A combination approach can be highly effective to restore hormonal balance naturally. This includes enriched nutrition, regular exercise, targeted nutritional supplements, and gentle hormonal support, together with measures to address emotional health and well-being. Over and over again women with this approach successfully normalize their insulin levels and regain their periods!
Dietary changes: the foundational factor
If you want to heal from PCOS, the single most significant change you can make is to begin following a low glycemic-load diet. This is a useful tool for ranking your meals and snacks according to their potential to increase your blood sugar and insulin levels.
To heal most quickly from PCOS, the single most significant change you can make is to closely adhere to a low glycemic-load diet.
In terms of numbers, aim for limiting your carbohydrate intake to no more than 16 grams at each of three meals a day, and 7 grams at each of two snacks a day.
- Reducing simple carbohydrates and refined sugars is necessary, because they act like rocket fuel to exacerbate preexisting metabolic and hormonal imbalance associated with PCOS. Limiting or eliminating simple carbohydrates (white breads, pasta, potatoes, high-fructose corn syrup, sugar, and white flour) brings out-of-control sugar in our bloodstream back to normal. For many women with PCOS, this one single measure can restore regular menstrual cycles.
- We recommend eating lower carbohydrate meals balanced with fiber and healthy fats. The amount of carbs depends on your body type and activity level. Ideally, this limited intake would be in the form of complex carbohydrates from sources like root vegetables, legumes, fruits, and whole grains.
Additional dietary elements known for their power to support hormonal balance include plentiful green vegetables, flax seed and other functional foods; a quality multivitamin–mineral supplement; and omega-3 fatty acids.
Lifestyle changes that make a difference
- Clear your detoxification pathways. For optimal generation, metabolism, and recycling of your body’s natural hormones, learn how to avoid endocrine-disrupting chemicals and enjoy plenty of foods rich in phytonutrients. Beans, vegetables from the broccoli/cabbage family, and greens are all good choices. We also recommend exercise that makes you sweat. These steps will greatly enhance the body’s ability to metabolize and balance its own hormones. A good multivitamin-mineral complex also covers any gaps in nutrients required along hormonal transformation pathways in the liver.
- Look for natural hormonal support. Medicinal herbs that promote our innate healing mechanisms work “upstream” to prevent potential imbalances before they lead to symptoms. One helpful herb is chasteberry, which we include in our herbal remedies that are intended to help balance women’s sex hormones. Another natural hormonal option, which you can discuss with your practitioner, is bioidentical natural progesterone, which can be used to fill a progesterone deficit and help offset the excess estrogen and androgens to relieve many of your PCOS symptoms and promote more predictable periods.
- Guidance and support. Some of the less recognizable symptoms of PCOS include emotional turmoil that can easily be misread by practitioners. Let’s face it, being told you have PCOS is stressful! Yet stress reduction is an important component to reducing any form of insulin resistance, so we recommend you actively look for emotional support as you work toward reaching hormonal balance. One of our favorite on-line PCOS support sites is PCOS Diva because it focuses on helping women to eat healthy foods, offers tips for good self care, and above all promotes the empowerment of women with PCOS.
Remember, your own personal PCOS picture may not look like anyone else’s. So if any of the PCOS symptoms we’ve described ring a bell for you, please see a licensed healthcare professional to discuss your concerns. And with so many effective, natural treatments available, it’s important to include all of your options in the conversation. You can make a difference in your PCOS — and the sooner you begin, 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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