Womens Health

Against the Grain

Don't Eat that Bagel!

Having trouble getting pregnant? It might just be your morning bagel. It turns out that a hidden sensitivity to a protein in grain known as gluten may cause all kinds of health problems, chief among them depression, diarrhea, constipation, anemia, and fatigue. Gluten is found in wheat, oats, rye, spelt, triticale, kamut, and other grains. Gluten sensitivity is much more common than celiac disease, though the two are related.

Celiac disease affects only one in 133 persons; while it is believed that as many as one out of every two people have a hidden sensitivity to gluten. The symptoms of celiac are hard to miss as they include such dramatic effects as rapid weight loss and severe anemia. Gluten sensitivity can be spotted on a blood test, but not in its earliest stages.

Nutritionist and health educator Melissa Diane Smith authored the book, Going Against the Grain, which tells how gluten sensitivity can destroy one's health and what we can do to prevent these adverse affects. Smith spoke about infertility and gluten sensitivity at a conference on Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS). Smith believes that gluten sensitivity is a leading cause of recurrent miscarriage.

Gluten sensitivity symptoms may include:


Abdominal pain

Bloating and Gas


Diahrrea and constipation


Gluten sensitivity is associated with many conditions including:



Autoimmune diseases

Frequent headaches


Skin conditions

Women who suffer from celiac disease and who do not avoid gluten have been found to enter into menopause an average of five years earlier than other women and up to 39% of women with this disease stop having their periods from time to time. It's only a short leap of the imagination to see how sensitivity to gluten can have a negative impact on a woman's fertility.

When there is no other apparent reason for reduced fertility, it makes sense to investigate this avenue as a possible cause of unexplained infertility.

Smith has found that 85% of her PCOS clients test positive for gluten sensitivity. When gluten is removed from their diets, there is a reduction in their symptoms.

A Turn for the Better

Smith has seen a similar turn for the better in cholesterol levels, thyroid function, and weight loss in women who went on gluten-free diets.

Women who suffer from gluten sensitivity are well-advised to avoid foods containing hidden gluten such as:

Soy sauce


Foods containing barley malt

Vegetable protein made from wheat gluten


It's important not to replace high gluten grains with starchy or sugary foods, since this may predispose you to developing insulin resistance. Better to focus on a diet rich in fresh vegetables.


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