I am back in Canada for a few weeks to visit my family and decided to take advantage of this time to try to get healthier… as always!
I had my first visit to a naturopathic doctor last month and I am quite happy at how holistic their approach is. It is so good to have every part of your body looked at and every organ considered to help you reach your optimal health.
Although my past blood analysis showed normal hormone levels, my naturopathic doctor wanted to check my salivary hormones. She also wanted to check what my fatigue was due to by checking my ferritin levels (to check for anemia), thyroid hormones (not only TSH, but also T3 and T4) and adrenal gland (by checking cortisol in am and at bedtime).
My ferritin was at 99! Higher than ever! I used to suffer from anemia and had 11-12 in the past while on eating whole grains, soy and legumes a la “regular” dietitian’s advice, up to 16 after many months of supplementing with high doses of iron! I am probably eating less iron in total than when eating fortified whole grains and taking iron supplements, but the iron is my food is more bio-available. I believe my improved ferritin levels because I eat more animal food and have decreased my phytate intake (anti-nutrient that inhibits iron absorption, among other things) by avoiding soy, grains and legumes.
All my thyroid hormones (TSH, T3 and T4) were within range.
However, my extremely low salivary cortisol levels at night (as you can see below) show that I might have adrenal fatigue.
My salivary hormones also show high testosterone and borderline low estrogen, which is pretty much typical for PCOS… I am glad I am not dealing with the symptoms associated with high testosterone levels(abnormal hair growth or hirsutism, acne, etc), but I attribute this to the fact that I am eating a clean, low-carb Paleo diet. I believe I might not be as fortunate should I have still been eating my former high-carb, high-grain diet after stopping taking the birth control pill (now almost 14 months ago… no cycle since)…
To see whether insulin resistance was involved for me (and it is for many women with PCOS), I decided to experiment with testing my blood sugar levels (see the results below).
This is not good news… Some of my results are in the prediabetes and even diabetes range… I definitely don’t want to be following the Canadian or American Diabetes Association’s guidelines, which are definitely not strict enough if you want to stay healthy. Instead, I am comparing with what Chris Kresser recommends as optimal targets.
Fortunately, I can see that by keeping my carbs very low (probably around no more than 10 g per meal), I can normalize my blood sugar levels. (If you have diabetes, prediabetes or blood sugar issues, do not lower your carb intake without first talking to a doctor or dietitian specialized in low-carb diets, especially if taking medications).
My experiment clearly indicate, in my own opinion anyway, that I have serious insulin resistance problems. This probably explains why I put on weight so easily and need to be very careful about every bite I eat… During the holidays, after over 6 months of following a very restrictive diet (to control my post-infectious IBS, fructose malabsorption and SIBO), I took advantage of my increased tolerance by enjoying a bit more GAPS- and Paleo-friendly treats (cake, cookies and muffins made with coconut flour and honey, nuts and nut butter, fruits and butternut squash fries!) Although my GI system seemed to be fine with this, my high insulin levels helped my fat cells stored every one of these delicious bites…. Result: 6 lbs. weight gain in about 2 weeks. Needless to say, I have stopped coconut flour, honey, nut, fruits and higher-carb vegetables (squash, beets)…. but the weight doesn’t want to come off that easily it seems…
- My naturopathic doctor has recommended a detox plan for me, which I have been following for the last month and will last a few more weeks.
- I was doing IF (intermittent fasting) to help with my weight/insulin resistance, but because of my adrenal fatigue, she prefers that I spread my food intake throughout the day.
- To control my blood sugar levels, which will help me keep my insulin levels down and hopefully lower my testosterone levels as well, I will stick to a very-low-carb diet (around 20-30 g of carbs/day).
- I want to start exercising every other day (something light like walking, snowshoeing and light resistance training). I have been too tired lately (probably bc of the adrenal fatigue), but I am feeling like I have a bit more energy since having started the detox. Exercising is great for improving insulin resistance, which appears to be the root cause of many cases of PCOS.
- I will also continue doing my best to lose at least the weight that I gained during the holidays, and maybe more. Weight loss, if needed, is also a good way to improve insulin resistance.
- Continue to aim for at least 8-9 hours of sleep (which I already do, except for when I have insomnia… like now!, which happens 1-2/week)…
- Avoid stress or take more time to relax, play and enjoy life!
Any comments or suggestions are greatly appreciated!