Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS), also known as Polycystic Ovarian Disease (PCOD), is often caused by a hormonal imbalance and is one of the most common disorders in women of reproductive age.
If you have PCOS, you’ll likely experience symptoms such as excessive facial/body hair, irregular periods, weight gain, thinning hair (on head), oily skin or acne- and difficulties getting pregnant- in the worst case, it can lead to infertility. Severe cases of PCOS can then bring on other conditions such as diabetes, depression & high cholesterol.
And while PCOS can be rooted in genetic predisposition, it is largely a lifestyle related condition due to abnormal hormone levels, specifically having too much male hormones (androgens).
AND US WOMEN- IF THERE’S ONE THING WE HATE, IT’S WHEN OUR HORMONES ARE NOT BEHAVING! We know what happens when our hormones go wack because we go through this every month. So we don’t need yet another hormonal issue to deal with… I don’t know about you, but I ain’t got time for more drama in my life!
But back to the issue at hand…
What causes PCOS is sometimes genetics and sometimes insulin resistance & inflammation. So insulin resistance & inflammation cause hormonal imbalance (too much androgens/male hormones) –> which causes PCOS. Got it?
But first- what the heck is insulin?
Insulin is a hormone that plays a huge role in how we digest glucose and how energy is absorbed by our body. The goal is to always have just enough glucose (not too little, not too much) and to make sure glucose is “used up”- because when it’s not, well… it just sits there and gets stored as fat (and messes with our hormones). And if you don’t have the right levels of insulin in your body – who is gonna help manage all the glucose that’s going in your body?
And what the heck is androgen?
Androgens are male hormones- that actually exist in both the male and female body. In a woman’s body, androgens are produced in the ovaries and convert to estrogen.
Androgens play an important role especially during a woman’s puberty – stimulating hair growth in the pubic and underarm areas. They also help regulate the proper functioning of some of our organs.
But having too much androgen = too much facial hair & other stuff (remember the symptoms I listed above? Yes, it’s all connected).
So as you can see – insulin & androgen are necessary hormones BUT you don’t want too much or too little of them.
So we need to understand what can impact our hormone levels!
While sometimes abnormal insulin & androgen levels are indeed genetic, in most cases, it’s NOT. They become abnormal because we are exposing our genes to a toxic environment.
The environment being = what we eat, what we drink, (if) we smoke, how much sleep we get and how often we exercise. Basically, lifestyle choices.
If something is lifestyle induced- it can be reversed by changes in lifestyle. I want you to remember this.
And why I choose to write this is because I want every young woman to be equipped with this knowledge. There is a direct correlation between what you eat and your hormones- this is undeniable.
This reminder is even more critical in this time & age where so much of our food is injected with weird things. Especially animal products. Remember: if the cow is being injected with something, well, that “something” goes into your body too. What the cow eats- you eat. DO NOT FORGET THIS.
You see how those chickens got ridiculously bigger in just a little over 50 years? It’s not natural and it’s making them sick. What happens to the chickens is what is happening to us humans. I want you to connect the dots.
The crap that is injected in cows- it goes straight to that steak you’re eating, the cheese you’re melting AND the milk you’re drinking.
It’s not rocket science to see how the consumption of such products can impact your hormones directly- and make you sick.
We also have to remember that our animal products consumption has dramatically increased over the years. Back in the days, meat/fish/poultry/pork was an occasional thing. Now it’s become an everyday thing and to keep up with increased demand, we are injecting animals to grow faster so we can kill them earlier and in turn, sell them earlier and in bigger volumes. Increased consumption = increased antibiotic ingestion. It is the ultimate manipulation of nature- and you are paying the price.
Other foods that mess with hormones & inflammation (and consequentially, PCOS):
Carbs: too much (refined high glycemic) carbs affect insulin (again: the PCOS x insulin connection). There is a direct correlation between both. If you have insulin resistance and you’re eating too much carbs, you’re setting your body for disaster.
Sugar: too much (refined) sugar exxagerate hormonal symptoms. The goal is to keep your hormones in balance. Imbalance is what causes PCOS, remember.
Too much sugar, salt, fat and artificial ingredients- especially when combined together: Too much of all these things together (which unfortunately make up all hyper processed foods today) cause inflammation. It weakens your body & your immunity. Every hyper processed convenience food out there is based on the premise of too much salt, sugar, fat + artificial ingredients. It is what makes these foods so addictive- so that you eat more and more and more of them.
Too much dairy: with all the crap that is being injected in our poor little cows, you can trust that your milk & cheese is being affected by it too. On top of that, lactose (a principle component of dairy products) is sugar– that’s why it’s called “milk sugar”. Too much sugar is not good for you. Additionally, cheese contains ridiculous amounts of sodium. Tons of salt is added to cheese during the production process to help preserve it and flavour it. An average slice of cheddar cheese has approx 200mg of sodium. Imagine what a pizza contains! Cheese is sugar + salt + fat…. it is basically a recipe for disaster. There is NO FIBER in cheese. So when you consume cheese, it just… sits there! All “addictive foods” contain a lot of sugar + salt + fat because they release dopamine (a happy hormone) which in turn creates addiction.
