They say 1 in 5 women in the UK or Australia suffer from PCOS with varying symptoms. I’m interested to know a natural way to manage this, and the first thing is diet. Apart from the obvious problems with fertility (PCOS means irregular egg release therefore tricky conception), 40% of PCOS sufferers will be Type 2 diabetic by the time they are 44 years of age. It has also been linked (somewhat spuriously) to heart disease and (less spuriously) to Endometrial cancer.
It seems the most important issues will be 1) Low G.I. diet and regular exercise and 2) A cycle at least every 3 months (even if it must be induced e.g. by birth control pills).
The below is taken from Katie Humphrey’s book, Freedom From PCOS
- Avoid sugary foods. The worst offenders are soft drinks (soda), cookies, cakes, chocolate, sweets and processed breakfast cereals.
- Avoid foods containing sugar compounds such as high-fructose corn syrup, sorbitol, fructose, mannitol, maltitol, isomalt & glycerol.
- Avoid ‘diet’ foods containing harmful artificial sweeteners. There is clear-cut evidence that artificial sweeteners do not assist blood sugar control. In fact, these synthetic chemical sweeteners can actually stimulate your desire for sugary foods.
- Increase the consumption of fruit & vegetables. Ideally you should consume 2 serves of fruit and 5 serves of vegetables daily. Note: Obtain organic fruit & vegetables if possible. Certified organic products are grown and processed without the use of synthetic chemicals, fertilisers or genetic modification. Organic produce is a better option as your hormone imbalance may make you overly sensitive to the hidden chemicals commonly found in conventional fruit and vegetables.
If you cannot source organic fruit and vegetables it is possible to wash all fruit and vegetables in a solution of one part apple cider vinegar to twelve parts water to remove pesticide and chemical residues. Rinse the fruit & vegetables in filtered water to remove the vinegar smell.
- Choose wholegrains, which contain all parts of the grain. This includes: oats, corn, rice, wheat, barley, rye, triticale and millet. Limit processed grain based foods such as boxed breakfast cereals, white bread and pasta. Choose wholegrain alternatives such as: muesli, porridge, steamed rice, wholegrain pasta and wholegrain breads, including spelt & rye.
Note: Fibre is abundant in fruit, vegetables and wholegrains. Fibre contributes to improved blood sugar control and healthy bowel function.
- Protein foods such as fresh fish, lean red meat, organic chicken, organic eggs or secondary protein such as whole grains and legumes should be eaten twice a day to help balance your blood glucose levels. Fish is an ideal protein source as it does not contain saturated fat or hormone residues. Eat local, fresh fish 2-3 times a week if you are not a vegetarian.
- The type of fat in your diet plays an important role in assisting with insulin reception at the cell level. Cold water fish, organic eggs, avocadoes, extra virgin olive oil, macadamia nut oil and raw nuts and seeds are rich in essential fatty acids.
- Are you ready to get the junk out of your body? Stop buying meals from fast food outlets. These foods are packed with calories, sugar and unhealthy ingredients.
- Limit the intake of saturated fats that are found in red meat, chicken, deli meats and dairy foods. Avoid trans fats found in margarine, TV dinners, commercially prepared snack foods and deep fried food.
- Ensure you eat regularly and choose healthy snacks mid morning and mid afternoon to balance your blood sugar levels between meals. Fruit, nuts, seeds, protein shakes and natural yoghurt all make healthy snacks.
Your PCOS Diet & Lifestyle Plan – Lifestyle Recommendations
Along with improvements in your diet, some changes to your lifestyle will also have an effect on reducing the symptoms of PCOS.
- Quit smoking. Smoking stimulates androgen production, the male hormones that exacerbate weight gain, excess facial hair and acne.
- Avoid alcohol. Alcohol places extra stress on the liver, a major organ that assists in balancing your hormone levels.
- Manage stress and anxiety. Stress has a major affect on your hormone balance. Do things that you enjoy and follow your passion, whatever that may be.
- Stay well hydrated by drinking 1.5 – 2 litres of filtered water daily. This will detox your system and can reduce fluid retention problems.
- Get Moving. Perform light to moderate exercise 3-5 times a week. Regular exercise leads to weight loss and improves your capacity to deal with stress.