PCOS and AGE; how the foods you eat effect your chances for a successful pregnancy

Women with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) are faced with a dual challenge. First, their inherent hormone imbalance makes it more difficult for an immature egg to become a mature fertile one. But less often appreciated is that they also tend to produce eggs that are less likely to fertilize or can be more likely to miscarry if they do conceive. This second problem is believed to be linked to poor egg quality. New research suggests that the impact of this second problem may be reduced by decreasing exposure to dietary toxins.

Advanced Glycation End products or AGE’s are formed when proteins or fats are exposed to sugars—especially when prepared by high heat cooking methods. These glycotoxins have been linked to aging, heart disease, cancer and infertility because they promote inflammation, reduce blood flow and promote the production of free radical formation. In fact, there are specific receptors (RAGE or “receptors for advanced glycation end products”) for these unhealthy chemicals that are concentrated on the surface of the ovary and have been linked to ovarian aging and reduced egg quality. Women with PCOS seem to have at least two times the levels of AGE’s and more concentrated RAGE on their ovarian surface; linking the reduced egg quality in PCOS to diet.

Importantly, there are steps you can take to reduce the impact that AGE’s are having upon your ability to become pregnant. It has been demonstrated that some simple dietary changes can profoundly reduce your AGE levels and start improving the quality of the eggs that you’re producing. Here’s list of helpful suggestions:

  • Dietary Recommendations:
    • Reduce consumption of meat, poultry, fish and dairy—all rich sources of AGE
    • Increase consumption of brown rice and mushrooms—which have been shown to help sequester these damaging chemicals after they already entered your body
  • Lifestyle Recommendations:
    • Adjust your cooking methods to reduce the production of AGE in your food before you eat
      • High heat and drier cooking methods like broiling, searing, grilling and deep frying all dramatically increase the formation of AGE
      • Lower heat and moist cooking methods like stewing, boiling and steaming minimize AGE production
    • Stay away from tobacco smoke—a potent source of AGE
  • Supplements to consider:
    • Resveratrol—a chemical found in red wine and now available in supplement form, has been shown to reduce the effects of AGE
    • Curcumin—a key product in the ginger-like spice turmeric—has also been shown to dramatically reduce the effects of AGE.
  • Medications that might help:
    • Metformin—a drug commonly given to women with PCOS and associated with higher pregnancy rates—has been shown to inhibit the activity of AGE
    • Aspirin—has been shown to help reduce AGE attachment

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