The key to managing PCOS: Balanced blood sugars
Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) is a common hormonal disorder affecting individuals with ovaries, presenting challenges such as irregular periods, fertility issues, and hormonal imbalances.
Insulin resistance is often a key player in PCOS, leading to elevated levels of insulin and androgens, such as testosterone. Fortunately, adopting a tailored diet and lifestyle changes to balance blood sugars, can positively influence these hormonal imbalances.
Balancing blood sugars: The triad of protein, fat, and fibre
A crucial aspect of managing PCOS involves keeping blood sugar levels stable. Unstable blood sugar can exacerbate insulin resistance, a common concern for individuals with PCOS. The strategic inclusion of protein, healthy fats, and fibre in your diet can make a significant difference.
1. Protein's stabilising effect
Protein-rich foods, such as lean meats, fish, eggs, dairy, and plant-based sources like legumes and tofu, play a vital role in balancing blood sugar. Including protein in every meal and snack helps slow down the absorption of carbohydrates, preventing sudden spikes in blood sugar levels. Protein is especially important (and often missed!) at breakfast time.
2. Embracing healthy fats
Incorporating sources of healthy fats, such as avocados, nuts, seeds, oily fish and olive oil, provides a triple benefit. Healthy fats not only contribute to a feeling of satiety, reducing the likelihood of overeating, but they also help regulate blood sugar levels and they can improve insulin sensitivity. These fats slow down the digestion of carbohydrates, preventing rapid spikes and crashes in blood sugar. Including fats at every meal is key!
3. Fibre’s impact on insulin sensitivity
High-fibre foods, including whole grains, vegetables, and legumes, are essential for individuals with PCOS. Fibre not only aids in digestion and promotes a healthy gut but also helps manage blood sugar levels. It slows the absorption of sugar, improving insulin sensitivity and reducing the risk of insulin resistance.
Sample PCOS meal plan for balanced blood sugars:
- Breakfast: Scrambled eggs, avocado on rye toast, mushrooms and spinach
- Lunch: Chicken and quinoa salad with roasted courgette, rocket, radish and olive oil
- Dinner: Cod and chorizo in fresh tomato sauce with red onion, olives and broccoli
Lifestyle factors for PCOS
1. Regular physical activity
Engage in a mix of aerobic exercises, such as brisk walking, jogging, or cycling, along with strength training. Regular exercise improves insulin sensitivity and helps manage weight, crucial for individuals with PCOS.
2. Yoga and stress management
Incorporate stress-reducing activities like yoga or meditation into your routine. Chronic stress can exacerbate PCOS symptoms, and mindful practices can help regulate cortisol levels.
3. Prioritise quality sleep
Lack of sleep can disrupt hormonal balance and contribute to insulin resistance. Aim for seven to nine hours of uninterrupted sleep each night.
4. Limit exposure to endocrine disruptors
Be mindful of environmental factors that can disrupt hormonal balance, such as certain chemicals found in plastics. Opt for glass or stainless steel containers, and choose organic products when possible.
While these changes can positively impact PCOS, it's essential to consult with healthcare professionals, such as a nutritionist or endocrinologist, to create a personalised plan tailored to your specific needs.
I’m Georgina, a women’s health and hormone specialist Nutritional Therapist. I provide personalised expert advice to help women optimise their hormonal imbalances, help them lose weight and give them the freedom they deserve. If you are ready for change, please get in touch to book in for your 30-minute free consultation where you will walk away with an action plan to get you feeling great.