What Do PCOS, Pot, and Fatty Foods Have in Common?

Have you smoked a joint or two recently? And did you feel high and get a case of the "munchies"?

Marijuana contains plant substances called cannaboids. The one that has the biggest effect on you is called THC. The effect is felt because you have cannaboid receptors in your cells.

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In fact, you have a system in your body called the "endocannabinoid signaling system", or ECS.

So is there anything besides marijuana that can stimulate your ECS?

Have you ever had a potato chip or cookie but couldn't just eat one? Maybe you found yourself compelled to finish off the whole bag. Ditto with ice cream or any other fatty food.

What's going on here?

Certain fatty foods stimulate your ECS. When your ECS is stimulated, your mood is improved, you feel less stressed and your appetite for fatty foods increases.

You feel almost compelled to eat more food, especially fatty foods. The result of this craving is undesired weight gain around your middle and an overall disturbance of your energy balance.

Stimulation of ECS Worsens PCOS Symptoms

And that's not all. Over-stimulation of your ECS can increase insulin resistance and fatty liver degeneration, which triggers increased symptoms of polycystic ovarian syndrome, and sends your health into a downward spiral.

In contrast, inhibition of your ECS induces your body to shed weight.

So what can you do to prevent activation of your ECS? I don't have any super-good ideas but here are some thoughts.

The first thing you should do is not smoke dope. That's pretty obvious.

Second, don't take that first bite of any processed junk foods, all of which contain oils and fats. One potato chip, energy bar or slice of pizza may activate your ECS and increase your craving for more of the same.

Remember, "you can't just have one!" If you have one, your body will want more.

The third thing you can do is draw a distinction between different types of fats. Omega-6 fats may cause an increase in ECS activation and stimulate insulin dysfunction and promote fat accumulation. These fats are found in all kinds of processed foods and supermarket bottled oils.

On the other hand, omega-3 fats might help you bring your ECS system under control, although I haven't seen any conclusive proof of this. Examples of omega-3 fats are fish (like salmon, mackerel, and sardines), fish oil, and flax seeds.

Most of us consume way to much omega-6 fats compare to omega-3. I wonder whether this imbalance is contributing to an overactive ECS and creating trouble for you.

If you wish further guidance, this PCOS diet e-book has an extensive review of fats and oils.

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Kim J et al, Endocannabinoid signaling and energy metabolism: a target for dietary intervention. Nutrition. 2011 Jun;27(6):624-32.
Tam J et al, Endocannabinoids in liver disease. Hepatology. 2011 Jan;53(1):346-55.
DiPatrizio NV et al, Endocannabinoid signal in the gut controls dietary fat intake..Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2011 Aug 2;108(31):12904-8
Lipina C et al, New vistas for treatment of obesity and diabetes? Endocannabinoid signalling and metabolism in the modulation of energy balance.Bioessays. 2012 Aug;34(8):681-91.

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