Insulin and PCOS
Insulin is an important hormone as it transports sugar from the blood into the muscles of the body, allowing the body to effectively make use of the energy from glucose. High insulin levels wreak havoc on the body, leading to a lot of the symptoms of PCOS like, increased hair growth, weight gain, skin tags, fatty liver and high cholesterol, polycystic ovaries and an irregular menstrual cycle, not to mention increased hunger levels and cravings. Sounds familiar, doesn’t it? Most of us have many, if not all, of those symptoms.
So, management of blood insulin levels is crucial in the management of PCOS. Refined carbohydrates cause a spike in insulin levels and should therefore be avoided. Also, foods that are high in fat will lead to weight gain and high cholesterol.
Many doctors will recommend a low GI diet of wholegrain, unprocessed foods in the management of PCOS. Metformin is also a drug commonly prescribed for women with PCOS, in an attempt to tackle insulin resistance.
Insulin is not the only hormone impacted by PCOS- Tarryn
BUT, insulin is not the only hormone impacted by PCOS. If it were, we’d all have been diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes, which we have not. So, our diets need to incorporate low GI foods to manage insulin levels, in addition to tackling other aspects of the Polycystic Ovarian SYNDROME.
Finding the right diet to tackle your PCOS is a highly individual and complex process as the underlying cause of PCOS and different hormone levels will vary from woman to woman.
Here are some of the general PCOS diet guidelines:
Foods to AVOID
High GI (Glycaemic Index) Foods:
Foods that have a high GI result in a quick rise in blood sugar levels. Insulin levels follow suit to deal with the glucose in the blood stream. Generally, high GI foods have been processed to remove fibre and other nutrients so they may be tasty but they are high in calories while lacking in nutrients.
We’ll get into more detail in a separate blog post, as it’s an important and often overlooked issue. Milk leads to a rise in testosterone levels. It contains a protein that limits normal testosterone processing in the body. With testosterone not being managed, testosterone levels just keep rising. As our testosterone levels are already prone to being high, dairy just makes the problem worse.
When I cut out dairy, I immediately turned to soy. Imagine my dismay when I found that soy has been implicated in delayed ovulation. Not enough studies have been done on the impact of soy on woman with PCOS and soy in small quantities may have little effect. However, I would not recommend soy products to women with PCOS, especially those that are trying to conceive.
Saturated, hydrogenated and transfats are all fats that should be avoided. Saturated fats, found in red meat and dairy products, cause an increase in oestrogen production, hinder the absorption of some nutrients and can cause weight gain.
The trans and hydrogenated fats, from cooked oil, margarine and processed foods, increase your risk of heart disease and diabetes, both of which we are already at risk of as a result of our PCOS.
Tarryn is the founder of PCOS Diet Support, the top ranked PCOS diet & lifestyle site with over 90,000 users per month. As a fellow cyster there are no empty promises here, just facts
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