This week’s Healthy Skin Tip centres on PCOS.
Now, I know this may not be something that applies to you but September is PCOS awareness month and June is Acne Awareness Month which we know go hand in hand.
We all know how our hormones (even in men) affect our skin. So I wanted to share with you some tips if you are struggling with PCOS, insulin resistance, diabetes or psoriasis; as these diseases are all connected through Insulin Resistance which in turn can lead to acne breakouts or other skin issues.
Ok, so what is PCOS?
PCOS (Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome) is as the name presents; is a syndrome where women have numerous follicles situated on their ovaries. More importantly, it is the imbalance between the male and female sex hormones that wreaks havoc on the body. Typically in 'healthy women', testosterone (male sex hormone) is only present in fairly small amounts, but in women with PCOS, there are much higher levels of testosterone circulating throughout the body. This often leads to increase facial and body hair, increased acne (most commonly cystic acne), difficulty to lose weight, anovulation (no ovulation) and/or infertility.
Now the standard treatment protocol is for women to go on the pill. If you know the human body, that really isn’t going to fix anything for the long term. Plus to complicate things, PCOS is linked to Insulin Resistance. That is why often women are prescribed Metformin which is medication that reduces insulin resistance. *Keep reading for tips to reduce insulin resistance.
I should also mention that in Chinese Medicine, we attribute the excessive amounts of follicles as a Phlegm/Damp condition in the body. If someone has Phlegm/Damp in their body they typically feel sluggish, unmotivated and the thought of exercise creates stress and angst. BUT and this is a MASSIVE BUT, exercise is absolutely amazing to help reduce this phlegm/damp from the body, assist in improving the healthy balance between testosterone levels and other female sex hormones in the body AND regulate ovulation to improve fertility.
Who would have thought exercise alone would have such a dramatic effect on the body?
That brings me to Tip No. 1: Exercise regularly
The physical exertion will help with reducing phlegm/damp in the body which will have a direct impact on the follicles. It will also reduce insulin resistance especially is weight loss around the abdomen occurs. Important Note: Shower afterwards as sweat left on the skin can cause pores to block which will lead to increased acne lesions.
Tip No. 2: Insulin Resistance Diet
By reducing your carbohydrate intake to 1/8 of a plate and only low GI carbohydrates, you will dramatically reduce insulin resistance, regulate hormones and improve the clarity of your skin. Typically, I notice patient’s face become less red and inflamed and clearer with a reduction in acne after following the Insulin Resistance Diet. * Note: stay tuned next week for a complete analysis on the insulin resistance diet.
Healing Psoriasis with Mediterranean Cooking is a great cookbook filled with over 60 recipes that are anti-inflammatory and great for the management of insulin resistance. As the name suggests, it for psoriasis but reading inside you will see in the introduction it mentions other ailments such as PCOS this book helps with as this approach is applicable to conditions that share similar attributes such as insulin resistance, inflammation and skin issues.
Tip No. 3: Reduce Stress
We all know stress creates unhealthy looking skin; but for people with PCOS, stress will elevate their testosterone levels which will have a direct impact to the health of their skin. If you are unable to reduce stress due to your circumstances, then it is essential to manage the effect stress has on your body. This is achieved through doing relaxation exercise such as yoga, tai chi, qi gong, meditation as well as physical exercise to help regulate the hormones.
So here we have it, 3 tips that will dramatically improve your health and encourage healthier looking skin. I’m sure you have heard of these tips before but now you understand the mechanism behind them and why they will benefit your health.
One piece of advice I have is that typically PCOS patients are unmotivated to exercise. This is the time you need a gym buddy, an accountability buddy; someone who will inspire you to move in the initial stages before you start feeling more motivated to do it on your own.
Have a great PCOS month and remember that when our body presents with an illness, it does so to bring your awareness around something you need to do differently. Your body is unique to you so never compare yourself to another person. These challenges will make you healthier and happier; take it from someone who was once bedridden with erythrodermic psoriasis.
Yours in Great Health,