PCOS is a hormonal imbalance that affects women of reproductive age. Specifically, the condition is characterized by having too many androgens, or male hormones, in the body, and this imbalance interferes with regular menstrual cycles. Women with PCOS experience missed or irregular periods.
Polycystic Ovary Syndrome, or PCOS, affects as many as five million women in the United States and it is one of the most common causes of infertility among women of childbearing age. PCOS symptoms—including weight gain, weight loss resistance, acne, missing or irregular periods, thinning hair on the top of the head and excess hair on the face and chest—can be annoying at best and debilitating at worst.
As if that weren’t enough, PCOS can come with long-term consequences. The condition can set the stage for other chronic conditions, like diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, sleep apnea, and stroke. PCOS has also been associated with increased risk of anxiety and depression.
Symptoms of PCOS may include missing or irregular periods (not ovulating regularly), unwanted face and chest hair, loss of hair on the head, acne (specifically on the jawline, chest, and back) and carrying extra weight around the waistline.
PCOS may have long-term consequences. The condition can set the stage for other chronic conditions like diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, sleep apnea, and stroke. PCOS has also been associated with increased risk of anxiety and depression. It is the most common cause of infertility in women.
The exact cause (or causes) are unknown, but researchers believe that genetics play a role and that environmental factors can contribute to the condition. High androgens and dysregulated insulin are almost always involved.
Whenever I’m working with a client who has been diagnosed with PCOS, the first changes I recommend are food and nutrition. Food is medicine when it comes to PCOS.
One important nutrition piece? Blood sugar and insulin balance. Whether you have insulin-resistant PCOS or another type of PCOS, getting your blood sugar and insulin under control is critically important for regulating ovulation—and the best way to manage blood sugar is with food. A diet high in processed carbs and simple sugars will send your blood sugar and insulin surging. A diet high in healthy fats, phytonutrient-rich vegetables and other complex carbohydrates, and high-quality protein will keep blood sugar stable.
When you eat certain foods makes a difference, too. I call the concept of matching your nutrition with your unique hormonal needs each week “Cycle Syncing®,” and it is one of the most important parts of any diet plan for women with hormone imbalances. If you don’t currently track your cycle and match your food with your shifting hormonal needs, get the MyFlo app and start tracking your 28-day cycle and aligning your food with your hormones.
In the FLO Protocol, food comes first. What you eat and when you eat it are the single best ways to heal your hormones and erase the symptoms of PCOS.
After that, taking high-quality, targeted supplements is the best way to help yourself recover lost nutrients and restore hormone balance. Supplements can help undo the havoc caused by caffeine, stress, hormonal birth control, and environmental toxins — and they are especially important when you are trying to heal PCOS. They help support your body and balance your hormones as your body works to restore a new, healthy baseline.
Always remember that once you have the right information about how your body really works, you can start making health choices that finally start to work for you! You can do this – the science of your body is on your side!
For more information check-out this blog post I wrote, A Woman’s Guide to PCOS:
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Alisa Vitti is a functional nutritionist and women’s hormone expert on a mission to help women solve their hormonal symptoms.
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