Grow Your Hair Back with PCOS

What’s causing your hair to fall out? Keep in mind that it does take about 6 to 12 months to see a difference in hair growth because it takes time for the root to come back. But don't be discouraged, it's definitely possible. Here are my top 3 tips. 

#1 Caloric Intake

The first thing I want you to address is how many calories you're eating. Are you eating enough calories? If it's too little that means that your body isn't prioritizing creating more hair, it's prioritizing other aspects of hormone health. So that's why your hair isn't growing. Load up on your healthy fats and protein and figure out how many carbs are right for your body. 

#2 Caffeine 

Caffeine stimulates your adrenal gland which pumps out stress hormone which are essentially sugar in your body to get you to fight or flee, whatever is the stressor, but you're just drinking coffee so there is nothing to run from. So sugar basically ends up in your body and causes insulin resistance which triggers high testosterone which gathers around our hair follicle and causes our hair to fall out. Swap out your coffee and swap out your sugar for spearmint tea which research has shown to improve hair loss. 

#3 Gluten and Dairy

Gluten and dairy cause a lot of inflammation. In order to find out how much inflammation it's causing, we have to cut it out for at least three months and then add it back in to see if it's making a difference. The inflammation that gluten and dairy causes makes ourselves more insulin resistant, and the more insulin resistant we are the more insulin is floating around in our bloodstream triggering our ovaries to produce more testosterone, and gather around our hair follicles and cause our hair to fall out. 


For more help and support in healing your PCOS naturally join The Cysterhood for exclusive tips and resources.

3 Tips for PCOS Weight Loss

Let me give you my top 3 tips for PCOS weight loss…

#1 Make sure your blood sugar is balanced all day

How do you do that?  For breakfast have lots of protein, 30-40 grams. Have 5 meals a day: breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks in between.  Exercise, but not any type of exercise, weight-bearing exercises. Squats are the best because your thigh muscle is the biggest muscle in your body, so when you work that muscle it picks up all the sugar in your bloodstream and burns it for energy. Whereas when you go on a run, you end up dumping sugar into your bloodstream for energy to use during that run. But because we have PCOS and most of us are insulin resistant, we can’t burn that sugar as well as other people. 

#2 Go gluten free for at least three months

Then add it back in and see how you feel. If it’s causing bloating and indigestion then it’s not for you. But test it out take it out of your diet for 3 months and see how you feel. Melissa Diane Smith from Going Against the Grain states that 85% of women with PCOS have gluten sensitivity. Gluten is found in bread and pasta and is very easy to swap out. 

#3 Go dairy free for at least three months 

If you add it back in and you feel bloating and indigestion, then it means that you're sensitive to that too. The main problem with dairy is that it contains a hormone called insulin-like growth factor in it. The last thing that women with PCOS need is more insulin in our bodies. It mimics insulin, which increases our cells insulin resistance. The more insulin resistant we are, the more sugar and carbs go ahead and store themselves as fat and we end up gaining weight when we're not even eating anything.

For more help and support in healing your PCOS naturally join The Cysterhood for exclusive tips and resources.

3 Tips to Keep Managing PCOS

We’re going to go over three scenarios that are very common when you're trying to be gluten and dairy free and manage PCOS symptoms.


Scenario 1: You don’t see results right away. 

Sometimes it takes a few months to really see the weight start dropping and this may be because we don't know exactly how many carbs your body needs, even though you are following the diet perfecetly. We may have to lower carbs a little bit, change your exercise a little bit, take out some beauty products and swap them for hormone friendly beauty products. There's always something that you can do that can improve your PCOS.

Scenario 2: Women feel like they have to do everything perfectly. 

I remember when I started going gluten and dairy free it took me a year to do it really well and consistently. There are all types of obstacles that you have to go through a few times before really adopting the PCOS lifestyle. So don’t be hard on yourself while you're trying to go through these because you have to leave room for mistakes so that you don't end up quitting. You want to just relax do the best that you can and make yourself some small attainable goals.

Scenario 3: Women feel very uncomfortable in their bodies. 

Some things that you can do to get your mind out of this negative headspace is to go on a walk, meditate, read a book, do a face mask. There's so many different things that you can do, but it's difficult to stop and do them when you're in that negative headspace. So remember to break that cycle and try to get yourself up and motivated to do something that will make your mind feel better. All these symptoms will eventually go away, so continue taking care of yourself and making yourself feel better because that's what's gonna get you to that point. For more help and support in healing your PCOS naturally join The Cysterhood for exclusive tips and resources.

