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Could Your PCOS Medications “B” the Problem?

Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) is one of the most common conditions in reproductive-aged women. It is estimated that 8-13% of all reproductive-aged women have this condition and up to 70% of those women are undiagnosed. People with PCOS have cysts on their ovaries that cause hormonal symptoms such as:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Fatigue
  • Irregular menstrual cycles
  • Excessive hair growth
  • Infertility
  • Weight gain and weight loss resistance
  • Scalp hair loss/thinning
  • Oily skin/acne

Causes

Often we find that PCOS patients also have insulin resistance and/or type 2 diabetes. According to some studies, nearly 70% of women with PCOS also have insulin resistance. High levels of blood insulin increase androgen levels (male hormones such as testosterone). Excess androgens in females are mostly to blame for the undesirable effects of PCOS, including acne, weight gain, facial hair, and weight loss resistance. 

Inflammation increases the risk for PCOS. Insulin resistance is just one cause of systemic inflammation. Gut health, stress levels, and weight gain can all contribute to inflammation as well.

Current Treatments

Currently, health care providers recommend weight loss as a primary approach to PCOS relief. Fat cells cause inflammation, so this makes sense. However, as many people may already know, weight loss is not always as easy as it sounds! Insulin resistance can make losing weight through exercise feel impossible.

As far as medications, health care providers often prescribe combination birth control pills to adjust hormone levels, or metformin for insulin resistance. Neither of these approaches truly address the root cause of the insulin resistance and systemic inflammation.

The B Vitamin Cycle of Doom

Just like with most medications, the common prescriptions for PCOS have side effects. Both birth control pills and metformin are known to deplete B vitamins. Metformin specifically makes it more difficult for your body to absorb B12. Birth control pills, on the other hand, are known to cause nutritional deficiencies in folate, vitamins B2, B6, B12, vitamin C and E and the minerals magnesium, selenium and zinc.

Why are B vitamin deficiencies so concerning? B12, also known as cobalamin, is a vitamin that is essential for brain health and nervous system function. It is needed for the creation of red blood cells, which help distribute oxygen to the rest of our bodies (including our brains). It is no wonder, then, that low B12 levels have been linked to dementia.

MTHFR Gene

In addition to taking medications that deplete them, many people with PCOS have a specific gene mutation that makes it even more difficult to create active B vitamins. MTHFR is a gene that helps our bodies convert folate to an activated version that we need in order to use B12 (5-MTHF). Birth control pills deplete folate, B6 and B12 levels, so if you also have the MTHFR mutation then your body will really struggle to activate and utilize B12.

Some studies have suggested that women with PCOS are more likely to have a mutation on the MTHFR gene. So, due to medication side effects and/or gene mutations, people with PCOS often suffer from B vitamin deficiency (hence their association with Major depression). 

What’s interesting is how much overlap there is between B vitamin deficiency symptoms and PCOS symptoms. It begs the question: Are PCOS symptoms made worse by B vitamin deficiency, caused by the very medications meant to bring the patient relief?

The Dr. Autoimmune Difference

Our office uses a functional medicine approach to identify and address the root cause of chronic conditions such as PCOS. Rather than using medications, we know how to help you provide your body with the tools it needs to correct imbalances naturally.

For example, our office uses continuous glucose monitoring technology to help our patients identify how certain foods affect their blood sugar. Our nutritionist works one on one with patients to develop plans that help their bodies regulate blood sugar levels more effectively. Once insulin resistance is under control, weight loss becomes much easier. Loss of excess fat= less inflammation= less PCOS symptoms.

The bottom line is that PCOS is not a life sentence- lifestyle changes such as exercise, supplementation, and diet change designed to address the root cause will provide relief. If you are ready to tackle your chronic condition and change your life naturally, click the “Start Your Journey” button at the bottom of this page.

Achieve A Healthier Gut By Eating These Foods

Discover how eating these foods can get you a healthier gut!

We’ve all experienced these symptoms more than we can count! Bloating, constipation, diarrhea, indigestion, and the general feeling of blah. 

