Diet & Lifestyle
Diet & Lifestyle can have an impact on your PCOS and symptoms. The types of foods we eat effect how much and how quickly the blood sugars rise and how much insulin is needed to respond to this.
Why certain foods can contribute to PCOS.
Lets look at the 3 main food groups... Carbohydrates, Proteins & Fats.
These are referred to as macros and make up the majority of the food sources we consume.
Knowing how these react in the digestive system is important, to reduce the insulin response and insulin resistance.
Carbohydrates (carbs) role in metabolism. Carbs are an important food source for metabolism and for energy. Carbs are found in 3 forms: starch, sugar (glucose), and fibre (cellulose) and provide glucose needed for most body functions. For most people carbs make up about half of their overall food intake, often in the form of bread, cereal, rice, potatoes, pasta, fruit & vegetable etc.
When you have PCOS carbs tend to not be processed so well, compounding insulin issues and insulin resistance and increasing those dreaded PCOS symptoms.
Carbs can be classified into low and high glycaemic index (GI) carbs. High GI are quickly metablosied and tend to spike the blood sugars leading to higher insulin release, whereas low GI carbs are broken down slower and cause a more gradual rise in blood sugars and not a much insulin is needed to be released. Low GI carbs are therefore the better carb choice for women with PCOS.
It is therefore recommended that low GI carbs be consumed instead of high GI as much as possible. You can find information on choosing GI here.
Proteins role in metabolism. Proteins are essential building blocks of the body. They are necessary for nutrition and good health, because they contain essential amino acids which are needed to make & repair cells, for muscle formation, energy production and many other functions.
Proteins are excellent for women with PCOS as they take longer to be broken down in the digestive track and therefore have more of a gradual influence on the blood sugars. Not requiring the amount of insulin that carbs can and therefore helping to reduce the insulin resistance tendency.
Proteins are also important for muscle mass which in turn reduces body fat percentage and therefore the androgen (male hormones) levels.
This phase focus: try to focus on increasing your protein levels for this phase. We will have recommended a good level for you to aim for each day, if not as a general target try to get about 80-120 grams of protein each day. When measuring protein 100g portion size does not equate to 100g of protein. 100g of uncooked chicken breast contains about 30g of actual protein, and one egg about 6g of protein. You can find more information on what foods and how much protein they contain here.
Fats role in metabolism. Fats are concentrated sources of energy. They produce about twice as much energy as either carbohydrates or proteins. Good fats not low fat is better choice for PCOS. Many low-fat foods tend to have had extra sugar added to improve taste. Fat is known for its ability to add taste and help you feel satisfied. Choosing good quality, healthy fats is important for hormone production and health. Good fats consist of fats such as found in avocado,olives, salmon and nuts and seeds. You can find some information on good fats here.
Water is essential for life. It is recommended to drink 8 glasses per day, not including coffee or tea or other sweet or caffeinated drinks. Water is needed for many body functions as well as for cleansing and detoxing the body. You can find more information on the benefits of water right here.
Movement is also an important part of life. Movement helps support all body functions, improves energy, helps with elimination & detoxification and helps to support or maintain healthy weight. If you are new to exercise I encourage you to begin slowly, get your doctors approval for any exercise you plan to start - especially if you are very overweight or have a medical condition. Getting started to exercise can be daunting.. I suggest that you just begin, start with a walk around the yard, the block or to the shops, start counting steps, the new fit bit etc. devices are great for helping you get started. Just try and increase the steps each day until you are hitting 10,000 each day. Here are some more tips for you.
Lifestyle can also affect your PCOS - Lifestyle t is rLifestyle factors that can exacerbate your PCOS and symptoms are exposure to chemicals known to be endocrine disrupters. Endocrine disrupters are chemicals that can disrupt the normal function of your endocrine system - that is your hormonal system. They can affect normal growth, development & function of your hormonal and neurological systems.
Endocrine disrupters are everywhere.
Some common examples are plastics like Bisphenol A (BPA), DDT and other pesticides, dioxin, PCBs etc. They can be hidden in household cleaning products, cookware and even in your personal care products. They can be found in the following:
● Plastic bottles & containers
● Lining of metal food cans
● Flame retardants
Endocrine disrupters - disrupt or interfere with normal hormone function. They interfere with the messages to the endocrine organs and may disrupt or modify the message, and therefore cause over or under function of the required action. Leading to infertility, obesity, diabetes, female hormones imbalances.
How do Endocrine Disrupters work?
They can mimic the action of naturally occurring hormones in the body - therefore blocking or replacing the normal function of these hormones. They also interfere by altering or blocking the metabolism of the natural hormones in the liver.
Bisphenal A (BPA) is a chemical found in polycarbonate plastics & epoxy resins. It is found in the lining of canned foods, plastic water bottles and
containers. Di(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate (DEHP) is found in food packaging, some children's products and PVC products.
Pytoestrogens are naturally occurring substances found in plants that can have an estrogen affect - these include genistein & daidzein found in soy derived products.
PCOS & BPA
BPA have been found to increase testosterone levels, increase the production of estrogen (leading to estrogen dominance and weight gain-with stored toxins in these fat cells) and impaired glucose metabolism (leading to insulin resistance, and blood glucose issues) with an increased risk of
developing diabetes. Women with PCOS have been found to have higher levels of endocrine disrupters (especially BPA) than other women.
It is believed that women are more likely to develop PCOS if there has been significant BPA exposure as a fetus.
How can we fix the problem?
Avoid exposure to chemical products as much as possible. Eat natural, clean foods, wash in natural products with no parabans, PBAs etc, use a glass or metal water bottle and avoid plastic, especially single use waters etc.
How about an initial cleanse for your system?
Do a liver cleanse diet or a fast.... always check the diet or fasts suitability with your medical practitioner first, or do a gentle detox by drinking lots of water, sweating the toxins out or try this recipe to get you started.
In a jug add 2 litres of filtered water then the following:
● 1 cucumber diced - can use some diced watermelon instead as an alternative or both.
● 1 lemon or lime diced, try a bit of orange if you lie but lemons are best for cleansing.
● Slices of fresh ginger.
● A small handful of fresh mint leaves.
Mix together, chill or add ice cubes and enjoy. Enjoy daily.