What is PCOS? (Poly Cystic Ovarian Syndrome?)
Yes, it is the most common hormone disorder in women in their fertile period (first to last menstrual period). Between 5 and 10% of women have symptoms of PCOS!
What exactly is PCOS (Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome)?
PCOS is an abbreviation for Polycystic Ovary Syndrome. This literally means:
Cystic: fluid vesicles (cysts)
Syndrome: a collection of symptoms and no disease
It is a sum of symptoms where the diagnosis is established if you have at least two of the symptoms below.
- No or irregular periods. This is called oligo- or anovulation. Which means that you ovulate less often or not at all.
- Complaints associated with increased free testosterone (male hormone) in the blood such as acne, excessive hair, hair loss, or being overweight.
- Cysts on the ovaries. This can be determined by means of an internal ultrasound scan.
It is a sum of symptoms where the diagnosis is established if you have at least two of the symptoms below.
No or irregular periods. This is called oligo- or anovulation. Which means that you ovulate less often or not at all.
Complaints associated with increased free testosterone (male hormone) in the blood such as acne, excessive hair, hair loss, or being overweight.
Cystson the ovaries. This can be determined by means of an internal ultrasound scan.
PCOS SYMPTOMS CHECKLIST:
Below is an overview of the most common PCOS symptoms:
At least 12 follicles ( small cysts ) developing in the ovaries (this can be seen on an ultrasound)
The image below is a typical ultrasound image of an ovary of a woman with PCOS. The black ‘spots’ are the fluid blisters. Multiple fluid sacs in the ovary are also referred to as a ‘garland of beads’.
- Irregular ovulation – you get on a regular basis or not at all indisposed. Because there is no ovulation, you do not menstruate.
• Excess hair – more hair on the face, chest, and/or abdomen
• hair loss
• Acne – persistent after puberty, on the face, back, and/or chest
• Oily skin or dandruff
• Overweight – gain earlier, more difficulty losing weight
• love handles
• mood swings
• Depressive feelings
• Skin tags – loose skin flaps, especially under the armpit
- • Dark pigment spots – dark discolorations of the skin in the neck, armpits, or groin.
• High Cholesterol
• High blood pressure
There is no unequivocal answer to the question of what causes Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome. Scientists aren’t over it yet. However, several things are associated with the development of PCOS.
(1) Insulin resistance.
Studies show that there is a link between insulin resistance and PCOS. Insulin resistance means that your insulin receptors have become less sensitive to insulin. As a result, your pancreas has to produce more and more insulin to store sugar in your blood in your cells. This disrupts your hormones.
90% of women with PCOS are insulin resistant. Complaints that you can suffer from when you are insulin resistant are: a lot of craving for sweets, after-dinner dips, fatigue, little energy, having trouble losing weight, and gaining weight earlier (especially on (the side of) your stomach).
Do you want to get an indication of whether you are insulin resistant or not?
Test here whether your blood sugar level fluctuates strongly.
Eating too little, not sleeping enough, a busy job, exercising too much or intensively, working long days, or working in the evening are just a few examples of the things that can cause your body to experience stress.
When your body experiences stress due to your work, your private life, or the food you consume, the stress hormone cortisol is produced.
High cortisol production for too long has an effect on your hormone balance. It also has a negative effect on your energy level and your fertility.
Furthermore, stress also increases the chance of insulin resistance, which affects Polycystic Ovary Syndrome.
When there is a lot of cortisol in your blood, there is also a higher insulin level. When this is the case for a longer period of time, your cells become less sensitive to insulin and eventually resistant to insulin.
(3) Heredity and overweight.
PCOS is more common in some families than others. Hereditary factors play a role here.
In addition to the fact that Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome can cause obesity, you also see that people who have a ‘predisposition’ for PCOS through their genes, get it earlier when they are fatter.
PCOS has been diagnosed and you will be sent home with a leaflet. Then you read online that you could also influence it yourself.
