Manage Your PCOS Naturally
Acne, weight gain, irregular periods, PMS, hair loss or hair growth in unwanted places, PMS, infertility, ovarian cysts. These are all symptoms of PCOS: Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome. If not addressed properly, PCOS can have detrimental effects on your long-term health. If you have been struggling with PCOS, we’ve got good news: You can manage it naturally with guidance from a healthcare professional.
PCOS: What is it & Who gets it?
PCOS is the most common endocrine disorders among women ages 18-44.
Abnormalities in several key hormonal pathways lead to a variety of symptoms including:
- Skin Tags
- Weight Gain
- Hair Loss (Alopecia)
- Male pattern Hair Growth (Hirsutism)
- Ovarian Cysts
- Irregular Menstrual Cycles
- Darkening of the Skin
An overproduction of male hormones interferes with normal ovarian function and produces several of the chief symptoms seen in PCOS. Not every woman suffering with PCOS has the same symptoms as another woman. Some may have a just a few symptoms while others may have several. Genes also appear to influence the development of PCOS as there is often a family history of this syndrome.
Other major players in the development of PCOS include insulin resistance and inflammation. These two factors are closely associated with diet and lifestyle, both of which can be effectively targeted to reduce and, in some cases, reverse the impact PCOS has on your health.
PCOS: The Long-Term Impact
If left unaddressed, women with PCOS may not only suffer from infertility, but can also develop chronic illnesses such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and elevated cholesterol levels. In fact, 50% of women with PCOS develop prediabetes or diabetes. Moreover, women with PCOS are more likely to develop endometrial cancer than women without PCOS.
PCOS: 5 Steps You Can Take to Manage It
If you suffer from PCOS, there are certain diet and lifestyle changes you can make to effectively manage it.
- Step 1: Identify what’s driving your inflammation: While hormone imbalance can trigger inflammation, other drivers of inflammation include food sensitivities, chronic stress, toxic burden, insomnia, and chronic infections.
- The functional medicine approach identifies and addresses the root cause of your inflammation so that you can optimize your health.
- Step 2: Eat an anti-inflammatory diet: Processed foods and foods high in sugar of high fructose corn syrup promote inflammation. Following a whole food diet that is primarily plant-based reduces inflammation. Fill half your plate with vegetables and make your protein as a side instead of an entree.
- Step 3: Stabilize your blood sugar by eating balanced meals & snacks: Eating carbs like tortilla chips or even a piece of fruit without a small amount of a healthy fat or a protein, can lead to a spike in your blood sugar. Pairing your tortilla chips with guacamole or an apple with a few nuts helps to blunt the rise in your blood sugar by slowing down the rate at which the carbs are digested.
- Step 4: Increase your level of physical activity but avoid over-exercising: Increased physical activity is a powerful tool to not only address PCOS, but also for most of the chronic illnesses people suffer from today. That said, over-exercise can tax your adrenal glands and cause them to release cortisol which drives inflammation and insulin resistance.
- Step 5: Reach a healthy weight: Weight loss is the magic bullet for reducing many of the negative effects associated with PCOS. 50-60% of women with PCOS are overweight or obese. A 5% reduction in weight not only improves insulin sensitivity, but also improves fertility and lowers testosterone levels. Healthy weight loss does not involve dieting. Instead, an individualized approach to weight loss involves balancing hormones, optimizing gut health, eating balanced, anti-inflammatory meals, metabolic detoxification, and staying physically active.
The functional medicine approach effectively addresses your specific PCOS symptoms by targeting your root causes. Comprehensive hormone testing is an important part of managing PCOS correctly. While PCOS can have a far-reaching effect on your health, you don’t have to let it control your life.
Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS): Symptoms, Causes, and Treatment (healthline.com)
Khadei, A et al. The Effect of Exercise in PCOS Women Who Exercise Regularly. Asian J Sports Med. 2010 Mar; 1(1): 35–40.
Ndefo, UA et al. Polycystic Ovary Syndrome: A Review of Treatment Options With a Focus on Pharmacological Approaches. P T. 2013 Jun; 38(6): 336-338, 348, 355.
The contents of this blog are intended for educational purposes only. The information presented here is not a substitute for proper medical attention, diagnosis, or treatment by a qualified healthcare professional. Always seek the advice of your healthcare provider before starting or making any changes to an existing treatment plan, exercise program or dietary regimen, and before using nutritional supplements.
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