I am a Gynaecologist Obstetrician ( MD, DNB OBGYN )with an emphasis on INTEGRATIVE MEDICINE.
At Truhealing, we’re all about women’s hormone health. We strongly believe that our hormones benefit from healthy lifestyle and that every green smoothie, yoga class, and minute of meditation matters. But if you have a full blown PCOS or Thyroid weakness, it’s marked by big hormonal shifts that can greatly affect the quality of life, causing a lot of anxiety and discomfort. So this week, we’re shining the light on one of the ROOT CAUSE OF PCOS so that we’re all the more informed and empowered.
Many women have anxiety about PCOS but knowledge is power. As a holistic OB/GYN it’s my job to make sure you know exactly what’s going on with your hormones and to help women restore balance in their bodies and feel their best during this time.
Estrogen is the first hormone to get imbalanced during PCOS (generally dominance) followed by progesterone (generally descent) and others like increased androgens. This shift will cause symptoms—like missed periods, PMS, palpitations, migraines, lumpy breasts, hairfall, facial hair insomnia, and anxiety just to name a few. Some of you might feel like your body isn’t your own anymore, like something was seriously wrong, but it’s just that your hormones are not balanced.
So far, medicine has failed to find safe, effective solutions to the hormone fluctuations that can make our lives more difficult during this time. My own search into workable treatments arose from my own hormonal problems after being thrown into premature menopause and Autoimmune Thyroid disease which resulted as I was trying to fix my PCOS with birth control pills without addressing the root cause of the problem. I struggled to find answers even as an OB-GYN and women’s health physician—only to be thwarted by a medical community that wanted me to take birth control pills, Thyroid pill, sleeping pills and other medications or just learn to live with my agonizing symptoms. But I’m not one to sit back and let symptoms derail me. I wasn’t sure what was wrong with my body.
My investigations led me to discover something no doctors were telling their patients. Along with estrogen and progesterone there also two other hormones running this show – insulin and cortisol.
Sex hormones like estrogen, progesterone and testosterone are also affected by insulin. So when it is unbalanced, other hormones go out of kilter too. You can become “insulin resistant” in PCOS.The cells in your body no longer react properly to its instructions because of excess insulin in the body. When insulin tries to do its job of rushing glucose (blood sugar) into cells for energy, they don’t open up.
Since our bodies can no longer deal with high amounts of carbohydrates we used to eat—even healthy ones like fruits, whole grains, potatoes, or brown rice,it develops insulin resistance. Too much sugar builds up in our blood, and the result is hormone havoc – period problems, fatigue, difficulty concentrating, weight gain, facial hair and other PCOS symptoms.
Cortisol, the key stress hormone that is an immediate responder in times of danger and stress, is the second biggest player. Your adrenal glands pour out cortisol, following a stressful event, which will boost the amount of blood sugar available for fuel and revs up your heart rate so you can fight off or escape a threat.
Cortisol levels tend to stay high due to our increasingly stressful lifestyles as we get older. Another chief culprit in the decline of your sex hormones is the chronic elevation of cortisol. It robs your body of DHEA (the mother hormone) and causes blood sugar to rise. As a result of this you can put on weight around your belly. Because of cortisol you lose your sex drive and suffer other sinister symptoms like night sweats, mood swings and insomnia.
The love hormone oxytocin is the best antidote to stress. Cortisol decreases with increase in oxytocin
How to balance insulin, oxytocin, and cortisol for fewer symptoms.
You can greatly reduce the symptoms of PCOS and still feel happy, energized, and content when your hormones like insulin, cortisol and oxytocin are in sync. Here’s how to make that happen—naturally, without drugs or artificial hormones.
So, how does blood sugar management translates to Hormonal health?
Stabilizing blood sugar is an essential component of the Truhealing protocol.The first step is cutting back on sugar. We do need some sugar because our bodies and brains need glucose as fuel – just not as much as you’re probably eating at this time. It takes a lot of effort to avoid over-consuming sugar in order to keep your blood sugar in check. The mismanaged blood sugar is identified as a stressor by the endocrine system. Your adrenals glands respond by sending out a lot of cortisol (the stress hormone) and adrenaline. This begins the hormonal havoc.
Here’s a breakdown:
Your insulin response is stimulated when you eat sugar or carb-based food. Your metabolism is designed to preserve the glucose you receive from carbs or sugar, because your body and brain needs it for fuel. Sucrose and other kinds of sugars have to be converted into glucose for your body. The only way the glucose can get into the cells in your body that need it is with insulin. Your body sends out lots of insulin to deal with a ton of glucose in the system when you eat a lot of sugar or carbs.
Your body is saying – “I want to save this glucose for the brain and body now as we don’t know if we’ll get it again” (consider this evolutionarily – early woman only got glucose via fruits and berries very occasionally). Our bodies are designed in such a way that it gets fuel from fat than from sugar. The glucose in your body enters the cells, but there’s excess insulin and glucose. Your body doesn’t need all that much glucose since it cannot use it all. It is then packaged up as glycogen. This is why alcoholics are likely to end up with fatty liver disease.
Your blood sugar levels start soaring and then crashing when glucose over-exposure saturates your cells . A glucose and insulin spike disrupts ovulation which will prevent your hormones from triggering ovulation.This will avoid the production of progesterone. Disrupted ovulation causes hormonal imbalance and without ovulation you cannot produce progesterone. This entire thing causes estrogen dominance.
Estrogen is secreted by the fat cells of the body. The more sugar you eat, the more fat cells you create therefore they secrete more estrogen. This estrogen adds to the estrogen your endocrine system produces,also adding to the xenoestrogens in our environment. You’re set up for estrogen dominance, progesterone deficiency, and hormonal imbalance. You will deal with common issues like PMS, cramps, irregular cycles, acne, along with PCOS and infertility issues due to hormonal imbalance.If you have insulin-resistant PCOS it will cause cause inflammation, which leads to many chronic health issues because of having excess glucose in your bloodstream.
Now you understand the science behind how sugar messes with your hormones.Now let’s look at how you can cut back on sugar and detox it from your diet. Giving up sugar can seem really hard, but know that it doesn’t mean you can’t have anything sweet ever, far from it. You can still have treats and desserts.Just that you need to be conscious about the kind of sweetener and the amount you are consuming so you always have an eye on maintaining that blood sugar stasis.
Aim at consuming your breakfast within 90 minutes of waking up. It’s an easy and great way to safeguard your blood sugar stasis. Make your lunch, the biggest meal of the day.Try including complex carbs (like black beans) and good fats (like avocado).
Reach for the kind of sweeteners that don’t cause as much disruption when you usually have a sugar craving. Honey and dates are good substitutes, but date sugar and molasses can also work pretty well.
To satisfy those cravings make homemade sweet treats and try not feel the need to reach for a candy or cupcake. Also use honey or coconut nectar in small quantities.Eat lots of fiber-rich foods to detoxify the liver.Consuming such products will help you create more of the hormone that prevents sugar cravings and will detoxify your body of excess estrogen.
Watch out for hidden sugars. They are found in everything from pasta sauces to bread. Remember that fruit-based juices and smoothies that don’t contain much fiber can have as negative an impact on your health as a can of soda.
Remember that health is your birthright and my job is to help you achieve that. We’re all in this together. Wherever you may be right now, you are a wonderful woman, and once you get the right information, you can make better choices. Stop masking the symptoms and heal the root cause! It’s time to listen to your body and reconnect with yourself. So, what are you waiting for? The science of your body is on your side. Change your life today and become the person you most want to be because this world needs you!
Love, healing and happiness!
Originally published October 24, 2019 by Dr Disha Sridhar