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3 Common Myths About PCOS: Debunking with RD

Updated: Dec 19, 2023

Are you among the 10 million women with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) looking for answers around this diagnosis? If so, Pearl Wellness Practice is here to help explore more about this health condition and clear up some common nutrition myths around PCOS!

cramps with PCOS

What is PCOS

PCOS is an endocrine disorder that is characterized by high levels of androgens from the ovary and is associated with insulin resistance. In those with PCOS, the cells are less receptive to insulin, causing the pancreas to excrete more insulin into the bloodstream. The excess amount of insulin production leads to an increase of androgens in the body.

When the body produces an excessive amount of androgens, the following may occur: acne and skin concerns, amenorrhea, excessive hair growth on the body, or hair loss from the head. To learn more about PCOS, check out our blog The Scoop on PCOS. To see if you may have signs and symptoms related to PCOS, take our complimentary quiz.

Is Weight Loss Necessary?

A common myth regarding PCOS is that it is caused by weight gain and can be resolved by weight loss. As mentioned above, this endocrine disorder is associated with increased levels of insulin and insulin resistance. The issue with increased levels of insulin is that it is also a growth hormone. This means it promotes weight gain easily, mostly in the mid-section of the body.

This is why some experience weight fluctuation rapidly without changes to eating or exercise. Having elevated insulin explains why so many women with PCOS gain weight. While there are behavioral changes that can help with PCOS, weight loss should not be the center focus. There also is no body of research that points to weight loss being the key to PCOS.

PCOS diet

Are Carbohydrates off-limits?

Women often restrict carbohydrates or try to completely eliminate them for fear that they are damaging to PCOS. When it comes to medical nutrition therapy, the answer is never to restrict or eliminate a food group (unless one has an allergy to the type of food). Instead of fearing carbohydrates, it's important to understand the role of this macronutrient and the impact it has on blood glucose and insulin production.

Simple carbohydrates have a *simple* structure and are broken down and absorbed into the bloodstream faster than a complex carbohydrate, protein, or fat source. Therefore, it's important to be mindful of simple carbohydrates since they can make an impact on glucose and insulin levels in the body over time.

However, it does not mean simple carbohydrates should be restricted, instead they can easily be paired with another macronutrient to decrease the overall impact. Carbohydrates are the primary fuel source of the body and offer many benefits, so we need to mindfully incorporate them into our daily routine.

Is Fasting Beneficial?

Those with PCOS will benefit from being intentional with their timeframe around meals and snacks throughout the day. However, this is by eating every 3 hours during waking hours and not through fasting or restriction. By incorporating 3 meals and 3 snacks throughout the day, allows the body to maintain healthy and consistent levels of glucose in the bloodstream.

When one goes longer than 3 hours without eating, they may experience a drop in their blood glucose, leading to hypoglycemia. Hypoglycemia can be seen through shakiness, fatigue, fruity breath, excessive sweating, and lightheadedness.

If you've experienced extreme cravings for carbohydrates, it could be due to experiencing low blood sugar. Our in-house Registered Dietitian Nutritionist works with clients to create a meal schedule that works for their routine to best support PCOS and manage extreme carbohydrate cravings.

nutrition for PCOS

Nutrition for PCOS

With all the misinformation out there regarding PCOS, it can be challenging to understand what proper treatment looks like. Medical nutrition therapy can be extremely beneficial for those looking to understand this diagnosis, the impact nutrition has on the body, and how to alleviate symptoms through gentle nutrition and movement.

Our in-house RDN, Eden Davis, works with clients through a Health at Every Size and gentle nutrition approach to find relief from this diagnosis. If you're interested in working with a treatment team to manage PCOS, reach out to schedule a complimentary consultation call.

With Pearls of Wisdom,

PCOS treatment


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