My Favorite Skincare Products

Today I'm gonna go over my five favorite skincare products. Start with the EWG Healthy Living app which is where I look up all of my products before purchasing them to make sure that they're rated hormone healthy and don't have a lot of toxins in them. 

#1 Drunk Elephant Jelly 

Let's start with my face wash Drunk Elephant Jelly it takes off all of my makeup so well and on the EWG Healthy Living app it's rated 2! 

#2 Lena Wild Green Tea face mask 

Sometimes after I wash my face I like to do a face mask and the mask I like to use is Lena Wild Green Tea face mask. Mix this powder with some water and slather it all over your face. Let dry for 10 minutes and it’ll really helps heal cystic acne because a lot of research shows that green tea impacts your testosterone levels, but when we treat our skin topically with green tea, as well, it can help with cystic acne. 

#3 @healthyskinglows spray 

Speaking of green tea let's talk about this brown liquid that I spray all over my face every night. Sarah Sumac who made the @healthyskinglows course has a guide that shows you how to create this liquid to help heal cystic acne.

#4 Lena Wilde bloom oil 

After I do that, I put on a serum that keeps my skin moist and it doesn't make me break out. This serum is the Lena Wilde bloom oil and it has lots of ingredients in it that helps treat cystic acne. 

#5 Mad Hippie Vitamin C

Moving on to brighten all the acne scars that have ruined my face for years, I use Mad Hippie Vitamin C and this isn’t very strong. It's really important not to strip your skin of its oils because the oils are what are picking up dirt from your face and making sure that you don't break out, so the more we wash our face and strip our oils, the more acne we're actually going to get so you have to let your skin heal itself.


For more help and support in healing your PCOS naturally join The Cysterhood for exclusive tips and resources.

6 Gluten-free favorites for your Pantry

Hey cysters, today I'm gonna go over my favorite six ingredients that I keep in my pantry so that going gluten free is not that difficult. If you have inflammation, going gluten free will be a big benefit for you. 

#1 Pamela's flour 

My first favorite staple is Pamela’s flour because it has a mixture of almond flour which makes it nice and soft so that when I cook with it. It doesn't have that grainy mealy taste that some gluten-free flours have. 

#2 Siete Tortillas

My next favorite ingredient to always have is tortillas. You can make a taco out of anything. Siete foods have great tortillas, I love the one made of cassava and chia. 

#3 Quinoa 

My next favorite ingredient is quinoa, this is a great addition to salad. Make sure that you add some carbs to your lunch if you're having a salad because if you don't then you might have cravings later. 

#4 Trader Joe’s gluten-free bagels

My fourth favorite ingredient are bagels, gluten-free blueberry bagels. You can find them at Trader Joe's. 

#5 Lentil pasta 

Speaking of Trader Joe's there's this delicious gluten free lentil pasta that's great for women with PCOS because it's high in protein. You want to pair your carbs with protein to slow down the spike in blood sugar that you get when you eat carbs. When you slow that blood sugar spike down you prevent insulin from triggering high testosterone which causes PCOS symptoms. 

#6 Pumpkin pancakes

My final favorite ingredient are pumpkin pancakes! It's seasonal, so get a lot and keep it in your pantry. So those are my six favorite gluten-free ingredients that I always keep in my pantry.

For more help and support in healing your PCOS naturally join The Cysterhood for exclusive tips and resources.

Common Household Hormone Disruptors

Let's talk about the 7 top hormone disruptors that may be laying around the house, in our car, or just generally in our environment.

#1 Car air fresheners.

They are toxic and we need to throw them out. They're just cheap fragrances that cause stress to your body. Your car is like a closed box and the last thing you need to do is keep breathing in those toxins.

#2 LED lights

Swap out all of your LED lights for red party lights it's gonna change the way you sleep. You're gonna sleep deeper, it's great for your hormones, your circadian rhythm. So basically if you're looking at blue lights from your cell phone screen or your computer screen or the light that's coming from your light bulbs, it's really going to affect your eyes and your circadian rhythm and in turn how well you sleep.

#3 Bath bombs

Make sure that you are not taking a bath with bath bombs swap them out for essential oils or dried roses. Bath bombs are filled with chemicals, toxins, dyes, and synthetics (even the ones from Lush).

#4 Table salt

Switch from table salt to pink salt because it's more natural and it's not made in a factory where there's lots of toxins that can be absorbed into the salt.

