• 5 Root Cause Approaches to PCOS 

    By Diana Zic, RPYT, Certified Functional & Integrative Health Coach

    Whether you’re starting to plan your family, you’ve been on your journey for a bit, or have had your kiddos; having a conversation with your doctor about Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) can be a good idea if you are having symptoms!

    What is PCOS and is who affected?

    PCOS it is one of the most common hormonal endocrine disorders in women. It affects 7 million women in the United States alone. In fact, September is PCOS Awareness Month! Statistics show this impacts all races/ethnicities including: Caucasian: 4.8%, African American: 8.0%, Hispanics/Latinas: 13%, as well as, an added concern for teens as obesity increases. 

    For some women, symptoms can appear as early as their first menstrual cycle. Unfortunately, most women don’t know they have it until they start trying to conceive. PCOS can often looks like what is termed “normal” symptoms to have as a maturing woman. For example, you may have acne, anxiety (reduce anxiety and stress!), depression, or an eating disorder. 

    The diagnosis of PCOS varies based on the criteria used by your doctor and may look for the following: hyperandrogenism, chronic anovulation, polycystic ovaries, and oligoanovulation.  

    PCOS affect 7 million women in the US alone.

    What Causes it?

    Genetic predisposition appears to be strong with this diagnosis.  Many women have mothers and sisters struggling with the same condition!

    GOOD NEWS! Lifestyle factors such as diet, exercise, and stress reduction combats against your predisposition!

    So, what are gals to do if they suspect PCOS? 

    Keep reading for tips!

    1. Talk with your doctor. It’s important to get the appropriate testing done to get clarification! A simple blood test and ultrasound is all you need to get started.  You may even be eligible for a free check-up! Learn more here.
    2. Dietary Changes. Lose the low-fat, high-carbohydrate diets. Choose complex carbs, which are high in fiber and moves through your body more slowly so your blood sugar levels stays level. According to the Mayo Clinic, even a modest reduction in your weight – for instance, losing 5 percent of your body weight – might improve your condition. 
    3. There are also supplements available that may be helpful. See the new research on PCOS and CoQ10 Supplementation today!

    Here’s a prior blog of mine for some ideas of foods to start incorporating now. 

    1. Be active. Exercising daily helps to reduce and/or prevent insulin resistance, reduce inflammation and it’s the happy drug for your mind by producing endorphins. It also helps to reset your HPA Axis – reducing stress! Try the Moon Salute Sequence today to see what a difference a few minutes can make! Join Pulling Down the Moon’s 6 Week Yoga for Fertility Series starting September 24th (for those trying to conceive), or CocoonCare’s schedule (for pre/postnatal care) to see for yourself! 
    2. Get support. As I mentioned, 7 million women in the USA have PCOS, so don’t feel like your abnormal or broken beyond repair. We can help you implement these changes, reach out!

    Wanna learn more on the root cause approach? Try the You Pick Two Special during PCOS Awareness Month to try two services (Acupuncture, Massage, Yoga for Fertility, or Health Coaching) for only $199!

    Be well, 

    Diana

  • PCOS and Coenzyme Q10 Supplementation

    By Robin Miller, RDN

    Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is one of the most common causes of infertility in women, affecting up to 10% of women of childbearing age. Despite what the name suggests, it is actually a disorder of the endocrine system–think hormones! You can even be diagnosed with PCOS even without having ovarian cysts. 

    PCOS is characterized by high levels of androgens (“male” hormones), including testosterone, androstenedione, dihydrotestosterone (DHT), dehydroepiandrosteron (DHEA) and DHEA sulfate (DHEA-S). Higher than normal levels of insulin are also common due to to insulin resistance (much like that seen in type 2 diabetes) over time. When you have insulin resistance, your insulin isn’t working as well as it should to signal for glucose to be transported out of the blood and into the cells of the body to be used for energy. To compensate, the pancreas produces more insulin leading to high insulin levels, which seem to drive the higher testosterone levels in PCOS.

    A recent study suggests that supplementation of Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10), has beneficial effects on glucose metabolism as well as serum total and LDL cholesterol levels in people with PCOS. In this study subjects took 100 mg of CoQ10 daily for a 12-week period at the conclusion of the study a notable improvement in overall fasting glucose, insulin resistance, and total and LDL cholesterol was observed in subjects. 

    So, what is Coezyme Q10?  Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) is a nutrient that occurs naturally in the body. CoQ10 is also in many foods we eat. CoQ10 is involved in energy production and acts as an antioxidant, which protects cells from damage and plays an important part in the metabolism.  

