How to Reduce the Damaging Effects of PCOS on Fertility Through Diet and Herbs

What Causes PCOS?

6 Ways to Lose Weight If You Have PCOS
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How to lose weight with PCOS

PCOS — Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome

Research suggests that exposure to excessive amounts of male hormones androgens by the developing fetus may alter proper gene expression. The researchers also found one region of susceptibility in the DNA of Chinese women. This finding provides evidence of disruption of the pathway that regulates FSH and in turn ovarian function which plays a crucial role in the development of PCOS.

The human genome project has allowed researchers to pool more than , genetic markers from the DNA of thousands of women with PCOS. This is what helped them identify regions of genes associated with PCOS.

This is a new way of thinking about the biology of PCOS. Doctors plan to use all of this research to identify girls who may be at-risk for developing PCOS and create a medical treatment protocol to cure it. Another interesting study of women with PCOS sought to discover if there is a link to the development of PCOS later life that may be influenced by factors beginning in the womb. The women were divided into two groups. The groups were categorized by: The women in group 1 had above-average birth weight and were born to obese mothers.

The women in group 2 were born after 40 weeks gestation. The conclusion was that events occurring during fetal development may have long-term effects on endocrine function later in life. Insulin Resistance Insulin is a hormone produced in the pancreas and is responsible for signaling cells in the body to function correctly, most importantly to convert glucose to energy and to control their growth.

It also plays a key role in the metabolism of carbohydrates, lipids and proteins. When this happens, higher levels of insulin are needed so that insulin can have the proper effects.

At this point, the pancreas must overcompensate, working harder and harder to produce more insulin. Insulin drives glucose into the cells and promotes fat storage that leads to obesity and difficulty losing weight in PCOS.

Insulin signals the ovaries to secrete testosterone and inhibit hepatic sex-hormone binding globulin SHBG production which leads to an increased level of circulating testosterone. This is why many women with PCOS experience acne, facial hair growth and male pattern baldness hirsutism. Excess insulin in the bloodstream also signals the ovaries to release more estrogen which can suppress ovulation, and can lead to excessive irregular periods.

Low-grade Inflammation It has also been found that women with PCOS have low-grade inflammation, which may be a cause for insulin resistance. White blood cells produce substances to fight infection, this is known as inflammatory response. In some predisposed people eating certain foods, or exposure to certain environmental factors may trigger an inflammatory response. When inflammatory response is triggered, white blood cells produce substances that may contribute to insulin resistance and atherosclerosis.

When PCOS was first discovered it was named Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome because of the presence of polycystic ovaries seen by ultrasound. Over time doctors began to realize that PCOS was a complex array of health issues.

To date there is a push by doctors to change the name of this condition. This led to certain criteria that must be recognized to be diagnosed with PCOS, rather than just the presence of polycystic ovaries. In fact some women with PCOS do not have polycystic ovaries. In order to be diagnosed with PCOS the following should be evaluated by your healthcare practitioner: Endometrial Biopsy usually reserved for women 35 and older with menstrual irregularities or complete lack of menses for over 6 months Glucose Tolerance Test Thyroid Panel Blood Lipid Profile.

Are you wondering what your test results mean? Please talk to your doctor in detail about what your test results mean for your fertility. Some doctors may tell you that you have mild PCOS. Women may have some or all of the symptoms of PCOS, and some may have normal menstrual cycles and some may not. Testing is the best way to find out if you have PCOS for sure or not.

In very simple terms the hypothalamus produces GnRH gonadotrophin-releasing hormone which signals to the pituitary to produce LH luteinizing hormone and FSH follicle stimulating hormone. The release of GnRH is pulsatile in women with regular menstrual cycles. The normal pulsatile release of GnRH signals some of the follicles in the ovary to begin maturing and for the ovaries to release estrogen and progesterone. As the follicles begin maturing they release and increase the hormone estrogen over time.

The rising estrogen level signals the pituitary gland to curb the release of FSH. This communication allows for ovulation to occur. In women with PCOS the menstrual cycle follows a different pattern of endocrine function and communication. In women with PCOS the menstrual cycle starts off irregular, with the hypothalamus releasing GnRH in a higher than normal pulsatile frequency.

This allows for increased LH and decreased FSH, which in turn leads to excessive production of the androgens androstenedione and testosterone. This causes the follicle to only mature some, but not enough to achieve full maturity in order to be released for ovulation. This also allows for continued increase of estrogen, primarily estrone. The higher levels of androgens and estrogen create a chronic state of low to very low progesterone and anovulatory cycles.

