A PCOS diet plan is an essential part of a PCOS natural treatment.
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When it comes to managing the symptoms of PCOS, dietary and lifestyle changes are often considered first line remedies.
But will a specific PCOS diet plan or a particular treatment option work for all women with PCOS? Certainly not
This is because the reason behind the inability to ovulate and high androgen levels differs in various women.
Identifying your type of pcos and the underlying factor causing you not to ovulate is the key to effective treatment.
- 1 What is PCOS?
- 2 Types Of PCOS
- 3 PCOS Diet Plan
- 4 Other Additions to a PCOS Diet Plan
What is PCOS?
PCOS (Polycystic Ovary Syndrome) is a group of symptoms that collectively indicates that a woman has problem with the metabolism of androgen and estrogen.
PCOS is a condition associated with hormonal imbalances (abnormalities in the function of the HPO axis), which causes lack of control in the production of androgen (male hormone)
The diagnostic criteria that confirms a woman has PCOS is if she has any two of these three conditions
- Androgen excess
- Inability to release an egg from the ovaries on a regular (monthly) basis (chronic anovulation)Ovulatory dysfunction (oligomenorrhea or oligovulation)
- Polycystic ovaries (multiple cysts on the ovary)
Other symptoms include
- Hirsutism (growth of hair in areas where hair is normally minimal or absent, such as the face, chest, and breasts)
- Obesity and metabolic syndrome
- Obstructive sleep apnea
Types Of PCOS
Before you can fully understand how a PCOS diet plan meant to work, it is very important we study the categories of PCOS.
Generally speaking, PCOS may present itself differently in various women depending on the type of symptoms it shows However, PCOS may be broadly divided into two categories.
- Insulin Resistance PCOS
- Non Insulin Resistance PCOS
Insulin Resistance PCOS
This is also known as Type I PCOS.
Women with this type of PCOS satisfy the diagnostic criteria and at the same time have higher level of insulin in their bloodInsulin is a type of hormone that lowers sugar level in the blood. Insulin resistance is a condition in which a person’s body has sluggish or slow response to insulin. As a result, the body keeps producing more and more insulin so that it can lower the sugar level in the blood.
This type of PCOS has the ability to change the way your body reacts to hormones like insulin.
Women who have insulin resistance PCOS can find it harder to use insulin well. Therefore, in order to remove excess sugar from the blood, more insulin will be made which will further result in high production of androgen (male hormone).
Women with higher levels of androgens can show some male signs like acne and hirsutism.
Another symptom is obesity or weight gain which often occurs around the middle of the body.
This hormonal changes can keep a woman from ovulating or make her skip her and therefore causing infertility.
Women with insulin resistance PCOS may also have a condition know as metabolic syndrome
Furthermore, Too much insulin also can cause the skin in the neck, armpits, or groin to become darker than the rest of the body
Conclusively, Insulin resistance PCOS is often accompanied by the typical symptoms of PCOS which is often as result of the high production of insulin.
Non Insulin Resistance PCOS
This is also known as Type II PCOS
In this type, A woman meets the diagnostic criteria of PCOS but her level of insulin and blood glucose remains normal.
This means that other factors apart from insulin resistance is responsible for the polycystic ovaries, ovulatory dysfunction or increased levels of androgen.
Basically anything that disrupts hormonal balance can influence the onset of PCOS
Here are some common causative factors
- Vitamin D deficiency
- Iodine deficiency
- Hormone disrupting toxins
- Abnormal thyroid function
- Problems with intestinal bacteria
- Adrenal Stress
- High Lutenizing Hormone (LH) levels (often as an aftermath result of the pill)
For the non insulin resistance PCOS, when these underlying causes are treated, the PCOS symptoms will vanish.
PCOS Diet Plan
PCOS diet planning is a simple exercise which involves applying the knowledge of food, nutrient requirement, individual preferences to plan adequate and acceptable meals which is essential for the relieve of symptoms and enhance the natural treatment of polycystic ovary syndrome.
Here are some important tips to consider in order to make a PCOS diet plan
Eat a low glycemic load PCOS diet
Foods with a low glycemic load keep blood sugar levels consistent and improves insulin sensitivity.
Meaning that you avoid experiencing the highs and lows that can be caused by blood sugar that jumps too high and quickly drops.
This is basically what the drug metformin does except that we are approaching it in the natural way.
Here are some benefits of a low GL PCOS diet.
- It makes weight loss easier
- Keeps blood sugar level more constant
- Helps to prevent insulin resistance
- It aids in burning calories
- It lowers the risk of heart disease.
Furthermore, In order to keep the glycemic load down, pair your carbohydrates with fiber, protein, and healthy fats. Above all, Carefully avoid refined carbohydrates.
Supplement with Minerals and Vitamins Rich Diet
Irrespective of the type of PCOS, essential minerals such as chromium, magnesium, and calcium plus Vitamin B are significant supplements meant to be present in a PCOS diet plan.
It helps to maintain normal glucose levels by assisting in the proper metabolism of carbs, proteins and fats. Example of foods rich in chromium are broccoli, green beans, whole grains, onions and mushrooms.
This is a very important mineral. It is anti inflammatory, helps to improve insulin sensitivity and normalizes adrenal hormone.
