PCOS Questions & Answers [Podcast] - PCOS Diva
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PCOS Questions & Answers [Podcast]

PCOS Podcast Ep 120 Questions and AnswersOne of my favorite things to do is directly answer PCOS Divas’ questions. Recently, I took a survey of what Divas would like to know, and I have answered the most commonly asked here, in this podcast. Listen in (or read the transcript) as we discuss topics such as the “ideal” PCOS diet, signs & symptoms no one talks about, chiropractic benefits, PCOS-friendly alcohol, supplement choices, and herbs to replace Clomid, to name just a few.

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Amy Medling:    Happy PCOS Awareness Month. It has been such a great month. And I’ve been enjoying sharing tips every day with PCOS Divas on Instagram and Facebook.

And I’m excited to be heading down to Orlando this weekend for the PCOS Challenge symposium. And if you’re there, please come say hi. I’ll be giving a talk on Saturday about PCOS lifestyle tips. And I hope to be sharing that presentation with folks that weren’t able to make it on social media later this month. So, watch out for that on Facebook and Instagram.

So, for PCOS Awareness Month, I thought I would do something a little different with the PCOS Diva podcast. Last month, I asked PCOS Divas to submit their questions for an upcoming Q&A podcast. And so, this is it. I’ll be answering some of your really fantastic questions that you submitted. There are lots of questions. I hope I can get to them all. And we’re going to just jump right in.

Question 1:         So, the first question from Jane is: “What gets inflamed in PCOS? And what besides turmeric lattes might help?”

Answer:               Sometimes they’re called golden milk. If you’ve never had a golden milk turmeric latte, they are really delicious. And yes, Jane, they’re very anti-inflammatory. A lot of times they’re prepared with ginger, which is an anti-inflammatory root. So, you add turmeric and ginger, and I like to add a little honey, and cinnamon, and nutmeg, and then some nondairy milk like almond milk or … oat milk makes a nice latte because it foams. So, golden milk lattes, turmeric lattes are great. And we’ll talk about some other really helpful anti-inflammatories as well.

But I just wanted to give you a little bit of a background about PCOS and inflammation. And I talk about this in my book, Healing PCOS, with inflammation being one of the root causes of PCOS.

And inflammation isn’t always bad. Our body uses inflammation to fight off microbial or autoimmune issues or metabolic issues. Or if you get a cut or you injure yourself playing sports, it’s a sign of the body deploying white blood cells, which help heal injuries, fend off disease and replace aging cells.

But the problem with inflammation and PCOS is this low-level, chronic inflammation that affects so many systems of the body. And I’m going to read through a list of symptoms of inflammation. And I bet you can cross, kind of check some of these off, as I’m going through them.

Weight gain, allergies, brain fog, joint pain, irritable bowel syndrome, GI issues like bloating, gas, diarrhea, acne, asthma, gum disease, chronic sinusitis. Anything that has an -itis at the end, the root is inflammation. So, things like diverticulitis, which I’ve been hearing a lot more PCOS Divas have been dealing with. So anything with -itis. High blood sugar, depression, belly fat, fatigue, eczema, psoriasis.

And it’s kind of interesting that research is pointing that women with PCOS have higher levels of circulating C-reactive protein or CRP. That’s a marker that I recommend you be tested for. It’s listed in my Labs Guide, which is available at pcosdiva.com/labs. So the C-reactive protein, it’s an indicator of general inflammation, independent even of obesity, and obesity is one of the factors that drives inflammation, as well as things like food sensitivities. So, if you’re sensitive to gluten or dairy, those are very inflammatory foods. Sugar is very inflammatory.

Allergies, stress, those all kind of contribute to this chronic inflammation. It also may be a result of environmental and lifestyle factors like pollution, poor diet, smoking, lack of exercise, and poor dental health. Although I think sometimes that this chronic inflammation, it really contributes to your poor dental health, especially gum issues. And that’s kind of often a symptom of PCOS that people don’t talk about.

So, your question, Jane, was: what gets inflamed? So, pretty much every system in the body can get inflamed when you have this low-level inflammation with PCOS.

The good news is that there are lots of things that can help. So, I find that the most important thing to do is to start eating an anti-inflammatory diet. And if you’ve got my meal plans or been following the Healing PCOS book, you’ll notice that all of my meal plans are anti-inflammatory. They’re filled with lots of nutrient-rich veggies and seeds and nuts and all of these foods that really help quell the inflammation. And I promise you, if you start eating this way, you’re going to start feeling better after a very short time, and you’re going to see some of these signs of inflammation subside.

