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Dr Marilyn Glenville In Mail Online...Natural Solutions To PCOS
Q: After years of being overweight, sprouting excess facial and bodily hair, and having terrible skin, I have been diagnosed with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) by my GP. Is there a diet that can help?
A: PCOS is the most common hormonal disorder in women of reproductive age, affecting an estimated five to ten per cent. It gets its name because the ovaries look as if they are covered in multiple cysts: in fact, they are small undeveloped egg follicles.
PCOS results in distressing symptoms including acne, hirsutism and weight gain, and is a major cause of infertility. But it is frequently misdiagnosed or even missed completely, according to Marilyn Glenville, a registered nutritionist and chartered psychologist who has treated PCOS for more than 30 years (marilynglenville.com).
There is a simple diet to combat PCOS. In her book Natural Solutions to PCOS (Macmillan, £10.99*), Glenville details a regime that 'will dramatically improve the quality of your life, and may even get rid of your PCOS'. It is also a sensible diet for everyone.
The first principle is not to go without food for more than three waking hours, to keep your blood sugar levels balanced. This is key in treating all hormonal imbalances.
With most PCOS sufferers the body produces too much insulin, triggered by refined carbohydrates. This is the principal cause of weight gain and the overproduction of male hormones, which underlie hirsutism and acne.
Base your diet on unrefined carbs including vegetables (not potatoes and parsnips) and fruit (berries, apples, pears and citrus), plus barley, brown rice, buckwheat, maize, millet, oats, rye, spelt and wholemeal bread and pasta.
Add protein to every meal and snack, which slows down the absorption of food and thus insulin production. Eat plenty of oily fish and omega-3-rich foods including eggs and nuts, also vegetable protein such as quinoa, hummus, nut butters such as almond and seeds. Cook with olive oil.
Avoid white flour and white sugar in any form, fruit juice, honey, chocolate, instant porridge oats, soft fizzy drinks, white rice.
Eliminate all dairy products for 12 weeks. Milk is full of hormones, principally acne-triggering androgens. Try organic coconut or organic soya milk instead. Cut out alcohol to improve liver function. Reduce caffeine to rest adrenal glands, and saturated fats to reduce inflammation