5 ways to manage PCOS naturally
Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a hormonal condition and a major cause of infertility and insulin resistance. Tackling the root causes naturally can often lead to better results than drug treatments. Here’s how to manage PCOS naturally.
1. Get in balance
Addressing your diet is key. Blood sugar highs and lows cause insulin spikes, so it’s vital to regulate your blood sugar by eating little and often. Combine complex unrefined carbohydrates such as vegetables, fruit, rye bread, wholemeal pasta and oats, with proteins such as lean meat, fish, nuts and nut butters, seeds and eggs. Avoid refined carbs like white bread and cakes, as these lead to a blood sugar high followed by a crash, which can leave you craving more – a problem for your insulin levels and your weight.
2. Watch your weight
Women with PCOS gain weight for metabolic reasons, not necessarily because they eat too much. Unfortunately, it can be harder to lose weight if you have PCOS – but being overweight can contribute further to insulin resistance, so it’s important to get to a healthy weight. Exercise is key.
3. Swap dairy
Try to avoid dairy, as milk contains an insulin-like growth factor which can interfere with hormone balance. Look for calcium-enriched alternatives like soya and rice milk.
4. Beat stress
Stress makes your body release male hormones. Avoid caffeine, get plenty of sleep, and try tai chi, yoga or meditation to help you relax. Exercise is also important for controlling stress hormones.
5. Supernutrient help
Supplements that can help include chromium, which stabilises blood sugar and makes insulin more effective. The B vitamins also help with blood sugar and hormone imbalance. Zinc is needed for reproductive hormones, and there’s a link between PCOS and lack of magnesium.
Co-enzyme Q10 and alpha lipoic acid can be useful as they help balance blood sugar, and fish oils keep cells fluid and receptive. The amino acids N-acetyl cysteine and L-arginine help with insulin sensitivity. Inositol also helps – it’s often found in combination supplements.
Dr Marilyn Glenville PhD is the UK’s leading nutritionist specialising in women’s health. She is the former president of the Food & Health Forum at the Royal Society of Medicine, and the author of a number of internationally best-selling health books, including The Natural Health Bible For Women and Natural Solutions For PCOS.