The Relationship between Poor Gut Health & PCOS – Infertility Clinic in India | Test Tube Baby Center | Infertility Treatment

The Relationship between Poor Gut Health & PCOS

Ancient wisdom goes that all diseases have their origin in gut health. In other words, a strong and vigorous gut is the underpinning of good health. But what does that have to do with PCOS, which is caused by insulin resistance and hormonal imbalance and is one of the most common infertility causes. Actually, it has everything to do with polycystic ovarian syndrome, or as it is more popularly known, PCOS.

More than 100 trillion bacteria reside in the human gut. They help us with breaking down our food and absorbing its nutrition. More importantly, they also assist the body in fighting harmful germs. Also known as gut microbiome, gut bacteria are negatively impacted by a poor diet, an inactive lifestyle, and chronic stress. Two examples of the same are insulin resistance and hormonal imbalance, which also happen to be the principal causes of PCOS.

Does a Bad Gut Worsen PCOS?

Low-grade inflammation is a prominent effect of PCOS and is known to cause insulin resistance and weight gain (specifically in the abdominal region). It leads to an imbalance between the gut’s good bacteria and bad bacteria. Furthermore, several women suffering from PCOS also have a leaky gut, which allows bigger food particles to escape into the blood. This produces a sort of low-grade inflammation, which explains why many women with PCOS also suffer from a leaky gut.

Relationship between HPA Dysfunction & PCOS

The HPA axis, consisting of the Hypothalamus-Pituitary-Adrenal glands, is seen to be hyper-responsive in women with PCOS. The pituitary gland and the hypothalamus control the adrenal glands, which secrete androgens (male hormones) like DHEA apart from cortisol which is the stress hormone.

Any disruptions in the HPA axis causes an excess production of androgens, more stress, weakened glucose sensitivity, insulin resistance, and higher abdominal fat. Each of those can also cause PCOS and there is strong evidence that suggests gut bacteria can play a role in the control and development of the HPA axis.

Better Gut Health for PCOS Relief

As can be seen from the above, just improving the gut health can help mitigate multiple PCOS symptoms by a huge margin. The following are ways in which gut health influences PCOS,

  • Disturbed gut microbes can cause insulin resistance.
  • Gut bacteria imbalance facilitates chronic inflammation.
  • Metabolic dysfunction and obesity can lead to a disturbed gut flora.

Low-grade inflammation, abnormal levels of androgens, and insulin resistance are all also associated with PCOS. This proves that gut health and PCOS are definitely related.

Reinforcing your diet with lots of probiotics is an excellent way to foster a healthier gut. Probiotics are nothing but live microbes capable of positively impacting the intestine’s PH which helps the gut to heal. They also contribute towards creating a healthy microbiome that helps increase the number of good bacteria over the bad ones.

A Probiotic Diet for PCOS

The market is full of probiotic formulations and variations that are beneficial for women suffering from PCOS. In fact, the best supplements for PCOS are known to play a role in lowering blood sugar apart from improving sensitivity.

Popular probiotic strains include,

  • Bifidobacterium Breve
  • Bifidobacterium Infantis
  • Bifidobacterium Longum
  • Bifidobacterium Animalis
  • Lactobacillus Acidophilus
  • Lactobacillus Paracasei
  • Lactobacillus Plantarum
  • Lactobacillus Bulgaricus
  • Lactobacillus Rhamnosus
  • Streptococcus Thermophiles
  • Saccharomyces Boulardii
  • Boulardii

For the right supplement, consulting the doctor or asking around for recommendations is a good idea in case of confusion about which one to go for.

Include Probiotics in the Diet

Supplements are not the only way to improve gut health. Including foods rich in natural probiotics is a proven way to restore gut health to its original state. A good and easily available source is yogurt (dahi) as is buttermilk (chaas). Cottage cheese (paneer) is another excellent option that should be regularly consumed. Other foods that promote good gut health include bone broth, fermented food like idlis, and pickles. Probiotics foods also do not lead to a sharp rise in blood sugar, which is all the more reason why they should be part of any best diet for PCOS.

Eat the Right Carbs

Carbohydrates are the principal sources of energy for the human body. However, simple carbohydrates or carbohydrates with a high GI (Glycemic Index) should be avoided by women with PCOS. That is because these carbohydrates elevate the body’s glucose levels immediately, which leads to greater production of insulin. All that leads to a spike in the blood’s sugar level, which further precipitates PCOS and its effects. A better choice instead would be complex carbohydrates as they take longer to be broken down and keep you satiated for longer. So if rice is part of your daily diet, replace it with unpolished/unrefined or brown rice. Both contain a high amount of fiber and have a low Glycemic Index. Low GI vegetable options include asparagus, broccoli, carrots, cauliflower, cucumber, green beans, spinach, tomatoes, while fruits like apples, grapes, oranges, and peaches are rich in fiber as well apart from having a low GI.

Proteins and healthy fats are other foods that keep your blood sugar levels under acceptable limits and help you shed excess weight. Examples of high protein foods include beans, nuts, eggs, fish, and lean meats like chicken. Everyday sources of healthy fats that you can include in your PCOS diet are nuts, peanut butter, avocado, olive oil, and cottage cheese.

Foods to Avoid with PCOS

While probiotics and foods rich in fiber are essential for restoring a damaged gut, there are certain foods that should be avoided altogether during the healing process. These include starchy vegetables like corn, peas, and potatoes, items made from refined flour like white bread and pasta, foods that contain excess artificial sweeteners like juice or soda, sugary foods like cakes, candy, and cookies, and snack items like potato chips and fritters.

A majority of women seeking fertility treatments in India suffer from PCOS. In fact, one of the reasons couples are pushed towards surrogacy in India is that in many instances, something like PCOS wasn’t dealt with in a timely manner. While medication is a necessary part of dealing with PCOS and its symptoms, there is a fair bit that can be achieved by adopting a strict diet that is full of probiotics, fiber, and complex carbohydrates.

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