    Unfortunately, as we age, naturally occurring levels of CoQ10 in our body decline. Evidence suggests that supplementing CoQ10 may help many different conditions such as high blood pressure and heart failure and most recently PCOS. 

    Want to learn more about how supplements can help you? Schedule a  nutrition consult and work with one of our Registered Dietitians to develop an individualized supplement and treatment plan specifically designed for you!

  • Demystifying Insulin Resistance and the Impact on Fertility and Pregnancy

    By Margaret Eich, MS, RDN

    Insulin resistance is a common component of polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), but did you know many other women have insulin resistance as well. The presence of insulin resistance prior to pregnancy is associated with increased risk for gestational diabetes, preeclampsia, and having a large baby. How do you know if you’re at risk for insulin resistance? If you have PCOS, prediabetes, or are carrying extra weight, especially in the abdomen, you may have insulin resistance. An estimated 60-75% of women with PCOS have insulin resistance regardless of their weight. If you are concerned that insulin resistance may be an issue for your, talk to your doctor about labs test that can be done.

    What is insulin resistance? Insulin is a hormone secreted by the pancreas that helps transport glucose, which is broken down from the carbohydrates we eat, into the cells of our body to be used for energy. When insulin isn’t working effectively to get glucose out of our blood and into our cells, this is called insulin resistance. The pancreas tends to compensate for insulin resistance by pumping out even more insulin leading to elevated insulin levels. These elevated insulin levels seem to be at the root of the elevated androgen/testosterone levels commonly found in women with PCOS. Thus addressing the insulin resistance in PCOS may help lower insulin and testosterone levels and improve menstrual cycle regularity. 

    If you do have insulin resistance, the good news is that there is plenty you can do with your diet and lifestyle to help your insulin work more effectively:

    1) Lose weight if needed. Even a 7% weight loss can help your insulin work better. For example, if you weigh 200#, losing 7% of your body weight is losing 14#. You don’t have to lose weight into a “normal” BMI range in order to make a significant impact.

    2) Exercise. Exercise moves glucose from your bloodstream and into the cells of the body without the need for insulin. Ideally, if you can exercise at least 150 minutes per week, you can improve your insulin resistance. Getting some exercise, like walking, after meals, especially after high carb meals, is a great way to help manage blood sugar levels.

    3) Manage your carb intake. Minimize refined carbs and added sugar. Focus on low glycemic carbs like legumes, vegetables, fruit, and whole grains. Limit starches to ¼ of your plate at meals, and practice filling half your plate with non-starchy vegetables.

    4) Include protein with all your meals and snacks. Including protein helps ensure your meals and snacks are satisfying and keep you full for at least a few hours. When protein is paired with carbs, it slows the absorption of carbs into the bloodstream leading to a more gradual rise in blood sugar levels.

    References: 

    Check out our upcoming webinar for more information on this topic with our NEW SERIES: Beyond the Blog!!  Join us on Monday, October 21st at 6pm CST for “Yoga and Nutrition for PCOS and Beyond”!

    Are you looking to manage your PCOS, weight, and/or insulin resistance? Make an appointment with one of our Registered Dietitians today!

  • 30 Nutrition Tips for PCOS Awareness Month

    By Margaret Eich MS, RD

    Have your vitamin D tested. Women with PCOS are often vitamin D deficient, and correcting the deficiency may help restore more frequent menstrual cycles and promote improved blood sugar regulation.

    Eat low mercury fish like wild salmon, tilapia, and sardines. These fish contain omega-3 fatty acids that may help reduce the inflammation associated with PCOS.

    Cut out all sugar-sweetened drinks like soda, sweetened teas, and sports drinks. These beverages can lead to insulin resistance, which only exacerbates the symptoms of PCOS. Instead, drink water with lemon or cucumber slices, or sparkling water with a splash of 100% fruit juice

    Avoid artificial sweeteners. They usually serve only to exacerbate sugar cravings and may contribute to issues with blood sugar regulation

    Make sure to eat a protein source at all your meals and snacks to help keep you full and satisfied and promote good blood sugar regulation. Moderate protein diets have been associated with better IVF success rates too! Protein sources include meat, fish, eggs, beans, nuts and seeds, or (limited) dairy.

    Eat only full-fat dairy instead of low-fat or non-fat. In the Nurse’s Health Study, intake of full-fat dairy, as opposed to reduced or non-fat dairy, was associated with lower risk of ovulatory infertility.

