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.
What is PCOS?
Polycystic ovarian Syndrome is the most common endocrine disorder affecting women of reproductive age. Essentially, we’re talking about a condition that affects 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 a few studies conducted in India. Studies done in South India and Maharashtra revealed that the prevalence of PCOS (by Rotterdam’s criteria) was reported as 9.13% and 22.5% (10.7% by Androgen Excess Society criteria) respectively.
How does my diet affect PCOS?
Once you’re diagnosed with PCOS, your doctor will likely recommend diet and lifestyle changes as part of your treatment plan. Changing your diet is one of the most important things you can do to manage your PCOS.
- PCOS and insulin resistance
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-1990s, more researchers are studying the connection between diet and PCOS, including High-protein, high-fat, low-glycemic-index, low-calorie, and anti-inflammatory diets.
- A low glycemic index (GI) diet: Low GI foods mean unprocessed, unrefined, and rich in fiber and vitamins, and mineral foods. The body digests foods with a low GI more slowly, meaning they don’t spike glucose and insulin levels when eaten in moderation. Foods in a low GI diet include whole grains, nuts, legumes, fruits, seeds, starchy vegetables, and other unprocessed, low-carbohydrate foods. Recent studies revealed that obese women with PCOS who followed a low-GI for one year had better insulin sensitivity and menstrual regularity when compared to those following a conventional diet. Women with high insulin levels had a twofold decrease in body fat despite modest weight loss.
- High-Protein Diets: According to a study published in the American Society for Nutrition, PCOS women group who ate a high-protein (more than 40 percent protein, 30 percent fat) diet lost more weight and body fat than women following a standard protein (30 percent fat, less than 15 percent protein) diet. Besides, the high protein group was also encouraged to eat whole grain bread products.
- Anti-inflammatory diet: Anti-inflammatory foods, such as leafy greens, berries, fatty fish, extra virgin olive oil, etc may reduce inflammation-related symptoms.
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, the 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 research is that diets that affect 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 the 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 it’s low- or high-fat, -carb or -protein, and the results will follow.
Greenview Medical Center is a well-established multispecialty hospital located at the prime location of the city with state-of-the-art infrastructure and medical utilities to provide all-around healthcare and services for patients. The hospital provides Healthcare that meets global standards along with affection, empathy, and personalized touch in almost all the important medical subspecialties. They are also the best infertility specialists in Bangalore and have a reputed team of fertility experts, nursing staff, clinical support team, and counselors together with world-class facilities, to address all concerns related to infertility and guarantee the best chance of pregnancy. Greenview medical center is a designated Center of Excellence in High-risk pregnancy care, infertility treatment, and polycystic ovarian disease treatment in Bangalore.