Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) is the most common endocrine disorder, affecting around one in seven women worldwide. PCOS is a complex, and often frustrating condition to live with. The condition is extremely multifactorial, involving high androgen levels, insulin resistance and obesity.
The symptomatology of the condition is vast, including but not limited to; irregular cycle, painful periods, absence of period, no ovulation, heavy menstrual flow, weight gain, acne, hirsutism, anxiety and depression. Alongside these symptoms, the long-term effects can be recurrent miscarriages, type 2 diabetes mellitus, infertility and metabolic syndrome. Therefore, it is extremely important to manage the condition effectively.
Herbal medicine can be extremely helpful when treating PCOS. The herbs most commonly used are peony, liquorice, gymnema and cinnamon, which work to balance hormone and blood sugar levels. Whilst the most common nutraceuticals include chromium and zinc.
Saying this, YOU, have so much control over the condition. Simple tweaks in your diet and lifestyle can have a huge impact on the severity and overall symptomatology of the condition.
Foods to include more of:
With PCOS you want to focus on eating low glycaemic index foods, which have high nutritional content.
Water – aim to drink around 2 litres of water per day, preferably filtered! Water is so extremely important for every function in the body, and it additionally helps with detoxification of hormones and waste.
Vegetables – load up on veggies! You honestly couldn’t eat enough. Veggies and PCOS are best friends; nutrient dense and low GI. Where possible, aim for your fruit and veggies to be organic. This ensures the best quality, that won’t negatively affect your hormone balance. Aim to eat a rainbow of veggies every day…cliché, but honestly super important! This ensures you’re consuming the most nutrients possible.
Nuts and seeds – always a great addition. Nuts and seeds are a great source of fats, zinc and protein, whilst being a great snack on the go. They additionally help to balance out blood sugar levels, reducing sugar cravings.
Fruit – fruit is always great; filled with bountiful nutrients and antioxidants. However, as insulin resistance is an issue, aim for low GI fruits and a maximum of 2 pieces per day. The best low GI fruits include; berries, cherries, oranges and grapefruit.
Salmon – wild caught where possible. An excellent addition to your diet. Salmon is a great, anti inflammatory food, rich in omega 3 and 6. It assists in the regulation of insulin levels and hormones.
Cinnamon – a beautiful addition to meals. Cinnamon works to balance blood sugar levels, therefore assisting with the insulin resistance picture.
Foods to exclude include:
Refined carbohydrates – such as white bread, baked goods, pasta etc. All of these foods aggravate the condition as they cause glucose and insulin levels to rise, worsening insulin resistance.
Sugary snack and drinks – anything processed and refined; soft drinks, energy drinks and lollies, for the same reason as above.
Inflammatory foods – including fried foods, lots of red and processed meats and saturated fats. Women with PCOS have a high risk of metabolic syndrome, and cardiovascular disease. The consumption of these foods will support weight gain and the potential development of these conditions.
Caffeine – this is because caffeine can negatively affect hormones, specifically in regard to female reproduction. This is especially important in those trying to conceive.
Exercise! Exercise is absolute key when managing PCOS. The more muscle you have, the more your body can utilise glucose, which in turn reduces insulin resistance. Additionally, exercising will reduce the risk of obesity, metabolic syndrome and cardiovascular disease. Above all though, moving your body will create endorphins and leave you feeling happy!
Stress reduction techniques. There are major interactions between endocrine pathways, and this affects the HPA/HPO axes, and may exacerbate symptoms. Therefore, it is SO important to have stress management techniques in place for when you’re feeling overwhelmed, or simply wish to re-centre. This may include meditation, yoga, exercise, spending time with friends, or journaling to name a few.
To me, this is one of the most important – lots of self-love. Often times with PCOS, individuals may feel poorly about themselves, and potentially negatively view their bodies. This is where self-love is even more important! This may be as simple as giving yourself time to rest daily, listening to a meditation, reading a new book, having a bath or repeating some self-loveaffirmations. “I am worthy of love and joy”, “I approve of myself. I love myself deeply and fully”, “I love my body and all it does for me”.
Do you have PCOS and are sick and tired of the symptoms that come along with it? Come in for a consultation, and you can receive a personalised dietary and lifestyle plan, as well as herbal medicine to help balance your hormones and endocrine system!