Well, it’s been a while since I’ve added anything in the PCOS column of my blog. For that, I apologize! If you’ve followed me for a while you know I’ve been going through some very hard, personal stuff which means managing my PCOS has not been my top priority. It’s unfortunate that at the times you really need to focus on your well-being is usually the time you don’t. For the past year, I’ve been going through a lot of hormonal changes and depression caused by losing our baby. Due to these changes I’ve gained weight and have steadily felt my health deteriorate.
What was my wake up call? Besides feeling awful about myself it was the fact that I want to have energy to play with my children. I want to like myself in photo’s with our baby. Pretty much everything I do these days has to do with the fact that we could literally be chosen to adopt a child any day. I want to be ready.
Losing weight with PCOS is hard, but gaining weight is easy. PCOS is a real bitch, but just like another evil force out there it can be won! Here’s how I’m going to once again defeat PCOS weight gain. I’m going to stick with a very low carb diet, not quite Keto but following many of the guidelines. Any carb I have will not be a simple carb. I’ll make sure it comes from whole wheat or natural sources like fruits/veggies.
I’ve started running again. Let’s be honest, I’m walking a lot more than actually running but I’m getting cardio activity so that is all that matters. I’m working my way up to running easier and for longer periods at a time. Weight training happens 3 times a week as well. I’ll continue to update you on my progress each week.
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Every time I have someone ask me about PCOS and what is I try to explain that it's not a simple disease to explain. There are so many different aspects of it and it varies by each individual. I found an informative article online that I wanted to share because it really does touch base on a lot.
I felt it was important to share with you the PCOS diet and guidelines that I follow. I’m not 100% consistent with them as I feel that I have learned enough about my body to add a bit of flexibility into my diet, however I try to follow them pretty closely to avoid any changes in weight and insulin resistance. It’s important to monitor or own body closely. If you are feeling a spike in blood sugar or not seeing weight come off and a steady pace than some tweeks will need to happen. The timing of your meals is important. It will help you remain in control of your blood sugar/insulin levels and you won't feel hungry. Always feeling hungry is a sign of insulin resistance so a lot of PCOS sufferers deal with that problem.
My daily schedule is as follows:
8 AM- Breakfast
11 AM- Snack 1. This is usually a smaller snack to tie me over until lunch.
3PM- Snack #2
8PM- Post Work out
Oatmeal (packets or plain. Make sure packets are low sugar.)
Peanut butter and whole wheat bread
Sandwich on whole wheat bread
Grilled chicken on dark green salad
Wheat Pita stuffed with chicken or steak
Leftovers from Dinner
Grilled chicken with asparagus, broccoli, and/or green beans
Taco salad with black beans, lettuce, tomato, avocado, cheese, plain greek yogurt, and salsa
Steaks and veggies
Crockpot chicken fajitas casserole
Hamburgers---with or without bun depending on my carb use up to that point.
Whole wheat spaghetti with marinara sauce (Italian sausage for the hubby)
Crockpot teriyaki chicken with brown rice
Halibut, salmon, or tilapia on top of brown rice or quinoa with a lemon butter sauce over it.
Dinner always consists of Protein, veggies, complex carbs, and fiber. I work out after my dinner so I need it to fuel my body correctly and last through the work out.
Apple and peanut butter
Celery and peanut butter
Popcorn with light salt
Triscuits and cheese slices
Cottage cheese and peaches
Tuna with hard boiled egg
Hard boiled egg
Veggies with ranch dip (made with plain Greek yogurt)
Fruits of any kind
Veggies of any kind
Nuts of any kind
The thing with any diet and especially a safe diet for PCOS is that it’s all about moderation. Your body needs a certain amount of each Macronutrient to sustain itself and function the way it should. It’s very important to take into account the way our bodies produce, use, and store insulin differently than a “normal” person. You should aim for a diet that is no more than %40 carbohydrates. When I say moderation is key there are a few things that should be avoided pretty much all together if you have been diagnosed with insulin resistance.
Potatoes- They are extremely high on the Glycemic Index
Fried foods- Almost everything that is fried is dipped in a batter which makes it horrible for your insulin resistance. Also most fried foods are done so in oil rich in saturated fat and that’s no good for anyone even those without PCOS.
