For women suffering from PCOS and hirsutism, medical research shows that a healthy diet, supplementation, exercise, stress management, and quality healthcare will have a profoundly beneficial effect.
You may be surprised at how effective lifestyle changes can be for reducing unwanted hair growth.
Your body may need a boost in dealing with hirsutism. Here's a short list of helpful supplements and herbs.
Medical research has shown that if you change the type of carbohydrates and fats in your diet, you can normalize your insulin levels, and you can reduce your production of male hormones such as testosterone. Too much insulin and testosterone causes hirsutism.
Here are some tips taken from The Natural Diet Solution for PCOS e-book. The foods and recipes found in this e-book will be instrumental for removing factors that cause hirsutism. If you want more details, we recommend you purchase this e-book.
You can improve your dietary profile by choosing the appropriate amounts and types of fat and oils. If you are overweight, you can benefit from consuming less than 25% of total calories as fat. Eating the right kind of fats and oils is very important. Olive oil and fish oil supplements are healthy choices.
We recommend you increase your consumption of omega-3 fats, which is one of the essential fatty acids or EFAs. The word "essential" means they are essential for life and must be obtained from your food because they are not manufactured inside your body. Omega-3 fats are found in cod liver oil, EPA/DHA capsules, and in fatty fish such as salmon, sardines and mackerel.
We also recommend you eliminate trans-fatty acids. A trans-fat is an unsaturated liquid oil that has been chemically transformed into a saturated fat so that it will be a solid instead of a liquid. Margarine, which is a solid made from a liquid, is an example of a product containing trans-fats.
The problem with trans-fats is that they have been implicated as contributors to heart disease and diabetes. We have every reason to believe they also contribute to PCOS problems. In packaged products, you can identify a trans-fat by the word "partially hydrogenated". If you see "partially hydrogenated" on any food product label, we recommend that you not consume that product.
The consumption of protein is another complex topic. Maybe you're on low carb diet that emphasizes protein. If your protein is land animal protein, it also means you may be eating an excessive amount of saturated fat because saturated fats are found in most animal protein. Too much saturated fat is associated with increased production of male hormones that cause hirsutism.
Consider animal protein foods that are lower in saturated fat such as fish, non-fat cheese, turkey and chicken. Protein powders such as whey, pea or rice are another option.
The amount and type of carbohydrate you eat will influence your hormones, including insulin. Consumption of refined carbohydrates will lead to an excessive insulin response, which in turn can stimulate the male hormone production that contributes to hirsutism and other PCOS symptoms.
You've probably heard about "low-glycemic carbohydrates". Carbohydrates (starches and sugars) are found in grains, nuts, seeds, vegetables and fruit - and in all manufactured products containing these items. A low-glycemic carbohydrate is one that causes only a small rise in blood sugar, thus avoiding a problem with insulin, which is the hormone that lowers blood sugar.
We favor low glycemic foods. But that's not the whole story. Especially important is whether the carbohydrate is complex or refined. For example, a rice cracker is a refined carbohydrate. Brown rice is a complex carbohydrate. Not only does brown rice give you better nutrition, it's also lower on the glycemic index. You will be healthier and have better balance of your hormones if you consume unrefined, complex carbohydrates as opposed to refined carbohydrates. A complex carbohydrate is something you find in nature, not at the end of an assembly line.
And don't forget that fresh vegetables, fresh fruit, and unprocessed nuts and seeds are nutritious sources of essential fats and protein as well as complex carbohydrates.
Even what you drink can have an effect on hirsutism and other PCOS difficulties. For example, studies show that the ingredients in spearmint tea and green tea can reduce the effects of testosterone.
We've spoken about the type of foods to eat. But how much should you eat? A very modest level of calories appears to be effective for reducing insulin levels and increasing sex hormone binding globulin (SHBG). SHBG is necessary for the control of testosterone.
In one small study, hirsute obese women were put on a low-calorie, low-fat diet. 40% of those who lost at least 5% of their body weight had a reduction in hirsutism.
However, low-calorie diets could lead to eating disorders. Any severely calorie-restricted diet should under the supervision of a knowledgeable healthcare provider.
Regular exercise is a critical component to any program for reducing hirsutism, obesity, insulin resistance and other problems associated with PCOS.
Any exercise is beneficial for many reasons. However, you may need to increase the intensity of your exercise to get maximum effect.
A recent study reported that intense aerobic exercise for 30 minutes at least 5 times a week improves insulin sensitivity, thus helping to reduce hirsutism. Women who exercised less or not at all didn't have an improvement in insulin sensitivity.
You may be taking drugs because you will do almost anything to get rid of unwanted hair. Here's the good news: you don't have to be totally dependent on drugs.
You can substantially improve your probability of success with better nutrition and exercise. A healthy diet and lifestyle achieve good results just like drugs do, but without the side effects.
The final component of your natural approach to dealing with hirsutism and PCOS is to periodically consult with a qualified and knowledgeable physician.
Naturopathic doctors are especially well trained in all of the natural health-building methods outlined above.
A knowledgeable medical or naturopathic doctor will also want to carefully evaluate your organ systems. In order to bring your hormones into balance, your liver, kidneys, adrenals, thyroid and GI tract need to function properly. If there is malfunction, special treatment will be recommended. You need healthy organs if you want to eventually be free of reliance on medications.
It's a good idea to consult with your doctor before starting any exercise program, especially if you are overweight or have other health problems.
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