Considering Paleo… and PCOS

I am strongly considering trying a Paleo diet since I saw this research that rice could be included on the acceptable foods list. I cannot live without rice, especially my beloved congee that I write about so often.

Still, I imagine this diet – I hesitate to call it that because it makes me think of weight loss. It is really more of an eating philosophy – really does change people’s lives. We eat so much processed food, consume so many toxic chemicals from fertilizing, processing, packaging, etc (just Google BPA alone to give yourself a fright) through our food, and destroy so much of our precious Earth through poor farming practice. How could eating organic, pastured meats and eggs, wild fish, local produce not be good for us (and the planet)?!

My point is, I am open and strongly considering going Paleo, at least for a little while. So, when I see amazing stories like this one about curing PCOS, or polycystic ovary syndrome, I get even more excited to learn about Paleo and maybe one day recommend it to my patients. But I will always stick to my favorite dietary motto… everything in moderation, including moderation.

The symptoms of PCOS include ovarian cysts, irregular or missed periods (and in extreme cases amenorrhea), uterine/pelvic pain, weight gain, acne, and often infertility. From a Chinese medicine perspective PCOS often is a combine pattern of Qi Stagnation, Phlegm-Damp and possibly Kidney Yang deficiency or Blood Stasis. The differentiation depends on the nature and constellation of the symptoms.

Essentially, PCOS is caused by a hormone imbalance. Most of the research points to androgens (male sex hormones) and xeno-estrogens (e.g., soy estrogens) disrupting the normal hormone cycle that allows the ovaries to develop normal follicles, eventually a dominant or lead follicle, and then cause ovulation. Additionally, insulin-resistance plays a key role in PCOS, as free insulin stimulates the production of more androgens.

Flax seeds are a great remedy for PCOS because they help bind up the free androgens. Paleo diet treats PCOS by removing the carbs that cause insulin resistance and also maximizing Omega 3 fatty acids, which reduce inflammation. In addition, eating a diet composed largely of vegetables, nuts and meat/fish that are fresh and prepared simply will be beneficial to the Spleen, the head digestion honcho in Chinese medicine, which will treat the Phlegm and patterns of stagnation.

Regardless of the mechanisms, it surely seems worth a try. Stay tuned for more of my experiences with Paleo.

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