#5 Scented candles

Ditch your scented candles and Glade plugins right now. Throw them away, your lungs are a detox organ so if you're breathing in synthetic fragrances you're constantly adding stress to your lungs  and your whole body. Here we are trying to reduce stress and inflammation so we can manage PCOS.

#6 Dryer sheets

Throw away those dryer sheets they are just coating your clothes with chemicals that are cancer-causing and endocrine disruptors. You can just swap it out for a wool ball it'll do the same thing.

#7 Fabric softener

Replace your fabric softener with vinegar I promise it won't smell and you'll stop bathing your clothes in chemicals that are toxic and being absorbed by your body!

For more help and support in healing your PCOS naturally join The Cysterhood for exclusive tips and resources.

Lower Testosterone

Testosterone is important because it builds our bones and supports our metabolism. We need a little bit of testosterone, just not so much. Sometimes when you have PCOS, you’re really sensitive to androgens, and testosterone is an androgen hormone. Our hair starts falling out or growing on our face. These are things caused by high androgen hormones, usually high testosterone. 

#1 Cut out inflammatory foods

Specifically, gluten and dairy. Inflammation can cause the testosterone receptors in our cells to become sensitive and that’s when we start breaking out. 85% of women with PCOS have gluten sensitivity, so it’s important to try cutting it out and see how you feel. Gluten increases the zonulin hormone in your gut which causes lesions in your gut lining and allows food to pass through, into your bloodstream and cause inflammation in your body. 

#2 Make sure your stress hormones aren't high.

That means to really address what is releasing the stress hormones in your body. Are you drinking coffee? Is there a lot of sugar in your diet? Another thing that increases stress hormones is over exercising. High androgen hormones make you feel like you're constantly chasing an adrenaline rush. If that's the case that's another sign of having high testosterone. You have to take one step back, take a deep breath and maybe don't go to cycling class or when you go try not to push yourself too hard. For more help and support in healing your PCOS and lowering your stress hormones, join The Cysterhood for exclusive tips and resources.

# 3 Address is insulin resistance.

Insulin can trigger your ovaries to over produce testosterone. So be sure to cut out foods like dates and honey and eating too many fruits. I know, I'm sorry, but we can't have that many fruits. It's healthy for most people but for women with PCOS we have to be careful. 

How I Managed PCOS Naturally

My name is Tallene, I'm a Registered Dietitian and I have PCOS! I say this with excitement because I'm going to help you get through your PCOS and learn to manage your symptoms because I've been there and I've been able to manage my symptoms to the point where now I don't have any more ovarian cysts. 

I've been able to lose all the weight and I feel great. I want to tell you a bit about my journey. It all started when I had a ruptured ovarian cyst that made me rush to Urgent Care, followed by a visit to the gynecologist office. She told me that my ovaries were covered in cysts, I should just lose weight, take some birth control, take some Metformin, and that’s going to be my life.

Well guess what? I didn't do any of those and I went a whole year with no period and my weight spiralled out of control.

The truth was that the only solution was to change my diet and lifestyle. Which I didn't know how to do, because there I was doing all this high intensity cardio, stressing out from school, not realizing how many carbs I was having. Seeing everybody else lose weight when they tried and I was just blooning out of control and I had no idea why. I really dove into this subject and it turned me into a dietitian. 

There are four types of PCOS: insulin resistance, adrenal fatigue, inflammation, and thyroid issues. I had the first three.

Kickboxing was making my adrenal fatigue worse even though I was burning calories like crazy. Insulin resistance, eating too many carbs. I also have inflammation, eating all this gluten and dairy I had no idea that it was harming my body. Once I cut out gluten and dairy, I changed my exercise to yoga, I let go of all of that stress and I started seeing some results. PCOS looks different on everyone, so it’s important to treat yourself as an individual and do what's best for you. For more help and support in healing your PCOS naturally join The Cysterhood for exclusive tips and resources.

5 Ways to Manage PCOS

I’m really excited to talk to you about managing your PCOS, because I think it will help a lot of women out there who are struggling.

Many of us have a delicate hormonal system, making our bodies react much more intensely to stress, inflammatory foods, and unhealthy lifestyle factors. We may find ourselves having excessive facial hair, acne, hair loss, or even moodiness as a result. It sounds somewhat unfair to have to go through all of that, but if we pamper ourselves just a little bit more, we can watch these symptoms start fading away.

I had struggled with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome for a couple years before being able to reverse it and become a Registered Dietitian. It was very emotionally taxing to go through all the symptoms of hormonal imbalance while sifting through conflicting information. After taking a hormone test, I was really able to get some direction and change my daily regimen. I want to teach you what worked for me and what I typically recommend my patients to do, so you can start reversing your symptoms too.