What about PCOS and diet? And why does your treating doctor not give you nutritional advice after the diagnosis of PCOS if this would make sense? And what is a good PCOS diet?
I can well imagine that these are questions you have. So often I speak to women who have been told by their doctors that they can do NOTHING themselves to get rid of their PCOS symptoms or to increase the chance of a (natural) pregnancy.
But this is possible. You can increase your chance of getting pregnant yourself.
MY OWN EXPERIENCE WITH PCOS AND NUTRITION:
How did it go for me? I went to the doctor when I stopped having my period after stopping the pill. After a few months, it seemed sensible to me to get advice about this.
Well, I was actually out again in no time. Waste was the conclusion. And if I still wouldn’t have my period after a year, I could come back.
It didn’t feel right. I had a premonition that this had nothing to do with wasting and there was more to it.
At that time I was being treated by a Gynecologist because of an incorrect result of a Pap smear and I explained my situation to her.
She wanted to make an ultrasound and immediately saw several fluid blisters or the cyst that belong to the PCOS image. And that’s how I was told I had PCOS.
“DON’T WORRY, COME BACK IF YOU WANT TO HAVE CHILDREN”
The topic of PCOS has never left me. Since the day of the diagnosis, I have searched all over the internet.
I have read all kinds of studies, books, and articles. And soon I knew for sure that something could be done about it in a natural way.
I tried different things (this was a lot of trial and error) but after a year I got my period again and my cycle became more regular by the month.
When I came back to the gynecologist during that period, I kept asking if there was really nothing I could do myself (the answer was no). Until I was pregnant and there were no more fluid blisters on the ultrasound.
The gynecologist was surprised and I told what I had adjusted. She then said that she had seen some research that had shown this effect. But she wasn’t really familiar with it.
That healthy food could make such a big difference got me thinking. And especially the fact that there was and is so little about it.
This is why I started giving PCOS nutritional and lifestyle advice and helping women on a daily basis who were dealing with the same problems as I did back then.
Curious about what PCOS-proof recipes are? Download a sample menu here:
but then the question:
How can it be that diet and lifestyle changes have an effect while doctors don’t seem to know this?
Actually a very short and simple answer: because they have not learned this.
Doctors know a lot. A lot about diseases, disorders, symptoms, and which medicines they can prescribe against them. This is what is amply offered in their training.
But during their six-year study, they receive an average of fewer than 30 hours of nutrition lessons. This is not even 1 week in 6 years.
You can imagine that that is why they can’t really give advice about nutrition.
And the same is true for supplements. Such as D-Chiro-Inositol, for example, where various studies have shown that it can be effective in complaints of PCOS.
Doctors learn about drugs, not natural supplements. The reason they don’t learn about this is that substances that occur in nature cannot be patented.
It is therefore not profitable for the pharmaceutical industry to invest a lot of money in research and marketing. Or to ensure that DCI receives drug status.
Any other manufacturer would then immediately be able to take advantage of it and that way it is impossible to recoup their investment.
BUT THERE IS ALSO GOOD NEWS
I have now switched doctors. This woman is very interested in the work I do and how I have made sure that my complaints have disappeared.
She says that she increasingly sees women like me in her office hours. And that she feels bad that she had to send them home saying that she can’t really do anything for them.
Only prescribe the pill until they want to become pregnant.
We agreed to have a drink and I told her more about nutrition and how it works in PCOS. She is interested because this way she can give her patients better information in the future. How beautiful is that!
And there are more such doctors. I hear that from the women who come to see me and tell me that their gynecologist endorses my story.
And now research among interns and general practitioners has also shown that they would like more education in the field of nutrition and lifestyle. T
hey notice that they are getting more and more questions about nutrition, but now they do not have enough knowledge to properly advise or refer a patient.
Great news. I hope that in the coming years more and more knowledge about nutrition and recovery by natural means will be shared by doctors. Now that doesn’t seem very likely, but to be honest I’m quite confident.
That’s good for a lot of people, especially women with PCOS!
