Polycystic ovaryian syndrome is a leading cause of infertility in women. Often accompanied by a little extra weight, juicing may provide one form of self-help.
Can Juicing help sufferers of Polycystic ovary Syndrome?
Polycystic Ovarian Disease or Polycystic Ovary Syndrome, which is also known as PCOS, is one of the most common causes of infertility in women. Juicing to help fertility is surprisingly effective when used as part of a comprehensive program of weight loss. Up to 50% of women who use juicing as part of a PCOS diet regain normal periods and ovulation in 12 months or less.
What Is Polycystic ovarian disease (PCOS)?
Polycystic ovarian disease is a hormonal imbalance in women that does not necessarily involve cysts and is not limited to the ovaries. PCOS can cause an astonishing range of symptoms. Doctors make a diagnosis of PCOS when at least two of three major symptoms are present.
Missed menstrual periods.
Failure to ovulate.
Even these three diagnostic criteria, however, are not universally accepted for making a diagnosis of PCOS. Some doctors make their diagnosis on the basis of comprehensive hormone testing. Others make their diagnosis on the basis of the pattern of symptoms PCOS can cause.
Women who have this condition often but not always have high testosterone levels that manifest themselves as acne and unwanted hair growth. Women who have this condition may have heavy periods, short periods, long periods, scant periods, or no periods at all. They may have normal, low, or high blood sugar levels and normal, low, or high cholesterol levels. Many women who have PCOS develop a condition called acanthosis nigrans, causing rough and dark skin along the nape of the neck and in folds of skin all over the body. And about 60% of women who have this condition often have issues with weight and type 2 diabetes.
Hormone testing by a qualified physician is essential to rule out other conditions that can mimic the symptoms of PCOS. But the 60% of women who have both PCOS and weight or blood sugar issues often benefit from juicing.
How Juicing Makes a Difference in PCOS
While many hormonal imbalances can occur at the same time in polycystic ovarian disease, there is a special relationship between insulin resistance and high testosterone levels. Insulin resistance is a condition in which cells switch off insulin receptors in order to avoid being flood with glucose coming from the bloodstream. If they absorb the glucose, they have to burn it, and making large amounts of energy with large amounts of sugar results in the release of large amounts of free radicals of oxygen that can damage DNA. Many tissues in the body, especially the skeletal muscles and the liver, simply stop responding to insulin to avoid an inflowing rush of sugar.
This sets off a vicious cycle. The pancreas senses that blood sugar levels remain high, and releases still more insulin. Cells in the liver and skeletal muscles adjust by becoming even more resistant to insulin, and the process often continues until the insulin-making cells of the pancreas “burn out.” The ovaries, however, do not have the ability to turn off their insulin receptors so they will not be flooded with glucose.
They receive more and more glucose, and use it to make large quantities of both estrogen and testosterone. The constant flow of estrogen interferes with ovulation. It is as if the uterus is stuck in the first half of the menstrual cycle, until the excessive growth of the lining of the uterus results in a heavy period. The constant flow of testosterone causes changes in skin and hair.
One way to stop this vicious cycle is to lose weight, but weight loss that is helpful and sometimes even curative in PCOS has to be accomplished through calorie reduction. Since there is less sugar coming into the bloodstream from digested food, blood sugar levels go down, the pancreas gradually stops making as much insulin, and cells over most of the body become once again responsive to insulin. This stops the flood of sugar flowing into the ovaries and sometimes normalizes both estrogen and testosterone.
About 50 to 60% of women who have PCOS and weight and/or blood sugar issues start ovulating normally within a year of losing weight. Massive weight loss is not necessary. Just 2 to 3% of total body mass, as little as 2 to 4 kilos (4 to 8 pounds) sometimes makes PCOS a thing of the past.
How to Use Juicing to Fight PCOS
The purpose of juicing is to help you feel fuller on fewer calories. This means you should focus on vegetable juices, not fruit juices, and you should avoid any products that may have been flavored with sugar or artificial sweeteners. Use fresh vegetable juice for a electrolyte-rich pick-me-up instead of going to the snack machine or the office’s box of doughnuts.
To lose weight when you have PCOS, you can’t binge on anything. But you’ll make progress if you give up soft drinks high-fructose sweetened corn syrup (which is mostly glucose, not fructose), and start drinking smaller amounts of freshly squeezed fruit juice. You need to avoid calories, first of all, but natural fructose is easier on your hormonal balance than corn syrup. That’s because your body does have to make insulin to handle the sugar in high-fructose corn syrup but doesn’t have to make insulin to transport fructose. Higher levels of insulin lead to insulin resistance. Lower levels of insulin help your body begin to normalize.
Of all the fruit juices that are beneficial to women with PCOS, prune may be the best. It gently stimulates bowel movement by absorbing water into the stool. And it contains fibers that help reduce the amounts of estrogen and testosterone that can find their way back into the body after they have been broken down and released into the bile duct by the liver.
Lemon juice can also be very helpful to women who have PCOS. Like apple cider vinegar, lemon juice slows down the rate at which the stomach releases digested food. This gives the pancreas more time to “unzip” stored insulin to prevent a surge in blood sugar levels—and resulting insulin resistance—after the sugars in the meal are absorbed into the bloodstream. Using lemon juice in the form of sugar-sweetened lemonade, of course, defeats the purpose of adding lemon juice to food or drinking lemon juice as a beverage. If you have to have some sweetener for your lemon juice, and most people do, use powdered stevia (which has less aftertaste than liquid stevia).
And if you want to increase your chances for success, don’t just cut back on calories. Make sure that you eat foods that are low on the glycemic index. This means giving up “white” foods such as white bread, white rice, white potatoes, and sugar. It means combining foods with an acid element, whether it is lemon juice, verjuice (unfermented green grape juice), or vinegar, so they are digested more slowly. It means choosing vegetables over fruits and both fruits and vegetables over other starchy foods. But a study at the University of Sydney in Australia reported in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition in July of 2010 that women who both reduced calories and reduced the glycemic index of their food choices had a 95% likelihood of resolving PCOS in one year or less.
Juice isn’t a cure for PCOS. It just helps. But for the 50 to 95% of women who can be cured of PCOS by losing weight through calorie reduction and lowering the glycemic index of food choices, juice can help a great deal.