An Expert's Guide to PCOS
At 14 I was diagnosed with PCOS but it’s taken me until my mid 30s to truly begin to understand the needs of my PCOS body.
Up until this time what I knew about health and nutrition was what I’d been told by the media and various personal trainers - eat less, move more, eat low fat, do HIIT and if I wasn’t sweating, I wasn’t pushing hard enough. I’m sure I’m not the only one.
It wasn’t until I embarked on a course integrating nutritional therapy and homeopathy that I learned how to truly nourish my body as well as the importance of living mindfully - working with my body, instead of against it.
Most surprisingly to me was how all encompassing PCOS symptoms can be. I didn’t know that insulin resistance was the main driver of symptoms for up to 75% of those with PCOS, closely followed by inflammation and that balancing my blood sugar could actually eradicate my cravings, brain fog and acne, or that PCOS impacted my circadian rhythm and heightened my nervous system, making me more sensitive to stress.
My mind was blown but I slowly started making changes and the results were astounding.
Five years on, what I know now is that a PCOS body thrives on care, love, nourishment - on a cellular level - and radical relaxation for the mind, body and soul. Easier said than done in today’s bustling world, I know.
As with all things health there are no quick fixes but there are some easily incorporated habits that can profoundly impact our health.
How we start our day has a knock-on effect that influences how we feel and what we eat for the remainder of the day and there are two key habits that can make a huge difference to our blood sugar balance, inflammation and stress hormones.
Starting the day with a protein rich breakfast like eggs, veggies, avocado and seeded sourdough or warming porridge, stewed fruits, almond butter and protein boosting True Collagen, can actually help to bring down our natural morning cortisol peak and prevent a blood sugar rollercoaster.
Additionally, aside from helping to keep blood sugar levels balanced, a protein rich breakfast slows the release of our hunger hormone ghrelin, meaning we eat less throughout the day and snack less in the evening compared to a low protein breakfast.
Similarly, if your morning cup of coffee is what gets you out of bed, be sure to drink it after breakfast and not before as caffeine can raise our morning cortisol levels and actually worsen PCOS symptoms. For this reason, I like to add True Collagen to my coffee to again blunt that rise in stress hormones while supporting my cellular repair and renewal.
Something I realised quite quickly in my PCOS journey was that how I moved my body could significantly help or hinder my healing efforts. Gone are the days of endless hours of cardio and high intensity training - now I choose exercise like strength training, walking and yoga that helps my body feel safe and builds muscle while supporting my nervous system. That’s not to say that there isn’t space for higher intensity exercise in PCOS management, research actually suggests that it can be beneficial for body composition and insulin resistance, but there’s a time and a place for it that I always recommend is decided on how you feel, how you’ve slept and your stress levels - there’s no use pushing an already exhausted body.
It’s important to remember that when we exercise we sweat out vital minerals that can’t be replaced by water alone. Crafting a post-workout ritual of refuel and rehydration will elevate your exercise glow. I recommend replenishing with 6g of True Hydration which combines the electrolytes of coconut water with pink Himalayan salt, potassium, gut loving prebiotic fibre and magnesium for whole body support. What elevates True Hydration is that it cleverly contains chromium picolinate, an insulin sensitiser proven to improve blood sugar control, insulin levels, BMI, free testosterone and ovulation rates in those with PCOS.