Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) is a common yet extremely complex condition.
The exact cause is largely unknown but is believed to have a genetic component and is often found in mothers, daughters and sisters.
The symptoms can vary greatly but often include irregular menstrual cycle, PMS/PMT, heavy menstrual bleeding, acne, weight gain and reduced fertility.
Although PCOS is a common condition, treatment options are limited.
Here are some great simple treatments you can implement to help relieve symptoms and improve fertility:
Eating a low glycemic index (GI) diet helps to reduce the insulin demand and support healthy stable blood sugar levels.
Low GI foods break down slowly in the body releasing sustained energy.
These foods don’t cause the dramatic spike and subsequent drop in blood sugar caused by high GI foods such as refined carbohydrates and sugars.
A study in the Medical Journal of Metabolism concluded that a low carbohydrate, high protein diet helped insulin resistance and a high carbohydrate, low protein diet made insulin resistance worse.
Although it’s not necessary to completely cut out carbohydrates simply reducing the consumption of refined carbohydrates and replacing these with wholegrain alternatives such as wholemeal breads, quinoa, millet and brown rice in combination with increasing your protein intake will help reduce the insulin load.
High fibre diets further support blood sugar balance by slowing the absorption of sugar into the blood stream, reducing the insulin spike.
Fibre also supports healthy estrogen metabolism and reduction of androgens.
Small regular meals
A healthy PCOS diet should include 3 balanced meals and 2 healthy snacks eaten at regular intervals throughout the day. This helps to maintain healthy blood sugar levels and reduces sugar cravings.
Oily fish, nuts, seeds and other sources of essential fatty acids. Essential fatty acids also help to lower the GI of foods and help further support healthy blood sugar levels.
Chromium is a trace mineral that supports insulin activity.
Clinical studies have shown improved insulin sensitivity in women with PCOS using chromium. Chromium can also be safely taken throughout pregnancy and breastfeeding. Recommended dose – 1000mcg per day.
Food sources – Broccoli, barley, oats, green beans, tomatoes, romaine lettuce
Vitamin D deficiency is commonly found in women presenting with insulin resistance or diabetes and studies show that it may play a role in blood sugar balance and increase the risk of developing insulin resistance, diabetes and gestational diabetes. Recommended dose – 1000IU per day.
Food sources – Milk, butter, salmon, tuna, cod liver oil, halibut liver oil, prawns, egg yolk. The richest natural source of vitamin D is from sunlight.
Gymnema has been used for centuries in the management of blood glucose. This traditional herb supports healthy blood glucose levels by delaying the absorption of sugar.
Several studies have proved Gymnema to be as effective as medications in the treatment of diabetes and insulin resistance.
This traditional herb also helps reduce sugar cravings and supports healthy weight loss.
Gymnema should not be used during pregnancy or breastfeeding. Recommended dose – 200 – 400mg 3 times per day.
You probably recognise this herb from your favorite cake or muffin recipe, now clinical studies show that therapeutic doses of this aromatic spice has a strong balancing effect on blood sugar levels, greatly improving diabetic symptoms.
Long before the blood sugar regulating properties of cinnamon were discovered cinnamon has been used for centuries to help reduce heavy menstrual bleeding as well as, as a warming tonic for a ‘cold’ uterus. The term ‘cold’ uterus was used to describe a congested uterus with poor circulation and menstrual irregularities.
It’s also a lovely warming, digestive tonic. Cinnamon can be freely used for cooking during all phases of conception, pregnancy and breastfeeding. However therapeutic doses of cinnamon should not be used during pregnancy or breastfeeding. Recommended dose – 1000mg 3 times per day.
Exercise is particularly beneficial to help promote weight loss and weight maintenance, which can be a common problem in women with PCOS.
Exercise helps improve insulin sensitivity and boosts metabolism.
A combination of aerobic exercise such as walking and jogging and resistance exercise using weights, has been found to work best.