What is PCOS?
Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) is a collection of symptoms rather than a disease. Many small, fluid-filled sacs grow inside the ovaries, hence the term “polycystic” which means “many cysts”.
It severely affects and unbalances a woman’s hormone levels during their childbearing years (from 15 to 44). Up to 25% of women may be having PCOS but not know it yet.
The symptoms are very individual so each woman may have a completely different symptom to the next, but it could also be genetically inherited.
Symptoms of PCOS:
Do I have PCOS? Check if you have the following symptoms.
- Irregular skipped or non-existent periods.
Low ovulation prevents the uterine lining from being shed every month. Some women with PCOS may get less than eight periods a year.
- Male Pattern Baldness.
High levels of male hormones prevent the ovaries from producing hormones and making eggs naturally and disrupt the menstrual cycle.
- Heavy bleeding. The uterine lining builds up for a long period and results in a heavy flow during the time of periods.
- Cysts in the ovaries.
- A large percentage of women grow hair on their face, back, belly, and chest, resulting in a condition called Hirsutism.
- PCOS is the key reason for infertility in women.
- Anxiety, depression, and other mood orders.
- Sleep Apnea. It relates to snoring and daytime sleepiness.
Women with PCOS have increased levels of inflammation in their bodies.
Many women with PCOS suffer from obesity, which may further cause high blood sugar, high blood pressure, low HDL (“good”) cholesterol, and high LDL (“bad”) cholesterol. This could cause long-term health problems like diabetes and heart disease.
- Insulin Resistance
Obesity is a major cause of Insulin Resistance. Women with PCOS cannot use the insulin hormone properly to regulate the sugar from foods for energy. This could lead to extra glucose in their blood, which can then lead to fat storage.
It is a condition in which the thyroid gland does not produce sufficient thyroid hormones. The thyroid is a little, butterfly-shaped gland that sits in the front of the neck and under Adam’s apple. It releases hormones that help regulate and provides energy to most of the organs in the body. The thyroid also regulates the heartbeat and the digestive system. Hypothyroidism is known to affect women more commonly than men and usually affects people above 60, but it can occur at any age. It can be confirmed through a blood test or examining the symptoms. However, it may not cause any noticeable symptoms during the initial stage. Hypothyroidism left untreated can cause several health problems, such as problems with menstrual period, obesity, joint pain, infertility, problems during pregnancy, and heart disease.
The symptoms and severity of Hypothyroidism can vary from person to person. Watch out for the following symptoms.
- weight gain
- muscle weakness
- feeling cold
- slowed heart rate
- dry skin
- decreased sweating
- elevated blood cholesterol
- pain in the joints, muscle stiffness, aches, and tenderness
- infertility or menstrual problems
- affected memory
- puffy face
- dry, thinning hair
- hoarse voice
How to Treat PCOS and Hypothyroidism
A healthy lifestyle is a cornerstone in the treatment of PCOS or Hypothyroidism. The first line of treatment for women with PCOS is to lose weight. Losing weight causes the hormones to balance out, helps in conceiving, and the insulin sensitivity gets restored. Over time, you may even get your periods back regularly, and all the symptoms of PCOS may also disappear.
But this is, of course, easier said than done. The following steps outline a few guidelines, which apply to Hypothyroidism as well.
- Follow a vegan or vegetarian low fat, low carb, fiber-rich diet.
You can have low-fat foods like whole-grain foods like oats, lean meats, and skimmed milk.
Examples of low carb foods are fish, eggs, leafy green vegetables, cauliflower, broccoli, nuts, seeds, apples, blueberries, and strawberries.
Foods rich in fiber would be whole-grain breakfast cereals, bread, oats, barley, berries, pears, oranges, broccoli, beans, nuts, carrots, and sweetcorn.
- Make sure to include plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables as they will also improve your insulin level.
- Include anti-inflammatory foods in your diet. These include berries, fatty fish, broccoli, avocados, peppers, mushrooms, grapes, green tea, and turmeric. Healthy fat foods like hemp seeds, chia seeds, and flax seeds have excellent anti-inflammatory properties.
Avoid all processed foods and added sugars.
- Maintain a healthy weight.
- Eat food on time and do not under-eat. Try intermittent fasting. Limiting your meals to two or three times a day with no snacks and no food after 8 p.m. may stimulate fat burning and regulate the hunger hormones. Some people may find it more comfortable to eat small portions of food when hungry. Choose the plan which best suits you and follow through with it.
- Get plenty of physical exercise. This is very important as it directly results in weight loss. Even half an hour of exercise three days a week can help women with PCOS lose weight.
Losing weight through exercise also improves ovulation and insulin levels.
Usually overlooked is to drink plenty of water throughout the day. Water helps boost the metabolism to work more efficiently, cleanses the body of waste, and suppresses the appetite.
It is essential while performing rigorous exercise. A recommended dose is the 8×8 rule, i.e., eight 8-ounce glasses per day, which comes to about 2 liters of water.
- Sleep regularly for at least 8 hours or so.
- Stop smoking and drinking alcohol. Quit coffee.
- Maintain a food diary. Jot down what you eat and drink every day. This seems elementary, but it will help you understand your eating habits and accordingly make changes to your diet to lose weight.
- Do NOT consume any birth control pills or any other pharmaceutical medications, unless otherwise prescribed by your doctor, as they could interfere with the body processes and have side effects and increase your weight.
- Consult a nutritional expert who can guide you with a correct personalized diet.
- Additionally, for Hypothyroidism, avoid all soy products, like tofu, soy milk, soya beans, and soya sauce as they interfere with the absorption of thyroid hormones. Make sure to include foods high in iodine, like dairy products, tuna, seaweed, shrimp, eggs, and iodized table salt.
- Hypothyroid patients can rectify their low hormone levels with synthetic thyroid hormone pills, which restore adequate hormone levels, reversing the signs and symptoms of hypothyroidism.
They are quite safe when taken as per the prescription of the doctor. The thyroid pill should be taken on an empty stomach in the morning before breakfast. Make sure to drink plenty of water and wait for at least 30 to 60 minutes before eating breakfast.
When the thyroid levels are back to normal, your body should also shed the extra weight gained previously.
PCOS is also linked to emotions and stress. Stress increases levels of the cortisol hormone, which may increase insulin resistance and lead to weight gain. So, take steps to reduce any stress levels and take care of your emotional health as well. Techniques like yoga and meditation can relax your body. Yoga could improve blood flow to the thyroid gland as well.
Some supplements which are safe to take would be Vitamin B12 supplements for like 2-3 times a week and Resurge. According to ConsumerCompanion Resurge reviews, it’s an effective weight loss supplement which also improve the sleeping cycle. If you do not get enough exposure to the Sun, you can take Vitamin D tablets to improve your bone strength.
You could also try herbal products like Spirulina, Barley Grass, Fruit Juice Powder, Licorice root, Holy Basil, Maca root, White Peony, Gymnema, Echinacea, Schisandra, Indian Ginseng, and Turmeric. One of the best herbs is Chaste tree berry or Vitex, which stimulates the pituitary gland and directs the ovaries to trigger ovulation.
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