Living with PCOS, or Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome, can be one of the hardest and most intimidating diseases to cope with. To give you a little briefing of the disorder, PCOS is basically an imbalance of hormones in the female body that leads to a host of issues. Though the cause is not well known, PCOS is tied to being caused by poor blood sugar, or a family history of fertility and diabetes issues, though that isn’t always the case. PCOS basically means that the hormones produced in the ovaries of a woman aren’t functioning as normal. Hormones are chemical messengers that trigger many different processes in the body, including growth and energy production. Often, the job of one hormone is to signal the release of another hormone, but in a woman who has PCOS, her hormones aren’t relaying messages correctly, which leads to the imbalance. What researchers do know is diet and exercise are two of the biggest ways to treat and possibly eliminate PCOS. PCOS affects many women of all ages, races, weights and heights. If left untreated, PCOS can lead to permanent infertility, Type 2 diabetes, depression, obesity and body changes such as irregular or painful periods, acne and facial hair. Read on to find out what tips can help a person living with PCOS and even possibly prevent it.
1. Manage Insulin
Researchers have found that the key to living with PCOS is all about managing insulin levels. Insulin is the hormone associated with your blood sugar. When too many carbohydrates are eaten, or poor quality carbohydrates, insulin spikes and then drops dramatically. This leads to a change in hormonal imbalance and greatly affects those living with PCOS. Eliminate all poor quality carbohydrates such as sodas, candy and sweets, dried fruits, high sugar fruits, refined grains, starchy carbohydrates, refined and added sugar and any drinks containing sugar such as juices, coffeehouse drinks, etc.
2. Eat Fiber
Fiber is a girl's best friend when she's living with PCOS. Fiber balances blood sugar levels and also aids in removal of excess estrogen from the body. Excess estrogen can worsen PCOS, creating an imbalance of hormones. Be sure to eat fiber-rich foods such as whole grain oats, brown rice, quinoa, flaxseeds, chia seeds, broccoli, kale, cauliflower, celery, and Brussels sprouts. All of these foods help to remove harmful estrogens in the body and fight hormonal imbalances.
3. Eat More Vegetables than Fruits
While fruits are healthy foods, veggies are the real all-stars. Fruits have more concentrated sugar, which can affect those who are more sensitive to carbohydrates, such as women living with PCOS. Be sure to eat more veggies than fruits, especially non-starchy vegetables, and keep starchy vegetables like potatoes, corn, peas, and winter squash to one small serving a day. When choosing fruits, choose the lowest sugar options, such as berries, green apples and grapefruit, and eat in moderation.
4. Avoid Dairy
Though is rich in calcium, dairy is also rich in natural hormones from cows. Avoiding any extra hormones is critical to living with PCOS. If you enjoy healthier dairy foods like yogurt, be sure to buy strictly organic so you aren’t exposing yourself to harmful hormones and antibiotics added to non-organic dairy products.
Exercise has one of the most profound effects on managing your hormones and your insulin levels. Exercise helps the body remove excess insulin so it secretes less into the bloodstream, which levels out hormones. Exercising everyday for at least 30 minutes has been found to have the best benefits. If you can do more, great, but if not, be sure to at least include 30 minutes each day at a minimum.
6. Quit Smoking
If you smoke and have PCOS, the only option you have to successfully treat PCOS is to quit. Nicotine, along with alcohol, have been proven to worsen PCOS, not to mention a host of other issues.
7. Avoid Saturated Fats
Researchers have found the best way to avoid hormonal imbalances is to avoid saturated fats, especially those found in animal products. Healthy plant saturated fats, including coconut, were not said to be avoided, but do make sure to eat more healthy fats from nuts, seeds and fish, than saturated fats for optimal heart health.
8. Eat Plenty of Healthy Protein
Getting enough protein is key to managing your insulin levels. Protein satiates the body, provides amino acids that boost brain function, manage hormones, increase energy, and increase metabolism. Most women with PCOS suffer weight gain, and eating more protein than carbs is a great way to balance hormones and lose weight. Eat at least 20-30 grams per meal for best results on insulin levels.
If you have PCOS, you know that living with the disease can be quite a battle. I live in a family with PCOS sufferers and have found the following tips above to be quite effective in the treatment of my loved ones. All of these tips also have incredible benefits according to research performed on PCOS. For more information, visit Women’s Health on Web MD at women.webmd.com. Do you know anyone with PCOS?