Saturday, October 17, 2009 by: Alex Howard, citizen journalist
In each menstrual cycle, follicles grow on the ovaries. Within the follicles, eggs develop, one of which will be released into the Fallopian tubes (known as ovulation). The remaining follicles will degenerate. In the case of polycystic ovaries (PCOS), however, the ovaries are much bigger than normal, and there are a number of undeveloped follicles that appear in clumps rather like a bunch of grapes. This can become problematic when the cysts cause a hormonal imbalance which also affects fertility. Women with PCOS have high levels of luteinizing hormone, higher than normal male hormones (including testosterone) and low progesterone. Fortunately, polycystic ovaries can be treated naturally.
What is Polycystic Ovary Syndrome?
Symptoms of PCOS can include the following:
– Weight gain
– Blood sugar imbalances
– Risk developing diabetes
– Body hair
– Mood swings
– Insulin resistance
– Fertility problems
– No (or very few) periods
The causes of PCOS are not fully understood. However, poor diet, stress, and lack of exercise are all linked to a worsening of symptoms. To manage PCOS naturally the most important principles are:
– Ensure you are supporting a healthy liver and are having daily bowel movements. Hormones have to be excreted from the body via the liver, then the faeces. If the liver is congested, hormones will continue circulating in the body in high levels. If the bowel is slow moving, hormones from faeces sitting in the colon for long periods of time will be reabsorbed into the blood stream, once again causing higher than desired hormone levels.
– Blood sugar management is vital as insulin resistance experienced by women with PCOS increases the risk of developing diabetes. It is essential to cut out sugary refined foods, eat regular protein at each meal and avoid stimulants and exercise regularly to manage your blood sugar levels.
– Exercise is also vital for women with PCOS, as excessive weight compounds problems with PCOS and leads to the risk of developing other health problems.
Foods to avoid:
– Cut out caffeine which can contribute to blood sugar imbalances and insulin resistance.
– Minimize alcohol as it impacts the liver, which is involved in excreting excess hormone levels.
– Avoid excessive saturated fat intake especially in cow’s dairy and non-organic meat. Non-organic meat tends to be higher in saturated fat. Excess saturated fat can lead to excessive weight gain and worse insulin resistance, and it burdens the liver which is needed to excrete excess hormones.
– Avoid trans and hydrogenated fats altogether (e.g. in margarine and found in many processed foods) as these damage cell membranes in turn causing a whole range of health imbalances.
– Avoid non-organic produce as far as you can as pesticides can contain zenoestrogens which can imbalance hormone levels.
Foods to Increase
– Increase levels of all kinds of phyto-oestrogens in your diet including soy beans, tempeh, miso, red clover, lentils, linseeds and chickpeas as these contain natural phyto-oestrogens which help balance hormone levels in the body.
– Ensure you eat good levels of fiber in your diet. Fiber promotes bowel movements so that excess hormones are excreted more efficiently through bowel movements; it helps manage your blood sugar levels and encourages elimination of toxic waste products. Fiber can be found in whole grains and vegetables.
– Eat plenty of fruit and vegetables daily – at least 5-12 portions daily. They contain fiber to help keep the bowel moving regularly as well as a range of vitamins, minerals and anti-oxidants which support both a healthy functioning body, as well as immune system.
– Ensure you drink enough water per day so that your urine is a very pale yellow color (not darker and not completely clear either). Enough water ensures daily bowel movements helping to flush out old toxins and hormones from the body.
– Ensure you eat quality protein at each meal including breakfast (meat, fish, eggs, nuts, seeds, or soy) to help stabilize your blood sugar levels.
– When you eat carbohydrates, focus on low glycaemic carbohydrates including vegetables, whole grains, lentils and beans as this will help stabilize blood sugar levels.
– Avoid stress as this imbalances blood sugar levels and worsens digestion, slowing down the bowel and creating micronutrient mal-absorption.
– Ensure you are exercising at least three times per week for twenty minutes to avoid being over-weight and to manage blood sugar levels. This is very important for women with PCOS to avoid compounding the problems of PCOS, and developing other health problems such as diabetes.
– Xenoestrogens are compounds in the environment that can cause an excessive increase in estrogen levels. They leak into food from plastic containers and plastic wraps for foods. They are also found in creams and lotions, non-organic food, microwave plastic containers and household cleaning products. Buy natural household cleaning and personal hygiene products.
– Stop smoking as it depletes many micronutrients which can lead to a poor immune system and hormone imbalances.