Monday, March 6, 1995

Has anyone with poly cystic ovarian syndrome ever tried the south beach diet?

I have pcos and was wondering if this diet was successful for anyone with my same issues? Any thing you can tell me that helped for you would be a big help. I am struggling with my weight and trying to find something that works.

Answer on Has anyone with poly cystic ovarian syndrome ever tried the south beach diet?

The "south beach diet" designed by cardiologist Arthur Agatston, is a version/modification of the "low glycemic index diet" (or low GI diet) developed by Dr. David J. Jenkins, a professor of nutrition at the University of Toronto. It is the low GI element of the south beach diet which makes it effective in controlling PCOS, the other parts of the diet are aimed at heart health rather than PCOS.

So both of these diets have been shown to be effective at controlling PCOS, and the associated weight gain. The reason is this: PCOS is caused by something called insulin resistance. This means that your body doesn't respond to insulin quite the way it should, and so insulin levels are elevated (especially after eating). It is elevated insulin that causes the tendency to put on weight easily. Alas the elevated insulin also messes with your ovaries, preventing follicles to launch their eggs properly and thereby reducing progesterone levels. Your body tries to fix this by raising the levels of a hormone called luteinising hormone (LH), but this causes the ovaries to make too much testosterone (which causes most of the other typical PCOS symptoms).

A low GI diet (or diets like the south beach diet which include this) helps to reduce insulin levels by avoiding those carbs which lead to insulin spikes/elevated insulin. When insulin levels return to normal, then PCOS symptoms go away. Note that to keep PCOS under control, you need to remain permanently on the diet.

Another dietary element that can be combined with a low GI diet is a diet rich in d chiro inositol or DCI. This natural substance also reduces insulin levels. Hummus is my recommendation, because chick peas have a low GI and are high in DCI. And because hummus is yummy :)

Failing the diet approach, and depending on your body mass index, a drug called metformin can also be used to reduce insulin levels and hence control PCOS. Many women on metformin lose a lot of weight very rapidly.