November 21st, 2012
Although PCOS is associated with menstrual irregularity and infertility, some women with the disorder can become pregnant. But once they do, the females in question are at greatly increased risk of PCOS-linked gestational diabetes – a form of diabetes that develops during pregnancy.
While gestational diabetes may go away after giving birth, it increases the chances in later life of the mother developing type 2 diabetes, which is irreversible in most cases.
Type 2 diabetes often requires daily injections of insulin for it to be managed and is a severely increased risk factor for blindness, heart and kidney disease and the need for amputation.
Researchers studied almost 150 women attending a gestational diabetes clinic for a year. On average, the women had been pregnant for around 35 weeks. They had blood tests during the third trimester of pregnancy to measure HbA1c (which reflects average blood glucose control over the previous 2-3 months) and vitamin D levels.
Of the women followed, 41% had low levels of vitamin D (50nmol/L or below) and high blood sugar levels. If neglected, the latter can lead to other PCOS-linked disorders like heart-damaging metabolic syndrome.
Vitamin D also helps your body absorb calcium, which your bones need to grow. A lack of vitamin D can lead to bone diseases such as osteoporosis or rickets. In addition, Vitamin D has a role in your nerve, muscle and immune systems.
You can get vitamin D in three ways: through your skin, from your diet, and from supplements. Your body forms Vitamin D naturally after exposure to sunlight. However, too much sun exposure can lead to skin aging and skin cancer. So, instead, many people try to get their vitamin D from other sources.
Vitamin D-rich foods include egg yolks, saltwater fish and liver. Some other foods, like milk and cereal, often have added vitamin D. You can also take vitamin D supplements. Check with your health care provider to see how much you should take.
November 20th, 2012
Yesterday we began to explain why liposuction is unlikely to boost your PCOS health, even though it offers the prospect of dramatic weight loss.
Some level of fat is absolutely essential for good health. But many people get into trouble when they have exhausted their body’s ability to store more calories in fat (adipose tissue). We all have a certain threshold to which our fat storage depots can expand. When we get to that point, fat cells become so big that they are no longer able to buffer excess calories and thus cannot protect other tissues from fat accumulation and damage. This is when many of the classical metabolic problems of obesity become apparent, like increased blood fats and elevated blood glucose levels.
When we expend more energy via exercise or reduce the amount of food we ingest through diet, or both, our body draws on extra stores of energy in adipose tissue and this process gradually reduces the size of the individual fat cells. That means fat loss occurs due to an overall reduction in size of fat cells throughout the body, not a reduction in the actual number of fat cells in a specific area like the waist area or thighs.
Liposuction consists of the latter process, where a large number of fat cells are removed from the body. That is, you reduce the number of fat cells but the remaining ones don’t get any smaller or healthier. In fact, the opposite may be true because there is less place to store excess calories than before liposuction, so there is enlargement of those fat cells left behind.
A study investigated the health effects of liposuction of subcutaneous (under the skin) fat in the abdominal region in 15 obese women. The liposuction procedure removed between 30%-45% of the subcutaneous fat in the abdominal region, which was equivalent to approximately 10 kg of fat tissue. This represented a 20% reduction in total fat mass – a very substantive change.
However, with regards to the women’s health, the results were disappointing. Specifically, 12 weeks after the surgery the women did not show improvements in any of the metabolic markers of disease risk – notably insulin sensitivity, which is crucial to improving PCOS and which, when impaired, can lead to diabetes, heart-damaging high blood pressure and elevated blood glucose levels. Nor was there improvement in any other indicators such as CRP, adiponectin, IL-6 and TNF-α.
Thus the conclusion was that, while liposuction may be of benefit for cosmetic reasons, it should not be considered a clinical treatment for obesity, which is often linked to PCOS. In other words, surgically removing fat tissue will not bring about the same health benefits of weight loss as a balanced, nutritious diet and regular exercise, which can greatly improve PCOS health.
November 19th, 2012
Liposuction is touted as a shortcut to weight loss. But while you might might look better from shedding those extra pounds so dramatically, the chances are the weight loss won’t improve your PCOS health.
When excess weight and obesity are constantly shown to be bad for you, it may seem strange to learn that losing some of that fat so quickly doesn’t make you healthier. To appreciate why, it’s important to understand that fat, or adipose tissue, which is mostly composed of many individual fat cells (adipocytes), is not inherently unhealthy.
On the contrary, adipose tissue is absolutely necessary to allow the body to store excess calories during times when we ingest more calories than we expend through activity and resting metabolism. By doing so, adipose tissue acts as a buffer of excess calories and thus protects other tissues of the body from accumulating fat (i.e. heart, liver, muscle). Individuals who completely lack fat tissue (a disorder known as congenital lipodystrophy) are very unhealthy and at great risk of diabetes and heart disease, despite having a lean, athletic appearance.
In other words, fat tissue is essential for health. Where many people get into trouble is when they exhaust their body’s ability to store more calories in adipose tissue – we all have a certain threshold to which our fat depots can expand. When we get to that point, our fat cells become so big that they are no longer able to buffer excess calories and thus cannot protect other tissues from fat accumulation and damage. This is when many of the classical metabolic problems of obesity become apparent like increased blood fats and blood glucose levels.
Tomorrow we’ll explain in detail why gradual weight loss via good old-fashioned diet and regular exercise improves your PCOS health rather than removing a mass of extra pounds through liposuction.
October 22nd, 2012
Women with PCOS and suffering from insulin resistance as a underlying cause of their condition should never forget that the combination of both disorders puts them at greater risk of developing diabetes.
Doctors suggest that woman with PCOS get checked for pre-diabetes by age 30 at the latest, and regularly thereafter. A diagnosis of pre-diabetes is made when blood sugar levels are higher than normal but not yet elevated enough for type 2 diabetes.
Early preventative action, like weight loss via a balanced, nutritious diet and regular exercise, often not only reverses the symptoms of pre-diabetes but also improves the management of PCOS at the same time. If neglected, pre-diabetes can lead to the development of type 2 diabetes, which is irreversible in most cases and may require daily insulin injections to be managed.
Challenge yourself this next week and you’ll reap the amazing benefits of long-term health. A few ideas would be: drink more water, walk 20 minutes longer than usual, or eat an additional serving of veggies everyday.