A businesswoman whose joy of life was shattered when her marriage ended and she was told she would probably never conceive is now the fun-loving mum of a beautiful toddler – and says it is all thanks to going vegan.
When fertility tests three years ago in 2018 revealed she had a very low egg count, meaning it was “nearly impossible” for her to fall pregnant naturally, Alana Panton, now 39, was devastated.
But, after hitting rock bottom, following the end of her marriage in 2017, the news was the trigger she needed to turn her life around – making her determined to give her body a complete detox, which she was convinced would help her to become a mum.
Alana, of Shepherd’s Bush, west London, said: “After my marriage broke down, I thought I would never become a mum and that made me very depressed.
“It’s all I’ve ever wanted, so when the fertility test came back with such a bleak outlook, I was determined to turn things around.
“I’m convinced that purifying my body and mindset by ridding myself of anything toxic is the only reason I was able to have my son, Theo, who is now two.”
She added: “It’s changed my life.”
Alana first discussed starting a family with her now ex-husband in 2011.
She said: “I met my husband when I was 26 and we were very happy for the first few years.”
Sadly, his job took him away a lot and Alana says when she was 29 their marriage ended.
“We were just about to start trying for a baby and it totally destroyed me. I was so depressed that I couldn’t sleep,” she said.
“I ended up losing my job in PR and was even in hospital a few times because of my mental health. It was a tough time.”
She added: “For a while, I became a recluse.”
Alana admits that she was self-medicating with prescribed drugs as she tried to battle through her depression.
Her wake-up call came in September 2017, when she survived making an attempt on her own life, after which her loving family encouraged her to attend a wellness course in the UK.
Afterwards, through PR connections, Alana was invited to a detox centre, The Life Co, in Turkey.
She said: “There was a centre in Turkey where I could stay to detox and I spent a month there.
“I hadn’t realised I was abusing my body until then, but everything I was doing – takeaways, prescribed medication and alcohol – were all torturing my body.”
She added: “Afterwards, I felt like an entirely new person and I didn’t want to return to London, so I travelled to Bali instead.”
But it was during a trip to Thailand, in 2018, that Alana decided to take a fertility test.
She said: “I was 36 and single, but I felt like I needed to know.”
She added: “Doctors had warned me in the past that I might suffer health issues in the future due to my attempt on my life, but when the test came back with such negative results, I was heartbroken, even though it shouldn’t have been a surprise.
“I had a very low egg count and the chances of me conceiving were slim to none.
“So, I decided to take my future into my own hands and use holistic methods to try and improve my fertility.”
She added: “I needed to rid my body of anything toxic, so I went completely vegan.”
Alana who was on a juicing programme and teetotal by then claims that she started to notice physical changes to her body within a month.
She said: “My hair and nails were shinier, even my eyes looked brighter. I literally turned into a new person.”
She added: “I returned to Bali and visited local healers and they conducted rituals in a bid to improve my fertility.
“I hoped that someday it might be possible for me to have a baby.”
Visiting London for the summer in 2018, by chance, Alana met someone new.
She said: “I hit it off with a man I met in a restaurant, and it turned into a summer romance.
“We went on a few holidays together and it was on a trip in Barcelona, Spain, about six weeks into the relationship that I realised my period was late.
“I took a test and gasped when I saw the positive result.”
And she swears that the surprise pregnancy was down to her detoxing and her vegan diet.
She said: “It was a shock to say to the least, but I knew I wanted to go ahead with the pregnancy and it’s the best decision I’ve ever made.
“He didn’t want to be a dad and while it’s sad that Theo doesn’t have a relationship with his father, he is surrounded by so much love and support from other family members.”
She added: “And I think becoming a mum has helped me to grow as a woman.”
On June 6, 2019, Alana gave birth to a baby boy, Theodore, weighing 9lb 10oz at London’s Chelsea and Westminster Hospital.
She said: “In January 2020, just before the pandemic, by then living back in London, I took Theo to Bali for a month to meet all the locals I had befriended while I lived there.”
She added: “They had all known how desperate I was to have a baby, so getting to bring him along and let them see that I had finally got my little boy was so special.”
Now single, Alana says she is the happiest she has ever been, sharing her life with Theo.
She said: “He’s made me so happy.”
She added: “Being a single mum can be financially challenging at times, but I wouldn’t trade it for the world.
“I love him so much. I couldn’t imagine life without him. I haven’t been depressed at all since having him.
“Before then, I would never have imagined being depression-free but the holistic method really worked for me.”
She added: “My whole detox was for my mental health and now, two years later, I’m a happy mother. I never thought I would actually live to see that.”
Since lockdown, Alana is in the early stages of setting up her own business, too, offering online detox retreats to people who cannot afford to go abroad.
She said: “I coach people through a detox, whether they are depressed, or overweight, or have any issues, I help them.”
She added: “It’s a great alternative if they can’t afford to go to a detox centre, because I give them all the coaching and the skills they need to do it from home.
“I wouldn’t be doing any of this if it wasn’t for Theo.
“I am convinced that purifying my body both mentally and physically was the reason I was able to conceive.”
She added: “Going vegan helped me feel healthier and it’s completely changed my life.
“My little boy is my whole world, I just can’t believe I get to be his mum.”
Dr Malini Uppal, a medical director for London’s GENNET City Fertility clinic says that while elements of a vegan diet can give fertility a boost, it does not automatically mean the choices are healthier.
She said: “Going vegan is a personal choice and this lifestyle change comes with many benefits.
“However, when thinking about fertility, there is a huge amount of scientific research to suggest that a plant-rich Mediterranean diet (as opposed to a plant-based only diet) is a fantastic aid for those trying to conceive and can help assist with improving success rates.
“By eating a broad range of vegetables, good fats, fish, fruit, legumes, slow releasing carbohydrates and a little meat, this diet is a brilliantly nutritious way to lay your foundations for gut health, protection against free radical damage, balancing out bloody sugar and curbing inflammation – all key issues when faced with the challenges of trying for a baby.”
She added: “I would say a vegan diet – eating lots of fruit, vegetables and cutting out processed foods will certainly help you reach a healthy BMI (body mass index) and give your fertility a boost, but a vegan only lifestyle doesn’t automatically mean you are making healthier choices.
“Some nutrients essential for fertility such as Omegas are more bioavailable in fish than nuts, which are harder for the body to convert. And as with anything, it’s about moderation rather than going to an extreme with your diet.
“We should also remember that although diet and nutrition play an important role, infertility is a more complex issue which includes age and many other factors like endometriosis, polycystic ovaries and comorbidity.”
For more information on Alana’s detox services, visit: www.detoxwithalana.com