Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome also known as PCOS affects 8-10% of women in North America. In this blog post I outline my top tips for managing Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome aka PCOS. PCOS is a hormonal imbalance, by re-balancing hormones, including decreasing stress, and eating a diet designed by PCOS, symptoms will start to go away. PCOS is defined characterized by elevated amounts of androgens, male hormones, like testosterone in the body. With these food, supplement and lifestyle tips, you’ll be able to manage your PCOS naturally in no time!
Symptoms of Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome include:
– Male Pattern Hair Growth
– Irregular or no menstrual periods
– Pelvic pain
– Weight gain
– Inability to lose weight
– Difficulty getting pregnant
– Patches of darkened, velvety looking skin
PCOS is often associated with weight-gain or the inability to lose weight due to an increase in cortisol (stress) and insulin (blood sugar) levels. Often times, due to high insulin levels, doctors prescribe Metformin, a blood-sugar regulating medication.
Simple changes to diet and lifestyle are often just as effective as Metformin. We often see an increase in insulin levels when cortisol levels are high. We also see an increase in male hormones, like testosterone, circulating in the body, in clients with PCOS.
Top PCOS Tips
1) Avoid Maca Powder
Maca is an incredible adaptogen and can help many people regulate stress levels. But one person’s food is another person’s poison. Maca has androgenous activity in the body, it’s known for it’s libido boosting properties. It’s libido boosting properties are thanks to it’s testosterone boosting properties in the body. Women with PCOS want to get rid of additional testosterone, not add more in. If you have PCOS, you’ll want to skip maca powder, instead reach for other adaptogens like Chaga, Reishi, Tocos, or Lion’s Mane.
2) Increase your fibre
Part of any hormonal imbalance problem is the body’s inability to efficiently and effectively remove excess hormones from the body. The solution? Give the body a helping hand by increasing fibre and therefore increasing hormone elimination. My favourite sources of fibre:
• Chia Seeds
• Ground Flaxseeds
3) Fuel with Fats
Healthy fats are essential fuel for the body. Healthy fats are the building blocks for proper hormone regulation. Fats are also essential for brain health as well as keeping inflammation levels low. Healthy fats are needed to create our sex hormones, like estrogen and progesterone.
My favourite sources of healthy fats:
• Hemp Hearts
• Coconut (everything: oil, milk, cream)
• Extra Virgin Olive Oil (fave brands: Maison Orphee or Acropolis Organics)
4) Lose the Sugar
Sugar is keeping your insulin levels high and topsy turvy. Unregulated and high insulin levels = imbalanced hormones = worsened PCOS symptoms. We need to lose the sugar in order to help the PCOS symptoms. If you’re in dire need of something sweet stick to stevia, monk fruit, or coconut sugar, but keep it to a minimum. In terms of naturally sweet treats like fruit, keep your fruit intake to fibre rich berries or apples, and try to pair fruit with a fat like almond butter to avoid that insulin spike and crash.
Here’s the thing about insulin, it increases when cortisol (our stress hormone) is elevated. What does that mean? We need to regulate and lower cortisol levels in order to regulate and lower insulin levels. They go hand in hand. The best way to lower cortisol levels is by meditating. Just 10 minutes every morning is enough to inhibit the release of cortisol and flood the brain with dopamine and serotonin, our happy hormones! For more information about mindfulness, meditation and the powerful art of self love and self care, head over here.
6) Experiment with Plants
There is an increasing amount of studies and research being done on the effectiveness of herbs on helping PCOS. These herbs inhibit 5-Alpha-Reductase which is an enzyme that convert testosterone into it’s more potent and dangerous counterpart dihydrotesterone (DHT) found circulating through the body of women with PCOS. The goal with these herbs is to inhibit this hormonal conversion. 5-Alpha-Reductase is also the enzyme that is responsible for converting testosterone to dihydrotestosterone (DHT) in cases of enlarged prostate, male infertility and a number of other issues. When using herbs to help with PCOS symptoms, I highly recommend working with a Practitioner, like myself. Here are some of the most researched and most effective herbs that I often recommend to clients:
• Green Tea
• Peppermint Tea
• Reishi Mushrooms
• Zinc (although it’s a mineral and not an herb, it has the same activity as these herbs)
PCOS, just like many other health issues is a set of symptoms that we can manage, but in order to make real progress, we need to dive deep and figure out the root cause. If you’re ready to make a change, book a free 20 minute consult. Whether you dream of becoming a mama or are struggling with weight gain, I want to help you recognize how powerful your body is and how amazing you were mean’t to feel!