Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a condition that causes irregular menstrual periods because monthly ovulation gets irregular and androgens (male hormones) levels get elevated. The condition occurs in approximately 5 to 10% of women. Most, but not all, women with PCOS are overweight or obese, and they are at higher-than-average risk of developing diabetes. Most of them have PCOS, but they rule it out until they are diagnosed with proper treatment. PCOS is a condition for women in their childbearing years (15 to 44 yrs).
How Is Your Diet Linked With PCOS?
Two primary ways that diet affects PCOS are weight management and insulin resistance. Insulin plays a significant role in PCOS, so managing insulin levels with a PCOS-friendly diet is one of the best steps to manage PCOS. Along with the right diet, proper counselling and regular exercise play an equally important role.
What Can You Include In Your PCOS Diet?
High Fibre food can help combat insulin resistance by slowing down digestion, regulating blood sugar levels, lowering inflammation, and improving gut health. Whole grains, legumes & lentils, seeds, fruits & vegetables are rich sources of fibre. The diet can include broccoli, cauliflower, Brussel Sprouts, almonds, beans. lentils, etc.
Lean protein sources like tofu, chicken, and fish don't provide fibre but are very filling and a healthy dietary option for women with PCOS.
Green leafy vegetables such as kale or spinach contain high levels of Vitamin B. Incredibly, more than 80% of women who suffer from PCOS are deficient in vitamin B. They are nutrient-rich and low in calories, making them ideal for weight loss and nutrition.
Antioxidant-rich foods help lower inflammation and regulate insulin levels. Examples of antioxidant-rich foods for a PCOS diet should include fruits (strawberries, blueberries, raspberries); vegetables (spinach, artichokes, kale); whole grains (whole oats, whole wheat, quinoa, brown rice), and unsaturated fats (nuts like pecans, nuts butter, olive oil, avocado).
Avoid skipping meals. They can drop your blood sugar levels and lead to food cravings and overindulgence. Maintaining a routine allows stabilization of blood sugar levels that aid androgen production.
Foods To Avoid Or Limit Its Intake
A PCOS-friendly diet would do well to avoid these foods and assist in balancing the right ratio of protein, carbs, fats for a healthy body.
Refined Carbs sugar, processed foods, packaged food, instant food, refined wheat, fruit juices in any form, soda, aerated drinks, ice creams.
Saturated Fats like meat and mutton, bakery items, too much oil or ghee, fast foods
Reduce Dairy Intake: According to research published in the International Journal of Preventive Medicine, reducing dairy intake could help certain women with PCOS lose weight and help relieve some of their hormonal PCOS symptoms. Cutting down on dairy helps improve gut health and thereby the absorptions of few nutrients for many women.
Exercise As A Lifestyle Change
Everyone is aware that exercise helps burn excess calories and promotes weight loss. Let us see how regular exercise benefits more than just weight loss among women with PCOS.
Improves Insulin sensitivity: Regular exercise, especially cardio can improve your insulin sensitivity, alleviate the risk of diabetes and other complications due to PCOS.
Lowers cholesterol: Women with PCOS are more likely to have high cholesterol and triglycerides levels. Regular exercise along with the right diet has shown good results there as well
Achieves Hormonal balance: Exercise also helps in regulating the hormones and periods.
Increase endorphin levels: Exercise increases your endorphins levels, also known as your happy hormones. This helps PCOS patients to manage their stress and anxiety better.
People who have been diagnosed with PCOS are about 3 times more likely to be diagnosed with anxiety and depression than those without PCOS. Hence, a better lifestyle starts with making the switch to conscious consumption of a PCOS-friendly diet that manages symptoms, improves fertility, and makes leading fulfilled lives possible.
(This is article is contributed by Palak Chaturvedi, Nutritionist & Lifestyle Consultant)