PCOS Review Newsletter #121
1) Leptin Resistance: One of the Evil Twins of PCOS
In The Natural Diet Solution for PCOS and Infertility e-book, we talk extensively about the "Evil Twins" that cause you so much trouble (see chapter 16.2). These Twins are insulin resistance and leptin resistance.
You've probably heard about insulin resistance, which is thought to be the primary cause of polycystic ovary syndrome. But have you heard about leptin resistance, which is implicated in many problems associated with PCOS?
Leptin is a hormone produced in your fat cells. Leptin interacts with your hypothalamus gland in your brain. The hypothalamus is the "control center" for maintaining your energy balance, that is, how fat or lean you are. Leptin keeps your hypothalamus informed about the status of the energy stores in your body.
Defects in either insulin or leptin signaling in the central nervous system and brain result in overeating, disturbed blood sugar balance, reproductive dysfunction and weight gain.
An example of reproductive dysfunction is leptin's interaction with luteinizing hormone (LH). A normal pulsation of LH is required if you are to be fertile. However, in women with polycystic ovarian syndrome, this pulsation is insufficient or absent. There is some research evidence to indicate that leptin may one of the factors that regulates LH. In this case, if you want to ovulate, you may need to normalize your leptin.
Women with PCOS have been shown to have disordered leptin function.
For many reasons, it's super-important to normalize your leptin.
How might you do that?
Leptin is influenced by diet, genetics, gender, amount of fat weight and a substantial number of other hormones.
You can improve your leptin balance by switching to a healthier diet, and getting more exercise.
In particular, sugars and certain fats can cause problems for optimal leptin function. For example, a diet high in saturated fats and low in unsaturated fats impairs leptin function.
Refined carbohydrates and sweeteners such as fructose are problematic.
In general, a diet like the one in the diet e-book will help you to optimize leptin function.
Secondly, animal studies have shown that exercise can reduce leptin resistance.
If you can get your leptin under control, and lose some fat weight in the process, you are that much closer to a normal cycle, improved fertility, better appetite control as well as many other health benefits.
3) NAC Is a Useful Antioxidant in PCOS
NAC (n-acetyl-cysteine) is a nutritional supplement that is a derivative of the amino acid cysteine. NAC has antioxidant properties and is required for the body's production of glutathione. Glutathione, along with NAC, are powerful antioxidants. Adequate antioxidants are essential for protecting your cells from damage.
Why is this important to you?
Women with PCOS have a higher level of "oxidant stress" than other women. Oxidant stress is a destructive situation where your cells cannot adequately control your "metabolic fires", technically called "oxidation". You don't want your metabolic fires to burn too low or burn too hot. They must burn just right.
So when you have oxidant stress and your metabolic fires are not optimally controlled, cells in your body are damaged. Even the egg cells in your ovaries can be damaged.
Your cells use antioxidants to regulate your oxidation process. You can think of antioxidants like a flue in your fireplace that controls the amount of oxygen that gets into your fireplace and thus regulates the rate of burning of the wood.
The medical research indicates that women with PCOS have a greater need for antioxidants than other people do. Their oxidant stress is associated with blood vessel problems, higher insulin, insulin resistance, excessive homocysteine (undesirable), chronic inflammation and a host of other problems.
There are dozens of antioxidants, found in your diet and available as nutritional supplements. Two well-known antioxidants are vitamins C and E.
NAC is also a useful antioxidant. It is also helpful in reducing insulin resistance in women with polycystic ovary syndrome, according to the Universita Cattolica del Sacro Cuore in Italy.
Kava C et al, Advanced oxidation protein products are increased in women with polycystic ovary syndrome: relationship with traditional and nontraditional cardiovascular risk factors in patients with polycystic ovary syndrome, Fertil Steril. 2009 Oct;92(4):1372-7
Fulghesu AM et al, N-acetyl-cysteine treatment improves insulin sensitivity in women with polycystic ovary syndrome, Fertil Steril 2002 Jun;77(6):1128-35
Thought for Today: "The most precious gift we can offer others is our presence. When mindfulness embraces those we love, they will bloom like flowers." -- Thich Nhat Hahn
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