Contributed by – Saumya Shatakshi, Senior Nutritionist
18% of the women in India suffer from PCOS
Irregular or absent periods, abnormal hair growth, weight gain, acne, fertility problems etc. are some of the major symptoms that identifies this disorder. PCOS also makes you much more prone to certain health problems like diabetes, heart diseases and blood pressure problems.
Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) also known as PCOD has become a really common problem and is one of the major causes of infertility and disturbs the menstruation cycle. PCOS interferes with the hormonal balance of the body, women with PCOS suffer from excessive androgen (male hormones) production which disturbs the normal functioning of the body.
PCOS affects the insulin levels of the body and develops a resistance towards it. The insulin resistance coupled with weight gain are enough to wreak complete havoc on the body and also increases the risk of diabetes 2. Our unhealthy lifestyle is one of the major causes of this dreadful disorder. We can counteract PCOS by following a proper diet plan, exercise regime, managing stress, depression and other issues.
Diet with the right kinds of foods can be really helpful in combating the PCOS symptoms and lowering the insulin levels. Thus it is really important to know what to eat and what to avoid incase of PCOS, Let us go through the list of amazing foods to add to your daily diet and the foods that are a complete no for PCOS.
What To Eat?
Certain foods can help in controlling the insulin levels and maintaining good health. The foods that are really healthy and can help in fighting PCOS are:
- Green leafy vegetables
- Vegetables that are high on fibre
- Foods that help reduce inflammation like tomatoes, spinach etc.
- Organic meats and fatty fish (high in omega 3)
- Carbohydrates with low glycaemic index like porridge, lentils etc.
- Healthy fat foods like whole eggs, avocado, chia seeds etc.
- Unsaturated oils like olive oil, corn oil etc.
- Healthy seeds and nuts like almond, sunflower, flax, walnut- rich in mono and polyunsaturated fats
What Not To Eat?
Several foods are a complete no incase of PCOS and avoiding them or consuming them in limit is always a smart step. Foods to be aavoid or cut back incase of PCOS includes:
- Consumption of diary products should be limited
- Soy products should be avoided
- Unhealthy fats and refined carbohydrates (potatoes, sugary treats etc.) should be avoided
- Cut down on your caffeine intake
- Limit your alcohol consumption
- Processed foods like cured meats, smoked meats, canned foods, chips, etc must be absolutely avoided
- Control your salt intake, daily intake should not be more than 2400mgm in a day
- Cutting down on sugar is a good idea
Important DO’s And DON’T’S For PCOS
Managing your health and finding the right balance between healthy diet, exercise on a daily basis is the key to healthy living. Proper and healthy lifestyle can help you get amazing results, below are some of the most important do’s and don’ts for PCOS:
- Consume whole grains instead of processed and refined foods and whole fruits instead of fruit juices to maintain blood glucose and insulin levels
- Eating foods rich in fiber also lead to a slower, consistent and controlled rise in blood sugar and insulin levels. Some healthy fiber rich foods are legumes and green vegetables that also provide necessary nutrients for the body
- Combine proteins and carbohydrates together because proteins help to regulate the blood glucose spike caused by carbohydrates consumption
- Eat regularly but not too frequently, divide your foods into 3 to 4 meals and eat them every 4 to 5 hours in order to improve insulin sensitivity and prevent cravings for unhealthy snacks and never ever skip breakfast
- Use seasonings such as lemon juice, vinegar, pepper, herbs, mustard and spices
- Eat 2 to 3 servings of fish every week in order to load up on essential fatty acids that are beneficial for controlling PCOS symptoms
- Choose healthy cooking options such as baking, grilling, broiling, boiling and steaming instead of deep frying
- Drink atleast 3-4litres of water every day. You can add some tasty twist to your water by adding fresh cucumber, mint, berries or lemons to it
- PCOS can cause stress and depression in a lot of women, try yoga and meditation to deal with it
- Regular exercise and light workout daily helps you control your PCOS symptoms
- A combination of aerobic exercises for 30 minutes along with some strength training is the best option
- Try shedding those extra kilos and stay active throughout the day
- Strength training, on the other hand, builds muscle which is important in raising your basal metabolic rate so that you burn more calories while at rest and while you are exercising
- Cardio training causes your heart rate to rise and it uses energy, increasing your total calories used which will help with the weight loss and also lowers the risk of cardiovascular disease in women with PCOS
Always remember that diet and exercise play a vital role in improving PCOS symptoms as it helps to enhance insulin sensitivity and restore the balance of the reproductive hormones. A few changes in our lifestyle can bring major changes in our health status. It is possible to defeat PCOS, it is time to make the above mentioned steps a part of daily lifestyle.