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Hidden Gluten Sensitivity a Leading Cause of Infertility
That bagel you had for breakfast just might be one of the reasons you haven’t been able to get pregnant. A hidden sensitivity to a protein in grain can cause infertility, depression, diarrhea, constipation, anemia and fatigue. This protein, called gluten, is present in wheat, rye, oats, triticale, spelt, kamut, and other grains. Gluten sensitivity is related to celiac disease, but it is much more common.
While celiac disease affects approximately 1 in 133 people, hidden gluten sensitivity may affect as many as 1 person out of every 2. Celiac disease has dramatic symptoms including rapid weight loss and severe anemia. Hidden celiac disease or gluten sensitivity can remain hidden precisely because the symptoms are not apparent. Gluten sensitivity can be determined with a blood test, but if it is still in the early stages it may not show on a blood test.
Melissa Diane Smith is a nutritionist and health educator. She is also the author of Going Against the Grain, an explanation of how a sensitivty to gluten can ruin your health and what you can do about it. Smith spoke at the After the Diet PCOS conference in April 2006 where she talked about the infertility and gluten sensitivity. She stated that gluten sensitivity is a leading cause of recurrent miscarriage.
Symptoms of gluten sensitivity can include anemia, abdominal pain, bloating and gas, depression, fatigue, diahrrea and constipation. Gluten sensitivity is associated with a variety of other disease including infertility, autism, autoimmune diseases, frequent headaches, psoriasis and skin conditions as well as other problems. Women with celiac disease who do not follow a gluten-free diet have been found to enter menopause 4-5 years earlier than other women.
In addition, up to 39% of women with celiac disease have been shown to have periods of amenorhea (no periods). Clearly, if you are sensitive to gluten it can negatively impact your reproduction. Men with celiac disease have also been shown to have reduced fertility. While gluten sensitivity is not different than celiac disease, it only makes sense to investigate gluten sensitivity while battling unexplained infertility.
Smith said that 85% of her PCOS clients test positive for a sensitivity to gluten. When these women remove gluten from their diets they often see a marked improvement in their PCOS symptoms. She has also seen dramatic improvement in cholesterol levels, thyroid function and weight loss in women who have changed their diets to avoid gluten.
Smith recommends that women who suffer from gluten sensitivity avoid gluten containing foods including hidden gluten such foods as soy sauce, teas and foods containging barley malt, vegetable protein made from wheat gluten, and beer. Don't just replace the high glutne grains with more starchy or sugary foods though or you run the risk of developing insulin resistance. Instead, focus on fresh vegetables.