Classic polycystic ovaries are a result of chronic anovulation. Endocrine function is imbalanced from the very beginning of the menstrual cycle causing mild to severe hormonal imbalance, depending on the individual. Excessive levels of estrogen may also cause uterine hypertrophy, also known as endometrial hyperplasia. Unopposed estrogen may cause excessive cell proliferation of the endometrium. The endometrium is the innermost layer of the uterus that is shed during menstruation.

Endometrial hyperplasia may cause heavy menstrual bleeding or prolonged bleeding during menstruation. The uterus may become bulky and larger than normal. Endometrial hyperplasia can lead to uterine cancer.

Other hormonal medications may be commonly used as well. This is determined by case. Clomid is commonly used for women with PCOS to stimulate the ovaries to ovulate. Once again the problem we encounter here is that Clomid does not resolve PCOS, though it may help a woman to get pregnant. Ovarian drilling done by laparascopic surgery. This is done with the intent to stimulate ovulation. Long-term treatment with Metformin has been shown to cause malabsorption of vitamin B 12 in some patients.

Before choosing to use this medication, talk to your doctor about the long-term goal and duration of treatment. There are a variety of other medications prescribed depending on the symptoms of PCOS. There are medications for hirsutism or alopecia, weight gain and more.

Your doctor can provide you with specific information on medications. It takes at least months of consistent lifestyle and diet changes, along with natural therapies to bring about real change in the body when living with PCOS.

In addition to eating the PCOS diet, supplements have shown to be effective in helping those with PCOS boost their fertility and give birth to healthy babies. The overall goal with PCOS is to balance blood sugar levels, maintain hormonal balance, promote healthy digestion for improved estrogen metabolism, while also working to promote regular ovulation and menses.

Adaptogen herbs are also important, this is because adaptogens increase resistance to mind-body stress and enhance overall vitality and health through non-specific adrenal known as stress glands support.

Herbs and supplements are not meant to be a substitute for dietary and lifestyle changes! If diet and lifestyles changes specific to PCOS are not in place, herbs and supplements cannot aid the body properly!

Whole Food Multivitamin A major part of decreasing the effects of PCOS on your health and preparing the uterine lining is to take a prenatal multivitamin. Making sure your body has all of the nutrients necessary is a lot easier when you are taking a whole food multivitamin. Most foods contain very little chromium, so supplementation may need to be considered. Calcium and Vitamin D Both calcium and vitamin D play significant roles in the health of many parts of the body.

Where PCOS is concerned, calcium protects cardiovascular health. Vitamin D plays a role in glucose metabolism. Studies have shown that people with type 2 diabetes are often deficient in Vitamin D. A small study of 13 women with PCOS showed that 7 out of the 9 who had absent or irregular menstrual cycles, had a return of normal menstrual cycles within two months after being given 50, IU once or twice per week of vitamin D and 1, mg per day of calcium.

This is a marked improvement! Of the 13 women, 5 were shown to be vitamin D deficient. Good food sources of vitamin D are cod liver oil, eggs, salmon, mackerel, tuna and whole fat yogurt or other dairy products. Vitamin D can also be obtained for free by sitting out in the sun for 15 to 20 minutes per day.

Forget using sunscreen because it will actually block the ultraviolet light that is needed to produce Vitamin D. The warm sun helps your skin to create Vitamin D 3 that is then transformed into the active hormone form of Vitamin D by the kidneys and the liver.

Calcium can be found in kale, turnips, collards, mustard greens, kelp and wakame seaweed. Hiziki, a type of seaweed has 10 times more calcium than a glass of milk. Herbs and supplements that promote hormonal balance and support regular ovulation: Eating omega-3 essential fatty acids can help to lose weight, balance hormones, and creates a healthy environment for conception.

Licorice root helps the body to maintain proper hormone production and release. Licorice also supports healthy insulin levels and liver health which is important for women with PCOS. Maca works to balance estrogen and progesterone in the body which may help to encourage a healthy menstrual cycle. Maca is an adaptogen and an incredible fertility superfood.

It helps to balance the hormones but does not contain any hormones itself. It is able to do this by nourishing the endocrine system. There are numerous studies and testimonials of Vitex and its effects on the body. Vitex supports hormonal balance in the body by having an effect on the hypothalamic-pituitary-ovarian axis hormonal feedback loop , correcting the problem at the source.

