I’m sure many of you have come across the advice that going gluten free for PCOS will be beneficial.
I want to start by saying that I’ve been gluten free for 8 years now and my gosh did it help me. Of course everyone is different, and what may work for me might not work for you, however there is no harm in trying right?!
In simple terms, Gluten is a protein found in most grains. It’s not one of the ‘good’ proteins that our body needs.
The gluten found in wheat, barley, rye and triticale (a cross between wheat and rye) can trigger serious health problems or other insensitivities.
Gluten triggers an immune response that damages the lining of the small intestine. This can interfere with the absorption of nutrients from food, causing a huge host of symptoms, and leads to other problems like osteoporosis, infertility, nerve damage, and seizures.
Gluten can be a tough one to avoid at first, as it is found in literally everything beige – pasta, bread, cereals, sauces and beer.
However, most beige food items are High GI and packed full of sugar which can damage our PCOS more and pile on the weight. If anything we’re killing two birds with one stone eliminating these foods, and should see positive changes almost immediately!
So what happens when we eat gluten?
Our gut is regulated by tiny cell structures in the intestinal lining. It has the ability to pick and choose what we absorb and what gets sent to the loo.
When we eat gluten, a reactive goo called zonulin gets released. This stops the gut from doing its job properly (Fasano 200821). For people with a sensitivity to gluten this can lead to a condition known as “leaky gut”. When you suffer from leaky gut, there is an excessive flow of foreign proteins and microbes across your intestinal barrier.
These substances then enter our bloodstream and we must depend on an inflammatory response to control this invasion.
Inflammation is the natural response of our immune system to alleged threats which while well intended, is a major problem when it’s inappropriately triggered by certain foods.
This is especially true for women with PCOS as chronic inflammation is one of the primary mechanisms driving all of our symptoms.
The Research – Gluten and PCOS
Unfortunately, due to lack of funding there is little scientific evidence about gluten and PCOS. I have every reason to believe gluten contributes to our PCOS symptoms.
Every one of my clients who have gone gluten free have lost weight, felt less bloated, felt much more energized and seen a huge improvement in symptoms.
Don’t knock it until you try it!
Recent research has shown that at least 1 in 3 Americans have a gluten intolerance (1). That is a huge amount of the population!
Here are some of the symptoms of gluten intolerance (2) (I recognized some of these signs in myself!):
- Digestive issues including bloating, constipation and diarrhea.
- Mood disorders like depression, anxiety or PMS.
- PCOS or unexplained fertility.
- Diagnosis of an autoimmune disease like Hashimotos thyroiditis (common in women with PCOS).
- Fatigue, fogginess or exhaustion after eating a meal that contains gluten.
Sounds familiar, doesn’t it?
A lot of naturopaths also report that the women they treat who have PCOS commonly have a gluten intolerance as well.
Gluten and our PCOS hormones
Hormone disruptors are chemicals interfering with our endocrine system. They can mimic our hormones, causing the body to under or over produce.
Crops containing gluten are sprayed with pesticides called xenoestrogens. They mimic estrogen in our body, making us even more estrogen dominant.
As our hormones are so unbalanced already, we do not need anything else to make it worse!
Wheat products are HIGH in carbs
100g of hard red winter wheat has 71.18g of carbohydrates and only 12.61 g of protein (5). This is unprocessed wheat. That is a significant portion of this food that is a carbohydrate. This gives wheat a high glycemic index.
When our insulin levels rise quickly, there will be a knock on effect on your testosterone levels. High testosterone equals many nasty PCOS symptoms such as hair growth, acne and weight gain.
Gluten sensitivity causes chronic inflammation throughout the body, leading to increased risk of heart disease (6). The other problem is that women with PCOS suffer from chronic inflammation (7) already so eating gluten will only worsen the problem.
There’s one other part we need to understand: chronic inflammation leads to insulin resistance. If we have insulin resistance, we need higher than normal amounts of insulin to regulate our blood sugars. High insulin levels are also going to cause high testosterone levels which will make our PCOS symptoms much worse.
To sum up – Removing gluten from our diet will only have a positive impact, so its worth a shot right?
Gluten free foods
We are spoilt for choice in this world with so many free from options available. Literally every big supermarket has a allergy section, with plenty of gluten free goodies available. Yes some are slightly expensive, but we want to be buying fresh, nutritious groceries as much as possible.
Yes it can be challenging going gluten free at the beginning, but this is why I am here to help! On my coaching program, I analyse your diet in depth and provide you with many swaps and recommendations – all gluten free!
I support you throughout your journey, preventing you making the mistakes I once did.
I managed to lose 30KG, get rid of my skin rashes and gain so much more energy in a short space of time. Can you see the difference in puffiness here?!
You won’t know until you try, and it just might change your life forever. I’m convinced that you’ll feel better, look better and see an improvement in your symptoms.
Still 2 spots left on my 1 to 1 coaching program – get in touch for more details
Lots of love as ever,