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PCOS + Gut Health: 3 Things You Need To Know

An estimated five to 6 million women struggle with PCOS in the United States. And today I'm going to dig into PCOS and gut health.

What are the things you need to know?

First, we're going to go through what is PCOS or otherwise known as polycystic ovarian syndrome, as well as what role does our gut health play in PCOS and how does our gut health impact our hormonal balance?

As well as what types of gut health symptoms might you be experiencing if you're dealing with PCOS. And finally, what are some strategies to help cope with symptoms and improve your gut health?

So before we really dig into the topic, my name is Marcie Vaske. I'm a functional medicine nutritionist with Oswald Digestive Clinic, and I see a lot of women who struggle with hormonal issues as well as gut health issues.

And if that sounds like you or someone you know and love, I'm going to link our website here, which is where you can easily make an initial appointment.

And I'll link our free guide, which is five Ways to Improve your Gut Health, here.

So you can do a little of your own research and education as well as if you need extra support, that link is there for you. Alright, so back to our topic.

[Video Transcript Below Video - it is the same information]

PCOS What Is It?

And to start off, what is PCOS and polycystic Ovarian syndrome is really a complicated hormonal disorder that affects women in childbearing age.

Sometimes you can be diagnosed in your early teens as well into your twenties or even thirties for some people.

Symptoms typically include things like acne, excessive hair growth, irregular menstrual cycles, as well as difficulty in managing your weight.

PCOS also can set women up with putting them more at risk for infertility issues, diabetes, as well as other cardiovascular risks like high blood pressure, atherosclerosis and things of that nature.

So if you're struggling with PCOS or maybe you've just been diagnosed and thinking, wow, what am I going to be doing here?

This is going to be the video for you today.

PCOS + Gut health

And one of the things that is new and emerging is the research connecting our gut health to PCOS.

And we know our gut helps to improve all of our systems in our body.

And I always say, if your gut's not working, there's something else likely not working well either.

And the gut microbiome really helps to manage and balance our hormones. It helps for food absorption.

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It's going to help to reduce inflammation in the body as well as our bacteria.

And microbiome helps to balance our blood sugars, and so it helps keep us more insulin sensitive.

And these are all key factors when it comes to PCOS that are complications.

PCOS And Hormones

So how does the gut actually affect our hormonal balance?

And what we know is that our gut microbiome helps to regulate all of our sex hormones, everything from our estrogen to our progesterone to our testosterone, but also including our insulin.

And if there's an imbalance in our gut microbiome, there's oftentimes going to be imbalances in these other hormones in our body, which are very connected to PCOS.

And in addition to our gut microbiome supporting the balance of our hormones, if our gut isn't working properly and we're not able to eliminate well or have a daily stool that's going to back up our excess estrogens and other hormones in our body, creating a more toxic situation as well as just not rid things.

And so another way that your gut is connected to this hormonal, hormonal imbalance.

PCOS + Digestion

So what are some of the common gut health issues that women who struggle with PCOS might be experiencing?

And the first one could just be dysbiosis.

And I don't mean just, but what that means is that it's an imbalance in your microbiome.

So the flora has been overtaken maybe more with opportunistic flora as well as there might be more pathogenic flora going on.

Another symptom that's common is going to be something called SIBO.

And SIBO is small intestinal bacterial overgrowth. And SIBO is something that creates lots of bloating, lots of gas, and is often causes slow motility and really can create a lot of issues and symptoms.

Now of course, there could be leaky gut going on, so some intestinal permeability. And oftentimes that happens when we have an imbalance in our microbiome and the integrity of our intestinal tract is inflamed.

And when that gets inflamed, then we become more, our intestinal tract becomes more permeable, letting in toxins into our bloodstream. Now maybe you don't have a dysbiotic gut or you're not struggling with SIBO or even leaky gut, but you can have inflammation in your gut and inflammation may feel like bloating and gas only or just a different irregularity in your bowel.

And so just watching for these symptoms and kind of piecing it together with how your hormonal balance, what it's feeling like, how you are feeling, obviously watching for changes in your menstrual cycle as well, and other physical characteristics such as that, excessive hair growth or even acne.

Now, our gut also plays a unique role with our brain and how this is a connection to PCOS is that many times women with PCOS will have mood related symptoms, things like more anxiety or maybe depression and feeling just really in the dumps are always wired.

