If you show signs of PCOS or have been diagnosed and have symptoms of PCOS, keep reading.
Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a common hormonal disorder that affects women of reproductive age. It is characterized by the presence of multiple small cysts on the ovaries, along with symptoms such as irregular menstrual cycles, acne, hirsutism (excess hair growth), and weight gain. PCOS is also associated with an increased risk of developing diabetes and other health problems.
There are 6 natural ways to manage the symptoms of PCOS. One of the most effective is lifestyle changes, such as eating a healthy diet and getting regular exercise. Eating a diet that is low in processed foods and high in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean protein can help to regulate insulin levels and improve overall health. Exercises, such as brisk walking, cycling, or swimming, can also help to regulate insulin levels and reduce symptoms of PCOS such as weight gain and hirsutism.
Disclaimer: This is not medical advice and should not be taken as such. I am not a doctor and do not claim to be as these are solely based on my experiences. Please consult your family doctor before considering any recommendations listed in this post. Thanks!
Do you have PCOS? Symptoms of PCOS
PCOS is genetic and detected as a girl goes through puberty. It is important to note that young women naturally become inulin resistant during this phase of life to put on weight and prepare for their fertile years. Therefore, letting your body figure itself out for a few years is optimal before going to the doctor and getting diagnosed with PCOS.
After puberty and you settle into your womanly body, what are some signs of PCOS that you may want to look for?
- High androgen levels (male hormones)
- Facial hair
- Hair loss (male pattern balding)
- Inability to lose weight or weight gain
- Insulin resistance
- Cysts on ovaries (viewed through ultrasound)
- Irregular cycles
Often times PCOS can be misdiagnosed in women who actually have Hypothalamic amenorrhea (loss of period). This is because signs of PCOS are similar to HA. Both experience hair loss, hair growth in strange areas, missing cycles, and cysts on ovaries. There are women who are not overweight with PCOS but If you have recently gone on a diet, lost weight, and started exercising and lost your cycle after it being regular – this article is not for you and I suggest you go read this one.
No one is perfect and you should not expect yourself to have a perfect diet just because you have PCOS. However, there are some KEY tips you need to be focusing on in order to maintain hormone balance.
Blood sugar balance
If you have PCOS it is very likely your body is also insulin resistant. What that means is your pancreas excretes insulin in response to high blood sugar in an attempt lower blood sugar levels. It will eventually need to pump out more and more to level out blood sugar levels. It just so happens that insulin is also associated with fat storage (especially in the abdominal region).
High insulin also signals the ovaries to produce more testosterone which is why common symptoms of PCOS have to do with high androgen levels (male hormones).
Eating foods that help balance blood sugar and insulin levels is the key to success when it comes to PCOS. Opt for healthy fats, protein, and fiber. Additionally, skip the coffee right after you wake up and wait to have it with your first meal. I say this because…
Caffeine increases cortisol (stress hormone). Women with PCOS tend to have adrenal glands that are exceptionally sensitive to stress (cortisol) which can throw your nervous system out of whack. Cortisol is another contributor to stored belly fat so keeping coffee and tea to a minimum is best! Opt for herbal tea or decaf.
Inflammation is one of the signs of PCOS. However, reducing inflammation is important for all women to achieve optimal hormone balance. For women with and without PCOS – try to avoid foods that inflame your gut like:
- Sugary foods and drinks
- Processed meats
- Fried foods
- Naked carbs
These types of foods feed bad bacteria in your gut which can contribute to hormonal imbalances in women with PCOS (or without)
Opt for whole foods full of nutrients! A rule of thumb is the outside areas of the grocery store are fair game, the closer you get to the middle, the more aware of labels you should be.
Often times we think that since we have excess weight to lose, the more we exercise the better our results will be. That is a big fat ugly lie. As women with naturally cycling hormones, our energy levels shift week to week. Therefore, so does our exercise needs. With PCOS exercise is a great way to level out insulin levels. However, be careful not to overdue it because that can lead to exhausted adrenal glands. To avoid exhaustion, try syncing your cycle with your exercise routine.
We have 2 distinct phases in our cycle: the follicular phase and the luteal phase. In the follicular phase, we are able to perform optimally and can handle stress more efficiently. In the luteal phase, our needs change. We need more gentle forms of movement to recharge our batteries and lower stress. Call it the yin and yang of your flow. If you try and power through high-intensity workouts in the late luteal phase and without fuelling properly, expect a hormonal upset.
To learn more about training in accordance with your cycle, read this in-depth article!
I’m not a huge advocate for stuffing your cupboards with pill bottles (even if they are supplements) but these are some key nutrients a lot of the population is deficient in. They contribute to many chemical reactions in the body and if you are deficient, can cause a hormonal upset.
Magnesium is involved in hundreds of chemical reactions in the body. Most of the population is deficient in this mineral so supplementing is not only important for women with PCOS but all men and women. Magnesium aids in symptoms associated with PCOS such as low moods, fatigue, and blood sugar regulation.
Magnesium is easily depleted by the body which is why most women are deficient. Elevated insulin levels are also a factor in magnesium depletion so blood sugar regulation. Yet another reason to eat a blood sugar-balancing diet!
Vitamin b complex
B vitamins also are thought to fight inulin resistance along with many other benefits. They can support mood regulation and stable energy levels.
Omega 3’s in particular have anti-inflammatory properties. Additionally, for women with PCOS fatty acids are essential for fighting insulin resistance and treating high levels of total cholesterol in the body.
You can find omega 3’s in foods like wild-caught fish, nuts, flax seeds, and plant/fish oils
Vitamin D acts more like a hormone in the body. For women with PCOS vitamin D is shown to improve fertility, lower the risk of diabetes (high blood sugar), and relieve symptoms associated with PCOS. You can get it from the sun so try and get outside, however, if you live in the Arctics like me, try a supplement🙂
Gut health is everything! If your gut is not healthy and happy, you will not be healthy and happy! Taking a probiotic will help the production of good bacteria in the gut. You can also eat fermented foods with probiotics like yogurt, Kiefer, kombucha, kimchi, and pickled vegetables.
Chronic stress is the cause of a lot of different hormonal issues, not just PCOS. When we are chronically stressed and cortisol (stress hormones) are constantly elevated, estrogen can be thrown out of whack.
Maintain a healthy weight
Now you know the secrets to achieve a body you feel good in with PCOS, how do you keep it? Well, tracking macros can be a very useful tool and if you are just starting out I highly suggest using that tool. However, it is 100% achievable to maintain a healthy weight by intuitively eating!
Here are some mindful eating tips to use if that is the journey you chose to go on!
Body image tips
Being in a body you are not fully comfortable in is challenging. I know from personal experience going from “fit” to “chubby” is a mind F***. Especially if you struggle with PCOS you may feel like all the efforts you are making to shed pounds are pointless and nothing works.
But don’t give up, your body just needs some personal attention and love. While on a PCOS weight loss journey, here are some tips to help keep your body positive.
- Journal your thoughts
- Unfollow people who do not serve you
- Follow people who make you feel GOOD
- Focus on the finer things in life. There is so much more out there than your body size
For an in-depth post on how to heal poor body image, check out this article. It also helps to remind ourselves of “why” we want a different body. Check out the free worksheet below to dissect what your “why” is!
If you have PCOS or show signs of PCOS, you do not need to suffer through the pain, you also do not need to go on hormonal birth control in order to see progress! Nurturing your body with food, exercise, and a supplement routine is the key to balancing your hormones naturally!
If you have been diagnosed with PCOS and want to get off the pill, send me a message on Instagram and I will help you brainstorm some ways to heal your hormones naturally xx
Until next time xx