Every time when you and I have been to doctor the only advised we got was to lose weight to improve Poly cystic Ovarian syndrome symptoms. But we know how hard and difficult is that part to lose weight instead of our continuous efforts. Why is it so hard to lose weight with PCOS?
Let’s try to understand what is happening in our body and what some of the research says about weight loss and PCOS.
Human body is made up of trillion of cells. Cells makes up to organs. These cells have to continuously communicate with each other. Communication is important aspect in human body. And they do continuously communicate when we are awake, sleeping doing their functions in body. Hormones are chemical messenger between these trillion cells. If they communicate in wrong way between cells, we have problem in our body. If we have problem with any of glands in the body. We have problem with the hormone secreted from that gland. Hormones are involved in most functions in body – Growth, Hunger, Emotions, Reproduction, Sleep.
We all know PCOS is all about Metabolic disorder and Hormonal imbalance. PCOS is an Endocrine disease. Endocrine system controls all the hormones (Estrogen, Progesterone, Insulin, Thyroid, Hunger hormones and many more) in our body and is very complex system that works in synergy of the glands forming the system. One imbalance of any hormone in our body causes many problems and a vicious cycle of hormonal imbalance start until the root cause is identified and treated.
PCOS is not only about imbalance of insulin and Estrogen hormone. There are many other hormones that are imbalanced due to PCOS. Let’s have a look on these hormones
Insulin role in PCOS and Insulin Resistance
Insulin is a hormone made by the pancreas that allows cells to absorb glucose so that it can be used as energy. The individuals with insulin resistance are unable to use insulin effectively. If glucose levels are higher than normal, but not high enough to be diagnostic for diabetes, it is referred to as prediabetes.
During prediabetes, the pancreas works overtime to release enough insulin to overcome the body’s resistance and keep blood sugar levels down. Resulting in producing more glucose which gets stored in body as fat.
High levels of insulin cause your body to store more fat and causes your ovaries to make more testosterone, making the symptoms of PCOS worse. Insulin resistance is perfect puzzle example of like egg came first or the chicken. Insulin sensitivity can be improved by
- Regular Exercise and Daily Walk
- Eat balanced meal having fiber, protein and healthy fats.
- Include spices such as Cinnamon, Garlic, Turmeric, Ginger, Fennel seeds and Fenugreek seeds.
- Apple Cider vinegar (with mother) helps in improving insulin sensitivity by reducing blood sugar.
- Avoid Complex carbohydrates.(Bread , Pasta, noodles).
- Avoid Sugary drinks and food made up of white flour.
- Take Supplements – Omega 3, Inositol (Myo-Inositol and D-Chiro-Inositol), Magnesium, Vitamin D3, Vitamin K2.
Thyroid role in PCOS, Hypothyroidism or Hashimoto
Hypothyroidism, which is when your thyroid gland doesn’t make enough hormones. Exactly what causes Hypothyroid or Hashimoto is still being researched. Few factors that lead to cause of Hypothyroidism may be either Genetics, Hormones and Gut Health.
There are many research evidences that shows the gut plays a huge role in your immune health. Poor gut health can cause inflammation and autoimmune conditions such as Hashimoto’s. Treating gut issues and infections like H. pylori (Helicobacter pylori) or SIBO (small intestinal overgrowth) can help to lower thyroid antibodies and autoimmune conditions. Improving gut health can also help to reduce the amount of thyroid medication needed, most probably because the nutrients are better absorbed.
Slow Sluggish Metabolism is one of the symptoms of Hypothyroidism. Your body will slow down calorie burning because it thinks you’re starving. Another problem if you eat too little is that your body will break down valuable muscle tissue for energy. If you want to change your metabolism and still lose weight, eat balanced and healthy food so that you’re not hungry. There is no known cure for Hashimoto’s but following a thyroid health protocol, which includes a healthy balanced diet, healthy gut along with regular exercise can be a key to helping reduce symptoms
Thyroid health can be enhanced by natural remedies. Some of them are
- Iodine. Iodine is important for under active thyroid. Iodine Blockers Can Cause an Iodine Deficiency. Iodine is a naturally occurring element and is critical for thyroid health and needed by in every cell in your body.
- Ginger. Ginger helps to reduce inflammation and is a great source of magnesium, zinc, and potassium.
- Ashwagandha. Ashwagandha is an Ayurvedic herb used for many centuries due to its healing properties.
- Turmeric. Turmeric reduces inflammation in body and has enormous health benefits.
- Probiotics. Helps to improve digestion and nutrient absorption by improving Gut health. And thus increasing the immunity.
Do you find yourself hungry all the day? Not full? not satiated? There are hunger hormones behind this. From nutrient storage to appetite control and an imbalance in them could be behind those bad eating habits or appetite gone out of control. Hunger hormones deal with Appetite Control in our body. Their main job in body is to make us feel hungry and feel full or satisfied. These hormones have ability to override your willpower and binge on eating. Few of the Hunger hormones are namely Leptin, Ghrelin and Cholecystokinin.
Leptin is a hormone that is produced by body’s fat cells. Its main role is to regulate fat storage and how many calories you eat and burn. It is also called as “satiety hormone” or the “starvation hormone. It is an important hormone vital in the regulation of appetite, food intake and body weight.