Sweets- Yes, I know how cruel this is but it’s only to help you out I promise! Sweets are of course full of sugar and almost always made of white flour. Both sugar and white flour are high on the glycemic index and will cause a surge in your insulin productivity. If you need something sweet aim for fruits but if that doesn’t cure your craving then look online for a recipe made with whole wheat flour and a sugar substitute like apple sauce for instance.
I hope these guidelines help you out a little. If you have any questions, let me know!
Since discovering that my latest miscarriage occurred because of Trisomy 4 I’ve been doing a lot of research into how you can help the development of your eggs. I’ve read books and many articles regarding this topic and one supplement kept being discussed so I looked into it even further.
The supplement we will discuss today is Myo-inositol. Myo-inositol (MI) is a part of the B vitamin complex and is a known insulin-sensitizer. It has also been shown to improve both physical (hirsutism and acne) and reproductive (anovulation and amenorrhea) manifestations of Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS). In addition, myo-inositol plays a role in cell growth and early studies indicated that higher levels of MI in the follicular fluid was associated with better egg quality.
In a Double-blind, placebo-controlled investigation which was carried out in 42 women with PCOS, subjects receiving myo-inositol fared much better when compared to the placebo group, displaying decreases in testosterone, triglycerides, and blood pressure; a significant improvement in insulin sensitivity; and a greatly increased frequency of ovulation (Costantino 2009).
In another study, 20 women with PCOS were given either 2 grams of myo-inositol plus 200 mcg folic acid, or a placebo of 200 mcg folic acid daily. After 12 weeks, the women taking myo-inositol showed improved insulin sensitivity and androgen levels. Strikingly, all the subjects receiving myo-inositol returned to normal menstrual cycles (Genazzani 2008).
In an Italian study of 92 PCOS patients, almost 50% showed significant weight loss and reduced leptin levels after receiving myo-inositol plus folic acid (4 g myo-inositol plus 400 mcg folic acid). After a 14-wk treatment, the myo-inositol plus folic acid group lost weight, whereas the placebo group gained weight (Gerli 2007).
A six-month study involving 50 PCOS women yielded similar results and gave researchers the time to evaluate the effects of myo-inositol on hirsutism. Along with decreases in testosterone and insulin levels, the participants who supplemented with myo-inositol experienced a reduction in hirsutism, and improvements in skin appearance, leading researches to conclude, “Myo-inositol administration is a simple and safe treatment that ameliorates the metabolic profile of patients with PCOS, reducing hirsutism and acne.” (Zacchè 2009).
I’ve heard of Inositol a few times and one of my friends that has dealt with PCOS and infertility for years started taking this and ended up pregnant right away. I have looked into different forms of the supplement and have chosen to try Pregnitude. Pregnitude is Myo-inositol and folic acid in a tasteless powder. I will update you at a later time on how this affects me.
I’m always researching and trying to find some natural and safe ways to improve my overall health and my PCOS. After my miscarriage I started to research how to naturally improve egg quality and one of the ways kept coming up in every article I read. The main subject of topic is Coenzyme q10. I’ve been taking this for about 2 weeks now so I’m anxious to see how I feel in the next month or so.
I've been asked a few times what vitamins I've been taking to help me get pregnant. Here is a list of what I started taking 3 months ago....
Magnesium- 500MG DAILY
Vitamin D- 5000mg daily
I'm also taking 1000 mg metformin and 100 mcg levothyroxine.
Disclaimer- I am not offering any medical advice. This is just what I have personally been taking :)
Vitamin B-Complex Formulas
The B vitamins are very important in helping to correct the symptoms of polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). PCOS is a very complex hormonal and systemic metabolic disorder. Vitamins and minerals are essential if optimal metabolism is to occur. Adequate levels of vitamins and minerals may improve the following PCOS disorders: acne, depression, diabetes, hair loss, heart disease, hirsutism, hormone imbalances, infertility, miscarriage risk, and overweight.
