Over the years, I have come to realize that Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) is not well understood by most physicians. Many doctors lead you to believe that birth control pills and drugs alone will restore your health. However, birth control pills can actually increase insulin-resistance, the fundamental problem of PCOS, and commonly prescribed drugs, like Metformin, often have unpleasant side effects. This leaves many of us with PCOS wondering if we will ever find effective long-term treatment.
PCOS is a complex, frustrating disease that is very difficult to treat and has serious implications for your future health. It often seems that we have relinquished control over our bodies to PCOS when we experience its common symptoms – infertility, weight gain, acne, and hair loss to name a few. Is there anything we can really do to gain control over our health?
Dr. Nancy Dunne and Bill Slater believe that an appropriate diet accompanied by regular exercise is the healthiest and most effective long-term treatment for PCOS. They explain, “To a great extent, the outcome of your disease depends on what you do-or don’t do. That includes what you eat. Your food is medicine.” They outline their comprehensive, science-based diet and lifestyle plan in their book, Dr. Dunne is The Natural Diet Solution for PCOS and Infertility, a licensed naturopath who co-wrote this book in order to share her experiences treating PCOS and its accompanying difficulties by using natural therapies. She has over 15 years of clinical experience working with women with PCOS. Bill Slater is a health writer who focuses on helping people learn how to take more responsibility for their own health. The program is based upon hundreds of medical studies and years of clinical experience. It is well-researched, documented, and the most comprehensive guide to healing PCOS through lifestyle changes that I have encountered.
The book will show you how to improve the quality and composition of your diet, increase your exercise and physical activity, take appropriate dietary supplements effectively and manage chronic stress in your life. It is a roadmap to help you navigate your journey towards health and wellness. The authors admit, “The PCOS Diet will ask much of you. You will be asked to completely revamp your diet and eating habits. We are asking you to change lifelong habits. This can be challenging, but it won’t be too long before you have established new healthier habits. Be patient. Be persistent. You will be successful.”
The authors feel that, “PCOS women have a genetic predisposition that makes the modern, Standard American Diet a very difficult choice for those who want to reduce their PCOS symptoms.” They feel that a healthy PCOS diet most closely approximates the hunter-gatherer type diet. This type of diet is based on the concept that our genes have not changed much over the past 10,000 years and we should essentially be eating the same food we ate back then. This would mean eliminating all processed foods. Hunter-gatherers ate whatever was available including vegetables, fruits, nuts and seeds, eggs and animal protein. Dairy products and cultivated grains and legumes did not exist and were not part of the diet. According to Dr. Dunne and Bill Slater, a healthy PCOS diet would mean avoiding all processed foods, grains and legumes, as well as dairy products. The authors do realize, “by asking you to stop eating these foods, we are turning your dietary habits upside down. Please consider that these foods are a major cause of your present health problems. To improve your health you need to improve your diet first.”
The PCOS Diet has two levels. You may choose the level that is most appropriate for you. The “recommended level” is for women who need to lose weight and whose symptoms are full-blown. The “maintenance level” is for women who are not overweight and have mild PCOS symptoms. This level allows selected starchy vegetables, whole legumes and whole grains. The authors explain that, “Eating to lose fat and eating when we are at our ideal weight are two different processes. Food choices should be made according to your unique needs.” They also stress that the diet is really a set of guidelines and recommendations. You should use your own good judgment as you follow the plan, based on what your body is telling you.
The book includes dietary guidelines for every component of your diet: meat, seafood, poultry, eggs, dairy, legumes & soy, grains, vegetables, fruits, sprouts, nuts and seeds, and fats and oils. You will also find detailed meal plans, shopping list and about 150 recipes. But, I must admit I won’t be in a rush to try many of them, including the “Vegetable Leather” and “Mock Sour Cream” made with soaked brazil nuts.
After reading this book, I can truly say ignorance is bliss. Throughout the 528 pages, you learn how processed foods and the Standard American Diet can exacerbate PCOS symptoms. I bet you will be surprised to know that the average American consumes about 9 lbs of food chemicals and additives per year and 150-170lbs of sweeteners. In fact, one of the reasons that the authors want you to avoid dairy is because of the toxic load from cottonseed. Cotton is heavily sprayed with pesticides to stop boll weevils and other insects. Oil is extracted from the cottonseed and sold to food processors that put cottonseed oils into processed food products. The cotton seed hulls are the leftover byproduct. They are often sold to dairy operators as feed. The pesticides in the cottonseed are passed onto the cow and then into the milk. So, you ultimately get the pesticides in cottonseeds, either directly by consuming the oil in processed foods or indirectly from cow’s milk.
You should try the PCOS Diet, especially if you want to take more control of your health, restore a normal cycle, be able to conceive a child, lose weight, reduce acne and hair loss, have more energy, and protect yourself from future diabetes and heart problems. Even if you don’t think you can follow the restricted plan outlined in The Natural Diet Solution for PCOS and Infertility to a T, it is a plan to aspire to. Undoubtedly, you will at the very least want to add more whole, organic and unprocessed foods into your diet after you learn how corrupt our food supply is. It will challenge you to think about what actually goes into those pre-packaged, so-called ‘healthy foods’ that we buy every day. If it works for you, please tell your doctor about it. Maybe, just maybe, they will pass along this lifestyle plan to another PCOS patient instead of another prescription.