Research published recently reveals a new understanding as to why some women miscarry. A study by Warwick Medical School has shown that a natural inflammatory response in the body controls the normal fertility cycle, but if it is prolonged, the timing of embryo implantation can be affected leading to greatly increased risk of miscarriage.
Inflammatory responses in the body are linked to increased presence of free radicals. Free radicals or ROSs (reactive oxygen species) are a by-product of our metabolism and are needed for the body to function at low levels. At high levels, however, they cause oxidative stress and damage to the DNA of cells and this affects the whole body, not just reproduction. Every part of the reproductive process is vulnerable to damage: the environment the eggs and sperm are developing in, the health and quality of sperm and eggs, the environment in the Fallopian tubes, implantation and pregnancy. Sperm is susceptible to free radical damage. If your diet is high in antioxidants they will neutralise the free radicals and help to reduce inflammation.
Free radical damage and inflammation are linked not just to miscarriage but also other conditions such as endometriosis, obesity, unexplained infertility, IVF failure and autoimmune disorders.
“This research is very important,” explains Zita West of the UK’s leading fertility clinic. “Miscarriage can be extremely distressing for women, and take its toll both mentally and physically.
Zita’s clinic has always included anti-inflammatory foods and tips for for couples trying naturally and going through IVF.
What’s the best way to lower inflammation in the body?
Zita suggests that diet is key. Top anti-inflammatory foods should form part of everyone’s diet and in particular for women aiming to conceive.
While inflammation is a major cause for increased levels, there are other factors that can contribute:
- Cigarettes are known to contain many toxins that increase free radicals and damage the DNA in sperm and eggs.
- Coffee and alcohol can increase oxidative stress and lower levels of antioxidants, if drunk frequently.
- Recreational drugs increase free radicals.
Top Anti-Inflammatory Foods
The number one anti-inflammatory food is oily fish, and this should feature regularly in a healthy diet. Mercury content in fish can be an issue, however, particularly for pregnant women. So a high-dose supplement is a great way to get your inflammation-lowering boost of healthy Omega 3s.
Colourful fruit and vegetables
Fruit and vegetables are rich in anti-oxidants which lower inflammation throughout the body. The more colourful the better, so opt for richly coloured berries like blueberries and cherries, and a rainbow of vegetables. Organic fruit and vegetables have also been shown to be higher in antioxidant content.
Onions and garlic
Onions and garlic contain powerful anti-oxidants and other anti-inflammatory compounds which help lower inflammation in the body. Research also suggests that a mix of cooked and raw delivers the best combined-dose of beneficial elements. So try dishes such as home-made hummus or tabbouleh which use raw garlic and onions, as well as meals which call for cooked.
This bright yellow spice has been used in Indian medicine for centuries to lower inflammation. And in recent years it has attracted a great deal of attention in western research. A good spoonful of turmeric, added to curries, Asian dishes, or even taken as a tea, helps to lower inflammation in the body.
Ginger root has many uses, and this is likely because it is a powerful anti-inflammatory compound overall. Sliced or chopped ginger is an easy addition to stir-fries and curries, and can be drunk as a tea.
Vitafem boost and Vitamen boost are antioxidants part of the Zita West product range.
Nutritional consultations are also available at the clinic 02072240017
1. Agarwal A, Aponte- Mellado A et al, “The effects of oxidative stress on female reproduction: a review” – Reproductive biology and endocrinology, 2012, 10:49
2. Agarwal A, Gupta S, Sharma RK, “Role of oxidative stress in female reproduction” – Reproductive biology and endocrinology, 2005, 3:28
3. Hammadeh ME, Hamad M et al, “Effect of oxidative stress on ART outcome” – Oxidative stress in applied basic research and clinical practice, 2012, part 2, 449-483
4. Joo Yeon Lee, Chin-Kun Baw et al, “Role of Oxidative stress in polycystic Ovary Syndrome” – Current women’s health reviews, 20120, 6, 96-107Surg Neurol. 2006 Apr;65(4):326-31.Omega-3 fatty acids (fish oil) as an anti-inflammatory: an alternative to non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs for discogenic pain.
5. Maroon JC, Bost JW. Biofactors. 2012 Dec 22. doi: 10.1002/biof.1066. [Epub ahead of print] “Curcumin in inflammatory diseases”
6. Shehzad A, Rehman G, Lee YS.J Med Food. 2005 Summer; 8(2):125-32. “Ginger – a herbal medicinal product with broad anti-inflammatory actions”
Zita West Clinic Ltd
37 Manchester Street
London W1U 7JL
Telephone 020 7224 0017
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