Tackling The Elephant In The Room: PCOS

February 16, 2022

Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a common condition that affects how a woman's ovaries work. It is a hormonal disorder common among women of reproductive age. Women with PCOS may have infrequent or prolonged menstrual periods or excess male hormone (androgen) levels. The ovaries may develop numerous small collections of fluid (follicles) and fail to regularly release eggs.

The Typical Symptoms of PCOS:

Signs and symptoms of PCOS often develop around the time of the first menstrual period during puberty. Sometimes PCOS develops later, for example, in response to substantial weight gain.

Signs and symptoms of PCOS vary. A diagnosis of PCOS is made when you experience at least two of these signs:

  • Irregular periods. Infrequent, irregular or prolonged menstrual cycles are the most common sign of PCOS. For example, you might have fewer than nine periods a year, more than 35 days between periods and abnormally heavy periods.
  • Excess androgen. Elevated levels of male hormones may result in physical signs, such as excess facial and body hair (hirsutism), and occasionally severe acne and male-pattern baldness.
  • Polycystic ovaries. Your ovaries might be enlarged and contain follicles that surround the eggs. As a result, the ovaries might fail to function regularly.

PCOS signs and symptoms are typically more severe if you're obese.

Types of PCOS:

  • Insulin-resistant PCOS. This is the most common type of PCOS. This type of PCOS is caused by smoking, sugar, pollution, and trans fat. In this, high levels of insulin prevent ovulation and trigger the ovaries to create testosterone.
  • Pill-induced PCOS. This type is the second most common PCOS. It gets developed due to the birth control pills which suppress ovulation. For most women, these effects do not last long and they resume ovulating after the effect of the pill is over. But some women do not resume ovulating for months and years even after the effects of pills get over.
  • Inflammatory PCOS. In PCOS due to inflammation, ovulation is prevented, hormones get imbalanced and androgens are produced. Inflammation is caused due to stress, toxins in the environment, and inflammatory dietary foods like gluten.
  • Hidden PCOS. This is a simpler form of PCOS, once the cause is addressed then it takes about three to four months to get resolved. Causes of Hidden PCOS: Thyroid disease, deficiency of iodine (ovaries need iodine), vegetarian diet (it makes you zinc deficient and the ovaries need zinc) and artificial sweeteners.

Factors That Play a Role In Causing PCOS:

  • Excess insulin might increase androgen production, causing difficulty with ovulation.
  • Low-grade inflammation. This term is used to describe white blood cells' production of substances to fight infection. Research has shown that women with PCOS have a type of low-grade inflammation that stimulates polycystic ovaries to produce androgens, which can lead to heart and blood vessel problems.
  • Heredity, genes might be linked to PCOS.
  • Excess androgen. The ovaries produce abnormally high levels of androgen, resulting in hirsutism and acne.
  • Obesity, the metabolic and hormonal issues that are present such as insulin resistance and hyperandrogenism, can lead to weight gain and eventually obesity. Obesity in turn can exacerbate the symptoms of PCOS such as further metabolic issues and reproductive abnormalities.
  • Type 2 Diabetes, It's believed that insulin resistance, specifically, may play a part in causing PCOS. Insulin resistance by the receptors for insulin leads to high levels of insulin being produced by the pancreas.
  • Caffeine/ Tea intake, chlorogenic acid in coffee, have been recognized to increase insulin and blood pressure. In other words, it can exacerbate adrenal fatigue and your PCOS.
  • Infections, PCOS may be associated with low-grade chronic infections. Women with PCOS have multiple elevated clinical periodontal parameters consistent with gingivitis.
  • Toxin overload, Chemicals like bisphenol A (BPA), phthalates, pesticides, and industrial chemicals, mimic, block, or interfere with the action of hormones in humans, setting the stage for PCOS.

It has been recorded that, people suffering from PCOS have three to seven times higher chances of contracting type 2 diabetes.

PCOS Symptoms

Relation of Diet and PCOS:

Association between low nutritional and high energy foods with PCOS has been seen quite frequently. An inappropriate diet is one of the main reasons for PCOS. Functional Medicine shows how PCOS can be treated with proper diet, minimizing body toxicity, lifestyle changes, exercise and proper supplementation.

People with PCOS are often found to have higher than normal insulin levels. If you don’t produce enough insulin, your blood sugar levels can rise. This can also happen if you have insulin resistance, meaning you aren’t able to use the insulin you do produce effectively. A diet high in refined carbohydrates, like starchy and sugary foods, can make insulin resistance, and therefore weight loss more difficult to manage.

Hence, Foods that should be added to the PCOS diet would be:

  • Cinnamon and Fenugreek Seeds - This helps in improving insulin resistance.
  • Protein rich foods like fish, chicken.
  • Anti-inflammatory foods and spices.
  • High fibre foods can help combat insulin resistance by slowing down digestion and reducing the effect of sugar on the blood. This is beneficial for people with PCOS.
  • Consider gentle intermittent fasting, which works well to improve insulin sensitivity.

Food that should be limited or avoided to treat PCOS are :

  • Foods high in refined carbohydrates, like white bread, muffins, sugary desserts and anything made with white flour.
  • Sugary snacks and drinks. When reading food labels, be sure to look for sugar’s various names, including Sucrose, High fructose corn syrup and dextrose.
  • Inflammatory foods, like wheat, dairy and sugar.
  • Pasta noodles that list semolina, durum flour, or durum wheat flour as their first ingredient are high in carbohydrates and low in fibre. Pasta made from bean or lentil flour instead of wheat flour is a nutritious alternative.
  • Reduce stress and exposure to environmental toxins.
  • Reduce consumption of beverages like soda and juice, which can be high in sugar, as well as inflammation-causing foods, like fries and margarine.

If you are suffering from PCOS/PCOD issues and want to know more about how it can be cured; schedule a consultation with us here.

Naomi Vaz
Junior Content Writer

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