There are 3 big villains in PCOS: Insulin resistance, hyperandrogenism (excessive male hormones such as testosterone), and chronic inflammation. These factors throw your body into a state of imbalance and distress. They interact with each other and make your situation much worse.
You've probably heard about insulin resistance and testosterone. Your doctor gave you metformin for the insulin resistance and birth control pills for the testosterone.
But what about chronic inflammation? Did your doctor talk with you about that?
Inflammation is where your immune system is reacting to anything it doesn't like by producing signals that that throw your whole body into a state of alarm and disturbance. Chronic inflammation is something that goes on and on. You don't even notice it. It's not an obvious acute inflammation like the flu that disappears in a week or two.
So why should you care whether you have chronic inflammation or not?
Chronic inflammation is a contributor to virtually every symptom of PCOS that you have. So if you can reduce inflammation, your polycystic ovary syndrome is reduced.
We can all agree that chronic inflammation is not a good thing. But where does it come from, and what can we do to reduce it?
A new medical study suggests that chronic inflammation might be partially an inherited trait in polycystic ovary syndrome.
Penn State University studied 81 parents of patients who had polycystic ovarian syndrome. They measured CRP (C-reactive protein), which is a marker for inflammation.
CRP was elevated in 94% of PCOS daughters if both parents had elevated CRP. If one parent had elevated CRP, only 45% of daughters also had elevated CRP. If neither parent has high CRP, only 10% of the PCOS daughters also had high CRP.
This is a small study. But if it holds true, it suggests that you may have an inherited increased tendency toward inflammation.
So maybe one source of your chronic inflammation is that it is an inherited trait. You can't do much about that. But there are other sources over which you do have control.
The diet described in The Natural Diet Solution for PCOS and Infertility ebook is an anti-inflammatory diet. You can get all the details you need in that ebook. I can only say that your diet has a profound effect your degree of inflammation.
Whether you're lean or overweight, chronic inflammation may be present. But if you're too heavy, the composition of your diet and how much you eat is absolutely crucial.
Here's why. If you eat more than you need, or eat the wrong kinds of food, your fat cells expand or multiply. The enlarged fat cells produce signals that attract white blood cells, which are part of your immune system. These immune cells infiltrate themselves into your fat tissues.
The result is increased inflammation. We don't fully know whether the fat cells or the white cells cause the inflammation. Maybe they both do.
In any case, your excess body fat becomes an inflammation factory. This factory induces increased insulin resistance and testosterone production, among other problems.
Therefore it's essential to shut down this factory.
Easier said than done! We know that. But you can't let the degree of difficulty stop you. If you shut down the factory, you also shut down your PCOS.
Every little thing you do counts for something. A cup of green tea instead of a diet soda. A can of sardines. Some almonds instead of M&Ms. Brown rice instead of white. Taking a walk during your lunch hour. A piece of fresh fruit instead of dessert. Cooking with olive oil instead of vegetable oil. It all counts. It's the multitude of little things, done consistently over time, that will bring your inflammation factory under control.
The #2 thing you can do is exercise. Fat cells may become pro-inflammatory if they don't get enough oxygen. But that's a story for another time.
Sasidevi A et al, Familial aggregation of circulating c-reactive protein in polycystic ovary syndrome. Hum Reprod. 2012 Dec 20. [Epub ahead of print]
Harford KA wr KM Fats, inflammation and insulin resistance: insights to the role of macrophage and T-cell accumulation in adipose tissue. Proc Nutr Soc. 2011 Nov;70(4):408-17.
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