7 healing foods nourish fertility cytokines
This isn’t a blog on anatomy and physiology or how parasites and bacteria affect your gut or the in’s and outs of a “leaky gut”. Nor is it a fertility diet but another concept. I am sure you are probably already aware that the lunar cycle impacts hormonal rhythm and fertility but did you know that she also controls parasite and bacteria growth, which includes the ecology within your digestive tract? If your digestive ecology is imbalanced then there is a high chance that immunity cytokines will be raised. With 90% of the population estimated to be infected with some form of parasite (intestinal, liver flukes, worms, lyme disease etc) and considering that 70% of the lymphatic system/immune system is located within the intestines this potentially may explain why you may have raised cytokines or natural killer cells. Recently, assisted conception fertility clinics have been associating raised cytokines with an inhospitable womb, endometriosis, poly cystic ovaries or an auto immune disorder but there are many reasons why cytokines rise.
Digestive health plays a key role in your ability to conceive and maintain a pregnancy. When there is a pro-inflammatory response within the digestive tract this can impact on your ability to conceive.
So what are cytokines?
Put simply cytokines are pro-inflammatory markers and rise when there is an immune response. These large group of proteins, peptides or glycoproteins are secreted by specific cells of the immune system, and influence NKC (natural killer cells,) T-lymphocytes, B-Lymphocytes and the whole immune response system. Cytokines mediate and regulate our immune system including the lymphatic system, inflammatory response and red blood cells.
Here are a few examples of when cytokines elevate:-
If you are experiencing : – Environmental or food related allergies including sinusitis. Gastro intestinal health issues such as h.pylori, parasites, poor bacteria, food poisoning, a porous gut, Chron’s disease etc. Psychological health illness including chronic depression, anxiety, stress, tiredness and/or insomnia. Fertility/gynaecological disorders including recurrent miscarriage, unexplained infertility, fertility implantation disorders, endometriosis, poly cystic ovaries, pelvic inflammatory disease, pre-eclampsia, or a sexually transmitted disorder. Forms of inflammatory diseases including pancreatis, hepatitis, peptic ulcers or ulcerative colitis to name just a few. Cytokines will also be raised if you suffer with an autoimmune disorder including thyroid, rheumatoid arthritis, Lupus , fibromyalgia, asthma, or if you live with any form of chronic pain.
So can food nourish fertility cytokines?
Yes! According to the August 2000 issue of Discover magazine, most people have multiple parasites inhabiting their bodies. Recent research has shown that parasites are much more powerful than scientists believed. In fact, parasites far outnumber any other living creatures. Our bodies are systems whose functions depend on communication between cells but parasites are able to inhibit this communication, and seriously harm our bodily systems. They can deprive us of vitamins, nutrients, and amino acids, alter our natural pH levels, decrease energy levels and create an acidic environment within the body. Symptoms include IBS/digestive disturbance, bloating, an itchy bottom and anus, diarrhoea or constipation, acne, increased food sensitivities, high histamine levels, low immunity, allergies and hormone imbalances and fertility disorders.
Within nature many insects, crustaceans, birds, bacteria and parasites lay their eggs monthly – usually around the new moon and hatch them around the full moon. Parasites are often found in animal feces, water and within natural foods (such as fish/meat/poultry and plants). When the digestive tract is healthy we are able to maintain a healthy internal ecology but parasites live and feed off the host; (that’s us) and can cause chronic health disorders. Ranging in size from tiny, single-celled organisms to worms visible to the naked eye, parasites are more and more frequently being identified within my clinic as causes of raised cytokines and reduced conception ability.
7 healing foods to nourish fertility cytokines
6 ORGANIC apples or pears
half a cup of water
2 teaspoon cinnamon powder
optional: natural yogurt or soy/coconut equivalent, small handful blackberries, 4-5 almonds, walnuts or Brazils, local honey or Manuka honey, teaspoon of ground flaxseeds or chia seeds or a teaspoon of larch arabinogalactans
Peel (optional, personally I like the additional fibre from the skin) and core the apples. Chop into small pieces. Place ingredients in a covered, heavy-bottomed pan and cook for about 15 minutes, stirring regularly. Cook until soft, and russet brown in colour . These may be eaten warm, or cold. I suggest you share into ramekins and eat one daily or twice-3 times per week.
Apples protect the intestinal tissues from inflammatory damage and cytokine activity. They also support the brain by improving beta-adrenergic receptors . Apples are natural pre-biotics. These have a direct impact on bacterial colonisation whilst apple pectin improves general bowel environment . Not everyone can tolerate apples so choose pears if this is the case. They improve digestion too, re high in fibre, rich in important antioxidants and flavonoids and a great constipation remedy!
Cinnamon – has anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, antioxidant, anti-tumour, cardiovascular, cholesterol-lowering and immunomodulatory effects PLUS it plays an important insulin modulating role so fantastic for any PCOS sufferers or type 2 diabetics striving to become pregnant. It has also been used for years to curb heavy menstrual bleeding (menorrhagia), including heavy bleeding due to endometriosis and uterine fibroids. Fab stuff!!
Yoghurt: Research suggests that cow yogurt and soy yoghurt lowers pro-inflammatory cytokines and other immunomodulating properties depending on the cultures using during fermentation. You can also use kefir.
