To resolve PCOS naturally, you’ll have the best success with a combination approach that helps restore hormonal balance naturally. This path to wellness includes enriched nutrition, regular exercise, targeted nutritional supplements, effective hormonal support, and attention to emotional health.
Women who use this method can often normalize insulin levels and regain their periods and get back to their lives.
Dietary changes: the foundational factor for healing PCOS
A low glycemic-load diet is the most useful tool when you are using food to restore healthy hormonal balance. This old standard is still the best way to be able to rank foods and compose meals and snacks according to their potential to increase your blood sugar and insulin levels.
These are the most important principles to consider when creating a diet to relieve PCOS symptoms:
- Reduce your intake of simple carbohydrates and refined sugars. This is absolutely crucial because these foods quickly exacerbate any preexisting metabolic and hormonal imbalances associated with PCOS. By limiting or eliminating simple carbohydrates (white breads, pasta, potatoes, high-fructose corn syrup, sugar, and white flour) you can normalize the amount of sugar in your bloodstream. For many women with PCOS, this single measure can restore regular menstrual cycles.
- Eat lower carbohydrate meals balanced with fiber and healthy fats. The ideal amount of carbs depends on your body type and activity level. Choose complex carbohydrates like root vegetables, legumes, fruits and whole grains. Healthy fat choices include olive oil, nuts and avocado.
You’ll also need to keep eating lean proteins like beans, hummus, eggs, fish, chicken, and vegetarian meat substitutes. Other key diet changes that support hormonal balance include adding in leafy greens, vegetables like peppers and spinach, flax seeds, a quality multivitamin-mineral supplement, and omega-3 fatty acids.
Lifestyle changes make a difference for women with PCOS
With PCOS, little daily habits can add up to big trouble. That’s why a few small shifts in lifestyle and diet can help you achieve healthy hormonal balance, and put your PCOS in the past.
Concentrate your efforts on these goals:
- Clear detoxification pathways using food and physical activity. For optimal, and natural, hormone production, metabolism, balancing and recycling, avoid as many common endocrine-disrupting chemicals as possible. Start eating more foods that are rich in phytonutrients like beans, broccoli, cabbage, collards and kale. Consider trying a good multivitamin-mineral complex to support the hormonal transformation pathways in the liver. It’s important to find a type of exercise that makes you sweat — one that you can commit to doing regularly. Sweating is an essential part of your natural detox processes.
- Turn to natural hormonal support. Certain medicinal herbs promote the innate healing mechanisms that work “upstream” to prevent potential imbalances before they lead to symptoms. (Consider a formula with chasteberry to help naturally balance your sex hormones.) Another natural hormonal option, which you‘ll need to discuss with your practitioner, is bioidentical natural progesterone. This can help offset a progesterone deficit and counter the effects of estrogen and androgens to relieve many PCOS symptoms and promote more predictable periods.
- Create a personalized low-glycemic load diet. Spend some time tailoring the traditional low-glycemic diet to fit your tastes. In terms of numbers, aim to limit your carbohydrate intake to about 16 grams per meal, and 7 grams each for two snacks a day. Again, you may need to adjust a bit here and there depending on your body type. Just know that the more closely you stick to low-glycemic foods, the better for improving your hormonal balance.
- Tend to your emotions. Emotional turmoil is one of the less familiar symptoms of PCOS, and it’s often missed by practitioners. Let’s face it — being told you have PCOS is stressful! But at the same time, stress reduction is an important component when you need to reduce any form of insulin resistance. Be proactive and seek out emotional support as you work to restore hormonal balance and relieve insulin resistance. One of our favorite PCOS support sites is PCOS Diva because it focuses on healthy foods and offers tips for good self care.
Remember, since your own PCOS picture may not look like anyone else’s, it’s good to make a plan to see a healthcare professional to discuss your concerns. Make sure you ask about all the effective, natural treatments available so you can find the right combination of steps for your individual situation.
You can take action to heal PCOS — and the sooner you get started, the sooner you will see a difference!
Berent-Spillson, A., et al. 2011. Insulin resistance influences central opioid activity in polycystic ovary syndrome. Fertil. Steril. [Epub ahead of print.] URL (abstract): http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21486668 (accessed 04.27.2011).
References for key points:
1 Moran, L., & Teede, H. 2009.
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