PCOS Diet makes a difference
My own journey into natural health started with a diagnosis of PCOS at 15 years old. At the time I just wanted something that would ‘fix’ my symptoms. My main concern being acne, which I can tell you first hand has a tremendous impact on your emotional wellbeing when you are a teenager. I didn’t really think too much about the fact I wasn’t getting regular periods, having periods 3-4 months apart was seen as a benefit actually!
The Doctor did give me a ‘fix’! It was called the pill! Not just any pill but Diane 35, which has now been associated with deaths in young girls because of blood clots! You can read more about the dangers of the pill here.
I was happy and satisfied with the results until a couple of years later when I naively thought I was cured and came off of the pill! I was in for a shock, my symptoms came back, worse than ever, which put me on the ‘there must be a better way’ path.
Now, 21 years (WOW that is hard to write!!) and 2 healthy pregnancies later I thank food, nutrition and herbs for my (mainly) balanced hormones! I had no fertility issues (which the doctors assured me I would), I have regular, fairly uneventful periods and clear skin apart from the odd breakout (yes, even at 36!) which I can always put down to food! I also help many women with PCOS and other hormonal issues in my naturopathic clinic
So let’s have a closer look at PCOS
PCOS is a Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) is a reproductive disorder characterised by multiple cystic growths on the ovaries. PCOS develops when the ovaries are stimulated to produce excessive amounts of male hormones (androgens), particularly testosterone.
Common signs and symptoms of PCOS include
- Irregular menstrual cycle
- Infertility, generally resulting from lack of ovulation
- Excessive hair growth
- Weight gain, particularly around the lower half of the torso
- Acne and oily skin
- Prolonged periods of PMS-like symptoms
- Sleep apnoea
- Multiple cysts on the ovaries
- Enlarged ovaries, generally 2-3 times larger than normal, resulting from multiple cysts
- Chronic pelvic pain
- Blood Glucose dysregulation – e.g., hypoglycaemic episodes, diabetes, etc
What many people don’t realise is that one of the big driving forces behind PCOS is Insulin resistance! Insulin resistance occurs when the cells of our body become resistant to insulin, which is a problem because insulin is the courier for sugar so if the cells aren’t letting insulin in, they are not letting sugar in either. The sugar cannot be used by the cell, so it stays in the blood leading to all kinds of health issues and imbalances – hormone imbalance being one of them! I go into this process in depth in my Energetic Mama ebook
So the first step to overcoming PCOS is to work on insulin resistance, here are my top tips
- Go sugar free! We get plenty of ‘healthy sugars’ to keep us going from fruits, vegetables, salads, nuts, seeds and whole grains. So when there is Insulin Resistance it is essential to eliminate all other sugars from your diet. Base your diet on plenty of vegetables, salads and small portions of protein such as eggs, fish, nuts, chicken and meat. Remember refined grains such as white bread, pasta, cereals and rice are full of sugars too.
- Move your body! Find a form of exercise that you love and do it regularly. Exercise helps you to reduce your bodies fat percentage and has a beneficial effect on insulin levels.
- Make fish your friend! The omega 3 fats found in fish improves the cells sensitivity to insulin and ensures you are getting plenty of good fats in your diet.
- Stop counting calories and start counting nutrition! There are many nutrient deficiencies that can contribute to hormonal imbalance and insulin resistance so make sure every mouthful counts. Fill up on nutrient dense vegetables, home made dips, smoothies and raw nuts.
If you want more detailed information on PCOS I would highly recommend the Debunking PCOS ecourse from Dr Nat Kringoudis
I would love to hear your thoughts and your own experience with PCOS if you have been diagnosed in the comments.