A New Leptin Link to Fertility

September 4, 2008 | Byron J. Richards, Board Certified Clinical Nutritionist

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 A New Leptin Link to Fertility
The hormone leptin is made in your fat, travels up to your brain, and informs your brain how much fuel is in storage – similar to the gas gauge in your car letting you know how much fuel is in your tank. Based on this leptin message arriving in your brain your body sets its energy spending policy. If plenty of fuel is on hand then your metabolism can go faster. If your brain thinks you are low on stored fuel then a hibernation rate of metabolism is set.

Brand new research has established that when leptin registers properly in your brain1, signifying nutritional adequacy, an energetic gene switch is thrown called TORC1. TORC1 then activates multiple genes associated WITH robust energy use, including genes that enable a woman to become pregnant (KISS1). The relationship of leptin problems and infertility has been known since leptin's discovery in 1994, but this is the first research to plot the specific pathway relating to the problem.

There are two types of leptin deprivation in the brain that could lead to infertility. One is actual malnutrition and the other is a false state of perceived starvation. Actual malnutrition is the result of not eating enough food, especially diets that are too low in saturated fat (the current craze among young women). This causes a low leptin brain state due to actual starvation and your subconscious brain interprets this to mean that you don't have enough fat calories for a healthy pregnancy or to feed your child after birth.

A false state of perceived starvation is caused by leptin resistance, a problem facing millions of overweight women. Similar to actual starvation, the leptin signal is not registering properly in your brain. This is caused by eating meals that are too large, snacking between meals, and/or eating after dinner at night. In this case a woman may have more than enough fat on hand for a successful pregnancy and nursing, but her subconscious brain doesn't know it. Women who are leptin resistant who do become pregnant are at much higher risk for serious pregnancy complications, miscarriage, and premature delivery.

Any woman considering pregnancy should follow the Leptin Diet closely, which includes moderate amounts of saturated fat in your diet. A failure to do so may result in infertility or pregnancy-related complications.

Referenced Studies

  1. ^ Leptin, TORC1, and Fertility  Nature Medicine  

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