Tribulus has been found to help encourage regular ovulation in infertile women when used prior to ovulation. This herb has been found to be wonderful in aiding women with menstrual irregularities, improving the timing of the entire menstrual cycle.

Tribulus has also been found to be a nourishing tonic for the female reproductive system as a whole, especially concerning the ovaries. Most clinical trials have found that when White Peony is combined with Licorice Rt. Progesterone cream can help to oppose estrogen dominance that may occur in some women with PCOS. Through the topical application of progesterone cream one can mimic a natural cycle and help the body to establish its own cycle, including ovulation, once again. DIM balances the hormones and aids in the breakdown of estrogen.

Estrogen is a major culprit to many of the fertility issues women face today including PCOS. Unopposed estrogen has been shown to cause menstrual cycle irregularities and in more advanced cases, endometrial hyperplasia. Removal of excess estrogen is vital to overall hormonal balance in women with PCOS.

A pilot study published in by Fertility and Sterility showed cinnamon to greatly reduce insulin resistance in women with PCOS. Another study suggests cinnamon may also reduce insulin resistance by slowing the movement of food from the stomach to the small intestine. This slows the breakdown of carbohydrates, which is important for people with diabetes and women with PCOS.

Gymnema has been used for hundreds of years to reduce high blood sugar. Gymnema blocks the typical paths that sugar molecules take during digestion, delaying the absorption of sugar. It works by stimulating the regeneration of pancreatic cells that produce insulin, which aids in more insulin production; in turn stimulating production of enzymes that help with the uptake of glucose into cells; and then prevents stimulation of the liver to produce more glucose.

Gymnema also appears to have a lipid-lowering effect, which aids in weight loss. Hirsutism and Endometrial Hyperplasia. This herb also helps to reduce endometrial hyperplasia and hormonal acne symptoms. Inflammatory response Because women with PCOS usually have low-grade inflammation constantly present in the body, it is important to support the body by promoting a healthy inflammation response. Some foods are known to trigger inflammation in the body. If you have food allergies, avoid foods which you are sensitive to because they trigger an inflammatory response.

Omega essential fatty acids decrease the risk of inflammation, especially omega-3 and 6. Calcium helps in egg maturation and follicle development in ovaries; potassium is needed for FSH Follicle Stimulation Hormone production. It helps to reduce PMS symptoms and also promotes weight loss.

Colourful vegetables are loaded with powerful antioxidants that help to neutralize the harmful effects of oxidative stress in women suffering from PCOS. Some of the healthiest colored vegetables include red and yellow bell peppers, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, carrots, eggplant, etc.

This is the next set of healthy foods that must be included in PCOS diet recipes. Although most women suffering from PCOS are reluctant to include fruits in their diet because of the fructose content that causes a sudden spike in blood sugar levels and consequently insulin levels, fruits are really rich in phytonutrients, vitamins, minerals and fibres so it should not be avoided entirely.

Include fruits that have low GI such as lime, strawberries, apricot, grapefruit, lemon, cantaloupe, guava, pear, oranges, watermelon, blueberries, nectarines, apples and kiwifruit and also eat a handful of nuts or seeds with the fruits for the much needed protein boost that helps to control the sudden sugar spike caused by fruits.

You can also try delicious kiwi smoothie recipes which are loaded with nutrients. Not all fats are unhealthy and harmful for women suffering from PCOS. Healthy fats and essential fatty acids are indispensable for maintaining the cells and removing toxins from the body as well as promoting hormonal balance and weight management. Healthy fats also hold an important place in PCOS fertility diet. Healthy fats are found in seeds, nuts, avocado, olive oil and oily fishes like tuna and salmon.

We are well aware of the used of olive oil for body and overall health, but oily fishes are not far behind. Salmon is an amazing source of healthy fats and vitamin D that helps relieve certain problems related to PCOS. Because weight gain is a major issue related to PCOS, it is important to include lean proteins in a PCOS weight loss diet in order to control body weight.

Meat is one of the powerful natural sources of protein. But you must opt for organic lean cuts of meat that contain fewer hormones and pesticides and are not genetically modified. It is not necessary to completely shun carbohydrates even if you have PCOS, you just need to choose the carbohydrates judiciously.