That’s a common feeling after eating a large greasy meal. Or indulging in a rich dessert. Or grabbing a bunch of convenience food when you’re running late. 

It’s easy to brush off short-term discomforts from these foods, but daily consumption can lead to long-term gut health problems. 

So how can we achieve a healthier gut?

Well, what if I told you that food is the answer to achieving a healthier  gut! It’s true, but there’s good food and bad food for your gut! 

Healthy food is nature’s medicine as it can ease digestive symptoms and prevent certain conditions. 

By adding gut-healthy foods to your diet it’s a lot easier and delicious to achieve a healthier gut than you may realize!

Let’s face it – we sometimes feel too busy to go searching for healthy food on the go.  So we settle on what’s around us. 

The problem is, a lot of those ‘quick’ foods contain high sugar, fats, and cholesterol – with limited nutritional values. This leads to inflammation and unbalanced digestive enzymes. 

Good & Bad Bacteria

Your gut health depends on the functioning of trillions of bacteria, fungi, parasites, and viruses that occupy your small and large intestines and the rest of your body. 

These organisms make up what’s called your microbiome. The microbiome is a delicate system that plays a crucial role in your digestive system, immune system, and production of serotonin. 

The microbiome can be aided or weakened by many factors. One of these factors is the food you eat.

In the following paragraphs, we’ll review foods that can restore healthy gut flora. But first, let’s go over why it’s so important that you make adjustments to your eating habits for a healthier gut.

Why we should change what we eat.

In a perfect world, we would eat whatever satisfied us. Our body would easily process the food as it passed through our gut, and then absorb the necessary nutrients while eliminating what we didn’t need through our bowel movements. 

However, we don’t live in a perfect world, and some foods can make us feel really lousy over time. Which is why many of us should adjust our diet in order to improve our gut health. 

The first step is to eliminate or reduce any processed foods, refined sugars and fats as they’re linked with a higher risk of chronic diseases that can shorten your lifespan.

Some of these chronic diseases include:

Other Issues that can be caused by poor gut health include:

 

Making a positive change in your diet not only benefits your gut health, it can also help lower your chances of getting any of the chronic diseases mentioned above. 

On top of that, eating with your gut in mind will also help lower your blood pressure, and reduce your risk of heart disease and diabetes.

Now that we went over the “why” we should change our eating habits, let’s dig in and go over which foods will help you achieve a much happier and healthier gut! 

Sauerkraut

A food often associated with sausage and hearty meals, sauerkraut is actually healthier than one may think. 

Due to the fermentation process and the nutritionally dense values of cabbage, sauerkraut is an awesome food for a healthy gut!

In fact, regular consumption of fermented sauerkraut helps to balance good gut bacteria and is also a beneficial treatment for inflammatory bowel diseases and other conditions.

But be careful– not all sauerkraut is the same. Some sauerkraut found in traditional supermarkets can be loaded with sodium. So make sure to check the label when purchasing.

Leafy Greens

Spinach, kale, arugula, and chard are a few examples of leafy greens that are great to achieve a healthy gut lifestyle. The variety of their use is endless, too! 

Leafy greens can be added to smoothies, soups, salads, and side dishes to satisfy cravings and appetite.

They’re low in calories, high in fiber, and packed with vitamins and minerals – it’s no wonder leafy greens are the superstars of all healthy food! 

The benefits of adding leafy greens to your diet are endless too! 

Here are 6 reasons why they are amazing for gut health- 

  • Anti-inflammatory
  • Loaded with fiber for a healthy microbiota
  • Maintains healthy blood sugar
  • Promotes a healthy immune system
  • Encourages healthy digestive enzymes
  • Eliminates bloating

Dairy Free Yogurt

Yogurt is great for gut health, but not just any ol’ yogurt! For optimal health benefits, plant-based, dairy-free yogurt is best. 

There are many tasty dairy-free yogurt options available that provide a ton of probiotic gut health benefits – without the lactose issues of dairy.

