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Study: A Lower Carb Diet Could Have ‘Tremendous Impact’ For Women Suffering From PCOS

Published on June 5, 2013,

A new study reported online in Clinical Endorinology suggests that a lower carbohydrate intake could ease symptoms for women with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) – a condition that affects 6% to 10% of women. The researchers say that lowering carb intake could have a ‘tremendous impact, and there is certainly no downside’. This is from Medpage Today…

Polycystic Ovary by Sonography.

Polycystic Ovary by Sonography. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Lowering carbohydrate intake may reduce insulin levels and, subsequently, testosterone, which could mitigate symptoms for women with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), researchers found.

In a small crossover study, women with the disease who cut back on carbs saw significant increases in insulin sensitivity (P<0.05) and dynamic beta-cell response (P<0.001), Barbara Gower, PhD, of the University of Alabama at Birmingham, and colleagues reported online in Clinical Endocrinology.

Those changes were associated with a 23% reduction in serum testosterone (P<0.05), they added.

“A moderate reduction in dietary carbohydrate reduced both insulin and testosterone,” Gower told MedPage Today.“There is no reason not to recommend reduction in dietary carbohydrate, particularly processed carbohydrate, for women with PCOS. It may have tremendous benefit, and there is certainly no downside.”

About 6% to 10% of women have PCOS, which is defined by hyperandrogenism, ovulatory dysfunction, and polycystic ovaries. Many of these women also have insulin resistance, hyperinsulinism, and metabolic dysfunction — which stimulates androgen production, which, in turn, produces many features of PCOS.

Researchers have hypothesized that reducing insulin through dietary means may ultimately diminish testosterone, thereby alleviating some symptoms of the condition.

Gower and colleagues enrolled 30 women in a crossover trial in which they were given one of two diets over each 8-week period, with a 4-week washout in between.

The “standard” diet derived 55% of energy from carbohydrates, 18% from protein, and 27% from fat. The low-carb diet derived just 41% energy from carbohydrates, 19% from protein, and 40% from fat.

They found that besides increases in insulin sensitivity and beta-cell response, the lower carbohydrate diet was associated with significant decreases in basal beta-cell response (P<0.001), fasting insulin (P<0.001), fasting glucose (P<0.01), HOMA-IR (P<0.001), and total testosterone (P<0.05), compared with the standard diet.

Despite the higher fat content of the lower-carbohydrate diet, patients’ lipid profile improved significantly on this diet, the researchers wrote. The standard diet, on the other hand, led to declines in HDL cholesterol and increases in the total-cholesterol-to-HDL-cholesterol ratio.

More at:  Low-Carb Diet’s Effect on Insulin May Ease Ovarian Syndrome

Success Story: 60lbs Down And A Whole Lot Of Health

Published on April 22, 2013,

Sylvie was raised a vegetarian and converted to a low carb paleo diet after reading books from Robb Wolf and Mark Sisson in an attempt to sort out a huge list of medical ailments which led to heart medication, antibiotics, steroids and thyroid medication. So did it help? Well, she’s off all the medication and has lost 60lbs as well. This is from Robb Wolf’s blog…

Sylvie before (

I didn’t find this lifestyle to lose weight. I’d sort of given up on the weight front, assuming that after hitting 30 and having 3 kids there’s only so much you can do.

I was raised vegetarian, and had probably consumed more gluten in the first 20 years of my life than most people do in a lifetime.

I was not an overweight kid, but I was definitely a health disaster. By age 15 my list of diagnoses and medications were impressive: polycystic ovary syndrome, chronic amenorrhea, hypothyroidism, tonsillitis once per year, chronic allergic rhinitis, in addition to my congenital tachycardia (PAT/SVT) and Epstein-Barr virus, which reared its ugly head multiple times. Inflammation doesn’t even begin to describe it.

All this led to various heart medications and later a heart catheter ablation, many rounds of antibiotics (we’re talking penicillin in the rear end since the orals were no longer cutting it) and later a tonsillectomy, lots of cortisone up the nose and later polyps surgically removed and 17 years of thyroid medication and birth control pills every single day. My medical file was a FAT one- pun intended. Here I am [top picture] weighing at least 210lbs, possibly more. (I am 5’10”).

sylvie after

Sylvie after (

My experiment with paleo came out of desperation since my thyroid symptoms were out of control despite my labs looking perfect (including testing negative for Hashimoto’s several times). The first 30 days were not easy dealing with cravings and finding the time, energy and money to do more shopping, cooking and dishes while juggling the usual madness that is a full time job and 3 kids.

It was well worth it though because I feel better now than I did as a kid. I’ve lost at least 60 lbs [bottom picture] and I’m on no medication! My cycle is like clockwork and my blood sugar (and hence mood) are in check. Food really is medicine. Thank you for helping to turn my life around.

More at:  60lbs Down And A Whole Lot Of Health

See Sylvie’s blog here

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