by Amy Medling, founder of PCOS Diva
Most people with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) struggle with blood sugar balance and between 50-70% of women with PCOS have some degree of insulin resistance. While insulin resistance (IR) is often associated with obesity, those with PCOS often struggle with IR even if they are lean. In fact, it is the root cause of many of our most common symptoms including increased risk of gestational diabetes, weight gain, anxiety, brain fog, and fatigue. It’s impact on hormones and most every system of the body cannot be understated. For a more complete explanation of blood sugar and insulin resistance, check out www.pcosdiva.com/insluin. Supplements for blood sugar balance are popular and important, but not the first step.
Diet and lifestyle upgrades are the first line of treatment for blood sugar balance and insulin resistance. An anti-inflammatory diet as well as daily movement are crucial to bringing it under control. Supplements are the next step. There are many choices when it comes to supplements for balancing blood sugar. Remember, what works for one person may not work for the next. We are all bio individuals with differing health histories, genetics, environments, and body chemistry. Always check with your doctor when beginning a supplement to be sure it does not interfere with other medications or conditions.
Here’s a good list to begin with when considering supplements to balance blood sugar.
5 Supplements for Blood Sugar Balance
Berberine works on a molecular level and reduces blood glucose levels in several ways. One of its main functions is to activate AMPK, an enzyme which regulates metabolism. Tests show that berberine consistently lowers fasting glucose, fasting insulin, post-prandial glucose, and HbA1c. In addition, berberine outperforms Metformin at regulating insulin without many of the gastrointestinal side effects that come with the drug. In fact, berberine also outperforms metformin in the reduction of cardiovascular risk factors including waist circumference, waist-to-hip ratio, and dyslipidemia, triglycerides, total and LDL cholesterol, and increasing HDL cholesterol. Berberine is also shown to help with acne, androgen reduction, and gut health when used properly. What’s even better is that berberine is normoglycemic, which means that it only reduces blood sugar levels if they are elevated. Berberine is not for everyone, especially pregnant or breastfeeding mothers. For more about berberine and a list of cautions, visit: https://pcosdiva.com/PCOSBerberine
Cinnamon has a long history of regulating blood sugar balance in the body, and conventional medicine is beginning to take notice. In a 2007 study of women with PCOS, significant reductions in insulin resistance were seen after taking cinnamon for just 8 weeks. Reducing insulin resistance is helpful for regulating menstrual cycles which are often unpredictable or absent in women with PCOS as well as for a host of other PCOS symptoms. A 2014 study suggests that using 1.5g of a cinnamon supplement per day for 6 months improves menstrual cyclicity. Finding a product and using a similar dosage to the one in the study could be a good place to start in using cinnamon for PCOS. More recent research indicates that cinnamon taken together with a quality probiotic may be the most effective. For more about the powerful combination of supplements for blood sugar balance, check out www.pcosdiva.com/cin-pro
Inositol is a class of B-vitamins that naturally occur in many of the foods we consume such as fruits, legumes, vegetables, nuts, buckwheat, and beans. Two of the 9 forms of inositol (MYO and DCI) have special insulin sensitizing capabilities and are important “second messengers” for insulin receptors. You will notice that supplement dosages of MYO are always higher than for DCI; that is because your body converts MYO into DCI and has a natural ratio of 40:1. These inositols are critical players in insulin signaling, and the disruption in this signaling, due to a lack of one or the other, leads researchers to believe that inositol is a key component in insulin resistance. Unfortunately, those with PCOS have a breakdown in this conversion process which causes the breakdown in insulin processing. This situation is even more likely if you have first-degree diabetic relatives. Studies have shown that people with PCOS who take an inositol supplement each day will reduce their insulin resistance, improve their hormone levels, and have more regular menstrual cycles. Inositol supplementation also supports normal lipid (blood fat) levels and promotes egg quality and helps your body remove fats from your organs and blood. While inositol is most thought of for balancing blood sugar and restoring menstrual cycles and fertility, replacing clomiphene or metformin, current research promises a role well beyond these symptoms. For more about inositol supplementation, check out https://pcosdiva.com/useovasitol. Due to its quality and 40:1 ratio, I recommend Ovasitol.
Resveratrol is the component of red wine which researchers believe has cardiac and overall health benefits. Interestingly, women in one recent study who received resveratrol supplementation showed improvement in diabetes risk factors. Their fasting insulin levels dropped by nearly 32%, and they became more responsive to insulin. This prompted the researchers to report that, “The findings suggest resveratrol can improve the body’s ability to use insulin and potentially lower the risk of developing diabetes. The supplement may be able to help reduce the risk of metabolic problems common in women with PCOS.” This isn’t only this study that is finding hopeful results. In a 2013 study, researchers found that “resveratrol supplementation exerted strong antidiabetic effects in patients with type 2 diabetes” including significantly decreased systolic blood pressure, fasting blood glucose, hemoglobin A1c, insulin, and insulin resistance, while HDL was significantly increased. A 2017 study published in the International Heart Journal also demonstrated that resveratrol may bring some relief for patients already struggling with type II diabetes. All this positive research has inspired even more studies. In 2018, the journal Nutrients published promising results, stating that resveratrol facilitates glucose delivery and utilization and results in improved insulin sensitivity. For more about resveratrol, check out https://pcosdiva.com/RedWine.
Turmeric has been used for medicinal purposes for thousands of years. Curcumin is the most important of turmeric’s three main bioactive components and supplementation is widely used due to its potential anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, antitumor, detoxification, antibacterial, and antiviral properties. Most importantly for those with PCOS, a 2021 study found curcumin to have a positive effect on blood glucose, androgens, and insulin resistance. For more about the benefits of turmeric, check out www.pcosdiva.com/turmeric.
Amy Medling, best-selling author of Healing PCOS and certified health coach, specializes in working with women with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS), who are frustrated and have lost all hope when the only solution their doctors offer is to lose weight, take a pill, and live with their symptoms. In response, Amy founded PCOS Diva and developed a proven protocol of supplements, diet, and lifestyle programs that offer women tools to help gain control of their PCOS and regain their fertility, femininity, health, and happiness.
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