Polycystic ovaries: Four food staples to improve insulin resistance – expert tips

Frankie Bridge says she’s been diagnosed with polycystic ovaries

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Women’s expert, Stephanie Taylor – Intimate Health Expert of Kegel8 – said: “Insulin resistance is extremely prevalent among sufferers [of polycystic ovarian syndrome]. This explains the scenario where the body becomes numb to the effect of insulin.” As such, “obvious side effects” can occur, such as weight gain around the tummy, sugary cravings and fatigue.

“Diet and lifestyle changes will make a dramatic difference to those where insulin resistance affects their symptoms,” said Taylor.

Having a “low-sugar diet” can help symptoms of polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) to subside.

“Think nuts, lentils, avocados and dark chocolate,” said Taylor, who added that women with PCOS should “stay away from solid fats and fried foods”.

A healthy, high-fibre diet, where you consume unprocessed foods, and a whole lot of fruit and vegetables should be helpful.

Why am I so hairy?

“Insulin is a fat-storage hormone that concentrates fat in your abdominal region,” said Dr Ula Abed-Alwahab. “High insulin levels can tell the ovaries to make more testosterone.”

As a consequence, some women with polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) have symptoms of excess androgens, such as dark hairs on the belly and face.

Insulin, when working properly, is used to convert sugar in the blood into stored energy.

Every time you eat, more and more sugar – known as glucose – enters the bloodstream.

Glucose in the blood triggers the pancreas to release insulin, which should help glucose be absorbed by the cells.

However, if the cells are insulin resistant, this does not happen and sugar remains in the blood, triggering the release of even more insulin.

To help disrupt such an unhealthy mechanism, Dr Abed-Alwahab also recommends a low-grain or grain-free food plan.

Dr Abed-Alwahab said that if you want to “correct the metabolic imbalance at the root, avoid bread and milk”.

As well as dietary adjustments, one of the best things you can do to help ease PCOS symptoms is to exercise frequently.

Exercise works by improving insulin resistance, thereby helping to reduce the amount of insulin that is released.

As such, symptoms of PCOS should calm down, but be warned – too much exercise may not be helpful.

Excessive exercise can increase the demand on your adrenal glands, which can further issues.

Instead of intense workouts, the best exercises for women with PCOS include yoga and interval training.

Interval training does involve short bursts of intense training, but it is intermixed with more low-impact exercises.

Symptoms of PCOS

  • Irregular periods or no periods at all
  • Difficulty getting pregnant (because of irregular ovulation or failure to ovulate)
  • Excessive hair growth (hirsutism) – usually on the face, chest, back or buttocks
  • Weight gain
  • Thinning hair and hair loss from the head
  • Oily skin or acne.

“You should talk to your GP if you have any of these symptoms and think you may have PCOS,” said the NHS.

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