Number 1 Most Important Test Before You Get Pregnant!
I am fascinated with how to have healthy pregnancy and children. When can you most impact the health of your child and pregnancy? The answer is before you get pregnant. There is a foundation of health that you pass on your baby that can only be done before pregnancy. Your baby will be created from a sperm and egg that reflect the health of your bodies especially in the 5 months before you get pregnant. So what do you need to do to lay down a healthy foundation for your baby?
You have probably heard that Hippocrates, the father of medicine, said all disease begins in the gut. Even more importantly, I believe health begins in the gut. The stomach, large and small intestine, are the storehouse of billions of bacteria. The gut takes our food and breaks it down and extracts the nutrients we need, uses the fat for hormone production, creates neurotransmitters which tell our brain what to do, impacts our emotions and even our intelligence. If the gut is healthy it protects the rest of the body from pathogens with the mucosal membrane. The bacteria in the gut tell our genes to turn on or off for disease and vitamin production. This is called Epigenetics, the study of how environment, (including intestinal environment) can turn on and off genes and impact health. See my blog Epigenetics. I believe one of the most important health steps you can take for your new baby is to have a healthy gut.
Why Gut Health is Important?
- H. Pylori, which lives in the stomach and lowers hydrochloric acid. H. Pylori is connected to hyperemesis gravidarum in pregnancy. By getting rid of it you have chance of less heart burn, protect your body better because stomach acid is one of your first defenses from pathogens, and lower your likelihood of being nauseous your whole pregnancy. Blog on Hyperemesis Gravidarum
- Fungal infections like candida can cause increased yeast infections in pregnancy and be passed to your baby at birth causing thrush and breast infection, as well as being connected to cradle cap. Having a healthy vaginal flora starts with a healthy gut.
- Viral infections have been connected to higher rates of infertility because the immune system of the body produces more cytokine cells which attack invaders and can make a hostile environment for a fertilized egg.
- Parasite and bacterial infections are a constant stress on the body’s immune system and cortisol supply. This in turn drains the adrenal glands where cortisol is made and impacts the other hormones, which are made from the same building blocks as cortisol, causing hormonal and adrenal issues.
- Intestinal bacteria produce enzymes that are needed to utilize many vitamins. They make vitamin K which is needed as a cofactor to produce prothrombin and blood clotting factors. Intestinal bacteria produce several vitamins, including biotin, vitamin B12, folate, and thiamine, which are all important in reproduction and methylation, the process of turning on and off genes.
- If there is inflammation caused by pathogens in the gut it prevents the production and use of many vitamins, including vitamin D. Vitamin D receptors are found in the small intestine and are very important for reproductive health and immune health.
How Do I know if my Gut is Healthy?
Test don’t guess. Before you get pregnant I recommend the GI map to see how healthy your gastrointestinal tract is and if there are any pathogens in your body. The GI map looks at several markers in gut health, including digestive enzymes, fat in the stool (which assesses the gallbladder health), immune response, gliadin antibodies (looking at sensitivity to wheat products), and overall inflammation. It also tells you’re the balance of bacteria in your body, called the Phyla Microbiota. It uses special technology that looks at the immune response to the pathogens, called antigens. This way of testing is more accurate because the specific sample does not have to contain the pathogen. Even if you are eating the best foods and live a low toxin life, if you have pathogens in your system they may be wreaking havoc on your healthy by causing inflammation.
Key to Healthy Pregnancy and Children
The health of the gut impacts so many areas of health that it’s worth testing to see if it is healthy. By eliminating pathogens, lowering inflammation, and balancing the gut flora you can greatly impact your health and thus the health of your children. I believe that gut health is the key to having healthy children.
- Medical Microbiology. 4th edition. Baron S, editor. Galveston (TX): University of Texas Medicalranch at Galveston; 1996. Chapter 95 Microbiology of the Gastrointestinal Tract Sherwood L. Gorbach.
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