Natural Solutions to Manage Your Insulin-Resistance PCOS
At least eighty percent of women with PCOS have some degree of insulin resistance. While discovering that your insulin may not be functioning properly can be overwhelming, the good news is some simple diet, movement and vitamin tweaks can greatly improve your symptoms by improving insulin sensitivity.
What is insulin-resistance?
Insulin is a hormone that's responsible for storing energy from the food we eat. When our blood sugar rises, we release insulin to help move the sugar from our blood into our cells. Sometimes, this process doesn't work the way it should and our cells become "tired" to the effects of insulin. This means they don't open up to let the glucose (sugar) in as easily as they should. Our body responds by making more and more insulin until the cell finally responds. This is known as insulin resistance.
What causes insulin-resistance?
There are many factors that contribute to the development of insulin-resistance, including what you eat (e.g. a higher sugar intake), lack of exercise, genetic predispositions, poor gut health, adrenal exhaustion, smoking and lack of sleep.
How does this affect PCOS?
In PCOS, having too much insulin causes your ovaries to produce too much testosterone. This excess testosterone gets into your head hair follicles (making it fall out), skin glands (causing acne) and into body hair follicles (causing thick, dark hairs where we don't want them). Excess insulin also causes your brain to create more luteinising hormone (LH) which causes delayed or halted ovulation (hence late or missing periods).
Signs of Insulin-Resistant PCOS
- Weight gain, particularly around your waist area
- Intense sugar cravings
- Feeling sleepy, jittery or moody if you don't eat regularly
- Dark, velvety patches in your skin folds
- Skin tags (especially on your neck)
- Other classic signs of PCOS (acne, hair changes, irregular cycles)
Natural Solutions for Insulin-Resistant PCOS
Your First Step: Break Up With Sugar
Excess sugar is one of the biggest contributors to insulin-resistant PCOS. Eating sugar causes your blood glucose levels to rise quickly, triggering a release of insulin. In insulin resistance, this response is exaggerated, causing a flow on effect to testosterone production and other PCOS hormonal imbalances. To reduce insulin production, we first need to reduce blood sugar spikes. Reducing your added sugar intake is a great way to start addressing blood sugar.
Some common sources of sugar to reduce!
- Adding sugar to your tea and coffee
- Cakes, pastries, doughnuts, cookies
- Soda, energy drinks, flavored milks
- Candy, chocolate bars, etc
PCOS and insulin resistance can cause instense sugar cravings, so follow these tips to help fight your sugar craving whe nthey show up:
- Have a drink of water first - thirst can be mistaken for cravings!
- Prioritize sleep (fatigue increases sugar cravings!)
- Have a balanced snack on hand to reduce the likelihood of reaching for a candy bar - e.g. dark chocolate (aim for 85% or higher cacao), piece of fruit with handful of nuts, some almond putter butter or a quality protein snack
- Be kind to yourself when you do give in to occasional treats - enjoy them mindfully and then move on
Your Second Step: Enjoy Balanced Meals
Enjoying a balance of macronutrients on your plate (fats, protein and carbs) will allow your blood sugar levels to rise slowly, preventing the large spikes in blood glucose which trigger excess insulin production. Eating this way also helps to reduce sugar cravings and give you more sustained energy throughout the day.
- Create meals that contain a balance of protein, healthy fats and slow-release carbohydrates.
- Make protein and fiber-rich vegetables the focus of your meals
- Choose a small portion slow-release carbs (e.g. brown rice, sweet potato, whole oats)
Your Third Step: Supplement PCOS Specific Vitamans
Diet and lifestyle strategies are crucial in addressing the root cause of your PCOS. Adding in targeted vitamins to support your specific root cause is often the final piece of the puzzle to reverse your PCOS symptoms for good. Here at Inspire Organics I have created PCOS-specific root cause vitamins to support the individual drivers of your symptoms.