And the way that this works is that our gut brain connection, there is a bidirectional communication from our stomach to our brain via the vagus nerve. And when our microbiome becomes imbalance, that communication slows down and gets choppy per se.

And so things aren't being transmitted properly, we're not making enough of our neurotransmitters because we know that we make 90% of our neurotransmitters in our intestinal tract.

And so if they don't have a solid, healthy way to get to our brain, we are going to struggle with some of that mental health such as anxiety or depression.

And this is a common symptom in women with PCOS. So if you've been diagnosed with PCOS and have been struggling for a long time and just not being able to really get your symptoms managed, it's look a little deeper.

Look into how is your gut functioning?

Are you feeling really good?

Are you having a bowel movement every day?

Do you struggle with bloating and gas or not?

And so if you have an answer of, yes, my gut's kind of struggling, I'm diagnosed with PCOS and symptoms just are not getting better, let's work to improve our gut health.

PCOS + Diet

So what are some ways that we can do that?

And one of 'em will be, obviously, you know what I'm probably going to say because I'm a nutritionist, is adopt more of a whole foods or even anti-inflammatory diet, something that's full of healthy proteins and rich in vitamins and minerals in the way of fruits and vegetables, as well as all those healthy fats because healthy fats make our hormones.

And so if we're having a hormonal issue, we want to have extra fat around to make some really good, strong hormones. Now, in addition to a healthier diet, just improving your gut in the way of diet as well, using things like fermented foods.

So you can do yogurts, you can do keer, kimchi, sauerkraut, miso.

Putting some of those in on a daily basis, at least a weekly basis, a few times a week, can really support that healthier microbiome.

PCOS + Stress

And of course, one that I talk about all the time is reducing your stress. It is just remarkable how much stress creates an imbalance in our microbiome, and therefore so many other systems in our body.

So finding ways to reduce your stress, either doing something daily or maybe saying no to things that you always say yes to, it is so imperative to your overall health.

Now the last thing too of helping to improve your gut is if you think that you're really having more symptoms besides just a little bit irregular, you need a little bit of extra good flora.

If you are having more of that SIBO symptom, that small intestinal bacteria overgrowth symptoms such as the bloating, excessive bloating, excessive gas food, just seeing in your stomach slow motility, really we need to work to get rid of that.

As well as if you're struggling with leaky gut, having a lot of symptoms after you eat food. Sometimes when we can heal up those root causes, our gut comes back into good standing and a lot of our symptoms are gone.

So if you're feeling like you want to work on your gut a little bit because you have some symptoms, but it's not terrible like you don't have sibo, there's not massive issues after you eat every single time or many issues, then sometimes just adding in a simple probiotic is a way to rebalance that flora.

And with probiotics, you can just start really slow. Just start with some two main, most abundant flora in our microbiome, which is going to be bifidobacteria family as well as the lactose bacillus family and just repopulating for a few months. And just see how that feels. You don't have to stay on probiotics for your lifetime.

It's more important to help rebuild the microbiome and get your foot and going in the right direction and then eating good foods along the way. And so that's one way that you can help support your microbiome just on your own.

And in addition to some of these strategies, eating well, having less stress in your life, adding in fermented food, maybe trying some probiotics.

PCOS + Insulin + Weight

You also want to think about your blood sugar management because one of the things that many women with PCOS struggle with is weight gain.

And the reason for that is because they become more insulin resistant. And so when you're putting your meal plan together, not getting rid of carbohydrates, but really just balancing your meals out with healthy proteins as well as healthy fats with your carbs so that you're not spiking your blood sugar all day long.

So just to wrap up the video today, I think it's always important to understand why you might have a symptom or a disorder or a disease that might be something you can help support on your own.

And so understanding how the gut is connected to PCOS just puts you one step ahead in improving your symptoms and managing your own PCOS and hormonal balance.

I hope that helped give you some more information today. Thanks for watching.

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If you'd like to explore any of this information further or obtain an individualized nutrition plan, you can schedule an initial appointment at our clinic.  We also take insurance and some of our clients get full coverage, which is great.

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Or you can just start by downloading our FREE GUIDE: 5 WAYS TO IMPROVE GUT HEALTH  

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