Vitamins B2, B3, B5 and B6 are particularly useful for controlling weight: Vitamin B2 helps to turn fat, sugar and protein into energy; B3 is a component of the glucose tolerance factor (GTF), which is released every time blood sugar rises, and Vitamin B3 helps to keep the levels in balance; Vitamin B5 has been shown to help with weight loss because it helps to control fat metabolism; B6 is also important for maintaining hormone balance and, together with B2 and B3, is necessary for normal thyroid hormone production. Any deficiencies in these vitamins can affect thyroid function and consequently affect the metabolism. The B vitamins are also essential for the liver to convert ‘old’ (which are not required in any metabolic process) hormones into harmless substances, which can then be excreted from the body.
Biotin: Biotin is a member of the B-complex family of vitamins. It improves disordered glucose metabolism by stimulating insulin secretion in response to blood sugar and by improving the liver’s ability to process glucose. Biotin appears to improve insulin resistance. Biotin is crucial for proper hair and nail growth. In high doses, biotin can be effective in restoring head-hair growth, with no known side effects.
Folic Acid (Folate): Folate and folic acid are forms of the same Vitamin B. Folate is found naturally in food and folic acid usually found in vitamins. Folic acid is required for DNA synthesis and optimal neurological function. It works in tandem with Vitamin B12. Folic acid may be helpful in reducing homocysteine, which is a metabolic byproduct that is too high in some PCOS women, especially if they are taking metformin medication.
Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine): Vitamin B6 is involved in numerous metabolic processes, blood sugar metabolism being one of the important processes affected by PCOS. Vitamin B6 affects receptors for estrogen, androgen, and progesterone. Vitamin B6 is required for the synthesis of serotonin. Mild deficiency of Vitamin B6 in PCOS women is common.
Vitamin B12: Vitamin B12 is an essential vitamin commonly found in a variety of foods such as fish, shellfish, meats, and dairy products. Vitamin B12 is necessary for DNA synthesis and neurological health. It works in conjunction with folic acid. Vitamin B12 is bound to the protein in food. Hydrochloric acid in the stomach releases B12 from protein during digestion. Once released, B12 combines with a substance called intrinsic factor (IF) before it is absorbed into the bloodstream. However, metformin (glucophage) and other PCOS medications may make Vitamin B12 absorption more difficult. Metformin dosage for 12 months leads to depletion of B vitamins, which are essential for good health. This can be overcome by ‘burns’. Burns are tiny pieces of protein food, which are eaten in tiny amounts every 15 minutes. It improves the Vitamin B level in the body and helps the struggling PCOS slimmer to shed unwanted pounds (as it improves protein, fat, and carbohydrate metabolism).
– Authored by A.S.; March 6, 2006.
Did you know that Vitamin D is not really a vitamin after all? It is actually a precursor hormone and is a key factor in maintaining hormonal balance. It is the building block of a powerful steroid hormone in your body called calcitriol.
There has been a lot of talk about Vitamin D lately probably because upwards of 75% of the world’s population is Vitamin D deficient, and it can put one at risk of a myriad of health issues like rickets, tuberculosis, psoriasis, multiple sclerosis, inflammatory bowel disease, type-1 diabetes, high blood pressure, increased heart failure, insulin resistance, depression, obesity breast and other cancers. It is estimated that many of these diseases could be reduced by as much as 50% or more if vitamin D deficiency was corrected by increasing vitamin D intake through sun exposure, fortified foods or supplements. (1)
Looking at the above list, there are a few issues that many of us with PCOS deal with. Wouldn’t it be great to have some relief by doing something simple like increasing our Vitamin D levels? In addition, if you are suffering muscle pain, weak bones/fractures, low energy and fatigue, lowered immunity, symptoms of depression, mood swings, and sleep issues, you may have a Vitamin D deficiency.
3 out of 4 women with PCOS may have Vitamin D deficiencies.
In recent years there have been some studies done regarding PCOS and Vitamin D levels. A study done at the Medical University of Graz in Austria showed that almost three of every four women with PCOS may have vitamin D deficiencies. The study looked at 206 women affected by PCOS and found that 72.8% had insufficient vitamin D levels. (2)
Genetic variation in Vitamin D receptors
Another study from the Royan Institute in Iran theorized that women with PCOS may have a genetic variation that affects how effectively vitamin D functions in the body.The researchers stated, “The findings of the present study indicate that genetic variation in the vitamin D receptor may affect PCOS development as well as insulin resistance in women with PCOS.” (3) Perhaps these genetic variations may contribute to insulin resistance and PCOS?
