Polycystic ovarian syndrome is a complicated endocrine disorder affecting many different areas of a sufferer’s body and life. Reliable information can be hard to come by and symptoms such as infertility, excess facial and body hair, acne, fatigue and excess weight can leave women with PCOS feeling inadequate, demoralised and depressed with life.
There are many simple steps that women with PCOS can incorporate into their lives to gain control over PCOS and put them on the path to better health. In this series of articles, we will explore 20 simple and easy steps that can make a difference to PCOS.
Step # 9
Eat a healthy diet by increasing foods which are beneficial and avoiding substances which harm: Reduce alcohol consumption
Alcohol is a highly refined form of sugar and a hallmark feature of PCOS is an inability to metabolise sugar well. Drinking alcohol stimulates the appetite and also keeps the liver busy detoxifying the alcohol metabolites when it could be getting rid of excess hormones which cause some of the most distressing symptoms of PCOS. Excessive consumption of alcohol can also damage the lining of the intestines and reduce the ability to absorb nutrients from food and disturb the balance of microflora required for healthy digestion and a healthy immune system.
Alcohol also contains a lot of calories without providing a feeling of satiety. A 150ml (5 fluid ounces) of red wine contains 125 calories, 40ml (1.5 fluid ounces or 1 jigger) of distilled 100 proof liquor such as gin, whisky, rum or vodka contains 124 calories and a 375ml (12 fluid ounce) can of regular beer contains 153 calories. When you start to look at cocktails the picture becomes horrific. A long island iced tea contains nearly 800 calories and 44 grams of carbohydrate. A margarita contains around 750 calories and 56 grams of carbohydrate, a pina colada around 650 calories but a whopping 90 grams of carbohydrate. A white russian is a slightly better proposition at 425 calories and 26 grams of carbohydrates. Better choices amongst the cocktail list are a cosmopolitan with only 150 calories and 10 grams of carbohydrate or a mojito at 160 calories and 12 grams of carbohydrate.
Women with PCOS are at an increased risk of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. One study found that 30% of women diagnosed with PCOS also had raised liver enzymes indicative of liver disease. There’s a certain amount of logic in not adding another risk factor for liver disease to those odds, when it’s one you have control over.
Some women with PCOS take the drug metformin to help improve their insulin sensitivity. It tends to cause gastrointestinal distress by itself, but adding alcohol can make it worse.
If drinking alcohol is a part of your life that you choose not to give up, drinking a maximum of one glass of red wine with dinner on a regular basis, rather than drinking infrequently but having multiple units of alcohol in the same time period appears to have less of a negative effect.
Next article in series: 20 simple steps you can take to control polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) #10
To read more articles by Anne Seccombe click on the links for PCOS, Health, Low-Carb Lifestyle, Nutrition.
You can also find more information on PCOS at www.mypcos.info
This article was originally published at My PCOS Info. Further references and links to the studies mentioned can be found there.
(C) Copyright 2012 Anne Seccombe. This material may not be published, rewritten or redistributed without the express permission of the author. All rights reserved.
Schwimmer JB, Khorram O, Chiu V, Schwimmer WB. Abnormal aminotransferase activity in women with polycystic ovary syndrome. Fertil Steril 2005 Feb;83(2):494-7. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15705403