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The PCOS Diet Plan: A Natural Approach to Health for Women with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome [Format Kindle]

Hillary Wright

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Chapter 1

The Mystery of PCOS
Many people are unfamiliar with the strange-sounding condition of polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). From infertility to heart disease, the broad reach of PCOS can intimidate and overwhelm even the most health-conscious women who are up to speed on the connection between their diet, lifestyle, and health. There’s a lot to learn, and a lot we still don’t understand about the syndrome. Common reactions to a diagnosis of PCOS include the following:
• Confusion. What exactly is this condition that has the potential to affect so many aspects of my health, but that many health-care providers seem to know so little about?
• Frustration. Why, after complaining about my symptoms to health-care providers for years, am I just now finding out what this is? (For those trying to get pregnant, the timing couldn’t be worse.) Now I have to figure out how to manage this complex condition in the hope a new diet and lifestyle will help me get pregnant.
• Stress. All the information is confusing, and none of it sounds good. Feeling like I have to change so many things about my lifestyle to get better is overwhelming and even paralyzing.
• Relief. Even though I’m not happy about having PCOS, now at least I know what I’m dealing with.
• Motivation. PCOS could have lasting effects on my health and fertility. I want to get a grip on my symptoms and participate fully in my care.
Although certainly no one hopes for a diagnosis of PCOS, if you’ve finally received the diagnosis, rest assured that this is a condition you can do something about. The diet and lifestyle changes that can help you manage your PCOS are not extreme recommendations. If more Americans in general (both men and women, old and young) adopted these recommendations, we’d see a decline in nearly every chronic health problem: heart disease, diabetes, obesity, high blood pressure, cancer, and possibly many others. Eating well and leading an active lifestyle have such far-reaching effects on one’s health and quality of life: more energy, improved mood, better sleep, improved self- and body image, better sex, and less stress, to name just a few benefits.
A certain amount of the stress many people feel comes from the knowledge that they’re not doing all they can to protect their health. Starting to chip away at the list of things we know we should be doing offers a certain amount of relief in itself. The diet and lifestyle recommendations outlined throughout this book are solid, healthful ideas that anyone can follow. With a diagnosis of PCOS, you just have more of an incentive to make these changes.
The Facts about PCOS
PCOS is the most common female hormonal disorder and the primary cause of anovulatory infertility (infertility caused by lack of regular ovulation). The syndrome has been recognized as having damaging lifelong health effects. PCOS is estimated to affect 5 to 10 percent of all women during their reproductive years. According to the 2000 U.S. Census, there are more than 140 million females in the United States—that’s up to 14 million women who may develop the condition during their lifetime. Research suggests that up to 30 percent of women experience some symptoms of the disorder, referred to as nonclassic or variant PCOS. With the dramatic increase in childhood obesity, which often leads to earlier onset menstruation, PCOS is starting to show up in younger girls. That means more years to live with the damaging health consequences of this syndrome that never goes away. It is a lifelong, chronic condition.
The cause of PCOS is not clearly understood, but it’s believed to be a complex genetic disorder likely involving multiple genes. The genes involved may be those that regulate function of the hypothalamus, the pituitary gland, and the ovaries, as well as those genes responsible for insulin resistance, which is believed to be the driving force for most of the signs and symptoms of the disorder. In fact, women with PCOS experience similar risk for the development of metabolic and cardiovascular problems as those diagnosed with metabolic syndrome, another common and complex health problem that is escalating in the U.S. population and driving the national epidemic of diabetes and heart disease. This makes sense: insulin resistance is a contributing factor in both conditions.1
Depending on the research you read, anywhere from 50 to 80 percent of women with PCOS are overweight or obese. The incidence of PCOS in the U.S. population has paralleled the increase in obesity, suggesting a strong connection between body weight and the severity of the condition. Although obesity has not been identified as a cause of PCOS, carrying around excess weight worsens its signs and symptoms. Women with the syndrome often store fat around the middle, known as visceral adiposity, which basically means that they tend to wrap excess body fat around their internal organs. This type of body fat storage is genetic, known to aggravate insulin resistance, and raise blood pressure and the risk of heart disease.