In a very small Columbia University study of 13 women with PCOS, five were found to have obvious vitamin D deficiency and three others had borderline-low vitamin D status.(4) All 13 women were treated with vitamin D2 at a dose of 50,000 IU once or twice a week, and also received 1,500 mg of supplemental calcium per day.
Of the nine women with irregular periods prior to vitamin D treatment, seven experienced a more normal cycle within two months and the other two became pregnant. The authors of the study do suggest that abnormalities in calcium balance may be responsible, in part, for the arrested follicular development in women with PCOS
Vitamin D may help with Insulin Resistance
Studies have shown that women with PCOS have mostly insufficient vitamin D levels, and vitamin D replacement therapy may have a beneficial effect on IR in obese women with PCOS. (5) People with higher levels of this vitamin are 40% less likely to develop diabetes. The vitamin helps the pancreas secrete insulin. It also reduces systemic inflammation, which influences insulin resistance. (6)
What can I do about my Vitamin D levels?
Have your levels checked
Ask your doctor to check your levels. If he/she gives you a hard time, be a Diva and take these medical studies to the office. You will want to ask for a 25-hydroxy vitamin D, or 25(OH)D. The test results will be expressed in nanograms per milliliter (ng/mL). The Grassroots Health Scientists Panel of 41 expert vitamin D researchers and medical practitioners believe based on evidence, that the serum level should be between 40-60 ng/ml. (7)
Actually, if you don’t have insurance or even a doctor or just want to do your own test, Grassroots Health offers affordable Vitamin D testing. When you order your kit from Grassroots Health, you will also be participating in the world’s largest Vitamin D project to solve the deficiency, “D*action”. You may choose to enroll for a 1-time test with your health information or you may even participate in the 5 year project where you provide your health information along with a vitamin D test each 6 months for the 5 year period.
Strive for 15 minutes unprotected sun exposure every day
Your body can’t create vitamin D on its own. Instead, it’s designed to make it through sun exposure. Try to get 15 minutes unprotected on your hands, face and arms (although it is hard in the dead of winter in New Hampshire, where I live!)
Eat Vitamin D rich foods
I often feature wild salmon in my PCOS Meal Plans. It is a perfect PCOS food not just for Omega 3’s but also for Vitamin D. Mackerel and sardines are also a good choice. Egg yolks are a good source as well. I don’t rely on fortified dairy or processed breakfast cereals.
Supplement Vitamin D
Have your levels tested, and then ask your doctor about supplements. If you are low in Vitamin D, you may require large amounts initially to get you up to optimal levels. For a long time, vitamin D therapy was prescribed as Vitamin D2. Vitamin D2 is actually much less effective than natural Vitamin D3. Be sure you are supplementing with D3 which is a more bio-ready form for use in the body.
I take PCOS Diva Vitamin D with Vitamin K supplement. It is a carefully researched and sourced supplement that provides the level of vitamin D that I need for my PCOS diet supplement, together with vitamin K to optimize absorption. Best of all, I can count on its safety and effectiveness because it is sourced from a reliable nutraceutical company that is GMP certified.
For more info on the dosage, Carole Baggerly, director of GrassrootsHealth explains, “Clinicians and their medical associations are creating clinical practice guidelines based on the documented science as well as their clinical experience and establishing recommended serum levels at least at 30-60 ng/ml (75-150 nmol/L) with recommended intakes from 1000-2000 IU/day based on age. It is recommended that everyone test their vitamin D serum level for a baseline measurement and adjust their intake to reach the desired serum level.” And then be sure to have it retested to see how the therapy is working.
(1) The Endocrine Society
(2) Wehr E et al, Association of hypovitaminosis D with metabolic disturbances in polycystic ovary syndrome, Eur J Endocrinol. 2009 Jul 23.
(3) Mahmoudi T et al, Genetic variation in the vitamin D receptor and polycystic ovary syndrome risk, Fertil Steril. 2009 Jun 5.
