Can a Balanced Diet Help Relieve Symptoms of PCOS?
Experts advise a high fibre-lean protein diet which will help control the amount of insulin in the body.
Having trouble with irregular periods? Have you had a sudden burst of pimples and put on a lot of weight without any apparent reason? If the answer to all this is yes, then you are probably suffering from PCOS.
Don’t panic! It only sounds complicated, but it’s not!
Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) is a growing hormonal disorder mostly found among women of reproductive age. There is no one test to diagnose this syndrome but usually the first sign is having irregular periods or in some cases, no periods at all.
In PCOS, there are cyst formations in the ovaries due to overproduction of certain hormones. Yes, the resulting imbalance of hormones is what causes most of the distress.
In PCOS, women cannot ovulate due to formation of small cysts in their ovaries. This results in the imbalance of estrogen, progesterone and other hormones that causes irregular menstruation cycles.Dr Deepti Asthana, Gynaecologist
Though the exact cause of this disorder is unknown, many experts link it to insulin resistance that cause the excessive weight gain, disrupt ovulation, and increase sugar cravings, among other things.
What Is Insulin Resistance?
The carbohydrates that get digested in our body release glucose into the bloodstream. Insulin helps the cells to absorb glucose and produce energy that can be used by our bodies.
But when our bodies develop resistance, the cells stop absorbing the glucose. This forces the glucose to accumulate in the blood stream which ends in high blood sugar levels.
So, basically you need to work on decreasing the insulin resistance of your body.
Though cases of PCOS have been on the rise in the past few years, many gynaecologists believe that certain diet and lifestyle changes along with some medication can help reduce the symptoms.
Stress and sedentary lifestyle are the two main causes of PCOS in women these days. A balanced diet and proper exercise help a lot in dealing with the symptoms of PCOS.Dr Deepti Asthana, Gynaecologist
Diet and PCOS: The Connection
When your body becomes insulin resistant, then it starts producing more insulin to maintain normal sugar levels. High level of insulin makes it harder to lose weight resulting in a higher Body Mass Index (BMI).
So, it is very important to know what to eat and what to avoid!
Since insulin resistance builds up in the body, it is extremely important that women understand the constituents of their diet well and have a balanced meal.Dr Shikha Sharma, Nutritionist
Let us help make you a perfect diet plan then…
What to Eat?
Remember, you must prevent excess sugar from entering your blood stream. So, you must eat food that doesn’t convert to sugar easily.
Experts advise a high fibre-lean protein diet which will help control the amount of insulin in the body by slowing down digestion.
So, your diet must include a lot of:
• Green vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, lettuce, spinach
• Beans & lentils
• Almonds, berries
• Olive Oil
• Fish (like Salmon, Sardines)
Have a lot of fresh fruits and vegetables. Include more body cleansing items like turmeric, lime, garlic, onions, coriander in your meal preparations. They will detox the body and help you get rid of extra sugar.
What to Avoid?
Sugars and carbohydrates are a strict NO!
Yes, prepare yourself to bid farewell to all your favourite chocolates, candies, cakes, pies! Sorry, but they are of no help now!
Strictly stay away from:
• White bread (Bye-bye Pizza!)
• Sugary juices
• Desserts (Basically, anything with sugar in it!)
• Pasta noodles made from wheat flour (Try lentil flour (masoor aata) pasta, instead!)
You are also advised to cut down on foods like red meat, French fries (yes, you read that right!) since they cause inflammation in the body.
You have to be extra careful even while grocery shopping.
Why? Because packaged foods have a lot of sugars and carbohydrates that we usually don’t see because we rarely read the labels!
Read the labels of packaged food items while shopping. Make sure the salt content is low, avoid items with simple sugars, make sure that Trans fat is zero and the amount of preservatives present is minimal. Fresh food is always better than preserved food.Dr Shikha Sharma, Nutritionist
How Can Exercise Help?
Along with a perfect diet, some exercise will also help you feel better.
No, you don’t have to run to the gym! Simple physical activities like brisk walking, jogging, swimming will help control your BMI.
Any type of physical activity helps improve insulin sensitivity, reduces your BMI and increases your frequency of ovulation.Dr Deepti Asthana, Gynaecologist
Do you feel better now? You can deal with PCOS with the right diet and exercise. Try to gather more information which will only help you feel more confident in dealing with PCOS.
Remember, when in doubt, always consult your gynaecologist.
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