A couple of weeks ago we talked to our Toronto naturopathic Dr Francesca Reis ND about what PCOS is. This week we will be looking at some causes that can contribute to PCOS and how she works with her patients to help support them. The first factor that she looks at is insulin resistance in those with PCOS, and she describes how to support individuals through lifestyle changes:
“To address insulin resistance, I often start off with dietary changes which involve eliminating processed food, sugar and simple carbohydrates, and replacing those things with good quality protein, fats, and vegetables. I also recommend at least 30 minutes of exercise three to five times a week, and I will often use supplements which can help with making the body’s tissues more sensitive to insulin.
Stress is another major factor that can contribute to PCOS, and this is something I also screen for. The adrenal glands which sit on top of the kidneys are responsible for regulating the stress response, and I help support adrenal gland function by discussing stress management techniques with my patients such as proper nutrition, developing a set schedule/routine, meditation, and just slowing down in general. I also recommend supplements which can help with improving adrenal function.
Poor sleep often accompanies stress, and proper sleep is key in healing, as sleep is a time for repair, restoration, and waste elimination. So, if a patient isn’t sleeping well, even with the best diet and supplements, the body does not get a chance to properly heal. Therefore, I also discuss sleep hygiene practices with my patients and recommend supplements to help with sleep and calming down the nervous system.
Lastly, I always assess gut health in all my patients. Dysbiosis (a condition in which the gut bacteria become imbalanced) can further drive inflammation and insulin resistance so it is important to ensure that the gut is working properly in the treatment of PCOS. If a patient has symptoms such as reflux, gas, bloating, constipation, and diarrhea on a regular basis, that is an immediate signal to me that the health of the gut is suboptimal. One of the main ways I help with supporting gut health is through removing inflammatory foods from the diet and using other specific protocols to help with gut healing.”