Miscarriage and hormone deficiency

Miscarriage can be caused by a number of factors including chromosome abnormalities, infections, immune disorder, anatomical abnormalities of the uterus, systemic illnesses, hormonal imbalance and substance abuse.


Effects of hormones on Miscarriage

Oestrogen and progesterone are two of the primary female sex hormones. During a normal menstrual cycle, they take turns driving the process of maturing and releasing an egg and preparing the uterus for possible pregnancy. Oestrogen rises in the first half of the cycle, peaks at ovulation and then falls in the second half as progesterone rises. Progesterone is released by the rupturing of the egg follicle during ovulation. Testosterone too is secreted in surges around the time of ovulation.


When oestrogen, progesterone and testosterone are doing their jobs, they work well together. How much or how little of each hormone is made at any one time relies on a complicated feedback system between the brain specifically the hypothalamus and the pituitary gland which releases LH (luteinizing hormone) and FSH (follicle stimulating hormone), the ovaries and the adrenal glands. Stress and diet affect these feedback mechanisms and so directly impact the hormonal balance.


At the time of ovulation, progesterone is responsible for an increase in body temperature, which lasts during most of the luteal phase. Low progesterone is a common cause of infertility in women. Progesterone is responsible for creating a proper environment for a fetus and its levels are supposed to increase upon fertilization of the egg. The hormone then supports the pregnancy by increasing tissue development in the uterus where the embryo will attach. If progesterone levels are low in the first several weeks of pregnancy, a miscarriage is likely to occur.


By about 8-9 weeks of pregnancy, the placenta usually takes over the production of progesterone.



Alzheimer’s disease and Acetylcholinesterase

The pathogenesis of Alzheimer’s disease has been linked to a deficiency in the brain neurotransmitter acetylcholine.


Acetylcholine, a chemical compound often abbreviated as ‘ACh’ is a neurotransmitter in both the peripheral nervous system (PNS) and central nervous system (CNS). In the PNS, it acts as a neurotransmitter and in the CNS it creates activating impulses.


Acetylcholine sends messages between nerves, signalling muscle contractions. If it was not broken down after it had served its function, the muscle involved would not be able to relax and this could create spasms, paralysis and other problems.


Acetylcholinesterase, also known as AChE, is an enzyme that breaks down the neurotransmitter acetylcholine.  It is mainly found at neuromuscular junctions and cholinergic synapses in the central nervous system where its activity serves to terminate synaptic transmission. Acetylcholinesterase is also found on the red blood cell membranes.


If the rate of  breakdown of acetylcholine is beyond the norm, this will result in reduction in the activity of the cholinergic neurons which is a well-known feature of Alzheimer’s disease.


Thus Acetylcholinesterase breaks down Acetylcholine and the deficiency of Acetylcholine is linked to Alzheimer’s disease.



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Soluble fibre and Insoluble fibre – Importance in the diet

The main function of fibre is to keep the digestive system healthy and functioning properly. Fibre aids and speeds up the excretion of waste and toxins from the body preventing them from sitting in the intestine or bowel for too long and creating a build-up of toxins.



The 2 main types of fibre are:


  • Water-insoluble fibre
  • Water-soluble fibre

Fibre passes through the body virtually unchanged along with other digested food until it arrives at the large intestine. What happens next depends on the type of fibre present.



Insoluble fibre
In the case of insoluble fibre, it promotes the growth of a certain friendly bacteria that ferment and make the waste material soft and bulky. This in turn helps the waste to pass through the intestines quicker to the bowel and out of the body.


Insoluble fibre prevents constipation by adding bulk and liquid to aid movement and promote regular bowel movements. A larger and softer stool is able to pass through the intestines and bowel more easily and fluidly and is easier to evacuate.



Insoluble fibre can be found in foods such as bran, wholemeal flour and breads, brown rice, whole grain cereals, vegetables, edible peels of fruit, nuts and seeds.



Soluble fibre
Soluble fibre absorbs water in the intestine, which softens the stool and helps the waste material move through the body more quickly.
It is thought that soluble fibre may help to reduce the level of cholesterol in the blood. This is due to the fact that soluble fibre binds the cholesterol from food or from bile acids preventing it from being absorbed into the bloodstream. This is then eliminated as waste, as the fibre cannot be digested.



Soluble fibre-rich foods include fruits, vegetables, lentils, peas, beans, oats, barley, oatmeal, potatoes, dried fruit, soya milk and soya products.


Eating a diet that does not contain enough fibre can lead to bowel irregularities and stomach discomforts. Foods that contain no or little fibre include refined cereals and white bread, meat and animal products, dairy produce and fast foods.


Phytoestrogens – Dietary Oestrogens

Phytoestrogens, also called ‘dietary oestrogens’ are a diverse group of naturally occurring non-steroidal plant compounds that are structurally similar to the estradiol (17-β-estradiol) and have the ability to cause oestrogenic or/and anti-oestrogenic effects. Phytoestrogens get their name from the Greek word ‘phyto’ meaning plant and ‘estrogens’ meaning the hormone which gives fertility to the female mammals.


At molecular level, phytoestrogens are similar to oestrogens and this similarity allows them to mildly mimic and sometimes act as antagonists of oestrogen. Due to their chemical structure, phytoestrogens have a propensity to attach to a particular oestrogen receptor. This is thought to be one of the underlying mechanisms by which phytoestrogens compounds might elicit an effect in the body.


Phytoestrogens are considered to be milder than woman’s intrinsic oestrogen and exert their effects primarily through binding to oestrogen receptors . When oestrogen levels are high, phytoestrogens compete with oestrogen for receptor sites, reducing oestrogen ability to bind to receptors thereby lessening its effect. On the other hand, when oestrogen levels are low as in the peri or post menopause, phytoestrogens act as oestrogen supplements.


Phytoestrogens occur in plants and plant products that include soy beans, grains, seeds, herbs, fruits and vegetables.


Herbs that have phytoestrogen effects include Red Clover, Liquorice, Thyme and Verbena. Herbs that mimic the effects of estrogens include Black cohosh, Dong Quai and Ginseng.