Guest post by Hristina Nikolovska
Many women, with and without polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), report finding success in going completely gluten-free. For those of us coping with the syndrome, it’s more than just a fashionable, healthy new diet to try. It presents the possibility of being the lifeline that makes daily life easier and less disrupted by the side effects of our condition.
So, what exactly is gluten?
Gluten is a protein found in grains like wheat and rye. It’s primarily associated with goods like breads, cereals, and pasta, and is what makes them retain their chewy consistency.
What is the link between gluten and PCOS?
The PCOS Assessment and Management Guideline, published by Monash University, confirms that medical studies link PCOS with insulin resistance (high insulin levels), metabolic syndrome, cardiovascular diseases, and type 2 diabetes. Having dealt with it on a personal level, you probably already knew this.
What you most likely were not entirely aware of is that eliminating gluten gives you an edge in fighting off all of those issues above.
How exactly? The positive effects of living without gluten for PCOS sufferers are interconnected. Choosing to do so facilitates healthy eating habits that not only assist in keeping the weight off and promote increased awareness regarding what goes into the body but also directly limits exposure to the inflammatory agent that is gluten itself (more on this below.)
But hopping on the gluten-free train is no laughing matter. Understandably, a permanent lifestyle change like this requires serious consideration. Not just because it places restrictions on what foods you can enjoy, but also because you’ll definitely be feeling the drain on your bank account since gluten-free products are typically significantly more costly than the “normal” ones containing gluten.
To help you make an informed decision, we give you the scoop on the main benefits of cutting out gluten and go on to discuss some of the potential concerns when doing so.
Benefits of going gluten-free:
#1 Sets you up for weight loss success.
Lots of calories prowl in foods that contain gluten, so avoiding them will definitely help trim down your waistline. You should still be mindful of the kinds of gluten-free foods you buy and consume though. The Women’s Health Research Institute at Northwestern University points out that they can still be denser in calories, sugar, and unsaturated fat than their gluten-friendly counterparts.
#2 Can improve your cholesterol levels.
Naturally gluten-free foods have little to no fat or oils. (Emphasis on “natural,” of course.)
#3 Encourages you to kick processed foods out of your diet.
Gluten-free eating typically means relying more on fresh fruits, vegetables, lean meats, and legumes. However, since gluten-free products have seen an increase in demand, there are now many processed gluten-free snacks and foods being sold in stores.
#4 Promotes awareness geared towards healthy eating in general.
Avoiding gluten makes it necessary for you to read food labels carefully. This alone increases the level of mindfulness when it comes to really knowing what we’re putting into your body.
#5 May lessen bloating.
A food study published on the National Center for Biotechnology Information compared foods with and without gluten. One of its findings was that “in 65% of all analyzed gluten-free foods, low sodium content was observed.” It’s a well-known fact that sodium causes water retention, so lowered sodium intake definitely helps lessen the feeling of being bloated in that sense. When it comes to digestive bloating, avoiding gluten serves as a preventative since one of the main symptoms of gluten sensitivity is bloating.
#6 May lower cholesterol.
According to cardiologist and author, Dr. William Davis, the avoidance of carbohydrate-rich foods that the gluten-free diet helps prevent the glycation (the “modification of proteins”) of low-density lipoproteins (LDL) in the body. This is synonymous to helping prevent the build-up of plaque inside your arteries.
#6 May lower inflammation related to PCOS.
We already suffer from a state of inflammation since PCOS as an endocrine disorder; meaning the ovarian cysts are really just a side effect of insulin resistance and can be viewed as a “metabolic disorder.” This disorder is central to PCOS since elevated insulin alters hormone levels in the body. It triggers the production of androgens by the ovaries resulting in the severe hormone imbalance that causes many of the adverse effects we cope with.
#7 May help with infertility.
A fertility study conducted in the U.S. found that 5.9% of the 188 women who participated, turned out to have fertility issues due to undiagnosed celiac disease.
One Last Thing:
As with any diet, striking a nutritional balance is crucial.
According to an article published by Harvard Medical School, those of us opting to live without gluten may face nutritional deficiencies since “fortified breads and cereals have a become a major source of vitamins in the United States.” Fiber is an obvious one. Folic acid, iron, niacin, and zinc are other nutrients you may get less of once we cut it out of our diets.
Thankfully, gluten-free alternatives do exist. And this infographic created by MedAlertHelp neatly displays them. Folate-rich greens like spinach and asparagus, fatty fish and mushrooms high in vitamin D, iron-loaded lentils and chicken liver, and of course, vitamin supplements are great examples.
If you decide you’d like to give the gluten-free lifestyle a try, consult with your doctor before you start.
If you’re already going strong on this diet, tell us more about your experience in the comments below!
Infographic URL: https://medalerthelp.org/gluten-free-life-infographic/
Hristina Nikolovska is the appointed Community Manager at MedAlertHelp. Using her extensive background in digital marketing, as well as her social media and public relations experience, Hristina’s passion is to help bring trust and credibility to her company’s customers. When she’s not working for MedAlertHelp, she enjoys traveling around Europe and relaxing in one of the many Belgrade cafés while writing about the many things that spark her interest.