1. Dry Brush Every Night

Brushing your skin can really increase circulation and help your lymphatic system, which is what circulates hormones throughout the body and excretes toxins. Though our body’s lymphatic system can work on its own, it does not have a regular pump within the body. We need to exercise, walk, and work out for it to function properly. When we’re too still, our lymphatic system doesn’t do a very good job of flushing out toxins like carcinogens and pesticides. Dry brushing is a great way to get the lymph system pumping and flushing out toxins more efficiently.

Try using a body oil while brushing, I like to use the Ouai Rose Hair & Body Oil. Start by brushing your arms and legs towards your heart. Then, brush your chest and stomach in a counterclockwise motion. You don’t need to brush too hard to stimulate your lymphatic system, because you don’t want to make yourself red or burn. My favorite part of my nightly routine is dedicating at least five minutes to brushing my skin.

https://health.clevelandclinic.org/the-truth-about-dry-brushing-and-what-it-does-for-you/

2. Eat More Adaptogens

Adaptogens are plant based powders and teas that can help your body adapt to stress in a natural and holistic way. I like to have a variety of adaptogens throughout the day because they keep me feeling light and relaxed. Try adding them into your daily routine to receive all their great benefits.

Maca powder supports the endocrine system by aiding the ovaries and adrenal glands. I like to incorporate maca by adding this cacao magic protein powder from Philosophie into my

smoothies, along with banana, spinach and almond milk. I also have my patients start their mornings with it in their high-protein oatmeal for a plant-based breakfast. I can actually feel my body awaken. unlike the jitters from a cup of coffee, I get a calm and confident feeling.

Ashwagandha improves the body’s resistance toward stress and as a result, it improves hormonal balance. I like to add some ashwagandha powder to a cup of tea in the mornings to get my thoughts clear and start my day.

Ginseng strengthens the hypothalamus to aid in hormonal balance. The easiest way for me to get some ginseng into my daily routine is by drinking ginseng tea in the afternoons. Sometimes I like to mix it up by adding some ice and lemon to it for an ice tea vibe.

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0367326X00001702 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3614596/ https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3573577/

3. Avoid Eating Sugar & Refined Foods

When we eat sugar or refined foods, they are quickly broken down to be used by our cells for energy. The key that opens up the cell to get the sugar inside is called insulin. When we overeat foods that are sugary and refined, we have a constant influx of insulin trying to get that sugar into our cells to be burned up. Eventually, the cell gets overworked and resistant to insulin, which is how insulin resistance develops. Now we have insulin and sugar floating around in the bloodstream for long periods of time, wreaking havoc on our hormones and leaving us at risk for diabetes.

As hormonally sensitive ladies, we should be very cautious of having too much insulin in our blood stream because it can cause hair loss, acne, and coarse hair growth. The excessive insulin left in the bloodstream triggers an increase in androgen hormones, which then surround ourhairfolliclesandcauseourhairtofallout. Theandrogenhormonesalsostimulateoil overproduction, which leads to cystic acne on our face and neck. Insulin also stimulates testosterone production, which surrounds the follicle of our light hairs on our face and turns them into a dark, masculine hair. This all may sound daunting, but I have seen such amazing transformations with my patients, including myself, after changing their diet and staying consistent with it.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4144211/ https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16207847

4. Cut Out Gluten & Dairy

Medical literature has discovered a strong connection between gluten sensitivity and hormonal imbalances, especially with progesterone levels. This is because eating gluten while being gluten sensitive, will cause inflammation in your body. Chronic inflammation exacerbates hormonal problems, especially for women with PCOS, because it triggers our stress hormones. As a result, the sex hormones such as estrogen, testosterone and progesterone, take a back seat.

As if gluten sensitivity was not enough, most likely you are a bit sensitive to dairy. That additional source of estrogen from dairy or soy will affect you way more than your friends who are not as sensitive. Some symptoms that you may notice include getting sick all the time, having general fatigue and even stubborn weight gain. Again, not to worry, by simply eliminating gluten and dairy from your diet, your symptoms can be entirely reversed.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21392369 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4085920/ https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4600520/

5. Keep Stress Levels Low

Modern day chronic stress might look like this: you wake up early, rush to work or class, skip breakfast, drive in traffic and continuously drink coffee all day to stay awake. You feel constantly fatigued and burned out but don’t know why because you’ve been doing this for so long. This is chronic stress, your hormone’s worst enemy. It causes stress hormones to constantly be released. These signal the hypothalamus, which controls our hormones and can eventually turns off ovulation.

