Polycystic Ovarian Disease – Nutritional Management
Polycystic ovarian disease is often aggravated by insulin resistance and thus, the same advice given to non-insulin dependent diabetics and those with metabolic syndrome applies in these cases. High insulin levels promote the proliferation of cysts within the ovaries.
Insulin resistance means that insulin cannot help glucose go from the blood into the cells. As a result, blood sugar remains elevated, even though, insulin is being produced by the pancreas. Research has shown a strong connection between upper body obesity (people with “apple shapes”) and the development of insulin resistance.
Most people with type 2 diabetes or pre-diabetes are overweight. Excess abdominal weight does not stop insulin formation, but it does make the body less sensitive to insulin. Weight loss reverses this problem.
Dietary and Lifestyle Strategies
In most studies, type 2 diabetes and insulin resistance has improved with weight loss. As well, most doctors recommend that people with diabetes reduce intake of sugar from snacks and processed foods, and replace these foods with high-fiber, whole foods
A high-fiber diet has been shown to work very well in controlling blood sugar and insulin levels. Studies show that when diabetic subjects ingested a diet containing 50 grams per day of dietary fiber exclusively through the consumption of foods naturally high in fiber—such as leafy green vegetables, granola, and fruit, their blood sugar and blood insulin levels dropped down very significantly.
Fiber is the indigestible part of plant food that acts as roughage for the body. There are two types of fiber. Water-soluble fiber is found in fruits, vegetables, and legumes in the form of guar, pectin, and gums. These products form a gel in the gastrointestinal tract that allows for a food to be held there longer, causing a slow rise in blood sugar. This type of fiber also helps to lower cholesterol.
Other authorities also recommend lowering the glycemic index of the diet to improve the control of diabetes. Eating carbohydrate-containing foods, whether high in sugar or high in starch (such as bread, potatoes, processed breakfast cereals, and rice), temporarily raises blood sugar and insulin levels. Beans, peas, fruit, and oats have low glycemic index, in that their carbohydrates are absorbed more slowly and tend not to cause a sudden rise in blood sugar.
Almost all legumes (beans and peas) have a moderate glycemic index. They also provide a source of water-soluble fiber that is valuable for lowering cholesterol.
Some vegetables have a high glycemic index and should be used in moderation in cases of diabetes or to improve a pre-diabetic state. These include white potatoes (baked), carrots, beets, and turnips. Women with PCOS should also minimize their intake, or have them in moderation, unless they are performing prolonged endurance exercise training on a regular basis.
Fruits are generally in the middle of the road in terms of glycemic index; but dried fruits, which are concentrated, have a higher index. Drinking fruit juices will increase blood sugar release and insulin levels. Therefore, fruit juices should be limited or diluted with three-fourths water.
Most sweeteners such as honey, molasses, sugar, and white grape juice concentrate tend to have a high glycemic index. Rice syrup and granulated rice sweeteners may be used instead.
Grains such as rice, wheat, and corn tend to have a high glycemic index, but grains such as buckwheat, millet, barley, rye, and bulgur are actually quite low. For successful weight loss and blood sugar and insulin control, this group of foods should be used in moderation.
High-fiber supplements, such as psyllium, guar gum (found in beans) pectin (from fruit), and oat bran,have improved glucose tolerance in some studies.
Vegetarians have been reported to have a low risk of type 2 diabetes, and are thus, more protected against PCOS. Eating more soy products, cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower) help to detoxify excess estrogens and block the synthesis of too much estrogen and testosterone in fat cells. Consuming 2 heaping table spoons of ground flaxseed powder can also help in this regard.
Exercise helps decrease body fat and improves insulin sensitivity. People who exercise are less likely to develop insulin resistance than those who do not. Exercise also helps to regulate blood sugar. At a minimum, women with PCOS should get 30 minutes of some form of endurance exercise at least four days a week.
Alcohol has been reported to worsen glucose tolerance in people with diabetes in some studies. People with diabetes who drink have also been reported to have a high risk for eye and nerve damage. Women with PCOS should also avoid alcohol as much as possible due to the insulin resistance effects, the inflammation promoting effects, and estrogen-releasing effects
1. Glucomannan – Glucomannan is a water-soluble dietary fiber that is derived from konjac root. Glucomannan delays stomach emptying, leading to a more gradual absorption of dietary sugar. This effect can reduce the elevation of blood sugar levels that is typical after a meal. Overall blood sugar and insulin control have been shown to improve with glucomannan-enriched diets, according to clinical trials. For controlling blood sugar, 500–700 mg of glucomannan per 100 calories in the diet has been used successfully in controlled research. (example PGX, which is sold in most health food stores)
2. Bitter Melon - Bitter melon’s most notable benefit is in the area of blood glucose control. Studies suggest that the fruit may play a role in controlling the production of insulin by the body, thus improving blood sugar managment. The ingestion of 200 mg of bitter melon, 2 times daily, is the typical treatment dosage. This dietary supplement should be standardized to 5.1% triterpenes.
3. Body Burn (Adeeva Nutritionals) 3 – 6 caps per day – this product improves insulin sensitivity and helps to reduce body fat, in conjunction with exercise and a low fat, low glycemic diet
4. Prostate 40 Plus (Adeeva Nutritionals) – 1-2 capsules per day. Polycystic ovarian disease is also aggravated by the build up of dihydrotestosterone (DHT). The ingredients in Prostate 40 Plus block the conversion of testosterone into DHT, and produce an important testosterone and estrogen blockade in many tissues. Even though it’s called Prostate 40 Plus, it is also a useful adjunct in the management of PCOD.
6. Women’s Hormonal Balance (Adeeva Nutritionals) – 1-2 capsules per day – the ingredients in this supplement helps to balance the effects of female hormones naturally, an critical factor in PCOS prevention and management
7 Nature’s Essential Oils (Adeeva Nutritionals) – 3 capsules daily – this combination of essential fatty acids enables the body to product hormones that reduce inflammatory and hyperproliferative (rapid cell division) states, which can be helpful in PCOS management.