alpenglow acupuncture

Delivering high-quality, personalized acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine services to the awesome people of Wheat Ridge, Golden, Arvada and Lakewood, Colorado with flexible appointment options to fit your lifestyle and budget.

PCOS

PCOS (Polycystic Ovary Syndrome) is a condition that is estimated to affect over 5 million women in the US. It appears to be on the rise along with other chronic inflammatory disorders and diseases, so it is time to for us to take a look at what’s going on. Some signs of the disorder are excess weight, excess facial hair, loss of hair on the head, acne, and irregular or missing periods. In addition to these signs, clinical testing often shows elevated blood sugar levels, imbalances in sex hormones, and elevated cholesterol.

While the exact mechanism of cause for PCOS is still under investigation, it is known that a number of root lifestyle issues contribute to the condition. Here, I will walk you through a few of these problems and how to address them.

Blood Sugar Imbalance

Insulin resistance is one of the main features of PCOS, and it is also becoming associated with a lot of other inflammatory diseases. Now is it the chicken or the egg? Time will tell.

Either way, there is something you can do about it.

How do you know if you have this?

There aren’t always symptoms with blood sugar imbalance, but feeling tired and sluggish first thing in the morning or after meals can certainly be a sign. If eating something brings you out of your stupor, or you tend to get “hangry,” it’s probably blood sugar related.

What to do

The same advice we always give for everything holds true here too (broken record warning): get rid of processed foods, sugar, flour, dairy. Eat lean animal protein, veggies, nuts, and limited amounts of fruit and starches. Potatoes, sweet potatoes, rice and quinoa are not the enemy - just keep your portions limited to a total of about a cup per day.

Exercise also helps to regulate blood sugar, so get out there and get at least 10-15 minutes of intentional exercise a day. What do I mean by “intentional?” I mean that you are exercising for you and your body. This can be something as simple as a nice walk, but what you already do in a day, like walking from your car to your office, doesn’t count.

If diet and exercise alone are not cutting it, you can add in some supplements like inositol or NAC to help your body gain back control of your blood sugar and insulin levels.

Gut Health

Poor gut health leads to a LOT of diseases/disorders. Our standard western diet has done a lot of destruction to our intestinal microbiota (all those good little bugs in our gut that help us digest our foods). Without those guys helping us, we get inflammation inside the gut and out.

How do you know if you have this?

Digestive symptoms like gas, bloating, constipation, diarrhea or heartburn all point to poor gut health. Generalized achiness or pain can also be a sign, as the inflammation invades the rest of your body.

What to do

The same advice we always give for everything holds true here too (broken record warning): get rid of processed foods, sugar, flour, dairy. Eat lean animal protein, veggies, nuts, and limited amounts of fruit and starches. Potatoes, sweet potatoes, rice and quinoa are not the enemy - just keep your portions limited to a total of about a cup per day. (yes, I just copied-and-pasted from that paragraph above ;-))

One huge change that can really help your digestion is to SLOW DOWN your meals and chew your food thoroughly, as this is really the first step of digestion. Time yourself and see if you can make your meal last for at least 15 minutes.

If diet alone is not cutting it, you can add in some fermented foods (sauerkraut or kimchi, for example) or probiotics. Digestive enzymes can also be taken before meals to help you break foods down.

Adrenal Overload

The HPA axis has been in the natural health news for years now. Our reaction to daily life stressors is having quite an ill effect on our health. Our body truly doesn’t understand the difference between work deadlines or watching a scary movie and actually being chased by a tiger, so our stress hormones often flood our system even when we don’t think we are stressed.

How do you know if you have this?

Trouble sleeping, brain fog, daytime fatigue, and feeling “tired but wired” are all signs that your HPA axis is out of whack.

What to do

Re-think how you think about stress. Our perception that something is stressful makes it even worse. But try not to stress out about how thinking you are stressed is even worse for you. :-)

Get plenty of sleep and cut down or cut out caffeine.

Yoga, meditation, and acupuncture can also regulate the HPA axis as well.

There are also some great adaptogenic herbs to help get this system back in balance, like ashwagandha or eleuthero, or certain TCM herbal formulas. It’s a good idea to consult a health care practitioner (like us!) before taking something like this, though.

While PCOS can feel like a permanent disorder with a host of distressing symptoms, I really don’t think it has to be a lifetime diagnosis. With a good, clean diet and thoughtful self care, your body can come back into balance and those symptoms (as well as clinical test results) can often go back to normal.

Please let us know if you have any questions about PCOS or any other women’s health issues. As always, we are here for you!

(303)593-0731

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All material provided on this website is provided for informational or educational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for a relationship with, and advice provided by, your healthcare professional or physician.

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