The Polycystic ovarian syndrome is a condition that affects 1 in 10 women. This condition is misunderstood which leads women to suffer quietly. There are several things which you can do to manage and reduce symptoms. In cases of PCOS there might be excessive hair growth on the body and face and this condition can contribute to long term health issues like heart diseases and diabetes. In this condition, a cyst is formed in the ovaries which are caused by an overproduction of hormones which are known as androgens. If you are suffering from PCOS then you should consult your doctor as soon as possible. You should look for proper PCOS treatment.
Causes of PCOS
The cause of PCOS is not yet known completely but most of the health associate it with genetics that can be one of the factors. PCOS can be in your family and chances are higher in the case of women who are suffering from irregular periods. Ovaries tend to make a small number of male sex hormones which are known as androgens but in the case of PCOS, the ovaries start to make more of them that might cause you to stop ovulating and as a result you will get acne and extra hair on your face and body.
Symptoms of PCOS
The symptoms can vary from person to person. Some of the symptoms are given below:
- Extra hair on the face and body. In some cases, the hair can be darker or thicker when compared to a normal hair body.
- Thinning hair on the scalp
- Fertility problems
- Weight gain and excessive trouble in losing weight. Women suffering from PCOS tend to gain more weight easily as they have higher than normal levels of insulin.
- Irregular or no periods can also be a symptom of PCOS. In certain cases, there can be heavy bleeding.
- PCOS symptoms might cause a person to fall into depression
PCOS diet: what foods to eat
PCOS diet should be such that it helps reduce weight and affects hormones positively. A moderate amount of fiber, carbohydrates and high protein is advisable. Consuming omega-3 fats is also beneficial for women. Here are the foods which you should take with PCOS:
- Increase intake of fibre: Women with PCOS have higher insulin levels but they eventually become insulin resistant meaning you are not able to properly use the already produced insulin. So, it’s best to load up on fibrous foods. High fibre foods such as whole grains, lentils, legumes, broccoli and seeds. These will help to slow down digestion and by reducing the impact of sugar.
- Consume lean protein: PCOS is a condition where you will gain weight. Eat lean protein as they will keep you fuller for longer and will prevent you from eating unhealthy snacks. Your PCOS diet should also consist of tofu and fish.
- Consume foods that reduce inflammation: One of the PCOS causes also include inflammation that is responsible for creating an imbalance in the hormones. Eating foods that help to reduce inflammation can minimize the PCOS symptoms. You should consume tomatoes, walnuts, almonds, fatty fish, etc.
- Take a low glycemic diet: Your PCOS diet should have a low glycemic index, women with PCOS are generally insulin resistant which causes insulin levels to rise quickly. In this case consuming low glycemic foods such as vegetables, fruits, lean protein and healthy fats can help to reduce the symptoms of PCOS.
PCOS diet: what foods to avoid
If you are suffering from PCOS, then you should try to avoid these foods:
- Sugary foods: According to doctors insulin levels of PCOS sufferers are higher than usual and because of this you will find difficult to lose weight since the main task of insulin is to control blood sugar. To reduce the symptoms of PCOS, you should try consuming a few sugars and also opt for carbohydrates to lose weight. Sugary foods are those which cause sudden surges in blood sugar. So, you should avoid drinking sodas, syrups and also avoid eating candies, cookies and cakes.
- Foods rich in sodium: Reduce your sodium intake to 2300mg per day. Foods rich in sodium like canned vegetables, salted nuts, smoked meats, etc should be avoided. Instead season your food with vinegar, mustard, lemon juice, etc.
- Milk: Milk will make your testosterone levels high because of its protein content that limits the normal testosterone metabolism. On the other hand, high testosterone levels can worsen your situation and can increase your hair growth. Milk consumption also increases your testosterone levels in your body which worsens the PCOS symptoms.
- Soy products: You should avoid soy based products as they can put off your ovulation. If you have PCOS and you are trying to conceive, then it’s best to avoid all soy products.
- Caffeine: There is a strong correlation between excess intake and infertility which makes infertility caused by PCOS worse.
Before you set out to treat PCOS, you should consult your doctor about the PCOS diet. The doctor will provide you with a list of foods that you should or shouldn’t eat which is specific to your condition.
About the Author:
Dr. Garima Sawhney
MBBS, M.S | Gynaecologist & Obstetrician, trained in Cosmetic & Aesthetic Gynaecology (ESAG), Specialist in Minimal Access Surgery