PCOS (Polycystic Ovary Syndrome)

What is PCOS?

The ‘cysts’ in PCOS are not really cysts but multiple follicles. An average woman will grow from 12-20 egg follicles a month. They increase in size and usually one reaches maturity and is ovulated into the fallopian tube. The test of the growing follicles degenerate. In PCOS many follicles, sometimes hundred grow before ovulation. On the ultrasound they can appear like a ‘bunch of grapes’ or ‘string of pearls’.
In PCOS there is trouble with regular ovulation given that many follicles are competing for growth and maturation. This can cause delayed ovulation and irregular periods. It can also affect the quality of eggs produced.
PCOS can cause infertility due to irregular ovulation and poorer quality eggs. However, it is extremely responsive to changes in the diet.
There tends to be insulin resistance in people with PCOS so reducing carbs and sugar has a profoundly positive effect on symptoms.

The Natural Approach plan of action

A well-balanced diet can greatly reduce symptoms of PCOS. Reducing refined carbs and sugars is very useful. Making sure diet is well balanced with many different colours vegetables and fruits immensely helps.
Working with your doctor and nutritionist can help live with PCOS with much reduced symptoms.
 

Symptoms of PCOS

  • Increase of weight
  • Acne
  • Irregular periods
  • Heavy body hair
  • Mood swings
  • Fertility problems
  • Miscarriage
  • Type II Diabetes

How does nutrition help?

Nutrition focuses to reduce the effect of insulin on polycystic ovaries. Polycystic ovaries have a much stronger response to insulin and keeping insulin levels low during the day can be beneficial. This is done to avoid insulin resistance which can lead to further complications.
Focus is on consuming a healthy balanced diet with foods that have low Glycemic Index (GI).
Each meal should be well balanced with protein and healthy fats. Pulses can support hormonal balance and regular meals throughout the day help balance blood sugar and insulin levels throughout the day.
A large percentage of women with PCOS tend to be overweight due to hormonal imbalance and insulin resistance. Reduction of weight in a healthy way however can be very beneficial.
In one study 82% of women who were not ovulating showed improvement with number of successful pregnancies during the study despite a long-standing history of infertility.
These results were so dramatic that many doctors strongly suggest changing a women’s diet if she is overweight and struggling to conceive.
Another study showed that 11 out of 12 women who were not ovulating and overweight, conceived naturally after successful weight reduction.
Generally, women who have higher levels of Leutinising Hormone (LH) in the first half of their menstrual cycle have a higher risk of miscarriage. As a result, women with PCOS tend to have a higher risk of miscarriage because of high levels of LH. When a study of women with PCOS were asked to change their diets miscarriage rates dropped significantly from 75 to 18 percent once they had dropped weight.

Chromium

If you have PCOS chromium is an important mineral.
It helps with the formation of glucose tolerance factor (GTF). GTF is released by the liver and makes insulin more efficient. A chromium deficiency can lead to insulin resistance, which is a big problem in PCOS and can make control of blood sugar levels more difficult.

B Vitamins

Vitamins B2, B3, B5 and B6 are especially helpful in reducing symptoms of PCOS.
Vitamin B2 helps turn fat, sugar and protein into energy. B3 is a component of glucose tolerance factor (GTF), which is released when blood sugar levels rise. Vitamin B3 helps keeps levels in balance.
Vitamin B5 helps with weight loss as it plays a part in controlling fat metabolism.
Vitamin B6 is important for maintaining hormone balance, and together with vitamin B2 and vitamin B3 it is necessary for normal thyroid hormone function. Any deficiency in these vitamins can affect thyroid function and thus affect metabolism.

Zinc

Zinc is an important mineral for appetite control, its deficiency can cause loss of smell and taste creating cravings for stronger tasting food i.e. Higher salt, spice and sugar content which can increase weight.
It also plays a role in hormones like insulin which is important in balancing blood sugar levels.
Zinc deficiency is very very common worldwide. Zinc can be found in meat, chickpeas, nuts and seeds. However, those taking proton pump inhibitors (PPI) for gastric issues can be at risk for malabsorption.
Those who eat primarily plant-based foods can also be at risk. Soaking, sprouting and fermenting can increase zinc content.

Magnesium

Magnesium levels is found to be low in people with diabetes. There is link between magnesium deficiency and insulin resistance. It is a good idea to consume plenty of magnesium if you are suffering from PCOS. Good sources include nuts and seeds. They can also be absorbed from the skin in the form of lotions, sprays or Epsom salts.

Omega 3

These essential fatty acids help body become more sensitive to insulin and reduce insulin resistance. When taken in supplements they have been found to reduce testosterone levels in women with PCOS.
The biggest reduction was seen in women who had high levels of omega 6 compared to omega 3.
Swapping saturated fats in meat and dairy for omega 3 rich food is an ideal way to support healthy weight loss.
Eating two to three portions of oily fish a week is recommended. If you do not eat fish a supplement containing over 500mg of each EPA and DHA is useful.

How to begin?

Start by making small and gradual improvements whenever you can. Switch from refined carbs, to wholegrains. Try  to actively reduce sugar. It can be particularly difficult to wean yourself off a high carb and high sugar diet. It can be useful to start a low GI eating plan with a nutritionist. You might want to consider booking online with me by clicking here to help get you started. Support and knowing your options at the beginning can be helpful especially in the beginning.

1 Comment

  • safi

    Very helpful useful and full of important notes .. thx great dr suki❤

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