The adrenal gland also produces a hormone called DHEA-S, which is similar to testosterone, in that it causes facial hair and acne. You can have your levels checked by a Registered Dietitian in order to address whether you need to evaluate your lifestyle or supplement to help you recover. The good news is that adrenal fatigue is reversible once the stress is removed, but it takes time to recover, just as it takes time to get to that point of fatigue.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4166402 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12467025

Stress & PCOS

What are adrenal glands?

Adrenals are the little organs above your kidneys that effect hormonal imbalance. The adrenal glands are controlled by the hypothalamus, which also controls the ovaries and thyroid.
 

How does stress effect PCOS?


High levels of stress over a long period of time makes our adrenal glands send signals to the hypothalamus, telling it to turn off ovulation. Extreme stress will translate in our bodies as "not a good time to bring a baby into the world."

Part of the adrenal gland produces DHEA-S, which is similar to testosterone. It causes facial hair and acne as well. DHEA-S is the best measure of adrenal stimulation.

What are possible stressors?

1. overexercising- you may be hanging on to high intensity exercise because you feel like your weight is spiraling out of control, however you need to let go of that to heal adrenal fatigue.

2. gut infection- even if you're totally calm laying on the beach, you may have dysfunction in your gut microbiome

3. not enough play- do something for enjoyment like going out for a walk or a hike for the pleasure of meeting new people

4. lack of social support- this could be living away from family or not having a good friend group

5. too little sleep

6. psychological stress (work/money/family)

7. disrupted wake and sleep cycle- the blue light in our devices can cause this when we use them late at night. our body mistakes it as sunlight and pushes back our circadian rhythm

 

The most comprehensive way to test adrenal hormones is by taking a DUTCH Comprehensive test. Speak with a Registered Dietitian, who can provide this test for you and interpret your results.

 

For more information on understanding how adrenal fatigue triggers symptoms, take a look here:

 

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PCOS Biomarkers

PCOS IS A SYNDROME...

When managing PCOS, there are multiple symptoms that may occur, because there are multiple causes for having PCOS. Some symptoms include facial hair, hair loss, acne, mood swings, or weight gain. It is important to take an individual approach. There is no one cause or cure.

You may need a completely different treatment plan than another woman. Consider speaking with a registered dietitian for direction on how to treat your symptoms.

The following chart includes biomarkers for the different types of PCOS along with their functional ranges. These ranges are different than the reference ranges you may find when you get your blood drawn. PCOS can often go misdiagnosed due to the misinterpretation of references ranges. Take a look at the following golden rules for PCOS lab work:

Types of PCOS

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3 Day PCOS Meal Plan (gluten-free, dairy-free)

Trader Joe's is here to make eating gluten-free and dairy-free as simple and easy as possible.

We don't always have time for meal prepping, but that is never an excuse to not put your health first, especially if you have PCOS. With their wide selection of frozen foods and pre-packaged salads, you can grab your lunch and a couple of snacks to take with you on-the-go. 

To make your life a bit easier, here is a 3 day gluten-free and dairy-free meal plan for the girls out there who want to eat right for PCOS!

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Is the Ketogenic Diet right for your PCOS?

First, it is important for me to explain as a Registered Dietitian, that there is not one PCOS, therefore there is not one best diet to treat it.

Since PCOS is a syndrome, we may have several side effects such as high androgens, missing periods, cysts on our ovaries, which all have different underlying root causes. One of the main causes, though, can be insulin resistance...but it can also be stress, so it is important to figure out what is impacting you the most before considering the Ketogenic diet.

50% of women with PCOS have high stress hormones, DHEA-S levels. For these women, a low carb diet would put more stress on their adrenal glands and potentially result in worsening symptoms. But for some women with PCOS – especially those with insulin resistance and obesity – a ketogenic diet can work really well.

A few weeks ago, I saw a patient who booked a consultation to discuss her struggle with weight and fatigue due to PCOS. She explained that she cut back on calories and started Metformin, but still is unable to lose the weight.

“But I’m following all the low GI recommended for PCOS, so how can it not work?”

As we reviewed her blood test results, I showed her the tests that were indicating that she had severe insulin resistance.  I explained that this meant that her hormone insulin, like a key, could not fit into the lock on our cells to open it up and let the glucose in, so her body was effectively not able to use any of the carbohydrates she was eating (even if they were ‘slow release’ low GI carbs). 

