Well, as you are here and you are reading this piece of writing, then it is safe to assume that either you or someone you love has PCOS. And you’re perhaps wondering what the best way of managing your PCOS is.
Do you need to go for medications or is there a more natural way of managing PCOS?
We know that diet is essential to managing PCOS but it is important to understand what PCOS is so that you know exactly what you’re dealing with.
Polycystic ovarian Syndrome is the most common endocrine disorder affecting women of reproductive age. Essentially, we’re talking about a condition that affects the hormones. Don’t let a diagnosis of PCOS make you feel like you’ve lost control over your body. The hormonal and metabolic disorder affects 10 million women worldwide and generally affects one out of 10 women of childbearing age. The exact prevalence of PCOS in India is not exactly known as there are only few studies conducted in India. Studies done in South India and Maharashtra revealed that prevalence of PCOS (by Rotterdam's criteria) were reported as 9.13% and 22.5% (10.7% by Androgen Excess Society criteria) respectively.
Once you’re diagnosed with PCOS, your doctor will likely recommend diet and lifestyle changes as part of your treatment plan. Changing the diet is one of the most important things you can do to manage your PCOS.
Many people with PCOS have insulin resistance (A.K.A impaired glucose tolerance). Since the correlation was established between PCOS and insulin resistance in the mid-1990’s, more researchers are studying the connection between diet and PCOS, including High-protein, high-fat, low-glycemic-index, low-calorie, and anti-inflammatory diets.
2. The DASH diet: Doctors often recommend the ‘Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension’- (DASH) diet to reduce the risk or impact of heart disease. Originally designed to lower blood pressure, DASH diet may also help manage PCOS symptoms. A DASH diet is rich in fish, poultry, fruits, vegetables, whole grain and low-fat dairy products and low in saturated fats, cholesterol, refined grains, sodium, and sweets.
A recent study published in the Journal of Hormone and Metabolic Research stated that overweight women with PCOS who followed the DASH eating plan showed significant improvements in insulin resistance and lost abdominal fat considerably. One of the best things about the DASH diet which helped it to rank highly among health experts is that it’s so easy to follow.
3. Focus on Foods with Omega-3 Fatty Acids: Omega-3 Fatty Acids present in oily fish like salmon and sardines, as well as vegetarian sources like chia seeds — are traditionally hailed as heart healthy and anti-inflammatory.
4. Lose Weight if you have to -
One thing that’s often evident in all the researches is that diets that effect in weight loss are also good for alleviating the problems associated with PCOS. A systematic review in 2013 essentially analyzed the best diet for PCOS and concluded that it was weight loss that improved symptoms (insulin resistance, menstrual irregularity, mood problems) irrespective of the type of diet.
However, weight loss should be intended for bringing the body back into balance which means that it shouldn’t be your sole focus. After all, you can lose weight with an unhealthy diet but when you try to lose weight by eating lesser calories, you won’t feel good at all. A modest weight loss does alleviate PCOS symptoms, but it’s once you begin to detoxify your body that the weight comes off. So, concentrate on eating nutrient-rich foods rather than worrying about if its low- or high -fat, -carb or -protein, and the results will follow.
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