If PCOS was just about acne and no periods, it would not be so bad, right? But unfortunately, it is not. PCOS can be very disabling and depressing for some women suffering from the symptoms.
So, if there’s indeed something you can do about it, shouldn’t we all know about it?
What is PCOS?
PCOS – or Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome – is a condition that affects a women’s hormone levels. Women with PCOS, have a higher level of male hormones with no or infrequent menstruation.
PCOS has been classified by some medical professionals, as a group of symptoms that can include one or all of the following:
- follicles – also referred to as cysts – in the ovaries
- high levels of male hormones
- irregular or skipped periods
how is PCOS diagnosed?
PCOS is diagnosed through one of the following methods:
A pelvic exam to detect any physical problems
Blood tests that will check for abnormal hormone levels. Your doctor might also do blood tests to check your cholesterol, insulin, and triglyceride levels to evaluate your risk for related conditions like heart disease and diabetes. Keeping in mind that these are the exact same blood tests your doctor will order, to assess your risk for insulin resistance and metabolic diseases or even Type II Diabetes.
An ultrasound which checks for abnormalities in your ovaries and uterus which could include a androgen producing tumor which is the cause of the higher male hormones.
WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS OF PCOS?
The most common symptoms of PCOS include:
- Irregular periods or no periods at all
- Infertility because of irregular ovulation or no ovulation at all
- Excessive hair growth because of abnormal hormones
- Weight gain
- Thinning of hair
WHAT CAUSES pcOS?
Studies show that PCOS do run in families. Like most of the metabolic chronic diseases, you could be predisposed to the condition, which means you do have the gene expression. However, studies also shows that lifestyle and dietary interventions, could lower your risk for actually being diagnosed with a condition, despite the fact that you have a propensity for the disease. This is called epigenetics.
Epigenetics tells us that your lifestyle and diet can switch on certain genes and switch off other genes, which can make a drastic improvement in your PCOS.
Women with PCOS often has increased levels of inflammation. But so does people who are insulin resistant. As Dr Barry Sears would put it, “I think I can treat food like a drug to control the inflammation without the side effects induced by other anti-inflammatory drugs … . That leap was obvious to me but not so obvious to everyone else in the world.”
What is the relationship between Insulin Resistance and PCOS?
Up to 80 percent of women with PCOS are overweight or obese. Increase insulin resistance increase your risk for metabolic disease, which is a fancy name for a group of diseases like Type II Diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, and stroke.
The below graph indicates the relationship between obesity and PCOS prevalence.
Prevalence of diagnosed (black) and undiagnosed PCOS according to NIH criteria (grey) in adolescents aged 15 to 19 years of age
What is INSULIN?
Insulin is a hormone that are produced by your pancrease. When you eat something, your blood glucose concentration rises. Insulin is then released to shuffle the glucose out of your blood stream to the cells that will use them.
What is INSULIN resistance?
If your body is resistant to insulin, it means you need higher levels of insulin to keep your blood sugar normal. It’s been accepted that certain medical conditions such as being overweight or having PCOS can cause insulin resistance.
However, more and more evidence now point towards insulin resistance being one of the causes of PCOS, and not just a symptom of PCOS.
If PCOS is so closely related to Metabolic Syndrome and Insulin resistance. These are also the conditions that cause Type II Diabetes and there are doctors that are referring to PCOS as the Type II Diabetes of the ovaries.
It makes good sense to think that whatever could improve those conditions, could possibly also improve PCOS, right?
As Dr Jason Phung puts it – People are spending millions of dollars on infertility treatments when they really could be changing their diet by fixing the source of the issue – Insulin Resistance.
DIET AND LIFESTYLE CHANGES TO TREAT PCOS
What is the best foods for PCOS?
Good quality above ground vegetables, such as broccoli, cauliflower, brussels sprouts
Good quality protein, such as fish and meat.
Anti-inflammatory foods and spices, such as turmeric and tomatoes.
Healthy omega 3 oils such as olive oil and butter. It’s important to understand that a low carb diet doesn’t mean high fat. Your body will burn energy from dietary fat or from body fat. If you are overweight, you should allow your body to first burn energy from your body fat. As you lose weight, you can increase your healthy fats to combat hunger.
Your first option should be to buy organic if you can afford it. If you cannot afford it or it’s not available, buy the best quality fresh produce you have access too.
It’s also worth the effort to search for any pre-prepared fresh meal services in your area, especially if you’re a busy person.
What is the worst foods for PCOS?
A diet high in refined carbohydrates, such as processed and sugary foods causes insulin resistance. It will also make it more difficult to control insulin resistance, which should be your first goal.
Foods high in refined carbohydrates, such as white bread and muffins increase inflammation in the body. It worsens insulin resistance and should be avoided all together.
Sugary snacks and drinks. Sugar is a refined carbohydrate and a toxin. Sugar has various names, so be on the lookout for any hidden sugar in foods, like sucrose, high fructose corn syrup, dextrose, malti-dextrose.
Inflammatory foods, such as processed foods which contain high levels or hydrogenated oils and preservatives. This include goods like margarine, French fries, seed oils etc.
We have a unique ability to manage insulin resistance and subsequent related diseases like PCOS, with proper nutrition. A topic that’s not always spoken about because there is no money to be made in curing people. Medicine do not cure you. When you take medicine for flu, it relieves the symptoms. It doesn’t cure the flu. If it did, nobody ever would’ve needed sick leave.
So, if something as simple as cutting out inflammatory foods from your diet, could allow you to get pregnant. Should you not at least give it a try? It’s a much cheaper intervention and much healthier intervention to try.
Give us 3 months of your undivided attention and commitment. What do you have to lose? You could possibly gain a baby. Who knows? Whould it not be worth it to ditch the cookies and chips and chocolates, fix your insulin resistance if you have nothing to lose, but everything to gain?
Fertility treatment is expensive. I would hate for you to spend all that money, if all you needed to do was to fix your lifestyle and your diet .
See you inside.