So if a low glycemic index diet doesn’t work for someone who’s severely insulin resistant, what does?


A Ketogenic diet.


A keto diet is a very low carbohydrate diet.  The keto diet changes the “fuel” that our body uses for energy. Severely restricting sugars (carbohydrates) from our diet forces your body to run off the fuel provided by our stored body fat. 

My client's body wasn’t able to use the carbohydrates she was eating as her insulin ‘key’ couldn’t open up the ‘lock’ on the cell, so instead she was storing those carbs as fat and getting more tired in the process!


So by turning her body into fat burning mode means that she could now use some of her own fat for energy and as she was eating very little carbohydrate, she wasn’t storing any more fat. 


But this doesn’t mean that a keto diet is right for all women with PCOS, or even all women with PCOS insulin resistance. And I also didn’t recommend that my client should do this long term- only until  she’d reversed her insulin resistance.

If you do try the keto diet then I recommend cycling in and out of it. This might mean that you stay on a keto diet for 3-6 months, then add some starchy carbs back in for 1 month to feed your gut bacteria.

What to do after Being Diagnosed with PCOS

Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome is a common hormonal imbalance that affects 1 in 10 women in the United States. Although the syndrome is widespread, women’s symptoms seem to vary. Side effects can be expressed as anything from mood swings to hair loss, cystic acne, weight gain, irregular periods, and facial hair.

One of the most common triggers of PCOS is insulin resistance, which has detrimental inflammatory effects on the body if it is not addressed early on.

Insulin resistance is when your cells are not able to take up insulin-bound glucose. As a result, the body struggles to burn off glucose, ultimately leading to weight gain and, potentially, type 2 diabetes. When insulin and glucose are left floating around in the bloodstream, they can wreak havoc and cause inflammation. The ovaries become stimulated to produce more of the androgen hormone (sex hormone), leading to adrenal dysfunction. This cascade effect that insulin triggers on your hormones can lead to facial hair and cystic acne. Once adrenal dysfunction is triggered, cortisol levels become too high and end up overriding your body’s sex hormones. This contributes to mood swings, irregular periods and infertility.

After being diagnosed with PCOS, don’t delay on getting started with a treatment plan. The longer you allow symptoms to continue, the longer it may take to reverse and the more new symptoms will appear. Consider speaking with a Registered Dietitian who specializes in Women’s Health to guide you on your journey toward reversing PCOS.

The following are a list of steps you can take to regain control over your body and eventually get your symptoms to become dormant.

1. Intermittent Fasting

When cells have been continually exposed to high levels of glucose, they become insulin resistant. The insulin is left floating around the bloodstream, contributing to low-grade chronic inflammation.

Consider intermittent fasting to reboot your cells and improve their glucose uptake.

Intermittent fasting can be done many different ways, but it is best to start with eating every couple hours, within a 9 hour period of time. This means you are having breakfast at 9:00am and eating your last meal at 6:00pm, being sure to fit in all your calories within that window at a pace that keeps your blood sugar balanced. In order to improve glucose uptake, studies suggest allowing your cells to take a break, or “fast,” from constantly being exposed to glucose.

 

2. Don’t Go Hungry

It is not unusual for women who have PCOS to feel as though it is impossible to lose weight. Cutting back on calories and going on extreme appetite suppressants are an easy go-to for quick results, however this can exacerbate your symptoms of PCOS and lead to gaining even more weight. Eating for PCOS requires nourishing your cells with highly anti-inflammatory foods every couple hours to regain hormonal balance and heal the chronic inflammation. Consider keeping a food journal and documenting your level of hunger and fullness, before and after

eating meals and snacks. You want to find yourself in the middle of the range, feeling satisfied and not restricted. That way, you can be sure to eat enough and ultimately keep your blood sugar balanced throughout the day. Consider speaking with a Registered Dietitian who specializes in women’s health and can provide personalized meal plans as well as step-by-step instruction on how to incorporate a PCOS friendly diet into your life.

 

3. Choose Anti-Inflammatory Foods

PCOS is an autoimmune disease, which means that your body is in a chronic state of inflammation and “attacking” itself. Studies suggest that “leaky gut syndrome” is directly correlated to autoimmune diseases and your body’s inflammatory response to food. In short, this means that the tight junctions in the lining of your stomach become weak from constantly being exposed to inflammatory foods, allowing the food to be released into your bloodstream through the semipermeable gut wall. Many studies suggest that glucose and dairy sensitivities contribute to leaky gut syndrome and cause chronic inflammation, disrupting the endocrine system and ultimately leading to hormonal imbalance. Consider taking a Food Sensitivity Test to uncover which grains, fruits, vegetables, chemicals and dyes are disrupting your body’s balance and leading to leaky gut syndrome.