Deficiency in magnesium can lead to diabetics and cardiovascular diseases. Examples of magnesium rich diets are okra, cucumber(with peel), watermelon, guava, plantain, strawberries, blackberries etc.
Magnesium supplements are compulsory for women with Type I PCOS
Calcium plays an important role in egg maturation and follicle development in the ovaries. Studies also show that calcium in your diet can help you lose weight.
Dietary sources of calcium include spinach, kale, okra, white beans, sardines, collards etc.
Vitamins B2, B3, and B6 are essential for normal thyroid function and metabolism, and can thus help reduce excess body weight.
To get the best of the B vitamins, supplement with Vitamin B complex
Promote ovarian function with Vitamin D, Iodine and Zinc
Inorder to improve the function of HPO axis (Hypothalamic – Pituitary – Ovarian axis) and get rid of abnormalities responsible for hormonal imbalances, Any deficiency of Vitamin D, Iodine and Zinc in the ovary should be avoided since it can trigger the onset of PCOS.
Therefore, these essential minerals must be included in a PCOS diet plan
Since Vitamin D is beneficial for improving fertility, breast health, nervous system health, gastrointestinal tract health and weight control.
Inadequate levels of the vitamin contributes to the biochemical abnormalities of the ovarian health. Therefore Vitamin D plays important role in the alleviation of PCOS symptoms.
It can be obtained by exposing oneself to sunlight for about 10 to 15mins(Vitamin D3).
Dietary sources like cod liver oil, oily fish, mushrooms etc. are rich sources of Vitamin D. Vitamin D supplements are also available.
Iodine is an essential mineral that’s vital to the proper functioning of the thyroid (a gland responsible for managing growth and metabolism).
Every woman needs to know that it’s not only her thyroid that requires iodine, but her ovaries too. If iodine is low in the thyroid, it’s sure that the ovaries are also deficient and struggling and that can trigger the onset of PCOS.
Diet rich in iodine such as sea vegetables, cranberries, strawberries etc. and iodine supplements are good ways to get rid of iodine deficiency
Researches has shown that zinc depletion causes multiple defects in ovarian function. Also zinc can exercise beneficial effects on symptoms of PCOS such as acne and obesity.
Zinc has also be shown to help reduce inflammation.
Fertility and clear skin may become impossible if you are zinc deficient.
Zinc supplements and dietary sources like organic poultry, oysters and red meat are good sources of the zinc mineral.
Fortify your Pcos Diet Plan with Herbs
Researches have shown that several herbs may be beneficial in alleviating PCOS symptoms, promoting regular ovulation and in general serving as PCOS natural treatment.
Here are common ones.
White Peony and Licorice
These two herbs have been used in combination for centuries to reduce elevated LH levels and to help reduce androgens
Here is a research supporting that.
When androgen levels are low, there’s improved chances of ovulation. I often recommend that this combo should not be taken for more than 5months.
Natural Progesterone Cream
This is one important natural cream which is useful for pcos natural treatment. It that can oppose estrogen dominance and at the same time reduce high LH levels.
Thereby boosting ovulation chances.
This is a traditional herb which is used as an anti diabetic. It is blood sugar level and lipid (fats) lowering herb which also helps to support weight reduction.
It helps to modulate insulin levels and this is very important when it comes to PCOS.
Studies have shown that cinnamon may work to regulate menstrual cycles in women with polycystic ovary syndrome by improving the body’s ability to process glucose and insulin.
Chaste tree (Vitex agnus castus)
The standardized extract of vitex agnus castus also has anti-androgenic effects.
It helps to stimulate and normalize the function of the pituitary gland, which controls the release of LH (luteinising hormone).
Vitex should not be used when you have high levels of LH
This herb can help with hirsutism and hair loss because of its anti androgenic properties.
Black cohosh (Actaea racemosa or cimicifuga racemosa)
This is a highly significant herb with anti-androgenic effects and anti inflammatory properties
A recent study was conducted on 100 egyptian women with PCOS. The women were divided into two groups. These two groups of women would receive either Clomid or Black Cohosh.
The fifty women assigned to the Clomid group received 100 mg daily dose of the drug for 5 days, The other fifty women received 20mg daily dose of Black Cohosh for 10 days. Both treatment started on the second day of the cycle.
The black cohosh group showed significant improvements in key gonadotropin markers such as LH and LH/FSH ratios over the clomid group. This same group also show higher progesterone level indicating better ovulation
Furthermore, pregnancy rate was also higher in the black cohosh group.
The research concluded that black cohosh can be used as an alternative to clomiphene citrate for ovulation induction in women with polycystic ovarian syndrome.
However, black cohosh should be taken under the supervision of a physician an not to be taken by women with compromised liver function
Other Additions to a PCOS Diet Plan
Performing both aerobic and resistance exercise regularly Can help increase insulin sensivity, maintain healthy weight, improve lymphatic flow and promote general metabolism.
Avoid the following as much as possible
Such as Birth control pills, Antibiotics (unnecessary intake), Pesticides and Herbicides, Alcohol, Smoking etc.
Such as diary products, gluten, artificial sweeteners, unhealthy drinks (soda) and Trans Fat
Stress and Depression
Both chronic and acute stress can increase cortisol (stress hormone) levels and reduce serotonin and dopamine levels, this has been linked to depression, slower metabolic rate, hormonal imbalance (reduced progesterone)
Take good care of your body! You’ve got no other place to live in