Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) is a common hormonal condition among reproductive-aged women. It involves metabolic, genetic, hormonal, nutrition and lifestyle factors. PCOS upsets women emotionally due to undesirable challenges like: facial hair, body hair, acne, male pattern baldness, weight gain, mood swings and infertility (1). You’ll soon learn that PCOS and diets high in sugar and carbs highly correlate.
When typical ovulation occurs, a surge in luteinizing hormone (LH) induces ovulation. In PCOS, a moderate amount of LH is produced throughout the month, leaving no reserves for a surge. Therefore, the egg never releases. This results in irregular menstrual periods and multiple cysts on the ovaries which leads to infertility (2). If ignored, PCOS increases a woman’s risk for cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes.
What Causes PCOS?
Chronic, low-grade inflammation is thought to be the contributing factor to PCOS. One method for evaluating your inflammation level is through a blood test. Your doctor tests inflammation by checking C-reactive protein (CRP.) An analysis of 31 clinical trials including 2,359 women with PCOS and 1,289 controls concluded that CRP in women with PCOS is 96% greater than in healthy women. Inflammation gets triggered by elevations of mediators (cytokines, Interleukin-18 (IL-18) and others). IL-18 closely relates to increased risk of insulin resistance and cardiovascular disease (4).
Many factors contribute to inflammation, including: nutrition, exercise, stress and sleep deprivation.
- Sleep deprivation reduces melatonin activity, increasing inflammation. When we lack enough sleep, we rely on stimulants, which can be inflammatory.
- Mental stress triggers excess brain and nervous system activity, which is neuro-degenerative and inflammatory.
- Processed foods, sugar and trans fats cause inflammation in the body. So, diet plays a huge role.
Many women diagnosed with PCOS also have some degree of insulin resistance. Measured this with a fasting glucose and fasting insulin blood test. High insulin triggers the ovaries to produce more testosterone, which contributes to many of the physical PCOS symptoms, like excessive hair growth. Insulin resistance and inflammation often go hand in hand. See how all of this ties together?
Treatment of PCOS:
The most immediate change to control PCOS is diet. The 131 Method addresses inflammation, insulin resistance and hormonal imbalances. You receive the tools to get your symptoms under control, and possibly reverse them. Once the foundations of diet, sleep, movement and stress management begin, narrowing down additional therapy becomes easier and more effective. Research on PCOS and diet continues to emerge with encouraging data like inositol supplementation (6). While nutrient supplementation supports you, nothing overrides a poor diet. Supplements are always meant to be “supplemental” to a good diet. You must build that foundation first!
Testing Recommendations by the 131 Dietitians:
One recommended test is the Dutch Complete Test from Precision Analytical. Details found at www.dutchtest.com. A complex test, results are only helpful if you know how to interpret them or work with a trained professional.