(4) Thys-Jacobs S, Donovan D, Papadopoulos A, Sarrel P, Bilezikian JP. Vitamin D and calcium dysregulation in the polycystic ovarian syndrome. Steroids 1999 Jun;64(6):430-5.
(5) J Endocrinol Invest. 2010 Apr;33(4):234-8. Epub 2009 Oct 9.The effect of vitamin D replacement therapy on insulin resistance and androgen levels in women with polycystic ovary syndrome.
(6) Vitamin D deficiency and Type 2 Diabestes by Z. Oxfirat and T. A. Chowdhury, Postgrad Med J, 1/2010
About 2 months ago I added a "cocktail" of vitamins to my diet and one of those was Magnesium. Here is an excellent article from http://pcosdiva.com about the effects of this vitamin on those of us with PCOS.
Magnificent Magnesium: A PCOS Mineral August 25, 2014Why is magnesium important?
Magnesium is an essential mineral in our bodies and is a co-factor in over 300 body processes including muscle building, maintaining nerve function, keeping a healthy heartbeat and sustaining optimal immune system function. Magnesium is found in all of our tissues — but mainly in our bones, muscles, and brain.
When we are stressed our bodies become deplete of magnesium. Magnesium regulates cortisol as it calms our nervous system and prevents excessive cortisol. When we are under loads of stress, it means we are also losing magnesium. We burn through magnesium, because it helps support our adrenal glands, which make cortisol.
We also must have magnesium for our cells to make energy. Magnesium enhances insulin secretion, which facilitates sugar metabolism. Without magnesium, glucose is not able to transfer into cells.
Magnesium is also necessary for maintaining a healthy heart. This important mineral aids in the proper transport of potassium, calcium, and other nutrient ions across cell membranes. These nutrients help promote healthy nerve impulses, muscle contraction, and a normal heart rhythm.
Magnesium helps keep anxiety and depression at bay and relaxes our muscles. Adequate levels of magnesium help promote sleep too.
Why do I not have enough magnesium?
The amount of magnesium most of us are getting has plummeted over 50% during the last century. It is estimated that 80% of us are deficient in magnesium. Dr. Carolyn Dean, author of Magnesium Miracle explains, “Magnesium is farmed out of the soil…A hundred years ago, we would get maybe 500 milligrams of magnesium in an ordinary diet. Now we’re lucky to get 200 milligrams. People do need to supplement with magnesium.” Even organic soils are depleted of minerals. And non-organic farming is severely deplete in minerals.
Many women with PCOS are on the birth control pill, which also depletes magnesium. And to add to the issue, many women with PCOS have sugar and simple carb cravings. To process excessive sugar in our diets requires a great deal of magnesium, and a refined diet that is based mostly on white flour, meat, and dairy (all of which have no magnesium) adds insult to injury. High glucose levels make the body flush magnesium from its system. If it isn’t added back in by eating magnesium rich foods and taking supplements you will become deficient.
In a recent study, people with diabetes who took magnesium supplements had improved insulin and glucose levels Another study showed that women with PCOS had a 19x greater risk of magnesium deficiency than the control group. (2)
How do I know if I am deficient?
Most of the magnesium in your body is inside your cells, so you can’t measure with a blood test. Only 1% of magnesium in your body is distributed in your blood, so a serum magnesium blood test highly inaccurate. You have to look at symptoms. Magnesium is often referred to as the relaxation mineral. So if anything is tight, irritable, crampy or stiff whether it is your body or even your emotions/moods it is a sign of magnesium deficiency.
Here is a list of some magnesium deficiency symptoms. For a more complete list see – http://drcarolyndean.com/2010/06/gauging-magnesium-deficiency-symptoms/
What type of magnesium should I supplement with?
Not all forms of magnesium are the same. When you want to increase magnesium levels, it is important to choose the right form. Magnesium glycinate is a chelated form of magnesium that tends to provide the highest levels of absorption and bioavailability and is typically considered ideal for those who are trying to correct a deficiency. The typical dosage is is 500-1000 mg magnesium daily. Spread out the dosage and take it with meals to slow down transit time through the intestines and enhance absorption.
Besides taking a supplement, another way to improve your magnesium levels is to take regular Epsom salt baths or foot baths. Epsom salt is a magnesium sulfate that can absorb into your body through your skin. Magnesium oil (from magnesium chloride) can also be used for topical application and absorption.
