As science evolves, we understand so much more about the impact a healthy diet and lifestyle can have on fertility and pregnancy.
If you’re of child-bearing age, it’s important to be aware of three major issues which may affect your health, your fertility and ultimately the long-term health of your baby: Insulin Resistance, Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome and Dysbiosis.
Insulin Resistance (IR) perpetuates Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS)
IR negatively affects your delicate hormone balance. The cells in our ovaries produce oestrogen and progesterone and a small amount of testosterone. While testosterone is essential, IR causes your ovaries to produce too much, which may negatively impact fertility.
What Causes Insulin Resistance?
The normal function of insulin is to transfer glucose (sugar) from the blood into the liver and muscle cells to be used as energy. In people with IR, the muscles and the liver resist the action of insulin, so the body has to produce higher amounts to try and force the liver to do its job. The primary contributing factor is the frequent and excessive consumption of processed foods, such as sugar and refined carbohydrates. IR also causes us to gain excess body fat – generally around the waist, further contributing to inflammation and even more IR. Stress, lack of sleep and lack of regular physical activity will also exacerbate IR.
Imbalanced Gut Bacteria (Dysbiosis)
The microbiome is the name given to the bacteria that live throughout your body, specifically in your gut. It’s responsible for many important functions in your body, including around 80 per cent of your immune function. It is also directly responsible for how many calories we extract from our food.
Problems arise when ‘good’ bacteria is depleted and ‘bad’ bacteria begins to dominate. Dominant bad bacteria can also cause too much insulin to be produced, contributing to insulin resistance (IR). Women with PCOS commonly also have dysbiosis.
Some causes of dysbiosis include antibiotics, poor dietary habits (high sugar, low fibre, etc), chronic stress and/or gastrointestinal infections (food poisoning, gastroenteritis, etc.)
When you do fall pregnant, your baby will share your exact microbiome, so restoring your gut health is beneficial to fertility, a healthy body composition and your baby’s long-term health.
Your gut plays a significant role in your overall physical and mental wellbeing.
What tests should I consider for IR and PCOS?
If you have PCOS, then there’s up to a 70 per cent chance that you also have IR. I would recommend that you request the following blood tests:
– Fasting blood glucose.
– Fasting insulin.
– HbA1c (a measure of long-term blood glucose).
Once you have your fasting glucose and fasting insulin results, we can calculate your HOMA IR score, which will determine if you have any IR present.
Once identified, diet and lifestyle changes can be introduced to correct and restore optimum health. The AstonRX program focuses on eliminating IR and restoring optimum gut health.