So also, there’s some very helpful supplements. And we had just talked about turmeric and ginger. And I have a supplement called PCOS Diva DeFlame, and it’s a formulation of lots of natural anti-inflammatories. And it’s super helpful if you take it to help with this chronic, low-level inflammation. But it’s also really helpful if you have an injury. You can take it kind of like Advil. And it’s something that I give to all the members of my family whenever they have a sports injury.

Then we have resveratrol. And resveratrol is another supplement that is a great antioxidant. It’s also very anti-inflammatory. And I also love CBD oil. And I’ve written about all of these things on PCOS Diva. So, if you want more information, you can check out my blog on CBD and resveratrol, as well as turmeric and the anti-inflammatory diet. So all of those things help with inflammation. And it’s a great way to start healing your PCOS by utilizing all of these tools in your toolkit.

Question 2:         Okay, so question number two. Eugenie is asking: “What are some signs and symptoms that PCOS can cause but no one talks about?”

Answer:               So, yeah, everybody talks about obesity and insulin resistance and acne and hair loss. But over the years, I have found that and sort of discovered some of these signs and symptoms that nobody has been talking about. Because I’ve been encountering them and then going online and looking on PubMed for research around these symptoms and PCOS.

And just a little side note about PubMed, it’s a great repository of medical research that you can go in as a layperson. You don’t need to have a science background to really start digging in and getting some information and knowledge for yourself. That’s how I’ve learned a lot about PCOS.

But some of the interesting signs and symptoms are things like hearing loss. And I discovered a couple of years ago that I was experiencing hearing loss, and I wondered if it had anything to do with PCOS. And sure enough, there were several studies that showed a connection between hearing loss, especially in high frequencies and PCOS. So that’s one symptom to kind of look out for.

Itchy, dry eye is another one that is associated with PCOS. Gum disease, as I mentioned in the previous question, is also a symptom of PCOS, and I think the inflammation is absolutely a contributing factor.

And then the skin condition, keratosis pilaris, and another skin condition called HS. And both of those skin conditions have been tied to PCOS. And I hear from lots of women with PCOS that struggle with them. So, as I’m thinking, another skin issue is skin tags. And skin tags are kind of associated with insulin resistance. So, skin issues like that as well.

Chances are, if you are struggling with some type of issue whose underlying factor is inflammation, it can be a sign and symptom of PCOS. And I have information about all of these things on pcosdiva.com if you want to dig deeper.

Question 3:         So, Montana, this is the third question, she was asking that she recently got diagnosed. And she has normal blood sugar. She’s already dairy- and gluten-free due to having celiac disease, which there seems to be a correlation between women with PCOS and Celiac, just as an aside. And she says that her doctor says that it was triggered from adrenal fatigue, hypothyroid that she’s had in the past few years. She wants to know what the best diet is to help heal this, because she understands that low carb is not great with people with slow thyroid and adrenal fatigue.

Answer:               So, I also got another question from Wiley about what kind of diet is best. So, I want to take a moment and just talk about PCOS and diet. And I’ve done several podcasts about PCOS and diet, what’s the best diet for PCOS, with different experts, like Martha McKittrick. She’s a dietician that helped write one of the first books out for patients, for PCOS, Walter Futterweit’s The Patient’s Guide to PCOS.

But these experts all sort of have the same opinion, and I do too, that there’s really no one-size-fits-all approach to diet and PCOS. There are many phenotypes of PCOS, and people, like Montana, have different underlying issues. So, she’s dealing with adrenal fatigue and hypothyroidism. And some women are dealing with really severe insulin resistance and obesity. And then we have thin women with PCOS who may have some degree of insulin resistance, but it’s not as severe.

So, we all need to be eating, as I mentioned before when we were talking about the root cause of PCOS being inflammation, an anti-inflammatory diet with lots of produce. I think that’s sort of my number one rule, and experts agree.

But when it comes to your plate, I kind of go by a balanced-plate approach and look at sort of the ratio of macronutrients on your plate. And I think that that can vary depending on what works best for you. And the only way you can figure that out is by experimenting with your diet.

So, I really recommend starting with half of your plate being veggies, and then a quarter of your plate being some type of a clean protein, and then a quarter of your plate being either a gluten-free grain or more of a starchy root, starchy vegetable, root vegetable. So, you don’t want to do both on the same plate. And then on top of that, a very generous, I call it dollop, of fat. But that might be avocado or butter or olive oil or avocado oil, nut butter, seed butter … You know, nuts, seeds, like something that’s a really healthy form of fat.

Now, once you have that balanced plate, then you can really experiment with it. Some women feel better with much more protein and fat and less of the carbohydrates or maybe no, none of that starchy vegetable or grain on their plate. Now, for me, I’ve found that I have to have some carbohydrates, like the starchy grain or the root vegetable, to feel grounded and to keep me satiated until my next meal, and a good amount of fat.