Leptin is carried by the bloodstream into your brain, where it sends a signal and controls when and how much you eat.
“Studies have shown that an absence of leptin in the body or leptin resistance can lead to uncontrolled eating and weight gain. People who are obese have high levels of leptin, but the leptin signal isn’t working due to a condition known as leptin resistance. Leptin resistance can cause hunger and reduced the number of calories you burn which ultimately does not lead to lose weight.
Leptin resistance can be improved
- By avoiding foods that cause inflammation – Sugary foods.
- Eating Food such as Fatty fish, food or supplements rich in Omega 3.
- Exercise or physical activity improves Leptin sensitivity.
- Getting good sleep helps to improve Leptin sensitivity.
Ghrelin is produced in Stomach and plays important role because it signals your brain to eat. It travels through your bloodstream and to your brain, where it tells your brain to become hungry and seek out food. Ghrelin also stimulates the release of growth hormone from the pituitary gland which breaks down fat tissue and causes the build-up of muscle. Ghrelin levels increase after dieting, which may explain why diet induced weight loss can be difficult to maintain.
You get hungry when Ghrelin levels are high in body. The lower your levels, the fuller you feel. Its levels increase during a diet and intensify hunger, making it hard to lose weight. So if you want to lose weight, lowering your Ghrelin levels can be beneficial.
This can be done by
- Avoiding Sugary foods and consuming protein rich meals.
- Eating protein rich meals promotes satiety.
Cholecystokinin ( CCK; CCK-PZ )
Cholecystokinin also known as CCK; CCK-PZ. Cholecystokinin is a gut hormone released after a meal, which helps digestion and reduces appetite. It improves digestion by slowing down the emptying of food from the stomach and stimulating the production of bile in the liver as well as its release from the gall bladder. There are some researches that show that the low level of cholecystokinin may contribute to reduced feelings of fullness and difficulty in losing weight in very obese people.
CCK levels can be increased by
- Eating protein at every meal.
- Eating healthy fats (Avocado, Fatty fish, Ghee, Walnuts, chia seeds, legumes)
- Eating fiber rich food(Green veggies , beans, lentils)
Cortisol is hormone that helps the body respond to stress. It is produced by adrenal gland. It’s sometimes called the “stress hormone,” because levels of cortisol spike in the body during high-stress situations to give your body a natural energy boost. Cortisol also plays a major role in metabolism by stimulating the liver to increase blood sugar and helping to convert food into usable energy.
Also, the Chronic Stress increases inflammation in the body which raises Cortisol levels and can interfere with thyroid function. This continued pattern can also impair sleep and thus one’s ability to manage stress becomes even less possible. It becomes a vicious rollercoaster which negatively impacts the health of the thyroid gland.
To reduce Cortisol levels in body
- Eat balanced healthy meals
- Daily Walking (along Listening Music)
- Practice Meditation
- Get good sleep
Melatonin- also called the “Sleep Hormone, is made by your pineal gland and works with cortisol. When your optic nerves detect natural light diminishing, they will send a message to your hypothalamus, which will the trigger the release of melatonin to help you relax and feel drowsy in preparation for sleep. Generally, as melatonin levels increase, cortisol levels decrease and vice-versa. With PCOS, it is very easy for this cycle of hormones to get interrupted. High levels of Cortisol’s (due to Stress, anxiety) lowers down the level of Melatonin resulting in less Sleep or sleep deprivation.
Melatonin levels can be increased in body by
- No blue light exposure before 1-2 hours of bed.
- Eating healthy and balanced meal.
- Use of Essential oils like Lavender, Cedarwood.
- Exposure to Sun for few minutes a day.
Most of the women with PCOS have lower levels of progesterone. Progesterone is important for regular menstrual periods and for maintaining a pregnancy. If progesterone is absent or levels are too low, irregular and heavy menstrual bleeding can occur. A low progesterone during pregnancy can result in a miscarriage and early labour. Lack of progesterone in the bloodstream can mean the ovary has failed to release an egg at ovulation, as in case of women with PCOS.
Food does not contain Progesterone in it. There are some food that help to stimulate production of progesterone in body.
- Whole grains
- Brussels sprouts
- Also, Seed Cycling can be followed to see the affects.
There is much more imbalance in body with PCOS than we think of. It is very easy to gain weight, but it is furious battle to lose weight because of all these imbalances.
- Insulin resistance
- Slow or Sluggish Metabolism (Hypothyroid or Hashimoto)
- Hunger Hormones resistance or Imbalance
- Cortisol spikes
Thankfully this is not the end of our story, there are many things we can do to help us lose weight. I have managed to lose weight having both of this hormonal disorders – PCOS and Hypothyroidism. Apart from healthy eating, regular exercise , I am following many natural remedies that helps to improve my symptoms. Do Read. Natural Remedies for PCOS & Hypothyroidism. There are many important tips and rules that I follow in my lifestyle and always stick to them. “18 Weight Loss Tips for PCOS & Hypothyroidism” . Give it a read!
Do not get disappointed. I want to encourage you all to lose weight. Losing weight is important to manage our Symptoms. Your fight to lose weight is real and there are many women battling this.
Eat healthy and balanced food, Stay Happy.