Carbohydrates with high Glycemic Index such as instant breakfast cereals, white breads, white bagels and white rice cause fast rise and blood sugar levels which in turn increase the release of insulin from the pancreas in order to use the glucose for energy, but high levels of insulin in the body eventually leads to insulin resistance and obesity which worsens PCOS symptoms. Therefore, it is suggested to opt for healthy carbohydrates with low Glycemic Index that takes longer to break down and digest, causing slow and consistent release of blood glucose in the body.

Low GI foods also aid to keep you satiated for longer and prevent cravings. Most legumes, beans, and lentils and non-starchy vegetables have low GI rating. Healthy polycystic ovaries diet recipes should exclude foods from these 7 food groups because they usually affect the insulin level in the body and worsen the polycystic ovary symptoms.

As already discussed before, foods that have high Glycemic Index promote a sudden rise in blood sugar level which in turn lead to increased release of insulin which work to regulate the glucose released into the bloodstream. Although high GI Foods are tasty and good to eat, they are also high in calories and lacking in nutrients which make them unhealthy. Some of the unhealthy high GI foods that we consume every day are biscuits, cakes, white bread, pies, rolls, white pasta, white rice, most breakfast cereals, dried fruits, soda, candy, flavoured yogurt, ice creams, fruit juices and packaged soups.

Ad diet rich in sugar and simple carbohydrates is directly linked to PCOS; sugars not only affect the insulin levels but also disrupt ovulation. Therefore, this healthy food also comes under the list of foods to avoid with PCOS. Consumption of milk can increase testosterone levels and a particular type of protein in milk also limits regular processing of testosterone in the body which causes the testosterone levels to keep rising without any barrier and it only makes the PCOS symptoms worse.

Therefore, it is best to avoid milk, cheese, yogurt, butter and other milk products as much as possible. Most intolerant individuals or those who avoid dairy products immediately turn to soy as a healthy substitute. It has been found that soy is implicated in delayed ovulation which can make things worse for women with PCOS. The next food group that should be strictly excluded from the polycystic ovary syndrome diet is unhealthy fats such as saturated fats, hydrogenated fats and trans fats that aggravate the problems of PCOS.

Saturated fats are present in fatty cuts of red meat and dairy products, and it causes an increase in production of oestrogen which hinders the absorption of certain nutrients in the body and promotes weight gain.

Trans fats and hydrogenated fats found in cooking oil, processed foods and margarine increase the risk of risk of heart disease and diabetes mellitus in women with PCOS. We are already aware of the numerous coffee disadvantages, and it has been seen that excessive consumption of coffee 4 or more cups a day can also affect fertility in women. Because PCOS already has a direct impact on fertility, coffee can make things worse.

Daily intake of coffee increases the levels of estradiol, a type of oestrogen hormone which affects ovulation and menstrual cycle. You can definitely cut down or eliminate caffeine from your diet to see if it lessens the PCOS symptoms and improves fertility. The liver is the key organ that eliminates excess oestrogen from the body, but regular alcohol consumption puts excess pressure on the liver where flushing out the alcohol becomes its prime objective, and the task of removing oestrogen is pushed to the background which creates an oestrogen dominant environment in the body.

In addition, alcohol is readily converted into sugar in the body which contributes to insulin resistance and impaired glucose tolerance.

The acidity created by alcohol aggravates inflammation and makes things worse both for people with Type 2 Diabetes and PCOS. Although there is no known cure for PCOS yet, following a few simple guidelines and bringing about a few changes in the lifestyle can help a lot in managing PCOS symptoms naturally. So, now that you have a clear idea about the PCOS foods to eat and avoid for promoting effective PCOS management and controlling weight gain issues, plan out a low GI diet accordingly and lead a happy and healthy life without worries.

Deblina Biswas has an M. Sc degree in Nutrition from the University of Osmania and has tons of experience in Fitness and Nutrition. She loves everything about food and fitness and the fact that she has been able to follow her heart when it comes to her profession. When she is not working, she likes to rustle up delectable concoctions in the kitchen, of course keeping the health quotient intact.

She says, everyone just loves her healthy biryani she makes for special occasions. She believes that most ailments can be cured with the right amalgamation of nutrition and fitness.

Hi, Mam, From Last 1. Food is my wickness.. Please suggest me some proper diot.. As i m confused in food. Eat whole and processed foods and avoid maida and sugar.

But still you have to reduce your calorie intake. I am 31 and just found out I have pcos. If some one can help me find some links I like the help think u.

I came to know after visiting a gynae here..

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