Irregular periods, Irregular or lack of ovulation, Adult acne, thinning hairline, and excess facial hair- facing one or more of these problems rings a bell. The frequent campaigns on PCOS (Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome) awareness start making sense.
As the name suggests PCOS refers one or more number of cyst (liquid filled cavity) in ovaries which obstructs maturation of ovarian follicles to ovulate.
It could be either – hormonal imbalance trigger cyst formation or cysts inherently present in ovaries cause hormonal imbalance.
In either case if we regulate the hormones involved in PCOS then we can bring back the ovaries to normal functioning.
Before we try knowing the ways to regulate the hormones involved in PCOS, we need to understand the main hormones involved – Insulin and testosterone.
Most people assume it’s all about female hormones going kaput and so the hormonal imbalances. But, the main culprits are the freely roaming male hormones (androgens) produced by ovaries and adrenal glands.
Yes, even we women have androgens synthesized within our body. However, in normal cases, 80% of these male hormones are not available for tissues.
In simple words very little amount of testosterone is free to exhibit its action. But, in PCOS the amount of freely wandering testosterone increases.
That results in one or more of these problems- lack of ovulation, menstrual irregularities, excessive facial and body hair, cystic acne on jaw line and thinning of hair.
The Love of male hormones for sugar:
When you have carbohydrates your blood glucose level increases.
To make this glucose available to the body tissues insulin is released by the pancreas.
However, due to excess weight, high body mass index, low physical activity, and other inherent factors the body turns insensitive towards insulin.
When your body starts being less responsive to the insulin hormone, its release into the blood increases; consequently, testosterone tends to wander freely with rising insulin levels in blood.
Insulin resistance- The risk factor for PCOD:
Insulin resistance ⇔ Abdominal fat and larger waist circumference. This equation more or less sums up the relationship between physical factors and insulin resistance.
Undoubtedly, inherent factors play a role in predisposing insulin resistance and PCOS. However, making efforts to change the tangible factors such as weight and body mass index can bring a huge deal of difference in dealing with PCOS.
Know your type of PCOS:
Knowing the type of PCOS saves you from choosing the wrong treatments.
You can tackle the PCOS symptoms with simple measures provided you get acquainted with your type of PCOS.
Women with classic PCOS have irregular or no ovulation with higher testosterone levels. Obese women are most likely to have classic PCOS.
Women with Ovulatory PCOS have regular menstrual cycles. But they have higher testosterone levels and cysts in ovaries. Higher levels of testosterone in women causes cystic acne, hair thinning and excessive facial/body hair.
Two Simple ways that help in regulating the hormones involved in PCOS:
1) Exercise induced weight loss:
Change in lifestyle remains the first line of therapy in treating PCOS. A sedentary lifestyle worsens the symptoms and an active lifestyle improves them.
For women with Classic PCOS, losing weight lowers the level of bad cholesterol, triglycerides as well as reduces the chances of diabetes.
For women with Ovulatory PCOS losing even few pounds of weight can bring about a greater deal of improvement in symptoms.
In fact you may most likely start having regular periods. This improvement even reflects with healthy glowing skin and reduced skin and hair problems.
But, here’s the thing, the weight loss should be attained not just by dieting but by exercise and physical activity.
Your diet plan should focus on cutting down high glycemic index foods and increase the intake of healthy fats and proteins.
High Glycemic Index Foods – Potatoes, white rice, white bread.
Sugary foods – candy, cookies, cakes, and sweet drinks.
2) Having right amounts of omega-3 fatty acids containing foods:
First step regarding weight loss is often suggested but this second measure is less commonly known.
Of course, you must have read about health benefits of Omega fatty acids. Nonetheless, I would like to bring your attention to what research says about its role in PCOD.
Omega fatty acids are the polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA).
Man evolved on a diet that had a ratio of omega 6 to omega 3 fatty acids (ω6: ω 3) of approximately 1. But in present times the ratio has reached to 25:1 with obvious consequences of higher metabolic diseases.
We eat lots more of omega 6 fats than required and have very little space for omega 3 in our diets.
Intake of omega-3 rich foods or supplements regulates menstrual cycles, reduces the free testosterone levels which correlates to increase in body’s sensitivity to insulin.
In a clinical trial, participants with PCOS were administered 2 capsules of omega 3 supplements for a period of 6 months.
At the end of six months, the long intervals between 2 menstrual cycles were greatly reduced.
Moreover, their lipid profile improved a great deal with increase in HDL, the good cholesterol and decrease in bad cholesterol and triglycerides.
The trials also reported that although omega-3 fatty acids did not reduce weight, there was a significant reduction in waist circumference.
Furthermore, there was another trial conducted on 78 overweight and obese women with PCOS.
Even in overweight and obese women with PCOD, omega-3 fatty acids were found to reduce the free testosterone levels and also regulate the irregular menstrual cycles.
Foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids: Flaxseed oil, fish oil, chia seeds, walnuts, fish roe (eggs), fatty fish, seafood and spinach.
Walnuts among all nuts have high PUFA content that increases the protein that prevents availability of free testosterone. They also decrease LDL cholesterol thereby improving lipid profile. Best quality walnuts : Borges California Walnuts
Fitness routine with omega-3 rich diets are so-far the best and safe natural therapies for PCOS.
Please consult your doctor before opting over the counter omega-3 supplements.
Foods to avoid: Foods rich in omega-6 fatty acids such as peanut butters, other nut butters, margarine, vegetable oils such as safflower, soya bean and corn oil.
Most importantly, if you are of reproductive age and plan on embracing motherhood sooner or later, it is prudent to start making small changes that can help you manage stress. Stress activates a whole lot of hormones in our body so read on to know:
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