The role of diet is an important factor when dealing with PCOS.
Being a sufferer of PCOS means that we tend to have problems with a hormone called Insulin. This unfortunately causes issues with our weight. In this post I’ll talk about insulin resistance and weight gain.
WHAT IS INSULIN?
Insulin is a hormone produced by the pancreas. It is produced when we eat carbohydrate foods.
Carbohydrates break down to become sugar (glucose/energy). And is broken down by our digestive tract.
The digestive tract is made up of the mouth, food pipe, stomach and intestines. Whilst travelling along the digestive tract enzymes are produced. Enzymes break down carbohydrates to form glucose.
Its presence prompts the pancreas to produce Insulin. Which signals our cells to absorb the sugar (glucose/energy).
Insulin regulates our blood sugar levels. Making sure that our blood sugar levels are not too high or low.
High levels of circulating blood glucose is stored in our liver, fat and muscle cells as glycogen. When we are depleted in energy or at rest. We’re able to be replenished by using the stocked up fuel in our liver and muscles.
INSULIN IN THE PCOS BODY.
The cells of a PCOS sufferer tends to have problems recognising insulin.
Being unable to recognise insulin results in glucose staying in the bloodstream.
Imagine, Insulin as a key.
Our cells have receptors. Receptors allow substances to enter into a cell. Imagine the receptors as being a door.
Imagine our cells as being buildings.
And imagine yourself as being glucose.
You need a key to unlock a door in order for you to enter a building.
In terms of cells. We need our cells to recognise insulin to further allow glucose to enter into our cells.
Insulin (the key) has to be recognised by the receptors (the door). This allows glucose (you) to enter into the cells (buildings).
The process becomes impaired when the receptors are not able to recognise insulin.
The wrong key has been used, so the door is unable to open. It requires the right key to open the door.
This impairment causes high levels of glucose to circulate in the bloodstream. Which should be entering our cells.
Insulin Resistance. The reason why you can’t lose weight
Your liver and muscles will take up excess glucose. But there are limits to the amount that can be taken. This energy has to go somewhere.
And unfortunately, that storage is in our fat cells or it will likely convert into fat.
This is problematic for PCOS sufferers. With many PCOS sufferers being unable to maintain a healthy weight.
The body in this state is termed as being insulin resistance.
Being insulin resistant will most likely make you feel hungry soon after eating. It can also cause you to crave sugar rich foods.
Fortunately, insulin resistance can be reversed by changing our lifestyles.
Losing weight, exercise, diet and getting adequate sleep are all ways of combating it.
We need to work on allowing our cells to start recognising insulin again. We need to choose the right types of sugar in order to not overwhelm the body.
WAYS OF HELPING INSULIN RESISTANCE
A weight loss of just 5 percent has been shown to help increase insulin sensitive.
A sensible diet and exercise regime can boost the way your cells recognise insulin.
This cannot be done by following crash diets. Dietinģ tend to lead us to dietary failure and may cause you to put on more weight than when you started the diet.
Instead, you must look at losing weight and maintaining your weight. You need to adopt achievable and sustainable measures which last a lifetime.
As mentioned earlier in this post. Insulin reacts to glucose being present in our bloodstreams.
Glucose is produced from the breakdown of carbohydrate type foods.
Carbohydrates are needed and can be fantastic for the PCOS body. And can also be detrimental for the PCOS body.
Because, many of us are attracted to eating the wrong types of carbohydrates. We opt to eat simple carbohydrates instead of complex carbohydrates.
In order to address this we need to look at the types of carbohydrates we eat.
Do you eat lots of simple carbohydrates such as cakes, biscuits and bread?
Do you eat complex carbohydrates such as whole wheat grains and pasta?
We also need to address what we eat with our carbohydrate foods.
Are you eating a good amount of proteins?
Are you eating fibrous foods and vegetables with carbohydrates?
Look at significantly reducing your simple carbohydrate intake. This can have huge benefits for your PCOS health.
Exercise is extremely beneficial to increase insulin sensitivity
Whilst exercising. Glucose stored in your muscles as glycogen is used to supply the body with energy.
After exercise. Excessive amounts of blood glucose is then stored in the muscles to be used at a later time.
Exercise can help suppress large releases of insulin. Your body will use glycogen as a supply of energy bypassing the need of insulin and glucose from foods.
Studies have shown that suffering from a metabolic condition such as PCOS. And having poor levels of sleep can induce insulin resistance.
A study was carried out with diabetics with poor sleep. The results showed they awoke with high blood glucose and insulin levels. The results also showed their levels were 82% higher than diabetics with healthy sleep patterns.
Our bodies perform a large range of tasks while we sleep.During this much needed rest time.
Your brain, metabolism and breathing slows down.
Your body is busy repairing muscles.
When it comes to digestion. We produce the hormones ghrelin and leptin when we sleep.
These hormones help us to feel full and controls appetite.
Having poor levels of sleep inhibits the production of ghrelin and leptin. Making us more likely to feel the need to eat more at night and during day.
We obviously don’t eat whilst we’re sleeping. Due to this, insulin is not needed in large amounts and we use stored energy which has been stored in the liver. This requires the hormone glucagon to be produced to raise blood sugar levels.
Most people who wake up in the night, either eat a small meal or make a sweet drink. Doing this spikes glucose and insulin levels
YOU CAN DO IT
Exercising and adopting healthy eating habits has been very beneficial for me.
If you need more exercise in your life.
•Try and establish a exercise regime. This could be a simple 10 minute walk.
• Start exercising 2 to 3 times a week. Look to gradually build this up to exercising on a daily basis. This will help to burn excess calories. Tone your muscles and release glycogen stores to maintain stable blood sugar levels.
•Look at your eating habits.
•Cut back on simple carbohydrates in favour of complex carbohydrates.
•Combine carbohydrates with fibre and protein based foods.
Lack of sleep, for me wasn’t a huge issue when my PCOS symptoms were problematic. But has been a huge issue when I’ve relapsed with Graves Disease. With PCOS, too much sleep was my problem. With Graves, too little sleep. I have experienced sleep issues at both sides of the pendulum.
If sleep is an issue. Try to
• Establish a healthy bedtime routine.
• Try to go to bed at the same time everyday.
•Establish an evening/bedtime routine.
•Allow time to relax and unwind before going to bed.
•Limit the intake of stimulants such as coffee and tea during evenings or near to bed time.
•Make your bedroom an electronic free zone.
•Limit electronic stimulants such as phones and tablets near bed time.
•Invest in a good old fashioned alarm clock if you use electronics to wake you up.
Being a PCOS sufferer will likely be combined with the having insulin resistance.
You don’t need to suffer. Give one of the recommendations above a go.
I’m Cheryl. I’m on a quest to help and share what I’ve learnt about nutrition, yoga, autoimmune disease, hormones and joint disease.
I’m a sufferer of the above diseases and have used yoga and nutrition to manage my illnesses. Success with my health led me to become a qualified Nutritional Therapist and Yoga Teacher.