Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) occurs when women produce higher-than-normal amounts of testosterone. This can cause unwanted side effects in women, such as hair growth on the body and face, resistance to losing weight, and increased levels of insulin. While the exact causes of PCOS are unknown, some natural treatments may help women content with symptoms.
Because PCOS affects insulin levels, some women are able to manage symptoms via a diet that focuses on eating foods that do not cause insulin levels to spike dramatically. Foods that should be a part of a woman with PCOS’s diet include: whole-grain breads, brown rice, beans and other legumes, green vegetables, and most fruits (with the exception of grapes and bananas).
As a general rule, foods that are high in fat, sugar, and starch should be avoided or consumed in small amounts. These include cakes, cookies, red meat, prepackaged foods, white bread, pasta, and white rice.
Chromium to Enhance Insulin Efficiency
Although it is only present in trace amounts in the body, chromium enhances the bioavailability of insulin in the body, meaning taking a chromium supplement enhances the body’s ability to absorb insulin. Because having PCOS can make a woman’s body more insulin-resistant, chromium can negate some of these effects. Protein also helps the body metabolize fats, carbohydrates, and protein in the body.
Chromium is found in certain foods, including broccoli, English muffins, orange juice, red wine, and green beans. Chromium supplements also can be taken, and the recommended dosage for women ages 19 to 50 years old is 25 micrograms per day.
Saw Palmetto to Reduce Testosterone Levels
Those with PCOS have higher-than-normal levels of testosterone. Saw palmetto, an herb, may be taken in supplement form to slow testosterone’s effects on the body. Saw palmetto prevents testosterone from being converted into dihydrotestosterone, which causes hair growth.
Taking a daily supplement of 250 to 350 milligrams per day may reduce PCOS symptoms. Saw palmetto has very few side effects, but should not be taken on an empty stomach. However, it is not recommended for women who are pregnant or breastfeeding.
Additional Vitamin Supplements
Other options for natural PCOS management include taking a B-vitamin complex, which has been shown to balance blood sugar and control weight. B2 and B3 hormones also improve thyroid hormone production in the body, making a B-vitamin complex a good choice for women with PCOS.
Zinc is also recommended, thanks to its ability to control appetite, regulate insulin, and balance blood sugar. The recommended daily intake is 7 milligrams, and can be ingested via a supplement or by eating chickpeas, baked beans, cheddar cheese, or low-fat yogurt.