PCOS sufferers often have a wide variety of symptoms, and not every woman will have the same experience. Irregular periods, acne, weight gain and infertility are common complaints, but one of the main problems is high insulin levels. Between 70% and 95% of women suffering from polycystic ovaries also experience insulin resistance. But what exactly is it, and how can you tackle it?
What is Insulin Resistance?
Insulin is a hormone that’s produced in your pancreas, and helps cells turn sugar into energy. With PCOS sufferers, the cells can’t use the insulin correctly, which is known as insulin resistance. The body is tricked into thinking there’s not enough insulin, so the pancreas leaps into action to produce more. This in turn leads to high insulin levels.
How Can Reducing Insulin Help with PCOS?
High insulin levels caused by insulin resistance can cause a number of problems. Excess insulin causes the ovaries to produce more androgens, such as testosterone. In turn, this can lead to increased body hair, weight gain, acne, inflammation, irregular periods and even infertility.
Taking steps to reduce high insulin levels can help to regulate the menstrual cycle, assist with weight loss and reduce inflammation in the body. It can also help to improve the chances of conception for couples who are trying to have a baby.
What Can You Do to Reduce Insulin?
There are plenty of small but significant lifestyle changes PCOS sufferers can make to help with insulin resistance.
Eat a Low Carb Diet
Several studies have shown that a low-carb diet is one of the best ways to reduce insulin levels. Carbohydrate rich foods increase blood sugar and insulin more than any other, so it makes sense to restrict them, or cut them out completely.
Regular exercise helps to reduce lots of polycystic ovary symptoms, but it’s particularly good for insulin resistance. Aerobic exercise, or cardio, such as brisk walking, running or swimming is ideal, and resistance training has also been shown to help. Exercise is also a great mood booster!
Add Cinnamon to Your Diet
For many people, adding cinnamon to their diet causes a decrease in insulin production. This warming spice is packed full of antioxidants, and can help to lower blood sugar while increasing insulin sensitivity. It’s also helpful with regulating the menstrual cycle - and it tastes great!
Try Green Tea
Green tea is packed full of antioxidants, and has been shown to lower insulin levels in the body. Not only that, but it also helps to manage blood sugar levels and protect against obesity and high blood pressure. It’s a great all-rounder!
Maintain a Healthy WeightHigh insulin levels can make it difficult for women with polycystic ovaries to lose weight, but it’s one of the best ways to boost insulin sensitivity. Eating a good, nutrient packed diet and taking regular exercise are great. You should also try cutting out sugary drinks and snacks, and increasing your fibre intake.