Lose Weight and Lose Your PCOS!
Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) seems to be an increasing problem in the Western society and effects more than 20% of Women in Australia.
Many medical professionals view PCOS as a problem to be managed — often by drugs alone — at best. There is increasing evidence, however, that PCOS may be managed naturally, or even reversed.
A study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition showed significant improvements in women with PCOS when they went on a carbohydrate restricted diet.
All the women who completed the study saw significant improvements in weight reduction, waist circumference, body fat, insulin, total testosterone, and free androgens.
57% of the study participants also saw significant improvements in their menstrual cycle regularity.
Another study published in the same journal showed similar positive results, detailing their study of protein versus glucose on women with PCOS.
This study showed an immediate drop in cortisol and DHEA levels during a protein challenge and a spike in cortisol and DHEA levels during an Oral Glucose Tolerance Test.
DHEA is a precursor hormone and is often too high in those with PCOS, as is cortisol. They conclude that:
“Glucose ingestion caused significantly more hyper-insulinemia than did protein, and it stimulated cortisol and DHEA. Protein intake suppressed ghrelin significantly longer than did glucose, which suggested a prolonged satietogenic effect. These findings provide mechanistic support for increasing protein intake and restricting the simple sugar intake in a PCOS diet.”
What is PCOS?
PCOS develops when the ovaries are stimulated to produce excessive amounts of male hormones (androgens), particularly testosterone and account for tell tail and often embarrassing symptoms of this disorder.
- male pattern hair growth (excess and darker hair on the face, abdomen, or chest),
- period problems (ranging from no periods to irregular or painful periods)
- ovarian cysts
- excess weight, mainly upper body (an ‘apple’ shape instead of a ‘pear’ shape)
- Dark skin patches on the back of neck or under the arms
Long Term Risks Include:
- Heart Disease
- High blood pressure
- fatty Liver disease
- Thickening of endometrial wall (lining of the uterus) which may increase the risk of cancer
- Sleep apnoea
If you are one of the 20% of Australian women that suffer from PCOS this is great news!
PCOS is a syndrome, not a disease. This means that it is reversible.
One of the best places to start when trying to control or reverse PCOS without pharmaceutical drugs is through dietary changes.
Weight-loss is the key, and studies have shown that women with PCOS with overweight who lose just 5% of their body fat can improve their cycles and ovulation.
Several studies in overweight women with infertility due to ovulation difficulties have shown the return of normal ovarian function with even small amounts of weight loss.
What you can do:
- Eat regular meals
- Have a healthy variety of foods each day
- Limit high fat, high sugar foods
- Pay attention to eating habits, not just foods
- Watch your serving sizes
- Increase exercise
- Stop smoking (smoking increases insulin resistance)
Detoxification is also helpful in those with PCOS, as toxins can adversely affect hormone production. The average Australian lifestyle no longer includes physical activity, which can impair natural detoxification pathways such as sweating and regular bowel movements.
How Do I know if I Have PCOS?
Early diagnosis is important so that your symptoms can be managed and long term health problems can be avoided.
Ultrasound is not enough to diagnose PCOS. 25% of perfectly normal women display polycystic ovaries at one time or other. A subsequent ultrasound will show it to be normal again. True PCOS involves hormone irregularities that must be picked up with blood or saliva test.
Emeds Female Hormone Profile is a simple test that detects changes in your hormone levels.
Hormones levels of Oestrone, Oestrodiol, Progesterone, Testosterone, DHEA and Cortisol are all measured.
These results make it possible for our practitioners to diagnose and individualise treatment in order to establish optimal hormone balance.
The Pill is Not the Answer!
The Pill is not a solution for PCOS. It does absolutely nothing to improve the underlying insulin resistance, and can actually worsen it.
The Pill may have made further contributions to the epidemic of PCOS. The Pill is known to cause permanent hormone changes, even once it is stopped.
Two studies have been released linking the plastic chemical Bisphenol A to a increased risk for Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome.
The chemical referred to has BPA, was originally developed as an oestrogen drug, but is now widely used in the manufacture of plastics. It is found in much food packaging, baby bottles and baby toys. It has also been linked with obesity, diabetes, cancer and heart disease.
Looking After You
PCOS can add to a negative body image and put some women at more risk of self esteem and emotional issues or make it difficult to make healthier lifestyle changes around food and exercise.
There is some evidence that women with PCOS may be at risk of depression for a variety of reasons.
It is important to continue talking with friends or family about how you are feeling and to professional seek support when you don’t feel that you are coping.
Emed’s Naturopathic team are here to answer any questions you may have about PCOS. If you would like to discuss your female health issues in further detail with a Naturopath you can now book a E-Consult.