It’s very difficult to put PCOS in a nutshell but I am going to give it go. All that I talk about is based on current evidence. PCOS is still not fully understood even by the specialists, there is ongoing research being done and things change the more that is discovered.
What is PCOS?
Polycystic ovary syndrome. To have the syndrome you will be diagnosed with two of the following and some females can have all three.
- Hyperandrogenism – high levels of androgens causing symptoms such as oily skin, acne, facial hair, irregular periods and also alopecia
- Polycystic ovaries – ovaries develop numerous small collections of fluid, called follicles and may fail to regularly release eggs
- Oligo/Anovulation – where ovulation is irregular or not there at all
What are the characteristics of PCOS?
- Menstrual dysfunction which can also lead to infertility or increased pregnancy complication
- Insulin resistance and increased risk factors for type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease
- More prone to anxiety and/or depression
- More prone to obesity or weight gain as metabolism could be up to 40% slower
It’s difficult to say what the treatments are exactly because it depends on what symptoms you have as no one case is the same.
Of course, see your doctor and they will provide medical treatment.
So how can a Nutritionist help?
We can help a huge amount. Lifestyle is a key treatment.
Getting to a healthy weight/BMI – is shown to improve PCOS symptoms dramatically. This will improve insulin resistance. The method we use again will depend on the symptoms. For example – one study shows that a low GI diet can improve menstrual regularity and improve insulin sensitivity.
Metabolic adaptation – this means that you require less calories than someone without PCOS. Sometimes it can be up to 40% less. The harsh reality is that you will be on a lower calorie diet. Seeing a nutritionist to help with this is beneficial as we can set you where you need to be and make sure the method for the lower calorie diet is that one that benefits your health.
Exercise – aside from helping to boost mood therefore helping to reduce depression and anxiety symptoms its help can help you reach your weight loss goal. Resistance training will improve insulin sensitivity too.
Supplementation – research is still ongoing but there are some great studies suggesting supplementing with vitamin D and omega 3’s is very beneficial.
It’s a very complicated syndrome with no one way to treat it. It needs a dedicated period of experimentation and recording to find them method for the specific symptoms.
I would suggest seeing a Nutritionist (me please) and committing to a 12 week plan.