Food sensitivities are often unknown and may contribute to worsening of symptoms if you have polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS). PCOS is a syndrome characterized by a persistent state of inflammation and insulin resistance. If you have had PCOS for some time the insulin resistance component is likely not a surprise and you could even be on a medication to sensitize your cells to insulin. The fact that you may have chronic inflammation in your body is more likely news to you. Inflammation is a word thrown around quite often these days and the purpose of inflammation is not adequately understood.
An inflammatory response is a mechanism (or tool) used by the immune system to protect from invaders, infection and injury. It is a good thing. In a healthy individual the response is limited in time and resolves after the infection has cleared or injury has healed. However, chronic inflammation can be negative as the impact is not on an invader or injury any longer, but the impact begins working on your own tissues and organs and may cause a cascade of negative health outcomes.
Understanding that inflammation is linked to PCOS provides patients with avenues to pursue lowering inflammatory markers in their bodies. How can you do this? Increase anti-inflammatory foods such as fatty fish, nuts, olive oil, green tea, fruits and vegetables. How else? Consider removing foods and chemicals that may be causing inflammation in the body; in short – consider food sensitivities.
Food sensitivities are not the same thing as food allergies or food intolerances. Food allergies are reactions to a protein within a food and generally appear right away after eating a food. Think: itchy throat, hives, and anaphylaxis. These can be tested by an allergist utilizing a skin prick test. Food intolerances are a result of our bodies not having the ability to metabolize a certain food, this may be due to lack of a certain enzyme or genetic mutations. Think: lactose intolerance, when an individual lacks the enzyme lactase to break apart the sugar in milk products. Food intolerances are tested with different measures, sometimes hydrogen breath tests, blood tests or urine tests, depending on what the suspected offending food may be.