How to Treat PCOS Naturally
Would you like to treat PCOS naturally? Would you like help losing weight? No more facial hair? If you have PCOS (polycystic ovary syndrome) and would like to know what you can start doing today to help reduce your symptoms and regulate your periods, read on.
If you’re trying to conceive this will help you enormously. Regular periods means regularly ovulating which increases your chances of getting pregnant. So do not despair. Work with your body and use what we already know about human physiology to rebalance your hormones. With these 5 strategies below you can start to reverse your PCOS symptoms naturally TODAY.
5 Ways to Reduce PCOS Symptoms Naturally
1. Eat Whole Foods
Need to lose weight? Seems obvious right? Eat less exercise more. So why isn’t the weight shifting? I hear this a lot and it sounds extremely frustrating. Even if you are a healthy weight and have PCOS you still need to eat whole foods to slowly change your physiology. Unfortunately, if you have PCOS and you are overweight it’s going to be harder to lose weight than if you didn’t have PCOS.
Firstly, if you’re constantly trying different diets to lose weight – STOP right there. Instead give yourself a new way of eating.
What does that mean? Eat foods as close to their original state in nature as possible. If you’re already doing this, skip this step and move to tip number 2.
What are whole foods? Real food that is unrefined and has been processed as little as possible. Fruit, vegetables, whole grains, starchy vegetables, nuts, seeds, meat and fish. If you fancy a treat have it straight after a main meal so it reduces the effect it has on blood sugar and insulin levels. The aim of eating whole foods is to keep your blood sugar on an even keel and improve sensitivity to insulin.
2. Drink Water
Mother Nature intended us to drink water to meet our basic needs. You don’t see zebras drinking a triple shot caramel macchiatto.
Feeling thirsty? Drink water. It might seem boring but you will get used to it until it feels normal. Skip the juices and smoothies. Although smoothies are better than juices, they will both give you a blood sugar spike.
Restrict tea and coffee to one or two a day. There is conflicting evidence about caffeine and it’s effect on PCOS. But for the most part it triggers the release of adrenaline (epinephrine) from our adrenal glands which is why we drink it. We want to feel more alert and then it becomes a habit. It can also give you feelings of anxiety and irritation. As it stands, if you enjoy tea and coffee there is no reason to stop, in fact, it may be beneficial. But it seems sensible to drink it in moderation. Cut down to one or two a day and replace the rest with water.
Throw in a green tea for good measure. Studies show green tea can lower insulin and testosterone and lead to weight loss for overweight women with PCOS. Bingo!
3. Eat Cruciferous Vegetables
Eat plenty of cruciferous vegetables. All those green vegetables you turned your nose up at when you were a kid. Broccoli, brussel sprouts, rocket, cauliflower, cabbage, kale etc. These vegetables increase sex hormone binding globulin (SHBG) made by the liver. It’s a protein that binds testosterone, oestradiol and dihydrotestosterone (DHT).
When sex hormones are bound to SHBG they are inactive. Women with PCOS often have low levels of SHBG so we want to increase SHBG to reduce the higher levels of testosterone and oestrogen.
Diindolylmethane (DIM) is a plant nutrient found in cruciferous vegetables. DIM reduces oestrogen levels by increasing the ‘good’ estrogen metabolites and decreasing the levels of undesirable estrogen metabolites. In simple terms, DIM helps to normalise blood levels of oestrogen and testosterone. Yayy!!
4. Exercise (not like a cat)
Exercise more like this…..
I like exercise (when I can motivate myself) because it improves my mood. Even if I’m feeling as happy as Larry, exercise will make me feel happier than Larry.
If you have PCOS, exercise will not only improve your mood but will help sensitise your cells to insulin which in turn will reduce symptoms of PCOS. Women with PCOS can be less sensitive to the hormone insulin. All our cells need sugar (glucose) and for our cells to take up this sugar (from our food), they need insulin. It acts like a gate into the cells for sugar. In PCOS, the cells become less sensitive to insulin so the pancreas wants to produce more insulin in response to all the blood sugar still in the blood stream and not in the cells. But when we exercise, these same cells become more sensitive to insulin which reduces insulin and sugar in the blood.
Moreover, when we exercise, our skeletal muscles contract and are able to take up sugar without needing insulin. When skeletal muscles contract, the cells can take up sugar – they don’t need insulin to do this.
So to recap, exercise reduces the need for the body to produce insulin. Exercise reduces blood sugar levels and helps us lose weight because we are normalising our hormones. (And using calories).
5. Manage stress
Start the process of reversing PCOS symptoms naturally by managing your stress. Stress and PCOS together are like standing on a spinning playground roundabout – you’re going nowhere fast.
Salivary cortisol and salivary alpha-amylase are two substances that are implicated in physiological changes connected to stress. If these two salivary substances are high then physiological changes in the body can be attributed to being stress related (at least in part). This study and others like it demonstrate the importance of managing stress. Women with PCOS are more likely to have higher levels of these two salivary substances. Managing stress will help normalise PCOS hormones making it easier to become pregnant.
Find something that works for you. There are plenty of herbs that can help such as nervines, adrenal tonics and adaptogens. BUT, it’s a good idea to put in place lifestyle changes to manage stress while you are taking these herbs. At some point you will want to stop taking herbs and use these lifestyle changes to manage stress in the long term.
Yoga, meditation, swimming, walking in nature, saying no. Carve out some time and put what works for you in place at least 4 times a week