Gut health, fertility and PCOS- INTERVIEW SERIES: Dr Cecilia Kitic - PCOS to Wellness US

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by Brigitte Warne April 09, 2020 8 min read

I am so so so excited to finally be able to share this blog post with you.

As many of you know I am huge advocate for raising more awareness around gut health, and how it affects almost every aspect of our overall health an wellness.

Over the last few years I have become increasingly aware how much the health of our microbiome also on our hormone health, fertility and even PCOS symptoms.

And you follow me on instagram ( @pcos_to_wellness) you will know that I am often adding in natural prebiotics from Fertile Gut as often as I can (to give my gut an extra boost!) So you can imagine how thrilled I was to connect with the wonderful Dr Cecilia the founder of Fertile Gutand bombard her will ALL my gut health related questions.

Some of the things we cover are: What the difference between pre and probiotics, how can having a healthy gut optimise our fertility, balance our hormones and even help with fertility treatments like IVF, her top tips for boosting gut health and whats the connection between PCOS and dysbiosis!

I hope you love this interview as much as I did!

PS I also managed to convince Celilia to give me a discount code to share with you guys, which will give you 15% off Fertile Gut incase you want to try it!


(Or click here and code is preapplied)

Hi Cecilia! Thank you so much for agree to be interviewed, I am so excited to pick your brain!

For those that don’t know you can you give us a little introduction about who you are and what you do?

Hi everyone! The last 20+ years I have been researching and publishing on the connection between exercise, immuno-nutrition and gut health, which are all closely connected. My background includes a PhD in Exercise Immunology and I have always been fascinated by how we can transform our health through nurturing our gut. Having struggled with infertility myself, once I had my beautiful baby boy I wanted to make sure that everyone could have access to scientifically proven ways to get pregnant so I created The IVF Project. AsDirector of Fertile Gut and The IVF Project I get to support transformations in preconception health and wellness every day which is a pretty rewarding role!

What inspired you to create Fertile Gut?

Fertile Gut was created in response to a client need we identified at The IVF Project. I started The IVF Project in 2017 to help men and women have babies and every client we were seeing was missing out on the right dietary components to promote a healthy gut. At The IVF Project we deliver proven strategies for pregnancy success with diet, exercise and mindset. With backgrounds in microbiology, nutrition and physiology, the heart of our approach is ensuring optimal gut health. When we improved our client’s gut health, we them get pregnant naturally and have successful fertility cycles. These pregnancies were in couples that had previously undergone multiple rounds of fertility treatment. Gut health is an essential ingredient for improving reproductive health and fertility, which you (Brigitte) is an incredible model for!

It is going to sound like a movie scene, but Fertile Gut was born out of a ‘eureka’ moment in the molecular biology laboratory. I came across data that showed incredible changes in the disease processes that drive PCOS after taking one key ingredient. There were reductions in the processes of inflammation, improved gut microbiota health, increases in essential short chain fatty acids and a stronger gut barrier. It was incredible that something natural could be so effective. No one else in the lab worked in the fertility space but I instantly made the connection! I knew straight away that I was looking at something that could improve reproductive health. Since getting so excited in the lab that day we worked hard to develop the optimal mix of scientifically proven natural, whole food ingredients to benefit reproductive health.It is so inspiring to hear from women that now have their periods on a regular cycle and from couples that have conceived naturally after nurturing their gut health.

That is so amazing, so can you explain a bit more about the connection between Dysbiosis and PCOS? You gut is home to trillions of bacteria, and we call this community living in your gut your microbiota. Your gut microbiota impacts every process in the body. They contribute to metabolism, balance hormones, regulate the immune system, extract nutrients, boost your mood and can even improve your fitness. They are also essential for optimal fertility! The more in balance your gut microbiota are, they better they can work to keep you healthy. In PCOS the gut microbiota are out of balance. Reduction in the variety of microbiota living in your gut and a reduction in good microbiota is called dysbiosis. This disruption in the gut microbiota increases the permeability, or leakiness, of the gut. When the gut becomes more permeable, immune stimulating compounds that are usually kept in the gut enter the blood stream, causing inflammation. This dysbiosis and inflammation changes our metabolism, increases testosterone concentrations and disrupts the balance of hormones that stimulate the growth of eggs and regular ovulation. This dysbiosis can present itself as acne, hair loss from your head, male pattern hair growth, infrequent or absent periods, difficulty losing weight and trouble conceiving.