 

4. Set Up a Self Care Routine

With all of the change you may be experience after becoming diagnosed with PCOS, it can get a little overwhelming. Anxiety and stress are not uncommon components of hormonal imbalance. Unfortunately, they can contribute to insulin sensitivity as well. Stress causes your body to release cortisol, which raises your blood sugar and secretes more insulin. This constantly bombards your cells and leads to insulin resistance, yet again. Consider setting up a self-care routine for yourself and incorporate relaxing activities throughout the day. This can be going on a morning walk, sitting fireside with some tea, going out in the sun for 30 minutes, cooking healthy meals, having dinner with the family, meditation and practicing gratitude.

5. Light Exercise

The best type of exercise for PCOS is something that does not cause stress to your body and increase your cortisol levels. This can be jogging, yoga, pilates, and moderate weight training. These exercises will increase your body’s sensitivity to insulin, which will have a positive cascade effect on inflammation and hormonal balance. Moving for 30 minutes or more a day can also help with weight management, mood swings and improving your menstrual cycle.

6. Eat More Fat

Studies suggest that a high-fat, low-carb diet may be beneficial in reducing insulin sensitivity in women with PCOS. Eating more healthy fats, such as avocado, coconut oil, salmon, chia seeds,

and walnuts will help you stay satisfied and maintain a balanced blood sugar throughout the day. If you choose to cut out carbs, be sure to transition slowly and stay in tune with your body to prevent a sudden drop in blood sugar. If you are considering a ketogenic diet, speak with a Registered Dietitian who can guide you in choosing ingredients that will enhance the quality of your diet and lead you to healthy, long-lasting results with reversing PCOS.

Diet for PCOS

My food philosophy for PCOS is all about reducing inflammation first and keeping an eye on the scale second.

Many of my patients can even see the inflammation in their body go down, by the second week of being gluten-free and dairy-free. Their hands are less swollen, their skin is slowly starting to clear up and they feel an overall sense of "lightness." 

At the core of my approach is a whole food, plant based diet which includes a balanced breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks in between. I always encourage clients to stay "satisfied" throughout the day and never each the point of ravenous hunger. At that point, it is hard to control what you put into your body and you might reach for foods that wreak even more havoc on your hormones.

Through my extensive research to understand which foods nourish and heal the body from PCOS, I learned that food truly has the power to change our lives.

I have learned and affirmed from many different nutrition experts that the most important key for women with PCOS and other autoimmune conditions is that gluten and dairy have a major impact on inflammation.

The specific mechanism that links gluten and your hormones are in your adrenal glands. These glands keep stress in check and produces your hormones, progesterone, testosterone and estrogen. When we're constantly inflamed by eating gluten, we put too much stress on them.

The adrenals go into overdrive and produce cortisol, putting the sex hormones in the back seat. Not only does gluten mess with hormone production, but it also messes with our gut. The proteins in gluten are like splinters digging into the lining of your gut, allowing for food to leak into the blood stream and cause inflammation. 

Dairy also wreaks havoc in your body, especially with your hormones. The additional source of estrogen from dairy affects you more than a non-gluten sensitive individual. By simply eliminating gluten and dairy, all of these symptoms are entirely reversible. Within a week you'll feel better again and within a month you may even get a regular period.

The best thing you can do for yourself at this point is throw out gluten and dairy. Substitute gluten grains such as pasta, cereal and bread with brown rice, quinoa, and even buckwheat. Slowly shift from cows milk to coconut or almond milk and put the cheese and ice cream back on the grocer store shelf.

You may find it challenging, trust me I understand, I've been doing it for five years now. It does take some time to adapt and you have to give yourself that leeway before giving up. Be patient and consider nutrition coaching to guide you on your journey. 

The 5 Types of PCOS

PCOS, it’s not easy... especially in the beginning when you don’t know what is causing it and you’re bombarded by terrifying information on google. Trust me, I’ve been there!

I had appointments with every doctor’s office, from the gynecologist who just prescribe birth control and told me I was infertile to the holistic doctor who overloaded me with expensive supplements. Neither doctor had any idea what the root of the cause was and whenever I begged for answers, they would say that research is inconclusive, there is no cure, it’s either birth control or testing a bunch of expensive supplements out until you hopefully figure out the solution.

