Glad you asked, ‘cos it seems there’s quite the connection. Over the past year or so we’ve been barraged with anecdotes from women who have suffered the frustrating symptoms of polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) only to do the 8-Week Program and completely reverse their condition.
In a number of wonderful cases, these women have become pregnant shortly after doing the Program, despite being told the condition they suffer from is one of the leading causes of female infertility.
So what’s the connection? Research is continuing to unravel the knotted and gnarly correlation between sugar and PCOS. But cutting sugar and adjusting your diet is becoming one of the most effective known ways to manage and potentially reverse your PCOS symptoms.
Our zippy PCOS Cheat Sheet.
Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) is a condition where multiple eggs mature, but fail to be released, resulting in hardened cysts (hence the name) scattered around the surface of the ovary. As no egg is released, ovulation does not occur, which means conception is not possible. It also causes irregular periods.
- 12-18% of women suffer from it.
- It is the most common endocrine disorder faced by women.
- Up to 70% of women with PCOS remain undiagnosed.
- Experts estimate 30% of infertile women suffer from PCOS.
- PCOS is on the rise with numbers growing each year.
How do you know if you have it? What a quagmire! There’s lots of disagreement as to what is the best diagnostic tool. If we follow the respected Rotterdam criteria, a woman with any two of the following three criteria may have the condition:
- Higher than normal levels male sex hormones such as testosterone, which can cause the appearance of acne, excessive hairiness and hair loss.
- Irregular periods, with big gaps between cycles.
- Twelve or more follicular cysts on the ovaries, as seen on an ultrasound.
OK deep breath. It’s a massive topic, and we invite you to check out this brilliant article to learn more.
The sugar-PCOS connect.
Insulin resistance leads to PCOS… And we all know what causes insulin resistance (you guessed it, excess sugar). Here’s how it goes: sugar causes our pancreas to secrete insulin to move excess sugar from the blood into our cells, to be used as energy. Over time, and due to excess sugar intake, these cells lose their ability to respond to insulin. Our poor little pancreas responds by pumping out even more insulin, and the cycle leads to a resistance.
When our cells stop responding to insulin, they stop picking up sugar and our blood sugar rises, stimulating even more insulin production. Insulin resistance creates a vicious cycle of more and more insulin in the blood. Our stress hormones cortisol worsens the situation by telling the liver to release glucose, pushing insulin even higher. What now?
- All this insulin stimulates the ovaries to produce male hormones.
- All these male hormones overpower female reproductive hormones.
- All this cortisol suppresses pituitary function, which again triggers the ovaries to produce male hormones.
As our expert, Holistic Nutritionist, Dietitian, Personal Trainer and Lifestyle Coach Kate Callaghan, says:
Obesity is connected to PCOS. So what causes obesity, you ask? Yup, sugar again.
A European study on PCOS and obesity found “a 28% prevalence of PCOS in overweight and obese women,” therefore stating, “PCOS must be routinely ruled out in overweight and obese premenopausal women seeking advice for weight loss.”
Now we know that correlation is not causation. But amid all the obscurity in PCOS research, the thing experts do agree on is that diet is the best way to manage and even reverse the symptoms of PCOS.
So what’s the cure?
The bad news is that there isn’t a known cure for PCOS. The equally bad news is that because the root cause is not pin-down-able (it’s all a bit chicken-and-egg), doctors are only able to treat isolated symptoms with prescription drugs.
The good news? This is where we step in. Studies continue to roll in concluding that the best treatment plan for PCOS is to focus on the insulin issues and, when appropriate, the weight concerns, and target these through diet. Quoting Kate Callaghan again:
So it makes sense that the kind of diet recommended for PCOS is to simply “cut sugar and starchy carbs from the diet, and to up quality protein and fats.” It’s also encouraged to incorporate moderate, daily exercise. Which is all advice we promote on the 8-Week Program.
“For those PCOS-sufferers who are insulin-resistant (about 80% of them), Quitting Sugar is the number one thing that they need to do. I often refer my sugar-addicted patients to Sarah’s blog and resources.” – Lara Briden, Naturopathic Doctor.
Look out for upcoming testimonials from women around the world who have done our 8-Week Program and seen a complete turnaround in their reproductive health. For us, this is the most rewarding part of our job. We get to see people who have swapped sugar for health, vitality and even a few babies in there! A trade off like that is priceless.
Special thanks to our two PCOS experts for joining us in this story.
Lara Briden is a Sydney Naturopath with 18 years experience treating women's hormones and PCOS. In her book Period Repair Manual, Lara shares her treatment protocols for four types of PCOS, and many other period problems.
Kate Callaghan is a holistic nutritionist, personal trainer and lifestyle coach specialising in hormone healing based in Wanaka, New Zealand. She works with women from all over the world, helping them to restore hormone balance and fertility. You can get in touch with Kate on her website here.
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