?

I love sport…any sport…and the outdoors. Living in the Barrow valley I get to enjoy swimming and kayaking in the Barrow and exploring the Blackstairs mountains. Since I hung up my soccer boots (the body just couldn’t take it anymore!), I’ve been cycling with my lovely friends in Mount Leinster Wheelers and was chuffed to have completed the Ironman 70.3 triathlon event in Dublin in 2019!
I’m an avid reader…books beat podcasts hands down!...although recently I’ve dabbled with audio books through the library app Borrow Box. “A Little Life” left its mark on me. A harrowing story, definitely not for the faint hearted.
 

If there was just one thing you could impart on women on their journey to parenthood, what would it be?

Don’t be consumed by the roles in your life – parent, partner, employee etc. Parenthood, be it getting there or going through it, will have its tough times. Cherishing yourself as an individual and making time for yourself can help you through those times….it’s good to be a bit selfish!!

Mark Mullins

Director of Sales

 

What was your journey to parenthood like?

To be honest it was very difficult. At the beginning we thought that when we decided that we wanted to start a family Deborah would fall pregnant shortly afterwards like many of her friends. As time went by, we started to suspect something was wrong. After initial tests we found out that I had a low sperm count which meant that we would have to go down the assisted pregnancy route. This took me several months to get my head around as I blamed myself for this. All I wanted was my wife to be able to go through the pregnancy journey. We couldn’t wait to become parents. There were many long and painful nights where I thought this would never happen for us. After several failed attempts we decided to look at further ways of improving our chances. This led us to look at fertility supplements, our diet, exercise. I will never forget when that morning during our Two Week Wait when Deborah woke me up at 5 a.m. to show me those two lines, we had both been yearning for! We are blessed to now have our beautiful daughter.
 

On challenging days, what kept you going? Where did you find inspiration?

My wife was my inspiration. She kept me going through those challenging months and years. She was there to help me deal with everything. The guilt I felt when I saw her having to go through everything.
 

What is your ideal was to relax and unwind?

My latest passion is cooking on my BBQ. I find it so peaceful and I just switch off. It just gives me a bit of alone time which everyone needs.
 

If there was just one thing you could impart on men as they begin trying to become parents, what would it be?

I would highly recommend communicating with friends and family. A problem shared is a problem halved. Failing that there are some really good private Facebook groups for men suffering from infertility. I found this great support through the good and especially the bad times.

Deborah Brock

Founder & CEO of Nua Fertility

 

Deborah has a personal passion for fertility health, supporting people and communities. With over 15 years experience of working in the Non profit and Education sector, I have had the honour of working together with people and communities focusing on their strengths, capacities and assets. With extensive senior management, project management and creative programme development experience.

How did your experience with fertility inspire you to help start Nua Fertility?

My own personal fertility journey opened my eyes to the world of fertility health. Trying for a baby is one of the most exciting yet vulnerable times in your life. It took myself and my husband over three years and the helping hand of science to become a mum.  I have always worked with people and communities and felt my vision for Nua Fertility could genuinely support others who have fertility challenges.

Share a little about yourself—the things we wouldn’t learn from simply reading your professional bio.

I'm am curious person and love all things research. My ideal evening would be reading and exploring scientific journals! I like to think I am a little bit creative and I LOVE paint by numbers! Its probably the only time I slow down, I become immersed in the painting and think of nothing else.

What do you want to tell someone trying to conceive or already pregnant?

Educate yourself! Knowledge is power. The more you inform yourself about your fertility health the more you are empowering yourself with knowledge. Own your journey and take control over your own fertility health.

What’s something you wish someone told you while trying to conceive?

Open up and talk with friends and family. I was surrounded by amazing friends and family but I never opened up. When your struggling to conceive, a non-judgemental ear to listen or a shoulder to cry on is so powerful.