PCOS can also trigger a host of physical symptoms, most of which are caused by excessive production of androgens, or male-type hormones, like testosterone. The hallmark of insulin resistance is higher circulating levels of insulin, which can have a seriously toxic effect on hormone production in the ovaries. Higher circulating insulin levels increase the release of an important reproductive hormone called luteinizing hormone (LH) from the pituitary gland. Both LH and insulin then stimulate the theca cells in the ovaries to produce testosterone, which is toxic to egg development. Production of testosterone doesn’t make you any less of a woman. All women make some testosterone (and all men produce some estrogen), but in the ovaries estrogen should predominate over testosterone. When excess insulin stimulates a cascade effect where testosterone predominates over estrogen, eggs don’t develop normally.2 Physical signs that androgen levels may be atypical include excess hair growth on the face, chest, and back (male-pattern growth); thinning of the hair on the crown of the head; acne; and a tendency to gain much-maligned “belly fat” (an apple-shaped body as opposed to the healthier pear-shaped body, where body fat is stored more in the buttocks and thighs).
Women with PCOS are also at greater risk of a number of life-threatening chronic health problems. Most concerning is the connection between PCOS and type 2 diabetes. Diabetes is exploding in the U.S. population. Type 2 diabetes has increased 40 percent since the early 2000s. Undiagnosed diabetes is seven times more likely in women with PCOS, compared with similar-age women without the condition. In fact, 30 to 40 percent of women with PCOS have prediabetes (that is, they don’t yet have full-blown diabetes, but they are already showing signs of insulin resistance, which causes type 2 diabetes). As many as 10 percent of women with PCOS develop full-blown diabetes by age forty.3 A recently released report published in the journal Diabetes Care suggests that over the next twenty-five years, the number of Americans living with diabetes will nearly double, increasing from 23.7 million in 2009 to 44.1 million in 2034. Over the same period, spending on diabetes will almost triple, rising from $113 billion to $336 billion, even with no increase in the prevalence of obesity.4
Heart disease continues to be the number-one killer of both women and men in the United States, and women with PCOS have a four to seven times higher risk of heart attack than women of the same age without the syndrome.5 Endometrial cancer is also a risk for women with PCOS. The hormone estrogen triggers the growth of cells that line the uterus, which are usually shed once a month due to the opposing effect of the hormone progesterone. But in cases of PCOS, where periods are inconsistent or absent, the lining of the uterus builds up, raising the risk of endometrial hyperplasia (overgrowth of the endometrium), which down the road may lead to endometrial cancer. Hyperinsulinemia (elevated blood levels of insulin due to insulin resistance) is common in PCOS and can encourage the growth of potentially cancerous cells. If left untreated, research suggests that endometrial hyperplasia advances to endometrial cancer in as many as 30 percent of cases.6
With many women having children later in life, the number of women requiring fertility treatment is also on the rise, and the hormonal changes seen in PCOS have been recognized to be a major player in the world of infertility. If a woman with PCOS does become pregnant, she’s at higher risk of gestational (pregnancy-induced) diabetes, which presents a risk to both the mother and the developing baby. Some research suggests that women with PCOS are three times more likely to miscarry than women without the disorder.
Another threatening aspect of PCOS is that although 5 to 30 percent of women may have PCOS or some of its symptoms, awareness about the syndrome—even among many health-care providers—remains inadequate. The emergence of information on the prevalence of the syndrome is very much like what happened with fibromyalgia and hypothyroidism in the 1990s. Prior to these disorders being recognized as affecting large numbers of women, many women—and clinicians—failed to recognize the symptoms as a collection of complaints caused by one underlying health problem. Today, both disorders are widely recognized as treatable, as is PCOS.
A Historical Look at PCOS
In the medical literature the earliest mention of polycystic ovary syndrome dates back more than 150 years to France, where the first official description of polycystic-appearing ovaries was made in 1845. In the early 1900s a few isolated reports began to emerge describing a proce...