So, I think, for every woman listening, you really need to experiment and see how the food makes you feel. And then on top of that, you need to look out for those food sensitivities. So, I recommend that all women with PCOS eliminate dairy and gluten for at least a month and just see how that makes you feel. And then add the food back in and then notice how it makes you feel, both mentally and physically.

And then some other foods to consider kind of experimenting with removing are eggs. Those are very popular … Popular is not the right word, but a very common food sensitivity. Peanuts is another one. And just kind of experiment with these foods and see how they make you feel.

So, no one-size-fits-all approach to diet for PCOS. You have to just experiment with the ratios, but making sure that you’re eating an anti-inflammatory diet.

Question 4:         Our next question is from April. April wants to know, can chiropractic care help with heavy periods by decreasing flow or help with other PCOS symptoms? And should my chiropractor know that I have PCOS?

Answer:               So, I’ve had several guest posts from chiropractors on pcosdiva.com. And you can search for those by just plugging in chiropractor or chiropractic in the search bar on PCOS Diva.

But one of my favorite practitioners, she and I actually developed the Essential Oils mini-course together. Dr. Meaghan Kirschling, she wrote a great article about chiropractic care, and she says that if you’re working with a chiropractor, have them assess you for some of the following structural concerns if you have problems with your cycles.

So, the first is tailbone injury, that often adjusting the tailbone can be very easy, an easy way to help with your cycles. And then the other one is pelvic floor dysfunction, that many times pelvic floor needs to be assessed and treated, and to talk to your chiropractor about that if you have any pelvic floor issues.

And then, finally, she talks about sacral blockage, that there’s this two-way highway of nerve input to the organs, skin, and muscles from the spinal cord to the brain that’s dependent on nerves, organs, skins, muscles, and spine to be working properly for the best communication. And sometimes there’s blockages along this highway due to spinal misalignments, tight muscles that need to be addressed. And there’s two ligaments that she always evaluates in individuals with menstrual concerns. The two ligaments are the iliolumbar ligament and the sacrotuberous ligament. And by stimulating and releasing these ligaments, it’s easier to release the pelvic and sacrum region. And these are usually very tender for women with PCOS.

So April, talk to your chiropractor about your PCOS and your menstrual symptoms. And read this article by Dr. Meaghan Kirschling on my site about chiropractic care, and bring it into your doctor and talk to them about it. I know that early in my journey, I did a lot of chiropractic care, and it really helped me with regulating my cycles. And it also really helped to boost my immune system. I was sick all the time. And when you have chiropractic adjustments, it helps with your immunity. So, I found that to be really true for me.

Question 5:         Okay. So, the next question is from Tammy. Tammy wants to know about natural herbs to replace Clomid.

Answer:               So, if you’re talking about herbs, there’s two that work synergistically together that are very helpful to induce ovulation. It’s not something that you want to be on all the time. I think of it as sort of a temporary fix. But that’s peony and licorice. And you don’t see much talk about peony and licorice, I think, in a lot of the PCOS boards out there. But they’re very powerful ovulation-inducing herbs when they’re used together and really help with ovulation. So, that would be the herbs that I would suggest looking into.

A lot of Chinese medicine practitioners can often make up a formula for you. And if you can’t find a practitioner to do that, there’s also a manufacturer called Kan Herbs, I believe? K-A-N Herbs, that sell a licorice and peony formula. But make sure that you talk to your doctor before you take any new supplements, especially licorice, because there might be some other indications with other drugs that you’re taking, or if you have some health conditions. So, make sure you talk to your doctor before trying new supplements or herbs.

Question 6:         So, Marsha is asking, “What about fruit and also eggs?”

Answer:               So, yeah, I think that there’s a lot of myths around whether women with PCOS can eat fruit. I tend to really focus on the low-glycemic berries, cherries, apples, and pears. And I tend to stay … I wouldn’t say stay away, but I reduce the amount of the more kind of tropical, high-glycemic fruits, even very ripe bananas. And watermelon, it tends to raise my blood sugar too much. But I’ve realized this through, again, experimenting with fruit in my diet. So, I really encourage you to experiment with fruit as well.

But I really try to keep my fruit serving down to probably once or maybe twice a day. So, if I’m going to have a morning smoothie with berries in it, I might have an apple with some nuts for a snack later in the day. But that’s about it. I don’t eat fruit all day long.

And I think this is where getting a glucometer is really helpful to see how food is impacting your blood sugar. And fruit is one of those things that can surprisingly impact your blood sugar more than you realize.

So, fruit has tons of antioxidants and nutrients that are really important for our bodies, but you need to experiment to see the amount and the type that work best for you.