It took a lot of trial and error to find the right doctor, and to think I was studying nutrition, telling everyone I wanted to be a dietitian at the same time as struggling with weight, mood swings and acne!

Luckily, I didn’t give up and one day in grad school, while I gave a presentation on PCOS, someone came out and said that she was insulin resistant and an acupuncturist was able to bring her period back. Thanks to somehow fearless standing in front of the class telling everyone I have PCOS... I found my solution. I took control of my insulin resistance and my inflammation through acupuncture and a gluten free diet and have been having regular periods ever since! I recently got an ultrasound just to be sure I don’t have an ovarian cyst that I’m unaware of, and they told me my ovaries look MUCH improved.

PCOS can be caused by many factors and to make it become dormant, you will need to treat the root of the cause. Remember, you can have several causes at once since they are all correlated. For example, insulin resistance can be exacerbated by stress hormones which can be triggered by chronic inflammation. Here are the most common causes that can be tested and addressed with a Registered Dietitian, acupuncturist or endocrinologist.

1. Insulin Resistance

This is the most common cause of PCOS. If you are one of the 70% of women with insulin resistance-related PCOS, your doctor may have prescribed you metformin. My route to healing insulin resistance was acupuncture by Erica Docimo as well as significantly reducing carbohydrates from my diet.

Insulin helps our cells store glucose. When glucose is left in the bloodstream, it causes damage to the cells in our brain, liver, pancreas, eyes etc and leaves us susceptible to type 2 diabetes. In order to prevent that, insulin tries to store glucose in our cells if they are not insulin resistant. When cells have been bombarded by glucose too much, low grade inflammation occurs and the cells start to get resistant. High insulin ends up stimulating the ovaries to produce more androgens, resulting in two contributing causes of PCOS: insulin resistance and adrenal dysfunction.

When our bodies have too much glucose in the blood, it can be toxic and the glucose will store as fat. This is why it is so easy to put on weight with insulin resistance and very hard to lost it. Everything you eat, whether it is a healthy balanced diet or junk food, can stick to your body.

The best test is the oral glucose tolerance test, which is when glucose is given and blood samples are taken to measure how quickly the glucose was cleared out of the blood. If this is not possible at your healthcare facility, your doctor will likely ask for a fasting blood glucose test and HbA1c, which are not as accurate. It is important to know that test results that are still in the “normal” range may be deceiving. Medical normal range does not signify optimal blood glucose range, which is what I refer to when looking at my patient’s lab results.
 

2. Post Birth Control

For some women, it is easy to get regulated after getting off the pill, but for others it is difficult. The pill disrupts the communication between your brain and ovaries and sometimes it’s difficult for our bodies to bounce back after getting off the pill. You want to get two hormones to function properly and those are Luteinizing Hormone (LH) and Follicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH). If the ratio of LH to FSH becomes greater than 3:1, ovulation will not be able to occur. Unfortunately, your body’s ability to bounce back could take some time and patience as well as the help of an endocrinologist.

3. Adrenal Dysfunction and Stress

When taking a blood test, DHEA-S, cortisol or cortisone will be especially good indicators. If they are high, then stressors affecting adrenal dysfunction is likely the cause of PCOS. Adrenal dysfunction can be triggered by many factors, some of them being controllable. I see patients who work long hours, with stressful deadlines on top of over-exercising daily to try to keep their weight off. These patients are only to see discouraging results because it’s causing adrenal fatigue and exacerbating the PCOS. As mentioned previously in number 1, adrenal dysfunction stems from having too much insulin left in the blood stream, so it is important to address insulin resistance at the same time.

I could definitely fit myself into the “exacerbated” category while I was in college and you may be able to too. I realized I had to make a change. That was when I started to practice mindful meditation, yoga and read The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle every night.

4. Chronic Inflammation

Inflammation starts with the gut and can be triggered by the mediator response to certain foods. One possible test for inflammation in the body is C-reactive protein (CRP). Inflammation has shown to increase androgens and prevent you from ovulating. If you find yourself getting sick all the time or having sore joints, IBS and skin problems, these could be indicators. One way to reduce diet induced inflammation is to take a food sensitivity test and change your diet with the help of a Registered Dietitian.

Even if you have a genetic predisposition to PCOS, the right environmental conditions must be present for those genes to show. The good news is that we can do our best to figure out what those triggers are and once we remove those triggers, PCOS can be reversed. Don’t waste another minute jumping between diets, supplements and medications. Try to find your causes and treat those specifically.