Replay of Facebook/Instagram live weekly PCOS Month series.

Part 3: Digestion & PCOS – Sept 16 2021


Welcome to part 3 of the PCOS Awareness Month series! I’m Sara Galipeau, plant-powered nutritionist and owner of Love Plants for Life, and tonight we’re diving into digestion and its relationship with PCOS.

A lot of people dealing with PCOS, as you might remember if you checked out part 1, also have digestive symptoms like indigestion, diarrhea, constipation, and bloating, as well as symptoms that tend to be more notably considered hormonal such as acne, anxiety, and trouble shifting body composition. But where hormones are affected, there’s actually often a gut imbalance in play as well – so if hormones are messed up, the gut is likely messed up too. And this goes for PCOS as well.

Some of the major hormones that tend to be out of balance in PCOS sufferers include

  • insulin – as we see insulin resistance, affecting sugar metabolism, occurring in around 70-95%;
  • thyroid hormones – remember up to 25% also have thyroid issues, with the thyroid being a master of metabolism and connected to a bunch of other hormones;
  • cortisol – chronic stress hormone that cascades alongside hunger hormones including insulin as well as ghrelin, and also affects our sleep hormones like melatonin, not to mention that when we’re stressed out the body moves away from progesterone synthesis to work on cortisol;
  • and of course sex hormones like testosterone and progesterone, which affect the ovaries but may be affected by the up to 80% of the body’s serotonin that’s produced in the gut – so if the gut is out of balance, serotonin is out of balance, and then progesterone is out of balance

So while we’re talking about the gut, remember we talked about inflammation last week

  • if we’re inflamed by stress on the body outside as well as in – remember high intake of sugar, rancid fats, food sensitivities
  • it may affect the lining of the gut as well, meaning we also don’t absorb all the nutrients that should be getting in through the small intestine, which include B vitamins, omega fats, minerals – the components we need for synthesis and signaling of hormones.

So we want to work on reducing inflammation in the body including the gut, supporting better digestion overall, supporting our gut’s microbiome, and also addressing sources of stress in our everyday lives too.

  • So first, reducing inflammation to protect the lining of the gut – nutrient-dense, antioxidant-rich foods – red and purple fruits and vegetables, dark leafy greens; and reducing common inflammatory foods like sugar, processed foods, alcohol, rancid fats, food sensitivities
  • Supporting better digestion overall – this includes making sure we chew our food thoroughly, as well as avoiding the foods we’re sensitive to. And if you’re not sure, this is where keeping a food and symptom journal is key!
  • Supporting the microbiome – with fermented foods like kimchi, tempeh, sauerkraut, miso… these have the probiotics – and making sure we’re getting enough fiber too to feed those organisms
  • And reducing stress – taking up more self-care practices, reducing the intensity of exercise as well as properly taking steps to recover, and trying to eliminate sources of stress where possible.

Check back in for part 4 next week, talking more about the supplements and food choices you can make for supporting PCOS!

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