And eggs, as I mentioned earlier, eggs, a lot of women can have a real sensitivity to eggs. But if you don’t, then eggs are a great source of protein. I pay a little bit more money for organic, free-range eggs. And living here in New Hampshire, we have access to a lot of farm-fresh eggs that you can get just by driving down your country road. People, you know, are selling eggs. So, look for the best quality eggs that you can get. But I think that they definitely have a part in the PCOS Diva diet.

Question 7:         So, let’s see, we have a question from Katie: “I eat a whole-foods diet and I see great results in reduction of my symptoms. However, I would really like to have an adult beverage every now and then. What is the best kind of alcohol with the least amount of sugar to consume that will wreak the least amount of havoc?”

Answer:               That is such a great question, Katie. I think alcohol can be very inflammatory, and women with PCOS should generally try their best to limit the amount of alcohol they consume.

But as PCOS Divas, we know that we have to learn how to live with our PCOS for the long term. And I don’t know about you, but I hate the feeling of diet, deprivation, and denial. And if somebody told me I could never enjoy a glass of wine out with my friends, I would be very sad.

So, I have found a great wine distributor. It’s an online, I guess you would call it kind of like a wine club. And they’re called Dry Farm Wines. And I’m trying to get the founder on to the PCOS Diva podcast. I hope to have him on, because I heard him give a lecture recently about wine and his wines and why they’re … I think that they’re best for women with PCOS. Because he screens all of the wines for any chemicals, additives. And they have to fall within a 9%, 12% alcohol content, and they have to be low-sugar.

So, I always feel good about drinking Dry Farm Wines because I know that they’re the cleanest wine out there, and they have the least amount of sugar. And I actually, I feel good with them.

So, I’d mentioned resveratrol in the question about inflammation. And resveratrol is a compound that is found in grape skins, and yes, it’s in wine. And I think pinot noir has the most resveratrol in it. But you’d have to drink like bottles of pinot noir in order to get the amount of resveratrol that’s in a supplement, like my Resveratrol Plus supplement. But you’re still getting resveratrol when you’re drinking red wine. So, that’s kind of what I drink if I’m going to have alcohol.

On the occasion that I might have a cocktail, I usually have the Tito’s Vodka because it is gluten-free, with some soda water and maybe a splash of cranberry juice or something. But I think that staying away from those sugary drink/cocktail mixers is really important.

So, my answer for that question would be stick with red wine and maybe a cocktail that doesn’t have a lot of sugary … A gluten-free liquor that doesn’t have a lot of sugary drink mixes in it. But again, it’s a mindful indulgence and something that we do really mindfully and on occasion.

Question 8:         Okay. So, our final question is: “What cocktail of supplements would you recommend for those who suffer from almost every symptom of PCOS?”

Answer:               So, I think it’s just important to preface that you can’t out-supplement a bad diet or bad lifestyle. So, it’s so important to get your diet on track and eating that anti-inflammatory diet with the balanced-plate approach, and making sure that you are getting movement in and exercising and reducing your stress, and getting enough sleep and making sure that you’re taking good care of yourself.

And then supplements, yes, they play a very important part. But I also don’t believe in throwing everything at your PCOS symptoms. I do believe that every woman with PCOS needs to be on a really high quality multivitamin, with methylated B vitamins and folates. My Essentials Multi also has nutrients in it to help with your blood sugar and insulin control.

And then I think that every woman with PCOS should have their blood, their vitamin D level checked in their blood, to make sure that you start optimizing it. And everybody’s vitamin D level is different, so everybody’s supplementation for vitamin D would be different as well. So, making sure that you’re supplementing to optimize your vitamin D, you’re taking a good multi, and then taking a omega-3 supplement as well. I take fish oil. I know that there are some women that are vegans out there, so there are some vegan DHA supplements, fish oil supplements. But those are the three things. Plus, I really love the supplement Ovasitol, because I think it helps on so many different levels of PCOS.

There’s lots of information about all of these supplements on my website. And then I also have a supplement chart that shows you by symptom what supplement would be helpful for you. But if you mentioned that you suffer from every symptom of PCOS, I really think if you start eating well and exercising well, sleeping well, taking those few supplements, you’re probably going to be feeling a lot better and your symptoms are going to subside. And then see what is left that you really need to tackle. There are supplements that we talked about earlier that help with inflammation, like Diva DeFlame or the turmeric and ginger, and CBD oil and resveratrol. There’s supplements that help with elevated levels of androgens. Saw palmetto is one. Spearmint is another. Resveratrol helps with androgens as well. So, just get your lifestyle down, those few supplements, and then see how you feel and then kind of reassess.

So, those are my answers to the Q&A. I hope that you enjoyed it and found it helpful. I’m always happy to answer your questions. Reach out to me on social media, amy@pcosdiva.com.

And enjoy the rest of PCOS Awareness Month. I look forward to being with you again very soon. Bye-bye.

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