Around 7 percent of women in the world have reported to suffer from some of the following symptoms – constant fatigue, excess body hair, excess weight, irregular or a complete lack of periods, acne and skin problems and mood swings. These are all known under the name of polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). This syndrome is the main culprit in female infertility and if the condition remains untreated, it may lead to endometrial carcinoma. A woman who has been diagnosed with PCOS will have high LH (luteinizing hormone) level, high oestrogen and testosterone levels and low progesterone level.
In addition to this, she will have an increased risk of heart conditions and diabetes. Conventional medical treatment is today increasingly combined with a specific nutritional approach, which is particularly important in women with PCOS who
need to lose excess weight. This will contribute to stabilizing their insulin level, reduce excess body hair growth, improve skin complexion and make them generally feel more satisfied.
Losing excess weight may significantly increase the chances of getting pregnant; a research shows that 82 percent of women who did not ovulate before weight loss, later increased significantly their chances of getting pregnant.
What causes PCOS?
Although this condition was described for the very first time back in 1935, 75 years later etiology is still unknown.
Nutritional strategy for PCOS
– Excess weight – a research published in Clinical Endocrinology Magazine in 1992 showed that more than 80 percent of women who had not ovulated prior to the research, became pregnant successfully after losing excess weight.
Statistically, around 50 percent of women suffering from PCOS are overweight. Therefore priority is to apply a weight-loss programme that will result in constant and gradual fat loss.
Fast and restrictive weight-loss programmes although instantly effective in reducing weight are not appropriate, as such weight loss will mostly come from water and muscle mass reduction.
Since fat cells are responsible for excess oestrogen, fat reduction is needed in order to restore balance with progesterone. The weight-loss programme should focus on:
- High intake of low GI food vegetables such as chickpeas, lentils, flax, beans, quinoa, oats and barley. Such foods remove successfully excess oestrogen. Once the oestrogen is excreted into the bile, these foods prevent it from re-entering the blood. Refined and all types of food with increased sugar content are responsible for storing excessive fats, which then stimulate additional oestrogen production. Therefore the intake of these foods must be minimized.
- Alcoholic drinks must be minimised as they inhibit the absorption of essential nutrients such as zinc, iron and vitamin B6, important for hormonal balance. Occasional moderate intake of red wine is allowed as resveratrol from red wine has protective role against heart and coronary diseases. However, if you suffer from PCOS, the first step is to lose excess weight and stop drinking alcohol for a while. For all other women, too much alcohol results in an effect similar to oestrogen effect, that is to say it affects body in a way similar to a situation where excess oestrogen was added to your body
Taken from her book: “Nutrition for the 21 century for Woman”.