Too much antibiotic & hormone injected animal products: as explained above.
As you can see, the connection between lifestyle x hormone imbalance x inflammation is evident.
But there’s good news in all of this- which is that you can PREVENT PCOS from coming into your life (and wasting your time & money) by adopting a CLEAN, healthy plant-rich lifestyle.
Obviously, I am going to advocate a vegan plant-based lifestyle. But if you can’t give up animal products, please either reduce the consumption OR buy organic. We owe this to ourselves- please.
SO- THINGS WE NEED TO START EATING & DOING ASAP!
MORE VEGETABLES: vegetables are alkaline, cleansing, detoxifying, nourishing foods that we are not eating enough of! In addition to bringing minerals & vitamins, vegetables add fiber- something that helps manage glucose & excess fat–> and in return, more balanced hormonal levels.
MORE FIBER: Think of fiber as the broom that is always cleaning up your system to keep all the yucky stuff out of your body (which in turn causes inflammation). Clean sources of fiber include veggies and dried legumes (beans, chickpeas, lentils etc) and whole sources of grains (bulgur, brown rice, etc).
FOODS THAT REDUCE INFLAMMATION: vegetables (again), fruits, avocado, walnuts, almonds, omega 3 rich seeds (flaxseeds!), turmeric, ginger, cayenne, etc.
Focus on the green leafy vegetables- think callaloo & pak choy! They are both incredibly nutritiously dense. Pineapple is a GREAT anti-inflammatory fruit due to its bromelain content. Chia & flax seeds are fairly affordable in Jamaica- incorporate them in your diet. You cannot go wrong with veggies, fruits and healthy fats.
MORE LOW GI/RESISTANT STARCH RICH FOODS: while you want to avoid refined carbs that give insulin a tough time, you still need energy — and complex carbs are GREAT because they are rich in vitamins, fiber AND don’t allow your sugar levels to crash. Some contain resistant starch – such as green bananas and potatoes. Resistant starch helps produce a digestive enzyme that feeds good gut bacteria and inhibits the growth of bad bacteria.
It’s not complicated- essentially it’s a clean plant-based diet and not being excessively overweight. We need to look at weight more for health issues (increased inflammation and pressure on our joints & organs) than for vanity.
Stay away from excess sugar, refined carbs, fat (especially saturated, hydrogenated), salt, artificial ingredients & dairy.
If you don’t want to go vegan, then cut down on your meat intake. Choose organic- always.
EAT MORE VEGETABLES! MORE FIBER! MORE INFLAMMATION FIGHTING FOODS!
MANAGING OUR EMOTIONAL & MENTAL WELLBEING: stress has a direct impact on your hormones. Remember that skipped or delayed period you had when you were going through that really, really stressful phase in your life? Yes- you get it. That toxic relationship in your life? Get out of it ASAP. That friend who never makes you feel good? WALK AWAY- THEY’RE NOT YOUR FRIEND. The lack of sleep? SLEEP MORE. You CANNOT stress your body out like that- your body DESERVES rest. That job that you makes you feel hopeless and depressed? KNOW THAT YOU CAN WALK AWAY WHEN YOU’RE READY- no one is forcing you to keep that job and take it with you to your graveyard.
Do things that release feelings of happiness: EXERCISE! (no one has ever regretted a work out- ever!), MUSIC, FRIENDS WITH A POSITIVE ENERGY, and anything that makes you happy- DO IT!
My hope is that every young woman, or mother who has a daughter, reads this and hopefully finds some use in it. I write this out of frustration because I, myself, once allowed my female body to become a victim of this modern day diet. I do not want to see other women go through this. Our lifestyle has a direct impact on our hormones- and we are too awesome to have to pay the price of bigger corporations who, quite frankly, do not care if you get sick or not.
One aspect of female empowerment, in my opinion, is to also take our health (physical & mental) into our hands and manage it and protect our amazing bodies that allow us to do so many amazing things- including giving life! Women have incredible, powerful bodies- it is up to US to protect & love it ❤
I do not want to see any young woman grow to be a victim of the invasion of hyper processed foods. We are worth SO MUCH MORE THAN THAT!
You are welcome to do your own research as well- as I do. We are LUCKY to live in a time & age where we can access the information directly instead of through controlled, manipulated mediums. I am by no means a medical professional, but I think we can all agree that many of us are questionning these institutions that have failed us. We are sharing more information via all the platforms available to us. The more we exchange and question conventional knowledge, the better off we will be. We are living in a new world.
Thank you for taking the time to read this- I hope it could make a difference, even if just a little.