strawberry smoothie

Gut Health and PCOS

strawberry smoothie
by Tallene Posted July 6, 2023

Women with polycystic ovary syndrome experience a ton of challenging chronic symptoms. If you’re a Cyster out there, you know what I’m talking about. Symptoms of PCOS including inflammation, fatigue, digestive issues, acne, menstrual cycle irregularities, ovarian cysts, infertility, and more are likely to appear on a daily basis. Living with all these PCOS symptoms makes it really difficult to enjoy a balanced lifestyle. 

Like always, today I want to get you one step closer to finding relief from some of your most debilitating symptoms. Your gut health is a huge piece of the puzzle! Poor gut health can snowball into a slew of other issues. So, to improve your PCOS symptoms and overall health, examining the connection between PCOS and your gut is vital. Here’s what’s up and what you can do about it:

The cycle of gut issues

Gut Health and PCOS Connection

Let’s dive into the fascinating connection between gut health and PCOS. Picture your gut as a bustling metropolis filled with trillions of bacteria, all living their best lives and ensuring the smooth functioning of your digestive system. When this microbial harmony gets disrupted, it’s referred to as dysbiosis, where the balance of gut bacteria goes a bit wonky.

As a result, dysbiosis and less diverse gut bacteria can take center stage, playing a role in the hormonal imbalance that often accompanies PCOS. Your gut bacteria actually have a hand in balancing hormones, so when they’re not in tip-top shape, it can impact your body’s delicate hormonal dance. What’s more, dysbiosis has been linked to increased intestinal permeability, meaning your intestinal walls may become more porous, allowing unwanted substances to slip through.

But fear not, Cyster! By nourishing your gut with a healthy diet and supporting the growth of diverse gut bacteria, you can embark on a journey towards better gut health and potentially find some harmony in the realm of PCOS.

It starts with inflammation. 

Your gut health and PCOS are totally connected. Essentially, it starts with inflammation, which is one of the main symptoms of PCOS. Two major inflammatory foods that may be fueling some of your symptoms are gluten and dairy. Every time you eat gluten, small tears are created in the gut, this is called leaky gut. This allows particles to get through and into your bloodstream, creating chronic inflammation.

If you’re sensitive to gluten, you may have a noticeable immune response, like headaches, joint pain, weight gain, fatigue, acne, and of course, digestive issues! You wouldn’t know if gluten (or dairy) is causing issues for you unless you tried cutting them out for 30 days to see how you feel. Need support? We got you!

Inflammation overworks your adrenal system. 

All this inflammation sends a message to the brain that there’s something wrong with the body, which raises your stress levels. To alleviate the inflammation, your body’s adrenal system pours out more cortisol and other hormones. It’s trying to fight the perceived threat (inflammation), but it’s really making everything worse and making you feel more fatigued.

The extra hormones increase glucose and insulin resistance. 

All that cortisol, estrogen, progesterone, testosterone, and other stress and sex hormones level spiking in the body reduces your ability to handle glucose. The high glucose levels over time increase your resistance to insulin. All that, then puts you at risk of diabetes and critical heart disease. 

Wow, all that started with your gut. This news is overwhelming, but it also means that solving one issue could be all you need to have significant relief. To hear way more about how your gut health and PCOS are connected, listen to this episode of my podcast A Cyster & Her Mister.

Ways to improve your gut health

Ways to Improve Gut Health Naturally

Go gluten-free. 

Remember what I said about inflammation as your body’s response to a threat? If you’re gluten intolerant, your immune system may respond to gluten by attacking it. So, instead of eating tons of wheat, rye, and other carbs, try going gluten-free. You may see tons of symptom relief and a healthier gut! Check out more on gluten and gut health on my podcast here. 

Go dairy-free.

Dairy is known to promote unhealthy bacteria in your gut due to its inflammatory properties. Cow’s milk products cause an overreaction of the immune system, which wreaks havoc on your body. Cutting dairy out can do wonders for your gut health, Cysters! 

Take vitamin A. 

Vitamin A is a key nutrient in a good multivitamin to support a healthy gut. It reduces inflammation, which helps with digestive issues, reproductive health, immune health, and hormonal acne.

Eat more fruits and vegetables. 

Fruits and vegetables are naturally prebiotic. Prebiotics stimulate the growth of healthy bacteria your gut needs to function properly. Additionally, vegetables and fruit are high in fiber, which increases the size of your stool and softens it up. This means healthy bowel movements!

Go low carb (but not too low).

A low-carb diet helps with your gut health in a number of ways! Eating fewer carb-heavy foods means less inflammation, increased insulin levels, and lower blood pressure! With less junk in your body, your gut won’t grow as much bad bacteria that cause so many tummy and weight issues. 

I caution you, though, don’t go too low carb! Restricting your carb intake too much can lead to increased stress. That release of cortisol will actually reverse the benefits of a low-carb diet. Plus, eating too few calories can worsen period irregularity, acne, and weight loss. Learn more about discovering your carb tolerance with us in The Cysterhood.

Eat foods with polyphenols.

Polyphenols are good for you, and really good for Cysters with PCOS. They’re known to reduce blood pressure, cholesterol levels, stress hormone growth, AND inflammation. Eating foods high in polyphenols like pomegranates, beans, green tea, lemons, and grapefruit will improve your gut health, lower your blood sugar, and reduce your risk for type 2 diabetes. 

Practice good oral hygiene. 

This is a strange one, but hear me out. Your oral microbiome can absolutely affect your gut microbiome. Your mouth has good and harmful bacteria like your gut, but you can prevent some of that bad bacteria from ever reaching your gut by brushing, flossing, and using organic mouthwash. And, of course, don’t forget those regular cleanings!

Add fermented foods to your diet. 

Fermented foods are about to become your new BFF in the world of gut health and digestion. Not only do these little gems taste like a flavor explosion in your mouth, but they’re also essential for keeping your gut in tip-top shape.

Fermented foods are full of good bacteria that help support your gut health and digestion, and they come in all sorts of tasty forms like kombucha, miso, kimchi, sauerkraut, and pickles! Keep these goodies on your PCOS grocery list!

Take probiotics. 

Your gut microbiome always needs the appropriate balance between good bacteria and bad bacteria. When your body loses too much good bacteria, you’ll start experiencing all negative GI symptoms. Take a quality probiotic daily! (We’ve got some good ones below.)  

Role of Probiotics in Gut Health

As we mentioned, probiotics are an important part of maintaining a healthy gut. As the good bacteria cleanse your microbiome. Symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome, inflammatory bowel disease, skin conditions, and diarrhea. Additionally, you’ll find yourself getting sick less frequently as your immune system strengthens. 

A probiotic is so essential to your wellness routine! You can get them by taking supplements or by eating naturally probiotic foods. Any of those fermented foods will do! If you’re dairy free, just try to avoid dairy probiotic foods like yogurt and raw cheeses.

7 Best Probiotics in Gut Health

I’ve compiled a list of the best probiotic supplements. These are high-quality probiotics from trusted sources. The good news is, any of these will help you fortify your gut and improve your symptoms: 

Gut Health and PCOS connection
Improve your PCOS symptoms by taking care of your gut! 

Managing PCOS symptoms can be frustrating. When there are so many ways Cysters like you are affected by this disorder, it’s difficult to know where to start when seeking relief. Luckily, something like improving your gut health can domino and alleviate many symptoms. Start here, and join The Cysterhood for essential next steps. We’ll show you how to thrive with PCOS. Let’s go, girls!

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