PCOS and Nutrition
A few years ago, I was diagnosed with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS). I quickly learn a lot of other women suffer with PCOS as well. My gynecologist had suggested that I work out in the mornings and eat healthier. I wondered what does it mean to eat “healthy”? I knew that meant eating more fruits and vegetables, but what does it actually mean to truly eat “healthy” when you have PCOS?
After researching, I found out that PCOS is a hormone imbalance that is common among women of reproductive age. Unfortunately, women with PCOS have an excess of the male hormone called androgen, this creates unwanted facial hair and acne. Many of the articles proposed going sugar, gluten (wheat) and dairy free… but why?
I started asking Dr. Dave Menner and Dr. Alan Broering questions about this time last year. “Why do women get PCOS?”, “What can I do to regulate my hormones?”, “Is PCOS curable?”... They reiterated that my diet plays a significant role. After they both had suggested I switch to a sugar and gluten free diet, I decided to do some research of my own.
Why Gluten free?
I found that gluten is a hormone disruptor. Hormone disruptors are chemicals that interfere with the functioning of the endocrine or hormone system. They could be mimic hormones, causing our bodies to over or under respond or release hormones at the wrong time.
In the case of gluten, wheat crops are sprayed with pesticides that act as xenoestrogens. These substances mimic the role of estrogen in our bodies and makes us even more estrogen dominant. With PCOS, our hormones are so out of whack already, I don’t want to add anything else to my system that is going to cause further imbalance.
Why Sugar free?
“Sugar is the epitome of evil. It is the culprit of more diseases than we even realize. The biggest disease being type 2 diabetes, also called insulin resistant diabetes. It develops due to an overload of sugar and your cells are unable to absorb and process the excess sugar. Chronic and systemic inflammation is one of the worst side effects of the inability to clear the glucose in the bloodstream.” – Dr. Alan Broering
Here’s how it goes: sugar causes our pancreas to secrete insulin to move excess sugar from the blood into our cells, to be used as energy. Over time, and due to excess sugar intake, these cells lose their ability to respond to insulin. Our poor little pancreas responds by pumping out even more insulin, and the cycle leads to a resistance.
When our cells stop responding to insulin, they stop picking up sugar and our blood sugar rises, stimulating even more insulin production. Insulin resistance creates a vicious cycle of more and more insulin in the blood. Our stress hormones cortisol worsens the situation by telling the liver to release glucose, pushing insulin even higher.
My PCOS without Sugar or Gluten:
This past January 2017, I decided to go sugar and gluten free for 30 days with my co-workers. It was one of the most interesting experiences I have ever had. Before this I was feeling tired, fatigued and had many PCOS symptoms such as; irregular cycles, acne, hair loss, unwanted facial hair and weight gain. After the first week, not only did I feel more clear headed, I also had more energy! Because I was feeling so good, I decided to stay sugar and gluten free even after the 30 days were over. I did not notice much of a change with my PCOS until a few months after being sugar and gluten free. That is when I realized my cycle had become regular and for the first time in my life it was consistent every month. My hair had stopped falling out as much and I no longer had unwanted facial hair or acne.
After a couple months of being sugar and gluten free, I decided to go back to my doctor to get my PCOS checked. During my appointment, my gynecologist was amazed by how going sugar and gluten free had made most of my symptoms disappear!
I realized ultimately being sugar and gluten free is all about self-control, being conscious of what I am eating, and eating in moderation. With every temptation, I learned that I have more self-control then I had ever realized. I plan on continuing without sugar or gluten while trying to conceive and throughout my pregnancy. My goal for the future is to teach my friends and family how to make healthy nutritional choices in life.
Katelyn Adamek, LMT, CWC