When choosing a dairy-free yogurt, make sure the label contains at least one of these options:

  • almond milk
  • cashew milk
  • soy milk
  • coconut milk

Plant-based yogurt provides delicious and nutritional options for a healthy gut. Be sure the yogurt you choose isn’t loaded with sugar. 

Don’t worry, you can always sweeten it up with some fruit!

How is Yogurt a Probiotic?

Yogurt is a fermented food that increases lactobacilli (good probiotic) and decreases Enterobacteriaceae (inflammation-causing bacteria). 

In fact, studies show those who consume yogurt regularly have a healthier gut microbiota (gut habitat) than those who do not eat yogurt. 

Further studies also suggest that regular consumption of yogurt is beneficial to those with IBS and other digestive disorders.

It’s easy to see how dairy-free yogurt promotes the gut-healthy lifestyle! So make sure to add some to your next grocery list. 

Garlic

A healthier gut isn’t only about probiotics – a healthy gut microbiome requires prebiotics, too.

While there are many prebiotic foods, the health benefits of garlic make it a star performer due to its high inulin (a type of dietary fiber) and non-digestive carbohydrate properties. 

These prebiotic properties promote the growth of good bacteria which helps to prevent intestinal diseases.

Garlic is also beneficial for a healthy gut microbiota (gut habitat) due to its antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, and cancer prevention properties. 

Prebiotic foods, like garlic, also contain short-chain fatty acids, which promote gut-health and decrease inflammation in the colon.

You may now wonder, do I need to eat a bowl full of garlic? No, please don’t! All you need to do is add 1 – 2 cloves of raw garlic into a meal per day. In fact, many healthy recipes include garlic cloves already. 

It’s a matter of mindfulness.

Nuts

Packed with protein, fiber, and polyphenols, moderate consumption of nuts is fantastic for a healthy-gut life. 

Fiber is a key player here, and adding a quarter cup of nuts per day is all that’s needed.

This goes to show a gut-healthy diet includes tasty foods, even ones you’ll go “nuts” over!

Bananas

This is another one that you’ll go “bananas” for! And we mean literally, because bananas are very gut-healthy! 

The health benefits of eating bananas really stack up because they provide everything from fiber, to prebiotics, to pectin, to resistant starch- all of which promote a healthy gut! 

Not to mention there’s so many different ways to enjoy eating them! They can be used in smoothie recipes, desserts, salads and bread! Or just peel and eat it straight up! 

Bonus Tip: Add a banana to your dairy free yogurt for an extra dose of gut-healthiness!

Lentils

Lentils are a plant-based source of protein and fiber, and are an easy way to add prebiotics and antioxidants to your daily nutrition.

Lentils also have resistant starch which slows the digestion of carbohydrates and reduces the risk for gastrointestinal disorders. 

Meals that contain lentils are also filling which helps to reduce overeating and indigestion.

Gut Health is Important!

Roughly three million Americans today have been diagnosed with intestinal disorders, including Crohn’s disease and Ulcerative Colitis

While factors like family history and environment can play a part in health issues, one’s lifestyle and diet play a big role too!

The key takeaway is to eat healthy fermented foods, as well as foods containing fiber, prebiotics, and probiotics. 

Remember, healthy eating doesn’t have to be confusing, complicated, or disgusting. All it takes is some education and mindful planning.

Could your gut be affecting your current health problems?

If after reading this you feel like your gut may be playing a role in your current health problems, then it’s time to make an appointment with Dr. Ian Hollaman, aka Dr. Autoimmune! 

Dr. Hollaman treats a plethora of conditions including many that we mentioned above. He addresses the root causes of your autoimmune conditions using the most modern forms of healthcare including Functional Medicine, Clinical Nutrition, and Neurofeedback.

After working with Dr. Autoimmune and our team, you will walk away with the knowledge and tips to keep your health on track for years to come.

It’s time to start your journey to better health with the right tools, therapies, and diet changes.

Contact us today to get started! We’re happy to set up a complimentary 15-minute introductory consultation with Dr. Ian Hollaman himself.