The Basics of PCOS and Insulin Resistance
March 9, 2022

The Basics of PCOS and Insulin Resistance

The signs and symptoms of polycystic ovarian syndrome are caused from the imbalance of two hormones: insulin and androgens. But what causes these two hormones to become imbalanced?

Well, let’s break it down even further.

It is thought that the increased levels of insulin in the body causes the ovaries to function differently. This leads to the production of excessive levels of androgens (male-type hormones).

What causes insulin to rise?

When you eat carbohydrates (bread, fruits, sugar, cakes, rice and pasta), they get broken down to glucose. Glucose gets absorbed into the blood. When glucose levels rise after a meal, this signals a message to the pancreas to increase production of insulin.

Insulin then leads to glucose entering the cells, to be used as a fuel.

When you eat excessive amounts of carbohydrates, you make excessive amounts of insulin.

If you do this occasionally, the body will be able to adapt. If you do this all the time, the increased levels of insulin will affect your genes. Read more here.

Epi-genetics and PCOS

New research from Harvard Medical School, found that insulin triggers changes to the expression of thousands of genes. This is called epi-genetics.

So what is epi-genetics? Hang in there everyone, this kind of step by step understanding might just transform the way you think about health.

Epi-genetics is the study of how your lifestyle (food choices, smoking, alcohol, sleep etc) and your environment (toxins, stress, emotions, social health etc) can impact the way your genes work. It doesn’t refer to actual changes in the genes, but more how they express themselves. Unlike damage to the genes themselves, epi-genetic changes are completely reversible.

The discovery of epi-genetics was a total game changer for lifestyle medicine. It essentially means that even if you have a gene, this does not necessarily dictate that you will get the illness. It is how you live, what choices you make, and all the other things we bang on about as health care professionals that will determine your health.

So the good news is, even if you have the genes that code for PCOS, you can reverse the epi-genetic changes and potentially reverse the condition. How cool is that?

Read more here, here and here.

Dr Michelle Woolhouse

Integrative GP and Vively Medical Director

Dr Michelle Woolhouse is an integrative GP, with over 20 years experience treating chronic conditions through lifestyle medicine