If you have PCOS, your gut does not have as many of the beneficial gut microbiota and you may also have elevated levels of Bacteroides vulgatus taking up residence in your gut. When Bacteroides vulgatus are taken from the gut of women with PCOS and transplanted into the gut of mice, these mice develop insulin resistance, have reduced ovarian function and reduced fertility. This dysbiosis may also explain the increased incidence of depression, anxiety and stress in women with PCOS.Our gut microbiota communicate with our brain and a healthy gut has been shown to promote better mental health. With an imbalance in gut microbiota driving PCOS, we can change the disease process by changing the communities living in our gut! Can you explain how prebiotics likeFertile Gut works, and how they can help to keep our hormones balanced and increase fertility? Fertile Gut contains proven, natural prebiotics which promote the growth of beneficial microbiota and reduce bad mcirobiota. Essentially, Fertile Gut addresses the dysbiosis that drives the disease process of PCOS. The plant based prebiotics and omega-3s in Fertile Gut are like gut gold! Your health promoting gut bacteria love them and if you get these in your diet every day, you promote a healthy gut microbiota. With a more fertile gut your gut is stronger, inflammation is dampened, you are more sensitive to insulin and testosterone is reduced. Adding Fertile Gut to a meal will lower the rise in blood sugar, and keep you feeling fuller for longer. All these benefits improve menstrual cycle regularity and help create better quality eggs (and uterine lining) for future baby making. Ensuring a balanced gut sets the foundation for a healthy pregnancy and beyond. There are so many other benefits for wellness too (and even the bonus of stronger hair and nails)! Fertile Gut is 100% plant based and safe for conception, pregnancy and breast feeding.

What are the main differences between prebiotic and probiotics, and why do we need both?

Prebiotics are non-digestible parts of food that make it all the way to your large intestine to feed your gut microbiota. When your gut microbiota break down prebiotics, they produce beneficial compounds to make your metabolism more efficient, reduce inflammation, boost your mood and the list goes on! While prebiotics are food for the good microbes in your gut, probiotics are the live microbes (usually bacteria). Effective probiotic strains taken in high enough doses can also improve gut health. If you take probiotics, remember that they will need a source of food, and this is your prebiotic.When you miss out on prebiotics in your diet or only have them occasionally, your gut bacteria looks for an alternative source of food. It beings to dine on the lining of your gut which promotes more inflammation, worsening PCOS symptoms. Eating a diet rich in wholefoods with lots of legumes and colourful fruits and vegetables is a great way to get prebiotics into you day. It can be difficult to do this consistently though so Fertile Gut was designed to provide a daily dose of gut goodness with powerful, plant based prebiotics.

What are some common signs that our gut health might be compromised and may need a little extra help? If you are experiencing gut symptoms like bloating or abdominal discomfort regularly, then your gut needs some love, but often symptoms of poor gut health may be more subtle. An imbalance in your gut microbiota may appear as acne, thinning of your hair, excess facial hair, infrequent or absent periods, fatigue, poor quality sleep, difficulty losing weight, anxiety, frequent illness or trouble getting pregnant. If you have taken antibiotics in the past year or have had regular doses of antibiotics throughout your life, you will definitely need some gut nurturing to re-establish your gut community and stop the growth of bad microbes. In PCOS where dysbiosis is present, improving gut health is an effective way to manage symptoms and dampen the disease process. What are your top tips to help boost gut health and microbiota health? 1. Exercise! While diet is a potent modulator of our gut microbiota, exercise can also improve the diversity of our gut bacteria. Exercise increases the proportion of beneficial bacteria living in our gut, increasing the incredible short chain fatty acids that promote health and fertility. Make sure you get your daily dose of movement. 2. Get Dirty. Exposure to different environments and ensuring you get your hands dirty every now and again increases our microbiota diversity. Exposure to different microbes in our environment can help build a resilient gut microbiota. Socializing and having a furry pet at home will mean your gut microbiota is probably already a bit more diverse! 3. Diversify your Diet. Eating a variety of colourful fruit and vegetables, wholegrains and legumes is a proven strategy for increase your prebiotic fibre for a healthy gut. Add in Fertile Gut each day to ensure you are meeting your prebiotic needs to manage PCOS. Put more plant based meals on the menu and experiment with new ingredients. Check out Brigitte’s awesome hormone friendly recipes!

What is your favourite way to includeFertile Gut into your diet? This will be tricky to pick just one! We crafted Fertile Gut to be free from any flavours, preservatives or artificial colours which means you can add it to almost anything. I add mine to pumpkin and quinoa patties, muffins, pancakes and curries but a quick favourite is my prebiotic, antioxidant rich berry smoothie.

Prebiotic antioxidant rich berry smoothie recipe: Take a cup of frozen berries (a mixture of berries will provide a variety of antioxidants and polyphenols- they are a staple in my freezer) and add in ½ cup of milk of choice (almond if you like) and ½ cup of keffir, 1 tablespoon of Fertile Gut, about 5 almonds and some fresh spinach. Whizz in the nutribullet and you are done!

Experiment with adding a date or two for some extra sweetness or some cinnamon to spice things up if you like. Wow sooooo many amazing nuggets of gold! Thank you so much sharing your wisdom Cecilia! To find out more about Fertile Gut you can check them out instagram @fertilegut and head to for lots of Gut health boosting tips!

If you are on your journey to conception, then check out @theivfproject and for some extra tips to improve your chance of pregnancy.

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