Revue de presse

“Hillary Wright’s book on PCOS is a must-read for the millions of women affected by this common disorder. It not only explains the why of PCOS, but offers practical solutions that are critical to beat the disorder. This book empowers women to understand their bodies and live longer and healthier lives.”
--Michael M. Alper, MD, Associate Clinical Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Harvard Medical School
“This comprehensive, researched-based resource demystifies PCOS and offers hope to women with the condition. Wright’s wealth of professional knowledge shines through on every page, and I am particularly impressed by how deftly she translates the latest scientific studies about PCOS into specific diet and lifestyle advice that’s easy to incorporate into your daily routine.”
--Elizabeth M. Ward, MS, RD, author of Expect the Best: Your Guide to Healthy Eating Before, During, and After Pregnancy

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Commentaires client les plus utiles sur (beta) 4.2 étoiles sur 5  58 commentaires
92 internautes sur 102 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
2.0 étoiles sur 5 Adequate book but too complicated 26 avril 2011
Par EweeSweetie - Publié sur
Format:Broché|Achat vérifié
This book gives a very nice overview of PCOS and a concise description of the syndrome. However, the diet plan that she lays out is quite complicated. It involves EXTENSIVE counting of carbs and basically, relies on the glycemic index to determine what and when to eat. For the most part, it is correct but it was too much for me to follow, while trying to cook for a family. Basically, I took control of my PCOS by:

1. Cutting out grains and refined starches (sugar, breads, pastas)
2. Cutting out root veggies (potatoes, carrots, onions)
3. Increasing protein
4. Increasing water.

That's it. That's all there is to it. I even allow myself one small helping of "Carb laden" food a day and have steadily lost weight and increased my fertility.
45 internautes sur 50 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Very good book! A must read for women with PCOS! Updated info! 30 novembre 2010
Par Jessica - Publié sur
Very thorough and informative. From following the meal plan laid out in the book I have already lost 10lbs. in not even a week! This isn't just a "diet" book although it says on the cover. It helped me understand the syndrome. I have read two other very well written books about PCOS and this is right up there with them if not better. The author provides info on studies that are very recent about PCOS. I feel more comfortable about my condition. This book helped me feel empowered with the proper info and tools to tackle this condition. I highly recommend this book to anyone that has PCOS.
48 internautes sur 60 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Seven pound weight loss in just over a week! 11 janvier 2011
Par Christiane Jones - Publié sur
I was first diagnosed with PCOS nearly 18 years ago. After feeling as if the medical community completely ignored the condition, I gave up trying to halt the dangerous effects of my diagnosis and simply watched my hair fall out, my weight increase, etc. I've been on medications to counter the effects for over ten years and saw little improvement in my symptoms. Then, two weeks ago, a friend loaned me a copy of this book. For the first time in a long time, I was interested in learning more. I thought I had read it all. Wrong. Not once in all of these years has a physician told me to watch my carbs and that simple timing of the necessary carbs I do eat could really make a difference. I feel like an idiot for not making the connection sooner but, well, here I am. I am only about 12 pounds overweight. Not too bad for someone with PCOS but it is disconcerting because I watch as my weight slowly inches upward, no matter what I do. I don't fry food. I eat fast-food occasionally but try to pick healthier items from the menu and I am moderately active. I have always been a label reader but my focus was on calories and fat. Didn't really put much emphasis on the carb count. I couldn't figure out why I just kept putting on weight while I ate my low-fat, "healthy" food. Reading this was literally like a light bulb going on over my head. Can you say "Duh!" This book helped empower me to take charge and gave me a much needed boost of optimism...just enough to make me WANT to try again instead of simply taking a spectator's role. And, amazingly enough, it is working! I have lost seven pounds in just over a week. Most importantly, the diet isn't extreme. It is common sense and a plan that we should really be following anyway. No gimicks, no quick fixes. Just good nutrition and healthy eating habits presented in a way that makes you feel FULL.
8 internautes sur 9 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Great balanced way to eat to live 20 mars 2014
Par Meaghan Kaplan - Publié sur
Format:Format Kindle|Achat vérifié
This book changed how I looked at carbs and PCOS. Every time I would try to lose weight by cutting carbs, I was weak and miserable. I thought I could never manage my insulin resistance without medication and its awful side effects. This book has changed my life.
7 internautes sur 8 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
4.0 étoiles sur 5 Very helpful 1 mai 2011
Par Linda Payne - Publié sur
This book did a fantastic job of not only explaining what I needed to do in order to focus my eating habits, but also explaining WHY it is important to do it. I would recommend this book for anyone, especially those who are battling PCOS.
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