Inflammation can be defined as a localized physical condition in which part of the body becomes reddened, swollen, hot, and often painful, especially as a reaction to injury or infection.
Many illnesses and conditions stem from inflammation. These are a few symptoms associated with chronic low grade inflammation: Brain fog, weight gain, joint and muscle stiffness, body aches and pains, congestion, dry eyes etc.
Women with PCOS have been shown to have higher levels of inflammatory markers such as white blood cell count, oxidative stress, C-reactive protein etc. There’s a couple research studies showing that the ovaries in women with PCOS have higher levels of inflammatory cytokines present.
The cells of your immune system, for example are constantly sending out signals to let other cells know what’s going on. To communicate these signals, your immune cells use cytokines, which are basically a group of proteins secreted by cells of the immune system that act as chemical messengers. The role of cytokines is to help regulate the immune response. Cytokines are involved in many aspects of inflammation and immunity. In fact, you can blame the different cytokines for triggering some familiar symptoms that arise when your body fights an infection, such as fever, pain and of course, inflammation.
This type of PCOS can also be referred to as Inflammatory PCOS and is the lesser common of the types of PCOS. Another way to define inflammatory PCOS is the absence of insulin resistance. If insulin resistance is present, then that’s the type (See last blog on ‘Understanding Insulin Resistance PCOS’)
Some clear signs of inflammation include gluten sensitivity, dairy sensitivity or other inflammatory symptoms like psoriasis, skin problems, headaches or chronic allergies.
This is why if you’ve been diagnosed with PCOS but been following an insulin-lowering diet and low carb diet with little to no relief in your PCOS symptoms then you have to shift your focus because insulin resistance is not the driving cause of your PCOS.
Inflammation in your body can be reduced by eating whole foods, taking the proper supplements and making lifestyle changes. Whole foods, which is essentially foods that has been processed or refined as little as possible and is free from additives or other artificial substances contain vitamins, minerals and nutrients that promote healing. By eliminating or reducing overly processed foods from your diet you can reduce inflammation in your body. This also means avoiding inflammatory foods such as wheat, dairy, vegetables oils, sodas and even sugar as sugar is inflammatory as well.
Following an anti-inflammatory diet per say, can be the first step in properly managing your Inflammatory PCOS. You can:
- Include Essential Fatty Acids in your diet: These are found in fatty fish like sardines and salmon. Omega-3 fatty acids are also found in nuts and seeds, particularly walnuts and flax seeds. Olive oil is another great anti-inflammatory food because it is high in omega-9 fatty acids.
- Remove refined sugar, processed foods, and high glycemic carbs- Basically no more “artificial anything’ as mentioned earlier. Many processed or convenience foods contain allergens that increase inflammation such as wheat, eggs, gluten, and soy. If you think that you may have a food sensitivity try eliminating them from your diet.
- Increase your intake of fruits and vegetables- Eat a rainbow of colors of fruits and vegetables every day to diversity your diet and increase the amount of antioxidants that will decrease inflammation. Add in vegetables to every meal and snack for lots of fiber and anti-inflammatory nutrients. When you have PCOS, it is best to stick to low glycemic fruits such as berries. Oregano, ginger, garlic, and green tea are also rich in natural anti-inflammatory compounds.
- Take fish oil- This supplement is high in omega 3 fatty acids and is great for lowering inflammation. I take Omega 3 supplements daily and I can tell you that it has been a major factor in reducing my acne breakouts.
- Take a high quality multivitamin-It is vitally important to get the right amount of nutrients for your body. Look for a multivitamin with vitamins E and D. Both are really great at lowering inflammation. Also, vitamins C and B and magnesium are very powerful anti-oxidants.
“If you don’t recognize an ingredient, your body won’t either.” – Inflammation 😉