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Manage PCOS naturally

Women's Health, Diets | November 29, 2017 | Author: Naturopath

women, diet

Manage PCOS naturally

Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a hormonal disorder that affects between 8% and 20% women of reproductive age. Women with PCOS produce too much testosterone, resulting in an hormonal imbalance that may cause symptoms including absence of ovulation, irregular menstrual periods, excess facial and body hair, thinning hair on the head, acne, cysts in the ovaries, weight gain, and infertility. 

It is not known what exactly causes PCOS

It is believed that a combination of genetic and environmental factors contributes to the development of PCOS.

How can I manage PCOS naturally?

When it comes to managing PCOS, a healthy lifestyle that includes weight loss, diet and exercise, can dramatically improve your symptoms.

Exercise

Exercise helps lower blood sugar levels, change body composition, maintains weight loss, and prevents insulin resistance. Choose an exercise program that fits your lifestyle, daily routine and preferences

How can I manage PCOS naturally?Weight loss

Many patients with PCOS are overweight, especially around the abdomen, which in itself increases the risk of infertility. Also, they are often insulin resistant. Insulin is the hormone that transports glucose (sugar) into the cells after a meal. In people with insulin resistance, the cells fail to respond to insulin, and the sugar in the blood remains high despite the presence of insulin.

When this happens, the body has no choice but to release more insulin. Too much insulin and increases testosterone levels and can lead to type 2 diabetes and heart disease.

Even a modest weight loss can improve blood sugar control, reduce levels of insulin and testosterone, as well as reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes and heart disease. Weight loss can also restore ovulation and make your menstrual cycles more regular, which can improve your chances of pregnancy.

Although many women with PCOS find it difficult to lose weight, it is important to find the right strategy that works for you, and maintain weight loss in long term.

Diet

Regardless of weight, More than 50% of patients with PCOS are insulin resistant. Therefore, an optimal diet should be one that lowers insulin. One diet does not fit all; however, two diets have been shown to have beneficial effects for women with PCOS:

Low carb/ketogenic diet

Low carb/ketogenic dietThis high-fat, low carbohydrate diet aims at reducing blood sugar and insulin levels.

The idea is that when you consume limited amount of carbohydrates (thus, limited amount of sugar), the body shifts from using blood sugar to burning fat for energy. The by-products of the breakdown of fats are called ketones, and this is why this diet is referred to as a “ketogenic diet”.

A small study found that in women who followed this type of diet for six months levels of testosterone and insulin significantly reduced, their blood pressure dropped, they lost weight, and some even became pregnant despite previously experiencing fertility problems. This type of diet is quite demanding and should only be done under supervision of a qualified practitioner.

The women ate:

  • 20 grams of carbohydrate per day
  • Unlimited amount of animal foods (meat, chicken, turkey, other fowl, fish, shellfish),
  • Cheese
  • Unlimited eggs
  • Salad vegetables (2 cups per day)
  • Low carbohydrate vegetables (1 cup per day).

Low GI diet

Glycaemic index (GI) is a value given to carbohydrates foods according to their ability to raise blood sugar after a meal. Foods are ranked on a scale of 0 to 100, with pure glucose (sugar) given a value of 100. High GI foods (the higher number) produce a quicker and higher rise in blood sugar, and a subsequent production of large amounts of insulin. Studies show that women with PCOS consume more food items with high glycaemic index and less legumes and vegetables, while those who followed the principles of low-glycemic-index diet lowered their insulin levels and managed their weight better. Glycaemic Index Food Search

Foods to include:

  • A minimum of five serves of vegetables (preferably non-starchy ones) per day, such as leafy greens (kale, spinach, bok choy, and salad greens), Brussels sprouts, broccoli, cauliflower and cabbage, artichoke, asparagus, green beans, celery, radish, cucumber, eggplant, mushrooms, okra, capsicum, onions and garlic, radishes, tomatoes and zucchini.
  • Two pieces of fruit. Avoid fruit juice and dried fruit.
  • Legumes (beans, lentils, peas, and chickpeas).
  • Whole grains such as oats, barley, brown rice. Minimise refined grains such as white rice and white bread.
  • Healthy protein such as fish and chicken instead of processed meats like bacon and cold cuts, and limit red meat. Higher protein content may improve satiety and insulin sensitivity.
  • Eat oily fish at least once per week for essential fatty acids (omega-3).
  • Use healthy oils, such as olive oil
  • Avoid snacks between meals

Supplements

Resveratrol. Resveratrol is a purple phytonutrient. Phytonutrients are natural compounds in plants that have powerful health benefits.How can I manage PCOS naturally?

Food sources of resveratrol include the skin of grapes, and grape-derived products like red wine.
Other sources include peanuts and peanut butter, dark chocolate, and blueberries.

One study found that taking 1,500 mg resveratrol daily for three months significantly reduced testosterone and insulin levels in women with PCOS.

Chromium. A mineral that is used for improving blood sugar control, especially in people in people with prediabetes, type 1 and type 2 diabetes, and high blood sugar.  

Magnesium. Women with PCOS have been found to have magnesium deficiency. It is a mineral that plays an important crucial role in blood sugar regulation. Higher magnesium intake is associated with lower reduced insulin resistance and a reduced risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Deficiency in magnesium is also associated with menstruation disorders.

Fish oil. Fish, and fish oil supplements, are a rich source of Omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 supplements have been shown to reduce reduce blood concentrations of testosterone and regulate menstrual cycle.

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References

Banaszewska B. et al., 2016. Effects of Resveratrol on Polycystic Ovary Syndrome: A Double-blind, Randomized, Placebo-controlled Trial. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 101(11), pp.4322-4328. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27754722

Farshchi, H. et al., 2007. Diet and nutrition in polycystic ovary syndrome ( PCOS ) : Pointers for nutritional management.  Obstet Gynaecol. 27(8), pp.762-73. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18097891

Glycemic Index Foundation, 2017. Emerging Science. Available at: http://www.gisymbol.com/emerging-science/   

Mavropoulos, J.C. et al., 2005. The effects of a low-carbohydrate, ketogenic diet on the polycystic ovary syndrome: a pilot study. Nutrition & metabolism, 2, p.35. Available at: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16359551

Nadjarzadeh, A. et al., 2013. The effect of omega-3 supplementation on androgen profile and menstrual status in women with polycystic ovary syndrome: A randomized clinical trial. Iranian journal of reproductive medicine, 11(8), pp.665–72. Available at: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24639805

National Institute of Health (NIH), 2017. Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS). Available at: https://www.nichd.nih.gov/health/topics/pcos/Pages/default.aspx

Shishehgar, F. et al., 2016. Comparison of Dietary Intake between Polycystic Ovary Syndrome Women and Controls. Global Journal of Health Science, 8(9), p.302. Available at: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27157182

Szczuko, M. et al., 2016. Quantitative assessment of nutrition in patients with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). Roczniki Panstwowego Zakladu Higieny, 67(4), pp.419–426. Available at: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27925712

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