    Eat cruciferous vegetables daily, as they are great for estrogen-dominant conditions like PCOS. Cruciferous vegetables include broccoli, cabbage, kale, collard greens, and arugula.

    Avoid refined grains like white breads, pasta, cookies, cereals and crackers. They have no nutritional value. Instead eat whole grains like Ezekiel bread, brown or wild rice, quinoa, and millet.

    Take a fish oil supplement. Since it’s important to limit fish due to its mercury content, taking a fish oil supplement that has been purified to remove mercury is a great way to make sure you’re getting plenty of omega-3 fatty acids to help reduce the inflammation associated with PCOS.

    Lose the sugar! High blood sugar may be damaging to egg quality and promote inflammation in the body, besides the fact that it’s empty calories. Cutting back on the sugar is also an essential strategy if you’re trying to lose weight.

    Avoid corn, soybean, and cottonseed oils that are rich in inflammatory omega-6 rich fatty acids. These oils are often found in crackers, cookies, salad dressings, and pasta sauces.

    Eat vitamin D-rich foods like low mercury fish (salmon, tilapia, haddock, sardines) and egg yolks and get some sunshine.

    Eat fermented foods, which can help promote healthy digestion and balanced gut bacteria.

    Avoid foods with “soy protein isolate” and “texturized vegetable protein,” as they contain high levels of phytoestrogens that may be detrimental to fertility. You find these in meat replacement products, many protein bars, and in high protein cold cereals.

    Eat organic whenever possible, especially meat and dairy.

    Work towards a healthy weight. Whether you are overweight or underweight, a healthy weight is an important way to help improve your chances of conception and a healthy pregnancy.

    Eat berries. Berries are rich in antioxidants that may help reduce inflammation and prevent free radical damage to eggs.

    Eat healthy fats – dry roasted or raw nuts and seeds, avocados, low mercury fish, and olive oil.

    Learn the Dirty Dozen and Clean Fifteen. Check out the Environmental Working Group’s website to learn more. The Dirty Dozen are the top 12 fruits and vegetables with the highest levels of pesticide residues. These are the items to buy organic. The Clean 15 have the lowest pesticide residues so buying conventional versions is a good money-saving option.

    Avoid Bisphenol A (BPA) by using a BPA-free water bottle and limiting your intake of canned foods. Higher BPA levels in the body have been linked to PCOS.

    Try myo-inositol. This vitamin-like supplement may reduce insulin and testosterone levels and may promote ovulation in women with PCOS!

    Try cutting out gluten, especially if you have any digestive issues like diarrhea, constipation, or frequent bloating. If you have poor digestion, you likely are not absorbing nutrients from your food well.

    Support good digestion with probiotics, fiber from fruits and vegetables, and plenty of fluids. Limit refined grains and sugars.

    Eat beans and lentils. These nutritional powerhouses are great for PCOS as they are loaded with protein, fiber, iron, folate, and calcium – all very beneficial nutrients when trying to conceive.

    Avoid trans fats, which are a component of hydrogenated oils. Don’t buy any foods with “hydrogenated oil” in the ingredient list as these unhealthy fats may increase inflammation and are linked to decreased fertility.

    Take a prenatal vitamin that contains all of your B-vitamins. B-vitamins are vital to the ovulation process and especially important for women with PCOS. If you aren’t eating a balanced diet, you may not be getting enough of these important vitamins like thiamin, riboflavin, folic acid, B6 and B12 among others.

    Eat low glycemic carbohydrates. Low glycemic carbs keep your blood sugar steadier and provide more sustained energy throughout the day. Blood sugar balance can help keep insulin levels lower, which is important because higher insulin levels seem to be a driving force in PCOS.

    Eat foods with folate. You should definitely be taking a folic acid supplement while trying to conceive, but eating foods with folate is also beneficial. Include leafy green vegetables, beans, lentils, green peas, strawberries, and avocados.

    Eat slowly and mindfully. These practices can enhance digestion and absorption of nutrients and satisfaction with eating and prevent overeating and digestive issues like gas and bloating.

    Get plenty of antioxidants in your diet, especially if you’re doing ART. One study suggests that IVF increases free radicals, but increasing your intake of antioxidant vitamins and minerals was able to neutralize the free radicals. Think lots of different colored fruits and vegetables!

    Want to learn more? Schedule a nutrition consult today!