Updated: Oct 20
Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) is a hormonal disorder that is typically accompanied by ambiguous and often ignored symptoms (including hair loss, weight gain, acne, irregular cycles and facial hair growth). PCOS rates in the US range from 6-12% of women of reproductive age and the disorder is one of the most common causes of infertility in women. It is also commonly undiagnosed or misdiagnosed, leading many women to be living with symptoms and not have answers, leading to confusion and frustration.
While a quick glance on the internet guides women to treat PCOS with hormonal birth control or diabetes medication; while these medications can help with symptoms, they aren’t necessarily treating the root cause of PCOS. Root causes of PCOS are different in each individual and can include insulin resistance, chronic inflammation, high stress levels, or even coming off of the birth control pill. These root causes are treated differently, but many women see results from treating multiple.
Because there is so much conflicting and misleading information around PCOS, finding strategies to improve symptoms can be difficult. Here are some general recommendations to help support the hormonal imbalance that may be occurring:
#1: Learn how to balance your plate for PCOS
It is especially important for those with PCOS to have well-balanced meals to prevent blood sugar spikes. Filling ½ of your plate with non-starchy vegetables, ¼ with protein and ¼ with complex carbohydrates can help with blood sugar and hormone balance. Try to add a few tablespoons of healthy fat as well for even better blood sugar regulation!
#2: Eat enough protein
Try to eat protein at every meal and with every snack. Protein stabilizes your blood sugar and helps support your metabolism. 20-30 grams per meal is a good target for most women.
#3: Try spearmint tea (and/or other PCOS-supportive foods!)
Spearmint is shown to help lower testosterone levels (typically higher in women with PCOS). Tea is a great way to get more spearmint into your diet! Other foods to focus on include oysters, leafy greens, salmon, and berries.
#4: Focus on fermented foods and fiber
Both of these are important for gut health, which can impact PCOS. Everyone has a different population of bacteria in their gut that impact our health, and there has been research that suggests that women with PCOS can have an imbalanced microbiome. . Eating foods that support beneficial bacteria and improve gut health can help with PCOS (and other gut-related symptoms such as diarrhea, bloating and constipation). Try kombucha or sauerkraut to increase fermented food intake and aim for 30g of fiber daily!
#5: Manage stress levels
It is difficult for our bodies to heal and restore hormonal balance when our bodies are under high stress levels. Strategies to decrease stress include exercising less often or at a lower intensity, eating more often, breathing techniques and sleeping well.
Let us know what tip you plan on trying first!
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