Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a condition that affects up to 10% of U.S. women of childbearing age. That’s about 5 million women, which makes PCOS one of the most common hormonal endocrine disorders among women of reproductive age.
Women with PCOS tend to produce higher-than-normal amounts of male hormones, like testosterone. This hormone imbalance can cause irregular periods, infertility, polycystic ovaries, acne and excess facial and body hair.
While the exact cause of PCOS isn’t known, there are three factors that influence PCOS:
- Insulin resistance—this I believe is the root cause of PCOS, I talk about why below.
Insulin resistance & PCOS
Insulin is the hormone produced in the pancreas that allows cells to use sugar for energy. If your cells become resistant to insulin, then your blood sugar levels will rise and in response, your body might produce even more insulin.
In this study, researchers found that when excess insulin is floating around in the blood system, it will travel to the thecal cells on the outside of the ovaries and stimulate testosterone production!
The most effective way to reset insulin resistance naturally is with fasting!
Best types of fasting for PCOS
Intermittent Fasting. If you’re new to fasting, you’ll want to start by mastering Intermittent Fasting. Intermittent Fasting entails 13-15 hours of fasting daily. This is a great introductory fast for those new to the fasting lifestyle. I have a 5 day Fasting Challenge that will take you through a week long Intermittent Fasting experience.
Autophagy fasting. Autophagy is a process that helps your cells “take out the garbage”, removing damaged cells in order to generate newer, healthier cells. It’s something our body does naturally, but fasting is one of the ways you can stimulate autophagy for increased cellular detoxification and healing.
Autophagy fasting entails approximately 17 hours of fasting, a high fat, low carb diet with limited protein. Read Autophagy 101 to find out all the details on how to autophagy fast.
How does this relate to PCOS? Well, autophagy fasting can help reset the thecal cells on the outside of ovaries (the ones that we said were being influenced by excess insulin).
24 hour fasting
Remember that there is an intimate connection between hormones and the microbiome. You need a healthy microbiome to break down and effectively use hormones, therefore you’ll want to pay extra attention to making sure you are protecting your gut health.
Why 24 hour fasting? MIT biologists found that 24 hours of fasting dramatically improves intestinal stem cells’ ability to regenerate, therefore it’s the best fast for improving the microbiome and consequently hormone efficiency in the body.
Way to improve your gut health
- Eat probiotic and fermented foods like kimchi, sauerkraut, raw dairy, yogurt
- Take a quality probiotic, like MBC
- Eat prebiotic foods like flax, hemp and chia seeds, bananas, beans, berries, asparagus and garlic
- 24 hour fasting
Inflammation & PCOS
Inflammation is highly influenced by our diet and environment, the things we put in, on and around our body. We’ll talk more about this below with toxicity as well. Essentially inflammatory foods and toxins block cell receptor sites, inhibit the cells from functioning properly, absorbing nutrients and eliminating waste products.
If you have PCOS I recommend adopting an anti-inflammatory diet, one that removes bad, fats, harmful oils, processed, artificially flavored, colored and refined foods.
Inflammatory foods to avoid:
- Breads, cereals, pasta
- Baked goods, pastries, cakes, cookies
- Snack foods
- Granola bars
- Sodas, sport drinks, juice
- Creamers, artificial sweeteners
- Vegetable oils, canola oil, soy oil, corn oil
- Fried foods
- Fast foods
- Commercially processed meats
- Commercially processed dairy
- Frozen dinners
Toxicity & PCOS
The third step of tackling PCOS is assessing your exposure to toxins—looking into where in your home, work and lifestyle you may be unknowingly exposing yourself to unnecessary toxins.
===> Are you toxic? Take the TOXICITY QUIZ and find out!
Over time, chronic and daily exposure to toxins add up – like tiny drops in a bucket – contributing to your body’s toxic load, eventually interfering with its ability to function optimally and subsequently leading to harmful effects on your health. Read “everything you need to know about toxins”.
How to assess your toxic exposure
- Are you eating organic foods? Pesticides sprayed on conventional foods will deteriorate the inner lining of the gut, creating permeability and what is commonly referred to as “leaky gut”…which feels like bloating, digestive issues, constipation or diarrhea and food sensitivities. If you are drinking coffee, make sure it’s mold free and organic, like Camano Island and eating meats that are grass-fed, like US Wellness Meats.
- Are you drinking clean water? The Environmental Working Group found more than 250 contaminants in tap water. You can check your tap water here. Water filtration is a must, as well as avoiding plastic bottled water. You can shop my favorite water filters here in the HOME section of my shop. I have a range of products, from under-sink filters to counter top and even an inexpensive but highly effective pitcher style filter.
- Are you using non-toxic personal care products? Chemicals found in popular beauty, cosmetics and personal care products like shampoos, body wash, hand soaps, toothpaste and deodorant are absorbed or ingested directly into your body. You should definitely check the rating of all your products on the Think Dirty App or EWG Skin Deep site. I recommend using Derma Colonizer on your skin to help restore your microbiome, then swap your toxic products with healthier alternatives. Shop my favorite beauty products here!
- Are you using non-toxic home cleaning products? Chemicals found in commercial cleaning products like Lysol, Clorox and 409, destroy the microbiome. In fact, the CDC relaxed its rules on cleaning to prevent COVID-19, saying “intense disinfectants are likely doing us more harm than good” (read article). My favorite is Branch Basics because it is so versatile and can be used for cleaning, laundry and even washing produce.
Finally, if you are doing all of the above steps and are looking for a supplement to balance testosterone, I do recommend M+ by Systemic Formulas.