TEN TIPS FOR PCOS
1. Eat low Glycaemic Index (GI) carbohydrates such as vegetables and whole grains. It is very important for women with PCOS to completely avoid refined carbohydrates including sugar, white flour, whole wheat flour and products made from them eg. pasta, breads, desserts, soft drink and lollies).
2. Keep your blood sugar stable with a daily schedule of meals and snacks every three to five hours that includes some protein and good fats (for example some nuts or nut butter, seeds or seed butter, hardboiled egg, hummus dip). Protein foods take up to 5 hours to digest while carbohydrate foods digest within 30 minutes.
3. Eat at least five servings a day of vegetables including two of leafy greens
4. Have a daily serving of legumes like black beans or lentils.
5. Enjoy grass or pasture fed meat up to three times a week
6. Eat at least three daily servings of fruits like berries –which have a lower glycaemic impact
7. Limit or eliminate milk and dairy as these can aggravate the problem. If you do have dairy have only non-homogenized full fat milk
8. Pay careful attention to portion sizes in order to moderate glucose load and minimize insulin resistance
9. Add one or two tbsp of cinnamon on cereal each morning to help decrease insulin resistance.
10. Include prebiotic and probiotic foods which promote the growth of beneficial bacteria in the intestinal tract. Prebiotics are found in whole grains, onions, bananas, garlic, honey, leeks, artichokes and some fortified foods. Probiotic foods are found in fermented foods (sauerkraut, live culture yogurt, kim chi, miso).
In addition, get your heart rate up with at least 30 minutes of vigorous exercise every day. Studies have shown that exercise can reverse diabetes and improve insulin sensitivity as well as help with weight control.
Just losing five to ten percent of your body weight, if you are overweight, can restore your menstrual periods and reduce symptoms like facial hair and acne. However, it is important not to exercise too hard. Over exercise can deplete you and raise your testosterone levels. This is not the time to start your marathon training. Balance is the key!
Supplements to ask your practitioner about..
• Chlorophyll: reduces symptoms of hypoglycaemia without raising blood glucose level
• B vitamins, magnesium, alpha lipoeic acid and conjugated linoleic acid: improve insulin resistance
• N-acetylcysteine (NAC) – Regulates blood sugar and is a strong anti-oxidant
• Saw Palmento – blocks the production of DHT. A building block of testosterone.
• Bitter Melon and fenugreek – Regulate blood glucose
In addition to dietary therapy, exercise and life style changes, your practitioner may prescribe acupuncture and herbal formulas. Some promising studies have shown Chinese herbs to be more effective than Western medicine in stimulating ovulation.
After 2-3 months of treatment you should begin to notice signs of ovulation like increased mid-month vaginal discharge and elevated Basal Body Temperature (BBT). You may notice, if you have very long cycles, that ovulation comes earlier in the cycle indicating healthier egg production. As well your skin should clear up and your excess hair should diminish.
In general, lifestyle changes which include weight loss. insulin control and TCM treatment with herbs and acupuncture have proven to be very effective in the treatment of PCOS.
Written by Dr. Elaine Hickman
B.H.Sc.TCM (Acupuncture), Cert.Cl.Ac. (Beijing)
Elaine has trained and worked in various settings, both in Australia and China. She has over 20 years experience in treating many health problems. Elaine loves to provide a health care experience for people that is respectful, effective, empowering and enjoyable. Elaine’s acupuncture treatments are gentle, powerful, amazingly relaxing and incorporate Japanese & Chinese techniques, as well as Medical Qi Gong if appropriate. Elaine has a particular interest in Gynaecology, Fertility, Obstetrics, Family Medicine, Wellness promotion and Mental Health.
Elaine is the Principal Practitioner at Freedom Chinese Medicine, managing a dedicated team of practitioners & staff, and supervises many TCM students in clinical training. Elaine is confident that you are in excellent hands with her practitioner team while she is currently on maternity leave.