PCOS is the most common endocrine disorder that causes an imbalance of hormones. It affects women of reproductive age leading to weight gain, menstrual irregularities and infertility. Women with POCS have multiple cysts in their ovaries due to the overproduction of androgen hormones. Acnes, male pattern baldness and hirsutism are the common symptoms experienced and about 50% of women with PCOS are either obese or overweight.
Other than androgen, the body also overproduces hormone insulin. This over production of insulin results in insulin resistance and changes the way the carbohydrates are used in the body leading to weight gain or difficulty in losing weight.
Diet and lifestyle modification are highly effective when it comes to managing the symptoms of PCOs, losing weight and correcting the hormonal imbalance along with medication. Sadly, women with PCOS are rarely informed and suffer from the ill-effects of this syndrome.
If you have PCOS or know any one suffering from PCOS, this article on the PCOS diet plan for weight loss is a must read.
PCOS AND DIET
In PCOS, insulin production is increased as a result there is a spike in blood glucose levels. At the same time due to overproduction of insulin, the body cells become resistant to insulin action; the high levels of circulating insulin, triggers secretion of androgens like testosterone which are responsible for the formation of cysts. When both insulin and testosterone are high, the natural hormonal balance of the body is disturbed and the symptoms of PCOS flare up. Thus following a proper diet is necessary.
Following a proper PCOS diet plan helps women with PCOS in two ways-
- Regulate insulin production and increase insulin sensitivity.
- Help you lose weight
According to National health services, UK, losing weight even by 5% shows improvement in symptoms of PCOS. In addition a nutritious diet reduces the risk of developing diabetes, heart disease, which is quite common in women with PCOS.
The PCOS Diet
A nutritious diet helps, not in one but many ways. If you are trying to manage your symptoms, lose weight and getting pregnant at the same time, a well balanced PCOS diet plan will help you target all your problems and help achieve your goal. The following components are essential considerations to be kept in mind while planning your PCOS diet. The foods you include in your diet should be-
- Low on glycemic index
Glycemic index is the ranking of the food based on the way they affect your blood sugar levels .i.e. how slowly or quickly the influence you blood sugar levels. Foods like sugar, refined flour have a high glycemic index as they cause an instant raise in your blood sugar levels. As the blood sugar in the blood spikes, insulin production increases and in case of women with PCOS, there is an overproduction.
Thus, your diet should be comprised of foods that are low in glycemic index like vegetables (spinach, kale, broccoli, and cruciferous vegetables), whole grain cereals, beans and lentils, nuts and seeds. High glycemic foods like -Refined carbohydrates like Maida, white rice, white bread, corn starch, sugary foods, candies, colas, soda, syrups etc should be strictly avoided.
- High in fiber
High fiber foods help combat insulin resistance by slowing down digestion and promote slow release of glucose in the blood. Fiber also promote increased estrogen metabolism which in turn aids in lowering the androgens. Your diet should contain high fiber food like whole vegetables and fruits, whole grains and cereals like semolina, oats, jowar, bajri, brown rice etc., pulses and beans and nuts.
- Balance your daily proteins
A high protein with a low carbohydrate or equally protein and carbohydrate diet plan is effective in controlling insulin production, increasing metabolism and losing weight. Lean proteins like tofu, chicken, fish are healthy options for women with PCOS.
- Bulk up on Anti-inflammatory foods
Add anti-inflammatory foods in the diet as women with PCOS suffer from mild chronic inflammation. Foods that help reduce inflammation include- berries, grapes, green tea, extra virgin olive oil, green leafy vegetables, dark chocolate, olives, avocado, coconut etc.
- Bring in Healthy fats
Healthy fats like omega 3 and other essential fatty acid help maintain cell wall integrity to allow absorption of nutrients. They also help in regulating hormonal balance, losing weight, and increasing fertility. Replace the unhealthy saturated fat in your diet with the healthy oils like olive oil, avocado, flax oil.
- Look out for the essential nutrients
The PCOs diet you follow should pay specially attention to nutrients like chromium, calcium; vitamin D. Chromium helps improve insulin action and increases its sensitivity. Vitamin D helps in glucose metabolism.
A professional nutritionist can help you plan a proper diet to help relieve your symptoms, improve fertility and overall health.
PCOS DIET – THE DON’TS
Following are certain foods that you would like to reduce or avoid in your diet as they either increase the symptoms’ or upset the hormonal balance further.
- Dairy – should be kept to minimum as it contains IGF-1(insulin growth factor-1) which mimics the action of insulin and insulin is something which we don’t want in excess. Remember, more insulin, more testosterone and more the symptoms. Rice milk, almond milk, coconut milk, oats milk can be used as alternative.
- Gluten – as it increases overall inflammation. Increased inflammation leads to increased insulin resistance.
- Soy – as in some cases it interferes with ovulation. Women with PCOS already have trouble with fertility, without adding more.
- Refined carbohydrates and sugars – as they are high glycemic index and increase insulin production. Read nutrition labels and look for sugar hidden in the products to buy, For example-dextrose, high fructose corn syrup
- Processed food – like red or processed meats, breads, margarine, fries as they increase inflammation in the body.
Along with medication, lifestyle modification and eating healthy helps women manage PCOS and its outcomes.