Poly cystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) is a syndrome of ovarian dysfunction caused by an imbalance of reproductive hormones. It is one of the most common disorders in reproductive-age women with an estimated prevalence of 6-8 %. Having PCOS implies an increased risk of infertility, endometrial carcinoma, obesity, Type II diabetes (T2DM), abnormal cholesterol levels, hypertension, and possibly cardiovascular disease.
Women with PCOS have a hormonal imbalance and metabolism problems that may affect their overall health and appearance. The most common symptoms of PCOS include:
- Irregular menstrual cycle; either in terms of days (more than 35 days) or in terms of cycles (less than 8 cycles per year) or could also contribute to complete absence of menses.
- Increased hair growth; mostly on the upper lip, chin area and the back
- Oily skin, acne, dandruff & thinning of hair
- Weight gain mostly waistline obesity
- Sleep apnea; a sleep disorder where breathing repeatedly stops and starts during sleep and is usually followed by loud snoring.
- Infertility – a leading cause – due to ovulatory cycles.
- Fluid-filled cysts; about 60%-80% of women experience this condition. It can be confirmed if there are more than 12 follicles in the ovary.
COMPLICATIONS OF PCOS:
The most common complications are infertility due to irregular & anovulatory (no ovulation) menstrual cycle, Diabetes type 2, depression, anxiety, eating disorder and high cholesterol.
PCOS OBESITY AND TYPE II DIABETES:
About 60% of women with PCOS are overweight or obese. Obesity itself causes insulin resistance, which in turn leads to type II diabetes early on in women. Women diagnosed with PCOS should be screened and followed regularly to avoid these long-term complications.
A modest 5% reduction in body weight can lead to reduced facial hair growth as well as improved menstrual cycle. Healthy diet remains the most important aspect as it would help in maintaining a healthy weight as well as improve the symptoms.
PCOS AND HEART DISEASE:
Women with PCOD are at an increased risk of developing heart disease, hypertension, and insulin resistance (type II diabetes). This causes high levels of fat in the body with low levels of good cholesterol (HDL). Prevention is better than cure, hence by eating a healthy diet rich in fiber and low in sodium, with moderate exercise at least five days a week early in life can reduce the chances of life-threatening complications.
Given the strong connection to excess weight, high insulin levels and other metabolic problems, a balanced diet & an active lifestyle is ideal for reversing PCOS. Diet & lifestyle management is the only treatment that consistently and reliably lowers insulin levels and reverses the metabolic issues that include PCOS. While there is no known “cure” for PCOS, there are ways of mitigating the condition.
MANAGEMENT OF PCOS:
Lifestyle changes such as weight management, exercise and planning PCOS diet are better than treatment by medication & should be therefore considered as the first line of treatment.
1. Weight management to fall in ideal BMI range
By eating right and increased physical activity, body weight can be managed better. Reduced weight can make the medicines (if required) more effective. In case of stressful lives, let exercise be your stress reliever, not the food.
If diet control and weight management don’t improve the symptoms much, then medication is given to women. This could mean that the PCOS has reached a certain point where it needs more involved intervention to control it.
3. PCOS diet:
To reduce the dependence on medication, it is important to plan a PCOS diet. Planning a PCOS diet simply means developing food habits keeping PCOS in mind.
A good PCOS diet not only helps in alleviating the symptoms, but also makes you feel better and reduce weight in a healthy sustainable way.
My22BMI has nutrition experts and health coaches who help you understand and plan a PCOS diet keeping other parameters too in mind.
What is a PCOS diet?
PCOS diet is nothing but planning a healthy well balanced diet keeping in mind the symptoms and the complications of PCOS.
Women with PCOS are often found to have higher than normal insulin levels. Insulin is a hormone that is produced in the pancreas. It helps the cells in the body turn sugar into energy.
If you don’t produce enough insulin, your blood sugar levels can rise. This also happens if you’re insulin resistant, meaning you are unable to use the insulin you do produce effectively.
If you’re insulin resistant, your body may try to pump out high levels of insulin in an effort to keep your blood sugar levels normal. Too-high levels of insulin can cause your ovaries to produce more androgens, such as testosterone.
Insulin resistance may also be caused by having a body mass index above the normal range. Insulin resistance can make it harder to lose weight, which is why women with PCOS often struggle with this issue.
A diet high in refined carbs, such as starchy and sugary foods, can make insulin resistance, and therefore weight loss, more difficult to control.
Therefore it is extremely important to plan a good PCOS diet as diet alone can help tremendously and can show sustainable results.
Here are a few points that should be kept in mind while planning a PCOS diet:
Eliminate processed foods
Processed foods contain very little nutrients and high amount of trans-fats, calories and additives like preservatives, artificial colors etc. In PCOS, your body is thriving for wholesome nutrition, consumption of processed foods like bread, pasta, wafers, biscuits, sauces and even frozen foods can prove to be counterproductive in your efforts to manage this condition. PCOS diet should be devoid of all packaged and processed foods, allowing the gut to heal.
Start incorporating whole foods in your diet
Whole foods are foods that are sourced straight from the nature that have not been altered or processed in any way. Due to no processing, they are high on nutrients. If you are including whole foods in your diet then you would never need to calculate amount of calories or fats that you are consuming. To start with, replace half of your grains with whole grains like quinoa, jowar, bajra, ragi, barley etc and start incorporating raw as well as cooked veggies in your every meal. Whole foods are an important component of a PCOS diet plan.
Women with PCOS tend to have general inflammation in the body. This makes them more resistant to insulin, chronically fatigued and prone to gaining weight.
While managing those insulin levels will help with inflammation, making sure that your PCOS diet is rich in anti-inflammatory foods will help too.
Some anti-inflammatory foods foods that should be included in the PCOS diet are:
Green leafy vegetables like spinach and kale, berries (blackberries, blueberries, etc), beans & lentils and nuts like almonds, walnuts, pistachios, etc.
Start with some basic exercise
Regular physical activity is extremely beneficial for PCOS patients. In addition to experiencing a general sense of well-being, exercise helps to control weight, improve insulin levels and alleviate stress. Do activities or workouts that you actually enjoy, if you hate going to gym then find out some other activity of your interest like yoga/ cycling/ dancing or even walking!
Detoxify your body as soon as you wake up
Detoxification is helpful for improving the body’s natural elimination system while also balancing pH levels in the body and also helps in controlling any bacteria, candida, and yeast build-up in body. Start your morning with some simple detox drink like Lemon water or even Apple cider vinegar detox drink.
Add in supplements
Ensuring your body has the proper vitamins & mineral profile is vital for healing. Supplements can help your body build its immune system, restore energy levels, balance hormones, and promote healthy blood flow. Talk to our health coaches to know more about what supplements you should consider.
Suffering from PCOS? Contact our qualified nutrition and holistic health experts over a one time Free Consultation Call and get your own customized PCOS diet plan.
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My22BMI is a digital healthcare startup addressing the problem of managing lifestyle diseases through personalised diet plans. My22BMI empower lives to eat healthy and smartly and believe food should be your first medicine. The expert health coaches provide personalised diet plans for heart health, gut health, skin & hair health, weight management, mother & child nutrition and hormonal health. Download our Android app from the Google playstore.