Managing Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome
September is Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) month. It is estimated that at least 10% of women have PCOS, experiencing symptoms such as irregular periods, difficulty losing weight, male pattern hair growth, acne and mood swings. This complex condition involves not just a number of different hormonal imbalances, but can result in sufferers becoming insulin resistant too, putting them at risk of high blood sugar and ultimately type 2 diabetes and the associated health problems that come with it. That’s why it’s so important to start addressing the underlying causes of PCOS before the symptoms progress. Research has shown that both diet and lifestyle factors can be a good first step in starting to address PCOS and there’s a lot we can try from a nutritional approach to try to bring the symptoms back in balance.
Here are a few tips to get you started.
- Reduce your sugar intake – when we feel tired or low in mood, we often reach for sugary snacks to get us through the day or to make us feel better. But this can be making the problem worse and feeding the high blood sugar levels, which in turn can drive hormone imbalances. If you are feeling tired and in need of a snack opt for a protein based snack like nuts and seeds, or vegetable sticks and hummus. See my blog on blood sugar balance for more tips.
- Opt for complex carbohydrates like sweet potato, brown rice, wholewheat pasta or brown rice pasta and quinoa instead of white potatoes, white bread or white rice or white pasta. Carbohydrates all eventually break down into sugars, so going for complex carbohydrates slows down the rate at which they turn into sugar, helping to keep both your blood sugar and hormone levels in balance.
- Manage your stress levels – living with a condition like PCOS is stressful, but the more stressed we are, the more inflammation there is in the body, the more out of balance our hormones are and the more we hold on to sugar in the bloodstream. Stress can make conditions like PCOS worse, so doing something every day to help manage the effects of stress on the body can really help. Go for a walk, have a soak in the bath or do some gentle stretches, have a look at my stress blog for more ideas.
- Do some exercise – I know when you feel tired or hormonal this may be the last thing you feel like, but it really will help. As well as lifting your mood, it can help burn off some sugar to bring your blood sugar levels down and give you some energy. It can just be a 10 minute walk around the block, some gardening or gentle yoga to start with and try and build it up.
- Eat cruciferous vegetables – broccoli, kale, cabbage, cauliflower, rocket and watercress are all powerful at supporting the liver to breakdown hormones. So, get these in your diet every day to help balance hormones and ensure your liver is getting some support.
- Reduce alcohol intake – never a popular trip, but alcohol can have a negative impact on both hormone levels and blood sugar levels. Instead opt for herbal teas, smoothies or kombucha.
Because PCOS can have an impact on so many different systems in the body, it can be tricky to get the condition back in balance. If you would like some help in managing PCOS naturally with diet and lifestyle, do book in for a free hormone health review to find out how nutritional therapy could help you.
The information contained above is provided for information purposes only. The contents of this blog are not intended to amount to advice and you should not rely on any of the contents of this blog. Professional advice should be obtained before taking or refraining from taking any action as a result of the contents of this blog. Emma Belton Nutrition disclaims all liability and responsibility arising from any reliance placed on any of the contents of this blog.