Polycystic Ovary Syndrome or PCOS is a hormonal disorder that causes ovaries to enlarge followed by the formation of small cysts on the outer edges. This condition is caused by an overproduction of hormones called androgens. Around 50 percent of women with the disorder are not healthy but obese. Many women with PCOS discover they can manage as well as decrease their symptoms. They can also reduce their risk of other medical concerns. This is done by controlling their diet and lifestyle choices.
The presence of insulin resistance makes PCOS increase the risk of chronic diseases. These can be type 2 diabetes, hypertension, lipid disorders, cardiovascular diseases. It also includes malignancies such as breast and endometrial cancer. Overweight and obesity are also prevalent in females suffering from PCOS. But even a low reduction in weight, say about 5%, can improve problems such as insulin resistance. It can also cure prominent levels of androgens, reproductive system dysfunctions, and fertility issues in these women. PCOS is considered hereditary, but the exact cause is not known.
Causes Of PCOS
- Family History: There is no such gene that causes PCOS in women. But there is a 50 % chance that women suffering from PCOS may have a close female relative that will also be suffering from PCOS.
- Hormone Level: An imbalance of the androgen in the body can trigger PCOS.
- Weight and Lifestyle: PCOS is not dependant on the size of the woman, women suffering from PCOS can either be underweight or overweight. Women with PCOS have a chance of being obese. Being overweight can imbalance body fluids like insulin level which furthermore becomes a key problem in the development of PCOS.
- Low-grade inflammation: Inflammation is the ability of the white blood cells to fight any foreign antigen. Research has shown that women with PCOS have a type of low-grade inflammation that stimulates polycystic ovaries to produce androgens, which can lead to heart and blood vessel problems.
Symptoms of PCOS vary from woman to woman. The symptoms may include:
- Polymenorrhea, amenorrhea, and dysmenorrhea.
- Infertility due to lack of ovulation
- More hair growth in various regions of the body. This includes face, chest, stomach, back, thumbs, or toes
- Acne, oily skin, and dandruff
- Weight gain, especially around the midsection
- Thinning hair on the head
- Pelvic pain
See your doctor if you are seeing PCOS-related symptoms. Individuals with PCOS are also at increased risk for various other chronic diseases. These include insulin resistance or Type 2 diabetes, increased blood pressure and cholesterol, depression, anxiety, and endometrial cancer.
What should you eat?
High-fiber foods decrease insulin resistance by slowing down digestion. It reduces the impact of sugar on the blood. This is beneficial to decrease the symptoms of PCOS.
Some high fiber foods are:
- Cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower)
- Greens (red leaf lettuce, arugula)
- Green and red peppers
- Beans and lentils
- Sweet potatoes
- Winter squash
- Lean protein sources like tofu, chicken, and fish. They do not provide fiber. But they make you feel full. It is an extremely healthy eating option for women diagnosed with PCOS.
- Inflammation-reducing foods are also beneficial. Inflammation-reducing food consists of tomatoes, kale, spinach, almonds, and walnuts. It also includes olive oil, fruits, such as blueberries and strawberries, and fatty fish high in omega-3 fatty acids.
Which food items you should avoid?
Refined carbohydrates cause inflammation and increase insulin resistance. Hence it should be avoided or limited significantly. These include highly-processed foods, such as:
- White bread
- Breakfast pastries
- Sugary desserts
- Pasta noodles that list semolina as their first ingredient are high in carbohydrates. Also, they are low in fiber.
- Sugar should be avoided wherever possible. These include highly refined carbohydrates containing sugars such as sucrose, high fructose corn syrup, and dextrose.
- Sugar is also present in your drink, such as soda and juice.
- You ought to remove inflammation-causing foods. These include fries, margarine, and red or processed meats from your diet.
How to improve insulin resistance?
Weight loss improves insulin sensitivity and you do not necessarily have to reach your goal weight to get this benefit. Even a modest amount of weight loss can help reduce symptoms of PCOS. For example, consider that you are 50 pounds overweight. If you lose 10 pounds it can make an enormous difference in your PCOS symptoms. Even though you might still be quite heavy. Crash diets produce fast weight loss. However, they are followed by the inevitable rebound weight gain. This proves more harmful for the body.
Regular physical activity reduces symptoms of PCOS. Exercise for at least 30 minutes in a single day. This should be done with moderate intensity. Strength training increases muscle mass. You can do it at least 2 times a week.
Improve eating habits
Although some people claim that eating every 2-3 hours is ideal, spacing your meals out more can help improve insulin sensitivity. Stop having a small meal or snack every few hours. Make a habit of eating a substantial meal. After that wait for 4-5 hours before eating again.
Manual or Non-medicinal Treatment
- Maintaining a healthy lifestyle: By adapting towards a lifestyle that includes a balanced diet, maintaining a routine that includes exercising, and proper work-life balance.
- Exercising: Cardio is considered an ideal form of exercise for women with PCOS. To control PCOS one must run or jog regularly, swimming and cycling can also help.
- Maintaining BMR levels: BMR stands for the basal metabolic rate which is the amount of energy required by the body to do basic activities. By maintaining proper BMR a woman can control PCOS, which can be attained by an appropriate amount of food intake and work done concerning the intake.
- Measuring BMI regularly: BMI stands for body mass index that tells if the person is prone to obesity or not by calculating her weight against the square of her height.
- Losing weight: Losing weight can help in maintaining a proper level of hormones in the body. You can lose weight by either exercising or maintaining your diet.
- Eating healthy: Eating a proper amount of fruit, vegetables, dairy, and grain could help to reduce PCOS. Packed and canned food should be avoided by women suffering from PCOS. So they are advised to have foods that are rich in fiber, are green and leafy, and fatty fish like salmon and tuna.
Before taking any type of medication, a patient should consult with her doctor to determine the severity of the medication’s necessity.
- Intake of contraceptive pills that may induce periods: Contraceptive pills reduce ovulation which then reduces androgen in the body and increases progesterone and estrogen which helps in inducing the menstrual cycle.
- Usage of the intrauterine system: Progestin-containing IUD help ease the symptoms of PCOS.
Get your lifestyle on track!
Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is an endocrine disorder. Women of reproductive age are diagnosed with this disease. It also leads to reproductive, hormonal, and metabolic abnormalities in the body of the woman. The cause of this syndrome is still not known. However, we consider it hereditary. Also, environmental factors such as dietary habits play a significant role in prevention and treatment. Lifestyle improvement and changes are the most significant treatment strategies in these patients.
The approach of diet therapy in these patients must be to reach specific goals. These are supposed to improve insulin resistance, metabolic as well as reproductive functions. This will be possible through the design of a low-calorie diet to achieve weight loss or maintain a healthy weight. So, all you must do is limit the intake of simple sugars and refined carbohydrates. Try to intake foods with a low glycemic index, reduce saturated and trans fatty acids. Also, one needs to pay attention to deficiencies such as vitamin D, chromium, and omega-3.