What Is It?
PCOS REQUIRES MEDICAL INTERVENTION. WE DO NOT GIVE MEDICAL ADVICE. THIS IS A DISCUSSION OF LIFESTYLE INTERVENTIONS THAT HAVE BEEN SHOWN TO BE BENEFICIAL.
I daresay that if you have been diagnosed with PCOS, I don’t have to tell you what it is! For those who do not understand, PCOS is considered a hormonal disorder that is common among women of childbearing age. You may have irregular or prolonged menstrual periods or even an excess of male hormones. The ovaries may develop many small pouches of fluid and may not regularly produce eggs. Due to the excessive male hormones, sometimes girls may have excess facial or body hair, severe acne or even male-pattern baldness. Pain in the lower back, abdomen, neck, legs and joints often accompanies this troubling disorder. Chronic inflammation throughout the body is suspected to be at the root of all this pain.
More serious complications of PCOS may involve infertility, gestational diabetes, pregnancy-related high blood pressure, nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (severe liver inflammation due to fat in the liver), Type 2 diabetes, miscarriage, premature birth, sleep apnea, abnormal uterine bleeding, mood and eating disorders and even endometrial cancer.
Obesity is often associated with this disabling condition and also makes the symptoms worse. (1)
A Healthy Lifestyle Can Help!
The high androgen level that is common in PCOS can be made even worse by weight gain. As you gain extra pounds, insulin levels rise which causes more weight gain and increases androgen levels even more. Some of the most annoying symptoms of PCOS such as excessive body hair, male-pattern baldness and severe acne are a direct result of excess androgen levels. Although there is a genetic tendency to develop PCOS, eating a healthy diet and getting regular exercise to drop excess body fat may help you avoid the development of this disorder and can certainly help with the symptoms. (2)
Avoid Simple Carbs!
Many women with PCOS also have insulin resistance. Processed foods, alcohol, and simple carbohydrates such as white flour, rice and sugar cause the body to release large amounts of insulin and worsen the symptoms of PCOS. Simple carbs like pasta and white bread metabolize quickly into sugar in your body and will also cause a subsequent rise in insulin.
Fight PCOS with Healthy Choices!
Eat healthy, complex carbohydrates like those found in fruits, vegetables, legumes and high-fiber whole grains. Eat lean meats, poultry and fish and avoid the excess calories in fatty meats and avoid processed meat products. These “meats” have already been broken down from their original, whole form and will release into your bloodstream much quicker than a whole piece of meat that your body has to break down. Protein is slow to metabolize so take advantage of that and choose whole meats that nourish you, keep you full and stoke your metabolism. Protein is known to burn more calories during digestion than carbs or fat. See David’s article Protein Supplements to gain a better understanding of what protein does for your body. Make sure to get enough by choosing lower calorie options. A 4-ounce piece of chicken breast has 28.7 grams of protein and only 189 calories. By comparison, a 4-ounce hamburger patty has a mere 17.8 grams of protein and a whopping 331 calories! You can definitely eat more protein for fewer calories when you choose wisely. Since protein keeps you full longer, this one change can help you to shed some pounds by stopping unnecessary snacking on unhealthy foods throughout the day.
Consistent exercise helps to balance insulin levels. Choose any exercise that your doctor will approve and you will do. The most important factor is consistency. Choose something that you like so that you will want to do it. Regardless of how effective an exercise is, if you hate doing it, you won’t be consistent. Take a walk! Explore your local YMCA. They have everything from year-round, indoor swimming to Zumba and much more. If you have room in your home, you might consider buying whatever exercise equipment you need to do what you like. One of the simplest things that you can do is to turn on You Tube and find an exercise routine that you can follow. It’s free and convenient and most require little to no special equipment. You can get all kinds of exercise equipment at Walmart and even check out workout DVD’s at a public library. If you want to exercise, just do it.
Various types of stress are involved in the manifestation of the symptoms of PCOS. Metabolic stress is a biochemical contributor, but the stress and anxiety of daily life can make it worse. Find a way to defuse your negative emotions. Exercise is great for that, but other relaxing activities can also help. Engage yourself in any activity that you truly enjoy. Avoid negative situations and people. As David says, “Make Your World Small.” Live each moment as positively as you can. Less stress can also make it easier to avoid emotional eating and help you to get healthy.
PCOS is like most other diseases and disorders of the human body. While we cannot choose our parents and genetic make-up, we have tremendous power and control over how those genes are expressed. Learn to take care of yourself and make the necessary changes to feel better.
You are more powerful than you know.
Use that power to create a better life.