PCOS and not ovulating regularly? (PART A)
A few simple lifestyle changes can help regulate your cycle and bring you one step closer to a healthy pregnancy. Seeing as it is PCOS awareness month, I thought I would go back to the lifestyle basics for people with PCOS hoping to regulate their cycle. PCOS is an umbrella term. There are actually different types of PCOS, as eloquently described by my colleague Dr. Kali MacIsaac.
Symptoms associated with PCOS may include:
Irregular or absent menstruation caused by a lack of ovulation, weight gain, fatigue, unwanted hair growth, thinning hair on the head, infertility, acne, mood changes, headaches and sleep problems such as sleep apnea.
Common factors associated with PCOS include:
Although not everyone has every factor listed above, most people with PCOS can benefit from lifestyle changes that improve insulin sensitivity and decrease inflammation, so that is what I will focus on in this blog.
Let’s talk diet:
Ugh, diet again?! I know, I know, I feel like we are always getting told what to eat and not eat. But think of it this way. You have the control in this situation. You don’t need to depend on anyone, and may be able to take full credit for regulating your cycle like a freaking magician!
The key here is that regulating blood sugar is associated with increased ovulation regularity.
Meal portion pyramid: Without even changing what you eat, changing what meals are biggest and which are lighter, can have an impact on your ovulation. Making sure your lunch and breakfast are the larger meals and dinner lighter, has shown to improve chances of ovulation in those with anovulation due to PCOS.
Revamp your carbs: There is a real hate on for carbohydrates lately, but not all carbohydrates are created equally. Try trading your starchy vegetables and grains, for greens and cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, kale, cauliflower, spinach, chard, cucumber, zucchini, and cabbage. Your body will benefit from the extra folate and more regulated blood sugar levels.
Be choosy with your fruit: Berries have much less sugar in them than tropical fruit like bananas, pineapples, and mangos. Try focusing on seasonal, local fruit that are lower on the glycemic index.
Picking your protein: Including protein in each meal and snack is a great way to regulate your blood sugar throughout the day. Sticking with wild-caught, grass-fed/ pasture raised meat is even better, because it reduces exposure to unnecessary hormones and pharmaceutical medications. Wild salmon is a great option, for it is not only packed with protein, but it is also a great source of good fats and anti-inflammatory properties (note: farmed salmon do not contain the same ratio of EPA and DHA fat as their wild counterpart do)
Plate ratio: The easiest way to overhaul your eating habits, without having to track every bite you take on a phone app, is to use the plate ratio visual. Half of your plate should be greens and non-starchy vegetables, a quarter protein and the final quarter starch/carbohydrate; add some good fats on top, and you are good to go!
This is of course, just general advice. If you have questions about what a personal health audit would look like if you are curious to see how you can regulate your menstruation or improve your chances of a healthy pregnancy, feel free to book a 15 minute free consultation with me here.
Curious to learn more? Here's Part B, where I discuss the best exercises for people with PCOS.