Do you suffer from Polycystic Ovary Syndrome? You’re not alone.
According to the World Health Organization, Polycystic Ovary Syndrome, or PCOS, affects 116 million women worldwide. Problems with regular ovulation are the leading cause of female infertility, and PCOS is the single most common ovulatory disorder, affecting 85% of women with ovulatory disorders.
At its core PCOS is an endocrine disorder that results in hormone imbalance. Hormones are key to your body maintaining healthy function. They travel all over your body, delivering chemical messages that help you maintain your metabolism, regulate your mood, and, yes, aid in healthy reproduction.
Women with PCOS have an abnormally high level of male sex hormones (testosterone and DHEA-S) compared to female sex hormones (estrogen and progesterone). Having high levels of the male hormones can prevent the ovaries from ovulating (releasing an egg) regularly, which is why women with PCOS tend to have irregular periods and trouble conceiving.
I wrote recently about ways that you can cope with living with PCOS. But what about, instead of just living with the condition, getting some actual relief?
Conventional treatment for hormone imbalances like PCOS has traditionally consisted of prescribing medications. Hormone replacement therapies, thyroid medications (your thyroid makes two important hormones that affect every cell and all organs of your body, so thyroid health is very important for overall hormone health), or other medications like insulin injections or birth control pills have been the traditional ways that doctors and patients have sought to manage the condition.
The problem with relying solely on medication is that oftentimes, medication doesn’t actually solve the problem. It simply camouflages it – meaning, you might feel some relief for your condition, but you actually still have it. Medications also have side effects, or lead to other medical issues, so it could be a case of robbing Peter to pay Paul.
September is PCOS Awareness Month – beginning today and through September, B Method will focus on steps you can take to help balance your hormones naturally. Depending on your unique circumstances, you may not be able to ditch the medication altogether, depending on your unique circumstances, but the strategies we explore over the next few weeks could help you reduce the medication you need. And in some cases, implementing these strategies in a long-term, sustainable way could help you be medication free.
Implementing these strategies will help you be an active participant in your own medical care, which was one of my top tips for coping with living with PCOS (and any other medical condition).
Strategy #1: Eat Healthy Fats
Eating a healthy diet is one of the most effective ways for managing virtually any medical condition. Food is the most amazing medicine that we have, right at our fingertips.
Many of the hallmarks of a healthy diet – leafy green vegetables, whole grains, fresh fruits, less refined sugars and carbohydrates – apply to managing PCOS as well. So following those guidelines is a great place to start when cleaning up your diet.
If you have PCOS, however, it’s even more important to make sure you’re getting ample healthy fats into your diet.
Since PCOS is a hormonal condition, you want to make sure you facilitate healthy hormone production as much as possible. Hormone production is dependent on beneficial fats and cholesterol, and eating the right kinds of fats, and in sufficient quantities, is a great way to do that.
The NOT SO GOOD fats are polyunsaturated fats and Omega-6 fatty acids. These are the fats found in man-made vegetable oils (like canola or soybean oil), margarine (also man-made), packaged snack foods, fried foods and packaged baked goods.
The GOOD fats are unsaturated fats and Omega 3 fatty acids. These fats are vital for healthy hormone production, as well as brain and cell function. Literally, these fats are the building blocks of our health.
Here are some of the foods to eat to get the GOOD fats:
- Nuts: Almonds and walnuts make a great snack. They’re not overly filling and can help lower your glycemic index which is beneficial for insulin resistance.
- Avocados: A real powerhouse food in so many ways, avocados are loaded with healthy fats. They’re also an anti-inflammatory food which helps stave off chronic illness. In the case of women with PCOS, inflammation also increases insulin resistance.
- Olive oil: A terrific source of Omega-3 fatty acids, olive oil needs to be your cooking oil of choice. It’s also great for salad dressings.
- Fish: These are also great sources for Omega-3s, salmon especially. Salmon has also been found to be one of the few good food sources of Vitamin D, which his important for women with PCOS, man of whom have been found to be Vitamin D deficient. If eating salmon, make sure you go for wild-caught, rather than farmed, fish.
No one food is going to be the cure-all for managing PCOS but by incorporating a variety of healthy fatty foods we can go a long way towards keeping our symptoms in check.
Here’s a great recipe for grilled salmon that not only tastes delicious – it also helps you get a good dose of healthy fats.
Grilled Salmon with Avocado
- 1 lb salmon filet, cut into 2 pieces
- ½ tsp ground cumin
- ½ tsp paprika
- ½ tsp garlic powder
- ½ tsp chili powder
- 1 avocado, chopped
- ½ small onion, diced
- 1 garlic glove, minced
- Juice of 1 lemon
- 2 tsp olive oil
- 2 tsp chopped cilantro
- Sea salt and pepper to taste
In a bowl, combine the cumin, paprika, garlic powder, and chili powder, and season with salt and pepper to taste. Rub the mixture all over the salmon. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.
In another bowl, combine avocado, onion, garlic, lemon juice, olive oil, cilantro and salt and pepper to taste. Toss to coat all ingredients.
Preheat grill and grill salmon for 5 minutes each side. Serve salmon topped with avocado mixture.
You can also pan fry the salmon in olive oil.
Stay tuned for next week’s strategy for getting relief from PCOS. In the meantime, give this dish a try and let me know how you like it!