Arabinogalactans: Larch arabinogalactans are water-soluble polysaccharides providing sweetness; mucosal immune activation and encourage change to the balance of bacteria in the gut.
Nuts and seeds for fertility: excellent form of protein, healthy fats and nutrients. Almonds in their skins provide protein and immune modulating effects although if you have the oral Birch allergy you may not tolerate them. Brazils contain the nutrient selenium for thyroid support and walnuts are an excellent source of anti-inflammatory omega-3 essential fatty acids, rich in antioxidants, a source of manganese, copper, molybdenum and the B vitamin biotin. Chestnuts and hazlenuts offer likewise benefits too!
Beta glucans for fertility – a group of physiologically active compounds called biological response modifiers. They contain immuno modulating properties that increase immune defense by enhancing macrophages and natural killer cell function. Beta glucans can be taken as a supplement or through eating edible mushrooms (Shitake, Maitake, Wood cauliflower, and snow mushrooms); celery; Chi-chian leaves, carrots and radishes.
Bone Broth for fertility
Yes, bone broth recipes are everywhere! Just by slow-cooking bones and waste material (head/feet etc) from animals/fish with vegetables and water it is possible to extract the nutrients, gelatine, hyaluronic acid, amino acids and collagen from the bones and waste materials and nourish fertility cytokines. If you are interested in this theory but not prepared to cook your own then plenty of restaurants, on-line health stores and farms plus supermarkets are selling healing bone broth. Just remember to buy organic. This ancient traditional form of healing broth helps to
HEAL A POROUS GUT (“LEAKY”). Regular servings of organic well made bone broth can reduce the inflammatory response as well as heal intestinal walls. It is a natural way to replenish the lining of your gut, restore digestive well being, help reduce inflammatory cortisol spikes (the stress hormone) and regulate hormonal balance. Drink as a soup or add to recipes (more of this below)
NOURISHES FERTILITY CYTOKINES BY PROVIDING NUTRIENTS GALORE. Through gentle cooking the nutrients in bone broth are easy to absorb and have been proven to heal; rejuvenate and boost overall health. Clients tell me that it has helped improve sleep quality, energised, reduced bloating, lessened IBS/bowel irregularities, reduced fatigue, and support fertility and regulate menstruation. Did you know that the amino acids (protein building blocks) proline, glycine, arginine, and glutamine, which are contained in bone broth help detoxification pathways which in turn remove excess hormones, for example estrogen, that cause all sorts of infertility issues.
ENCOURAGES HORMONE HAPPY SKIN. Healthy fats and collagen found in bone broth are proven to reduce the signs of ageing. That has got to be worth trying!
REDUCES PAIN AND ENCOURAGES FLEXIBILITY. Broth contains glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate plus anti inflammatory amino acids as I have already discussed. Collagen found in bone broth helps strengthen cartilage, muscles and uterine connective tissue.
BOOST IMMUNITY FOR YOUR FERTILITY. I am always encouraging clients to use bone broth post viral, after surgery, during assisted conception procedures, when trying to conceive, when studying and during pregnancy. Bone broth really helps to nurture and nourish from the inside out. Download
How to make healing broth
Simply toss your ingredients into a slow cooker and voila! Bone broth for the week. Add to gravies and meals or drink a cup full daily. Traditionally broths are made from red meat bones but as I am not a red meat eater I have found that broths made from chicken/turkey carcasses or fish bones and trimmings support digestive health too.
Begin by choosing the type of broth you want to make. These can be bones from an animal with or without meat on; previously cooked or raw (whole chicken, chicken wings, fish bones, heads and trimmings, “soup bones”, ribs, bones from previously eaten roasts chickens, etc. You can also ask at the meat counter for bones).
Add water – you will need enough to cover the contents of your pan.
Prepare organic clean veggies,. Classic soup/stock veggies are onion, carrot, and celery but I often add bay leaves, peppercorns, garlic, fennel, fresh parsley and a tablespoon of “mother organic apple cyder vinegar but feel free to add anything you have laying around. Onion peel gives chicken stock its nice yellow color.
Let it sit for an hour or so before heating the contents. Once it starts simmering skim off the foam. Put the lid on and gently cook for at least 30 minutes (fish), 12 to 48 hours for chicken, up to 72 hours for beef, lamb,or pork. (this is why a slow cooker is so helpful). Check it periodically to see if it needs more water. When your time is up turn it off and get out your strainer. If the bones have marrow you can remove the marrow and add that to the broth or not bother. The liquid you have left is broth. Add some salt (this is a to taste issue). The liquid should be pretty clear, depending on how fine your strainer is.
Printable version of recipes here Autumn Recipes
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Please read through my blogs for more suggestions as to how you can support your fertility using fertility aromatherapy; yoni-steaming; fertility reflexology; Creation Fertility Toolkit; and for additional autumn recipes to support your hormone health
Disclaimer: These musings, considerations and dietary thoughts do not take into account your personal health, allergies or illnesses. I always recommend you receive professional healthcare guidance specific to your personal circumstance before making changes to your diet.
Justine Evans ND – Fertility Expert & Hormone Alchemist is the Founder of Creation Fertility and its products. Justine offers a multi dimensional approach to fertility health blending Nutritional Therapy with alchemy and yogic philosophy. Call 07747 133170 to book an appointment with her now.