In these days, PCOS or PCOD sounds familiar among most of the women. It not only affects a woman’s fertility but also her well being. Women who have diagnosed with PCOS tend to suffer from hormonal imbalances. And the overproduction of hormones in the PCOS sufferers can cause small cysts to develop in their ovaries.
The hormonal changes caused by PCOS can lead to many negative side effects such as,
- Irregular menstrual cycles
- Fertility issues
- Changes in appearance (weight gain, unwanted hair, hair loss)
If PCOS left untreated, women may have higher risk for
- Heart disease
- High blood pressure
- Endometrial cancer
Though PCOS cannot be cured, regular exercise and a healthy diet can help women to relieve its symptoms and therefore lower the risk of other health issues.
Why should women with PCOS be diet conscious?
Though diet is important to everyone for a healthier life, it is especially essential for women suffering from PCOS. PCOS causes women to produce higher levels of insulin than normal levels. When the body produces more insulin than it uses, it can lead to insulin resistance.
When one becomes insulin resistant, the blood sugar levels tend to increase. And to maintain normal blood sugar levels, the body produces high levels of insulin. High levels of insulin make ovaries to produce excess levels of hormones like testosterone.So, maintaining a healthy diet prevents hormonal imbalances and thus relieves women from the symptoms of PCOS.
What not to eat with PCOS?
Women diagnosed with PCOS should strictly avoid processed foods. All processed foods usually contain high amounts of sodium and unhealthy fats. Also, they are high in trans fat with negligible amounts of nutrients.Hence, consumption of processed foods leads to unwanted weight gain which in turn worsens the symptoms of PCOS. In addition to this, the fats present in the processed foods often get deposited on the ovaries, which worsens the condition to much extent.
Almost everyone’s regular diet contains even a single dairy product. But, women with PCOS are recommended to limit dairy products in their diet. The reason behind this is when women are diagnosed with PCOS, their bodies have a natural tendency to develop insulin resistance and the consumption of dairy products can lead to excess production of insulin. It is recommended to stick to skimmed milk if one cannot avoid dairy products completely from their diet.
Refined flour is high in carbohydrates and low in fibre. It is one of the high glycemic index foods which triggers the excess production of insulin when consumed. Since PCOS can make women insulin resistant, foods made from refined flour should be avoided in the diet.
What to eat with PCOS?
High fibre foods:
Women with PCOS are highly suggested to increase their fibre intake. Fibre helps control blood glucose levels by reducing the amount of insulin produced. So, one’s diet should contain a lot of vegetables and fruits in order to get a good amount of fibre.
Nuts & Seeds:
Including healthy fats in the diet is equally as important as eliminating unhealthy fats. Nuts and seeds are a great source of healthy fats and protein. Women who are diagnosed with PCOS should have a handful of nuts and seeds such as almonds, hazelnuts, flax seeds etc regularly.
Women with PCOS should get their protein from lean proteins. Lean proteins help balance the hormones and also aids in weight management. Foods that are good sources of lean proteins include fish, chicken, tofu etc.
In addition to following the above-mentioned diet rules, women with PCOS should opt a proactive lifestyle which includes regular physical activity and exercise. Having smaller portions of meals at regular intervals rather than having fewer larger portions helps to regulate insulin levels. Making these dietary changes can help with the weight loss, improved ovulation and overall wellness along with relieving the PCOS symptoms.