Many women are having to deal with these four little letters today, and unfortunately, the situation is only getting worse. Hormonal imbalances have become some sort of normalcy, and no one really understands the real problems and consequences that tag along with them. I wanted to write this article in hopes of creating some more awareness around PCOS and how to deal not only with the symptoms, but everything else that comes with it.
Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is an ovulation-related issue which is a direct side-effect of hormonal imbalance. Women with this syndrome have trouble conceiving, absent/irregular periods, ovarian cysts, body hair craziness…and so much more. The problem occurs when the egg does not develop, or is not developed properly during ovulation. Believe it or not, the EXACT cause of PCOS is still unknown.
Even with all the technology in the world, we still don’t know why the hormonal imbalance happens in women all around the world, no matter their ethnicity, race, habits, or surrounding. Ten percent of the overall female population deals with it and with the high infertility risk it’s followed with. I believe it’s our duty to start acknowledging it as something serious and find ways to prevent it from happening. Genes do have something to do with it, but they are not the main factor as a lot of women never had PCOS in their family. All scientists do agree that there are 2 factors that definitely contribute to its development:
- High levels of Androgens (also known as the “male hormones”) – Women have a certain amount of androgens naturally in their bodies that perform over 200 actions. Some of their main purposes include getting converted into estrogen, keeping libido levels in check, and preventing bone loss. With PCOS, those levels go through the roof, causing irregular periods, body hair overgrowth, acne, balding, and in 90% of cases, weight gain.
Left untreated, this leads to the other contributing factor…
- High levels of Insulin – Insulin is one of the most important hormones in our body as it regulates our blood sugar levels. Any type of insulin imbalance causes insulin sensitivity or resistance which leads to diabetes, heart disease, and high blood pressure. This is why PCOS usually leads to weight gain and eventually, diabetes or other inflammation related problems.
This is the part where I tell you, it’s possible to turn it all around or at least work on reducing the symptoms and keeping them under control. Since insulin resistance is one of the most important factors, controlling its levels is KEY. Lowering inflammation, reducing stress, and nourishing the body with healthy, nutritious foods, as well as boosting the system with antioxidants and adaptogens, are the tools to making PCOS get scared and run away! 🙂
So, here are some tips in making that happen:
I’ve talked about its incredible inflammation-reducing properties in THIS article, so make sure to go ahead and check it out, because nobody likes a repeater, am I right? 😀 All jokes aside, turmeric is one of the greatest cancer-fighting, infection-preventing, illness-protecting foods in this world, so make sure to stock up on it and use it DAAAAILY (with a dash of black pepper to activate it properly)!
These are herbs and mushrooms that make our bodies better adapt to stress. If you’ve never heard of the term, now is the time! Rhodiola, Ashwagandha, Reishi, Chaga, Maca…get on that adaptogen train and play with them in the kitchen. You can find some smoothies and lattes I’ve concocted for my Kali girls if you need some help along the way! 🙂
Choose from a variety of fruits & veggies to create your free-radicals fighting army! One of my favorites are all kinds of berries, pomegranate, sweet potato, pumpkin, leafy greens, spirulina & chlorella, cacao (hello hot chocolate!), avocado, chia seeds, and flax seeds.
Get your exercise in, girl!! No slacking por favor! We all know exercise is good for us, and that it keeps us healthy & promotes longevity. But when we’re on that PCOS journey, we need to pay attention to exercise even more to keep our blood sugar in check and fat storage reduced to a minimum. Whether it’s yoga, pilates, rock climbing, running, soul cycle, swimming, or weight lifting, it’s time to put those headphones on and get your groove on!
Prioritize your sleep! It seems I keep mentioning it in almost all of my recent articles, but I really want to emphasize how important it is to get a good night’s sleep…every single night! We completely underestimate its purpose and once we take the time and create some good sleeping habits, it’s incredible how many other things fall into place (and hormones are no exception!)
#6 Intermittent Fasting
Although a very controversial topic nowadays, intermittent fasting is proven to be efficient when it comes to PCOS, as it keeps insulin & cortisol levels low. There are a million different ways you could introduce it in your diet without having to do anything crazy like a 24-hour fast, or any type of food restrictions. Simply skipping breakfast is a great place to start, but just make sure you’re still eating enough calories throughout your “eating period”.
By keeping these points under control, PCOS can become a much easier target to tackle. Although we cannot completely cure it, we can definitely make the symptoms diminish, or even completely go away, which makes it harder to create havoc and bring on all those nasty consequences I mentioned in the beginning of the article. But, the most important thing to do, by far, is to listen to your body and learn to recognize the symptoms, so that you can start healing as soon as possible, before PCOS has already had the time to create some damage. As always, our bodies know best, and they’ll keep on giving us hints, until we can’t ignore them anymore.
XOX, Karla Tafra
Yoga Nutrition Fitness