THE 5 REASONS DIET PLAYS AN IMPORTANT ROLE IN PCOS:
- Food affects your hormones. Everything that goes into your mouth affects the hormones in your body in some way. This can cause your hormones to get out of balance, which can cause symptoms. Nutrition in combination with stress reduction and exercise/sports in the right way can ensure that your hormones are in balance and complaints disappear.
- The nutrients in food form the basis of our cells in our body. We are what we eat!
When you don’t get enough nutrients, vitamins, and minerals due to too much stress or an ‘unhealthy’ or unbalanced diet, your hormones get out of balance. This affects your mood and your health in the long term.
- There are indications that the right diet can influence whether you pass on the genetic predisposition to certain diseases.
- Healthy food ensures that you lose weight and feel more vital. Being overweight often worsens symptoms of PCOS. Studies have shown that losing weight not only reduces symptoms of PCOS but also has a positive effect on fertility.
- Good nutrition makes medicines work more efficiently. Medicines are often taken for a specific reason and usually aimed at combating symptoms. You can tackle the cause by adjusting your diet. In addition, medicines often work much better when you eat healthily and exercise in a healthy way.
THE PCOS DIET:
To gain control over your PCOS symptoms, it is important to eat what is good for you.
Medical studies have shown that proper nutrition can help control PCOS, especially when insulin resistance plays a role. Test here whether you suffer from a fluctuating blood sugar level.
By examining your own diet and lifestyle, you tackle the causes of PCOS. Instead of just fighting PCOS symptoms through medication or the pill, for example.
If you start making adjustments now, it will also have a positive effect on reducing long-term risks. such as infertility, high blood pressure, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease.
Then you google ‘PCOS diet’. And you really come across everything.
There is talk of a low-carbohydrate diet, paleo, no sugars, healthy fats, no processed sugars, avoiding added sugars as much as possible, no sugars at all, no fast carbohydrates or anyways, saturated fats, trans fats. Well, I could go on and on with terms you come across.
So it is not surprising that you can no longer see the forest for the trees. What is really good for you if you have PCOS? Are there things I should eat and what should I leave out?
You want your insulin level to remain as stable as possible so that your hormones can come into balance afterward.
A GOOD START IS HALF THE BATTLE!
You can of course change your entire diet in 1 go, but this is often too rigorous. Your body then rebels so that you can only last a short time.
So do it step by step and start with your breakfast, for example.
The first thing I think of when I wake up in the morning is “Yes, food!” Recognizable?!
Super breakfast for women with PCOS is a smoothie. I don’t mean the smoothies you find in the supermarket and at most coffee shops.
No, it is better to compare this with a sweet snack or dessert. Tasty but not a really healthy and nutritious breakfast when you have PCOS. Now I hear you think ‘but there are vitamins in it, right?’
Yes, they certainly contain the necessary vitamins and minerals, but also too much sugar.
As a result, your blood sugar level becomes out of balance and this can aggravate your complaints.
WHEN YOU CHOOSE THE RIGHT INGREDIENTS FOR YOUR SMOOTHIE, THE RESULT IS:
- Stable blood sugar level and therefore no sugar cravings around eleven o’clock
- The correct intake of proteins that makes you feel energetic and healthier
- Feeling satisfied for longer
- Do you get enough fiber that contributes to good digestion
- Do you start your day with an amount of vegetables that you can’t eat
- Do you get better skin?
- Lose your weight (if necessary)
- Prevent your binge eating right after breakfast
- Do you start your day well, which makes you more motivated to also choose a healthy lunch?
Being diagnosed with PCOS could be confusing, frustrating, and painful, but it doesn’t need to be.
Though some healthcare providers have not yet adopted a PCOS diet that could be incorporated with pharmaceutical treatments for the disorder, not all providers are acquainted with a diet that can also reverse insulin resistance.
Talk to your doctor about lifestyle changes that can be made to alleviate symptoms of PCOS, and consider looking for a PCOS community that could help supply you with assistance.
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