Insulin Resistance and Polycystic Ovary Syndrome

What is insulin resistance (IR) and polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)?

Insulin resistance results in higher than normal amounts of insulin being made in the body. Eventually, the body slows its production of insulin leading to increased blood sugar levels. This can therefore result in a higher risk of developing prediabetes and then diabetes. 

PCOS is a hormonal disorder affecting women, with a common characteristic being increased androgens or ‘male hormones’ that can prevent ovulation and affect menstruation. PCOS can also increase the risk of developing insulin resistance. The diagnosis of PCOS is complex and involves a medical history, examination, blood tests and ultrasounds.

What are the symptoms of PCOS?

Symptoms include one or more of the following:
- Weight gain
- Fertility issues
- Depression and/or anxiety
- Menstrual problems e.g. irregular periods
- High levels of male hormones and/or excess hair growth and acne

It is important to note that there are numerous symptoms arising due to PCOS but not every symptom needs to be present to confirm diagnosis. Interestingly, not all women with PCOS have multiple cysts and not all women with multiple cysts have PCOS.

how can I help?
I will start by assessing current dietary intake and suggesting areas for improvement. Short term and long term achievable goals will then be set. Meal planning will also focus on carbohydrate portions and/or calorie counting, specifically their impact on blood sugar levels. Thus, understanding the importance of low glycaemic index carbohydrates and regular meal timing will be prioritised.

Focus will also be given to identifying barriers to change and incorporating individual food preferences. Furthermore, I will help with optimising your dietary intake to meet nutritional requirements including fibre, omega-3, fruits, vegetables and calcium. 
- Jean Hailes
Want to know more about how a Dietitian can help your Insulin Resistance or Polycystic Ovary Syndrome?

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