If you’re one of the many women living with PCOS, you know, it can be an ongoing struggle if you don’t pay careful attention to your hormone health. Generally, as women, we feel our best when our hormones are in balance and it’s even more important when you’ve got something throwing them off, so in this article, we’ll take a look at all you can do to take care and manage your PCOS effectively.
The term ‘polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) describes a complex disorder with a range of symptoms. There is no single known cause and it is likely to be caused by a combination of genetic and environmental factors. It is characterised by chronic anovulation and excess ovarian activity, with the main feature being the presence of multiple underdeveloped tiny sacs (follicles) on the ovaries – often these underdeveloped follicles are unable to release an egg which means ovulation doesn’t take place.
In addition, a large proportion of women also have excessive androgen secretion or activity (hyperandrogenism) and abnormal insulin activity. High insulin levels are very harmful to the body. Excess insulin and high blood sugar cause hormone imbalances. This is linked to weight gain, lack of ovulation, infertility, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and cancer.
Blood sugar imbalances create stress on the body and cause the release of adrenaline and cortisol. Cortisol and progesterone are made from the hormone pregnenolone. When the body needs cortisol, the production of progesterone is sacrificed. This leads to higher levels of estrogen. Elevated cortisol production is linked to PCOS, take a look at this read to help you balance your blood sugar naturally and effectively.
PCOS is one of the most common endocrine disorders affecting women today. Around 1 in 10 women of childbearing age have PCOS. It is the most frequent cause of anovulatory infertility though many other systems are affected, resulting in several health complications which may include menstrual dysfunction, miscarriage, acne, oily skin, depression, obesity, hirsutism, hair loss, insulin resistance and increased risk of metabolic syndrome, cardiovascular disease, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease and chronic low-grade inflammation.
Symptoms of PCOS include
- irregular or missed periods,
- high male hormones,
- excessive hair growth,
- male patterns of baldness or thinning hair
- low sex drive.
- Weight gain,
- difficulty losing weight,
- Chronic Fatigue
- Many women with PCOS also experience anxiety and depression caused or exacerbated by PCOS.
Here are 7 Nourishing Tips to Improve PCOS;
1. Intermitted Fasting
Fasting is fantastic for PCOS Eat within a 10-hour time-restricted window and finish your evening meal by 7 pm. This is to facilitate a 14–16 hour overnight fast, Take a look at this comprehensive read on fasting.
2. Proper Protein
Include good quality protein (poultry, meat, tofu, tempeh, beans, chickpeas, eggs) and fat (nuts, seeds and their oils, oily fish, avocados, olives, grass-fed butter) with each meal.
3. Enjoy the right carbs.
Swap potatoes, pasta and rice for lower carbohydrate alternatives such as cauliflower rice, roasted celeriac, courgette and cabbage pappardelle
4. Love your Liver
Include liver supportive foods and drinks in your diet such as fresh parsley, artichoke, nettle tea and green tea
5. Keep your gut healthy.
By Including a portion of cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli & cauliflower daily. Add freshly ground flaxseeds into your diet. They work well in smoothies or sprinkled on top of salads for a crunchy nutty texture. Have a daily portion of fermented foods such as kefir, kombucha, sauerkraut or kimchi. Increase the variety of plant foods; aim for 40+ different types of fruits, vegetables and culinary herbs in your diet each week – try the diet diversity challenge to get you started.
6. Add phytoestrogen-rich foods to your diet.
Phytoestrogens are plant-based compounds that mimic estrogen in the body. They have been found to be beneficial in combatting symptoms of PCOS. Enjoy these found in miso, soybeans, tofu, tempeh, soy beverages, linseed (flax), sesame seeds, wheat, berries, oats, barley, dried beans, lentils, rice, alfalfa, mung beans, apples, carrots, wheat germ, rice bran, and soy linseed bread.
Several recent studies have found Myo-inositol to be an effective support in PCOS, in part due to its ability to improve insulin sensitivity, restore hormonal balance, improve menstrual regularity, reduce hyperandrogenism and influence ovarian function. Research has also demonstrated fertility-improving effects of Myo-inositol among women with PCOS.
What is Myo-inositol?
Myo-inositol is one of nine different types of inositol. It is a naturally occurring substance produced in the human body from glucose, although it is not sugar. Myo-inositol is often considered a member of the B complex group of vitamins. However, because the body produces it in sufficient amounts to support health, it is not officially termed an essential nutrient. In addition to the body’s production of glucose.
Myo-inositol is also found naturally in many foods such as organ meats, nuts, cantaloupe, citrus fruit, and many fibre-rich foods (such as beans, brown rice, corn, sesame seeds, and wheat bran). It is also sold in supplement form and used as a complementary therapy
Additional Nutrients To consider for PCOS
Magnesium – Often nicknamed nature’s tranquiliser, magnesium is important for balanced stress response, and to support hormonal and blood sugar balance too
B vitamins – B vitamins are crucial for hormone balance, especially vitamin B6, which contributes to the regulation of hormonal activity and works closely with magnesium. Vitamin B6 is best supplemented as pyridoxal-5-phosphate, the active body ready form
Zinc – An essential mineral for hormonal activity, including insulin, which makes it an important mineral for supporting blood sugar balance
Vitamin C – An important nutrient that helps to support a healthy stress response
Glutathione – The body’s master antioxidant which protects against toxins and oxidative stress. Glutathione works well with alpha-lipoic acid, green tea, milk thistle, turmeric and selenium
Cinnamon – A herbal ingredient with a long history of use in supporting insulin function and blood sugar normalisation
Milk thistle – Plant extract with a long history of use for supporting liver function. Supporting liver function is important for hormonal balance
Along with the nutritional support, it’s extremely important to pay close attention to your lifestyle as a whole:
- How is your sleep hygiene and quality?
- Assess your environment to identify ways you can eliminate toxins wherever possible. Reducing the overall toxic
- load is important for hormonal balance.
- Regular bodily activity to support weight maintenance and a balanced stress response
- Build-in extra time for relaxation and self-care into your daily routine.
- Address your Stress! Try meditation, and spend time doing more of the things you love. Spending time with loved ones can recharge your body and soul, keeping you happy and resilient.
- Reduce instantly gratifying treats and false energy givers like processed poods, sugar caffeine & alcohol.
If you would like a more in-depth examination of what may be contributing to PCOS and your hormone health in general, I offer further investigation through innovative urine and saliva testing done in your own home to measure androgen production, and how you metabolise oestrogen cortisol and many cortisol metabolites. This test gives a complete picture of how adrenal and hormone imbalances contribute to PCOS.
For further support with your health goals, or, for more insight into your hormones using functional testing, reach out & Book a call, I’m here to support your journey