Healthy You

How to manage PCOS with a healthy diet

PCOS or Polycystic Ovary Syndrome is a common endocrine disorder that affects women especially when they are in their reproductive age. PCOS symptoms may vary or could remain consistent. They include abnormal weight gain, formation of acne and pimples, thinning of the hair, irregularity in periods, and the emergence of cysts in the ovary. Although medical research has stated that the reasons causing PCOS could be complex, resistance to insulin and hormonal irregularities are the key factors behind the aggravation of PCOS.

The cardinal principle of dealing with PCOS to literally ease its symptoms includes changes in lifestyle that are majorly related to changes in diet and exercise. Although there is no specific methodology for treating PCOS, the results of the treatment may vary from person to person. We strongly suggest consulting a doctor before initiating any medications or treatment for PCOS.

Symptoms of PCOS

PCOS symptoms

Although the symptoms of PCOS vary from woman to woman, there are some common traits that may help distinguish a woman who has PCOS from one who doesn’t. While early signs begin at the onset of menstruation, most women discover PCOS due to a sudden influx in weight or difficulty in conceiving a child. However, there are some telltale signs you can watch out for. Here are a few:

  1. Tiredness and mood swings
  2. Heavy bleeding during menstrual cycles
  3. Irregular periods
  4. Abnormal hair growth in unexpected parts of the body
  5. Oilier skin resulting in the outbreak of pimples and acne
  6. Weight gain
  7. Baldness, in a typical male pattern
  8. Dark patches on the skin

These being the symptoms, let us now look at ways in which one can manage PCOS. Certain adjustments in lifestyle, diet, and an exercising regime can go a long way in efficiently managing PCOS.

Managing PCOS with diet

A significant reduction in weight can regulate the menstrual cycle and ease the symptoms of PCOS tremendously. After all, we are fully aware of the health benefits that weight loss has for our body, but more specifically, it is very useful in curbing the symptoms of PCOS. Here are a few tips on how you can achieve the perfect diet plan.

Low carb

Any diet that contributes to weight loss is good to start with. However, diets with low carbs are especially suitable for weight loss and bringing down insulin levels. Resistance to insulin is a key component in PCOS. The resistance causes a depreciation in the cell’s ability to utilize insulin properly. As a result, the requirement for insulin increases, and the pancreas starts manufacturing more of it. The ovaries are triggered to produce more male hormones due to this surge. High levels of male hormones counter the ovaries from functioning normally. The result is the inadequate production of eggs and hormonal imbalance in the ovaries. Hence, a low-carb diet is essential to negate the vicious cycle.

Low on sugar

A low GI (Glycemic Index) diet adds to a better menstruation cycle than any other weight loss diet. A food’s glycemic value determines how much it increases blood sugar levels. Foods are classified into low, medium, and high on the glycemic index. Foods that have zero carbs are not assigned a value. These include meat, fish, nuts, seeds, herbs, etc. Foods that contain fewer carbs and more protein and fibre usually have a low glycemic value. These include fruits such as apples, berries, limes, oranges; vegetables such as spinach, broccoli, tomatoes, cauliflower; and grains like barley, oats, quinoa, couscous, and the likes.

Say no to processed foods

It’s important to give up processed foods and in place, opt for whole foods. Process foods include chips, cheese, white bread, processed meats, pickles, as well as dried and canned foods. Hence, instead of dried berries, choose fresh berries; instead of sausages and bacon, choose chicken and fish. Instead of sugary cereal, have a bowl of fruit and yogurt. These small changes in your diet will go a long way in managing PCOS. Here are few more suggestions.

Whole grains, fruits & vegetables

Fruits must be eaten raw to minimize loss of nutrients and fibre. It’s is good to consume most fruits and vegetables along with their skin to obtain maximum amounts of fibre, be it potato or apple. Avoid consuming starchy foods and pick up fresh vegetables instead. Even vegetables in their raw form, such as salads, are a healthier option as cooking causes loss of nutrients. Substitute maida for wholewheat, and white rice for brown rice. Basically, grains that are processed the least are better for you.

Choose healthier oils

All sorts of vegetable oils must be avoided and replaced with olive, avocado, coconut oils, or clarified butter/ghee. Trans fat should be avoided and oils that are rich in monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids must be incorporated into your diet.

The big no-nos

Few things you should absolutely avoid are caffeine or alcohol. You need to also stop the intake of refined sugar and eat more natural sweeteners. It’s also necessary to avoid fatty foods and food with an excess of salt.

Natural home remedies

Though natural remedies cannot be an absolute substitute for medical attention and a doctor’s advice, they surely can help in managing and controlling PCOS. Listed below are few ingredients that are commonly found in Indian kitchens. These may help get your symptoms under control.

  • Fenugreek or methi has the potential to keep a check on PCOS. It has medicinal properties that can improve the menstrual cycle and lessen the cyst size, if any.
  • Flaxseeds are abundant in fibre, omega 3 fatty acids, and a protein named lignans that helps control testosterone levels in women.
  • A blend of cinnamon and honey, if consumed daily can improve the menstrual cycle.
  • Amla is a rich source of vitamin C and aids in improving female fertility and controlling blood sugar levels.
  • Apple Cider Vinegar is known for being a miracle food that helps in weight loss, lowers blood sugar, and increases insulin sensitivity.

In conclusion, although it is true that PCOS is a tough condition for women, it is manageable with proper medical help and certain changes in lifestyle and dietary habits. The primary focus should be on reversing the symptoms of PCOS in a streamlined manner so that life can return to normalcy.

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