Artificial Sweeteners Absolutely do not Belong in Your Food!

Most women with PCOS suffer with being overweight or obese, living in a constant battle with their weight and food. Many have binge eating disorder, some have bulimia, and some even have anorexia nervosa. With the exception of the weight problem, lean women with PCOS have most of the same issues as their heavier “sisters,” and should follow the same dietary rules, one of which is: absolutely no chemical sweeteners, or really, sweeteners of any sort!

In the desire to achieve good health, weight loss, or weight maintenance, many women with PCOS choose non-caloric sweetened foods and beverages (those containing chemical sweeteners with few or no calories) in the mistaken belief that these are wise and healthy choices.

Sadly, there is now clear evidence to the contrary. In fact, more and more data is clearly indicating that these nasty chemicals actually lead to further weight gain and insulin resistance, thereby increasing the risk of pre-diabetes and diabetes. Additionally, by disrupting the normal functioning of the gut microbiome (the bacteria that live in our gastrointestinal tracts) these sweeteners can foster cognitive decline, as well as increase anxiety and depression, worsen or initiate irritable bowel syndrome, and elevate the risk for problems affecting the cardiovascular and immune systems.

A likely reason for these terrible effects is the negative impact artificial chemicals have on the different species of gastrointestinal bacteria, upsetting their natural balance by suppressing the growth of some populations, which then allows for the overgrowth of others. These bacteria, collectively called the microbiota, play an enormous role in our metabolic, emotional, cognitive, immune, and cardiovascular states by producing metabolites and signaling molecules that are absorbed and then circulated throughout our bodies. Altering the microbiome alters the natural balance of these chemical messengers and metabolites, resulting in a host of ill effects which no one, and certainly not women with PCOS, can afford to deal with.

The take-away message is, as I see it, to avoid all processed foods, as they often contain chemicals harmful to our microbiome and other aspects of our health. Try hard to eat only real and unaltered food … the food your great, great grandmother could and would have eaten! And though she may on occasion have had a special sweet treat, try to avoid those as well, unless and until you regain the health and vitality you seek and deserve.

How Much Calcium is Necessary for Your Health?

Calcium is the most abundant mineral in the human body and is a crucial factor in numerous body functions and structures. But what should a woman do to ensure she is consuming the correct amount of calcium to maintain a healthy body? Does a woman with PCOS need to drink milk?

Until recently, the dogma of consuming large amounts of calcium went unchallenged, but it is now recognized that the studies used to create that advice were poorly done, and the data is less than clear on the value of calcium supplements. Most data are now not in support of calcium supplements, or at least suggest consuming them only in small amounts!

The Pros and Cons of Calcium

Previously, it was thought that calcium supplements provided a large array of metabolic benefits: improving cardiovascular wellbeing, lowering blood pressure, and reducing diabetes risk. Of course, it was also thought that it would help bones stay strong. Certainly, calcium itself is important for those functions.

The current state of knowledge is that calcium supplementation in small amounts may be beneficial, but larger quantities of calcium supplements do not seem to provide those desired benefits after all and actually may increase the incidence of kidney stones! There is even concern that excessive calcium supplementation may cause calcium deposits to develop in the artery walls.

What is the Best Source of Usable Calcium?

It turns out that the best way to get calcium into your body, to ensure a healthy set of bones and a healthy cardiovascular system, is through the diet. The dairy industry has made it seem absolutely necessary that large amounts of dairy products be consumed daily, and the newest US nutrition guidelines also advise a glass of milk with each meal!

Not only is this unnecessary, it is downright harmful, most particularly for women with PCOS. Dairy is an acid producing food, and calcium will not get into bones if the blood is acidic, making dairy products an inferior source of calcium.

Calcium is a natural antacid. Removing it from the blood would make the blood even more acidic, and calcium cannot move out to the tissues from an acidic environment. Only in an alkaline situation can calcium leave the blood to move into tissues. The only foods which alkalize the blood are vegetables!

Did you know that there is much more usable calcium in a cup of collard greens than in a cup of milk? Most people don’t realize the calcium content of greens is so high. Best of all, the calcium in greens is usable by the body and doesn’t just pass out with the urine or cause stones!

So what do I recommend?

Eat large quantities of green vegetables and lots of greens. As a side note- chard and spinach are very healthy, but the oxalates in them bind with the calcium and preclude their use, so be sure to include a variety of vegetables each day.

I also recommend only a small amount of calcium as a supplement in most cases. Keeping the supplement dose to 500 mg daily is safe and may help.

Women over 50 or those with low stomach acid should avoid calcium carbonate. It is poorly absorbed. In general, keep calcium carbonate to a minimum and choose other forms.

Remember that calcium, like all minerals and vitamins, doesn’t work in isolation. Be sure to get plenty of sunlight for Vitamin D production and magnesium from walnuts and sunflower seeds, and include supplements for them as well, if needed.

In summary, fresh green vegetables should remain your primary source of calcium. And please avoid dairy, it is inflammatory, increases acne, and it is associated with weaker (not stronger) bones. That is truly what the data shows!

Now go eat a wonderful green salad and some sautéed greens!

Good luck and good food choices always!

*This is a repost of a guest post Dr. Gersh orginally posted on PCOS Diva at: http://pcosdiva.com/2016/04/step-away-from-the-calcium-supplement/