I was going to write an article explaining how to inform your partner what PCOS is really like. I was researching other things and found this article. It explains it perfectly so I figured I would just share it instead! It's from http://www.pcosdietsupport.com
This one is for your partner, family and significant other. One of the lovely ladies in the PCOS Diet Support community recently asked me to write an explanation of PCOS for our partners and significant others. Something that makes PCOS easy to understand.
I was diagnosed after being married for 3 years and my hubby has been amazingly supportive. I’ve written this article with him in mind (even though he knows most of it anyway).
What is PCOS?I have PCOS or Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome. I know that you think of it as “woman issues” but it’s important that you know what is happening with me and my body because it affects both of us and I’m really going to need your help in coming to terms with it, living with it and getting it under control.
So, I do have “woman issues”. Basically I don’t ovulate every month, which means that my cycle is very irregular. I also might have some cysts on my ovaries. The biggest thing, though, is that I don’t process carbohydrates properly and my body is over sensitive to insulin. This means that I produce too much insulin for the carbs that I eat. The insulin also makes my ovaries release too much testosterone (all women produce testosterone – I just have too much of it).
PCOS is pretty common. Every 1 in 10 women have it so I’m not abnormal or alone in it.
The SymptomsThe symptoms of PCOS are pretty rough for me to deal with and can make me feel unattractive. I sometimes struggle with my weight. It’s not for lack of trying, I promise! All of that insulin quickly stores my carbs as fat and makes it difficult for me to lose it.
I have hair where I really don’t want hair and I may lose some of my hair on my head. I also may have bad skin (think teenage boy acne). It’s that darn testosterone.
One of the hardest things about PCOS is that having babies might be a struggle. It’s not impossible by any means but might take longer than we’d like.
What I need to do for me PCOS is not a death sentence and I’ve made a decision that although I have PCOS, it doesn’t have me. There are things that I can do to manage my PCOS and help with my symptoms.
The biggest thing I can do for me is to lead a healthy lifestyle, keep active and eat properly. This will make my symptoms easier to manage (exercise and diet are huge in dealing with the insulin which will help with the testosterone). The way I eat is not necessarily aimed at me losing weight (although it will help) but on getting healthy. So we can change the way we eat and get healthy together. There are also some supplements that I take regularly which have been really helpful in managing my symptoms.
I can get help from my doctor or endocrinologist (hormone doctor) and there are medications I can take.
If we’re not ready to think about a family, I can also take birth control, which will keep my symptoms in check for a while. As soon as I come off the pill, though, my symptoms will come back so birth control is a temporary fix and can have unpleasant side effects.
If we do decide to have a family and we’re struggling to, we can go to see a reproductive endocrinologist to look into fertility treatments. They’ll want to check you out too and treat both of us if need be.
What I need you to doThe biggest thing I need from you is your love and support. There are times when living with PCOS is going to make me angry, depressed and feel unattractive. Please just love me through it.
I’m going to do everything I know to do to eat properly and exercise. Please help me by eating healthy too and being active with me. Let’s go for lots of long walks, take up mountain biking or ballroom dancing. If you do have treats (which you’re totally entitled to), please hide them from me so that I’m not tempted by them. Also, please share with them with me once in a blue moon because I also deserve a treat every now and then.
Bearing in mind what I said about feeling unattractive, when I’m having an “ugly” day (and they do happen), please remind me how beautiful I am. Encourage me to get my hair done, have a pedicure or a massage. Sometimes I get so caught up in the daily grind of work, keeping a home and our family, looking after my health, that I forget to take some time just for me. I need you to help me do that.
Thank you, seriously!It sounds a bit trite but thank you so much for taking the time to read this. It shows me that you want to understand what I am going through and want to support me and that means the world to me. Thank you for loving me in spite of my many faults (PCOS included) and thank you for choosing to walk this road with me. Having PCOS is not easy but with you by my side, it makes it a little more manageable!
Hi my name is Whitney and I'm a mom to 2 adorable boys. Here you'll find our story of infertility, adoption, grief, and hope. I'm an open book so you'll never know what I'll post next!