Manage PCOS with Holistic Nutrition
A diagnosis of polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) would be distressing for any woman. It is a complex condition that presents as a constellation of symptoms, which must be addressed in multiple ways. It is also a condition that is becoming increasingly common today, with 10-20% of women affected. In India, it is estimated that around one in five teenage girls has PCOS.
The most common presentation of PCOS is multiple cysts in the ovaries, which disrupt female sex hormones resulting in irregular periods. This makes it difficult for women of childbearing age to conceive. Although this problem may require therapeutic interventions, there are other physical symptoms like difficulty losing weight, increased risk of diabetes and heart disease, acne, and hair loss that may also benefit from interventions. on lifestyle.
Good food choices and consistent physical activity are essential elements needed to combat the hormonal imbalance that is at the root of many of the complications that women face with polycystic ovary syndrome.
Why is diet such a crucial part of PCOS management?
One of the critical factors that lead to PCOS symptoms is the persistence of high insulin levels. Insulin is a hormone that the body uses to reduce high blood sugar. If it has too much insulin, the body eventually stops responding to the hormone, leaving blood sugar levels consistently high, in a condition known as insulin resistance.
This is why it is difficult for women with PCOS to lose weight. At the same time, high levels of androgens (male hormones), which are responsible for the effects and symptoms of PCOS, develop when there are large amounts of fat in the abdominal area.
Studies have shown that losing just 5% of your body weight can significantly relieve PCOS symptoms, which is why eating a healthy diet can go a long way in reducing the risk of health complications.
Pay attention to portions
Make sure each meal contains a serving of protein (animal or vegetable protein), healthy fats (avocado, nuts, seeds, olive oil, oily fish), and mostly vegetables (aiming for 50-75% of your plate /bowl). vegetables). While it’s important to keep portion sizes in mind, it’s equally important to make sure you’re not depriving yourself of essential nutrients. It will be more difficult to stick to healthy eating habits if you are always hungry and low on energy.
The healthy exchange
Replace refined carbs with whole grain and vegetable alternatives. Refined carbohydrates act like blood sugar and raise blood sugar and insulin levels. At the same time, whole grains are buffered with fiber and essential nutrients and take longer to break down, keeping you full longer.
Break up with sugar
Reduce or avoid added/refined sugars in your diet. Sugar increases insulin secretion and increases the risk of weight gain and diabetes.
It’s not just what you eat; it’s also when you eat it.
A regular meal schedule also helps your body normalize and control blood sugar more effectively. Regular mealtimes generally lead to balanced sleep patterns which also have a direct impact on your stress hormones. On the other hand, being tired increases cravings and reduces your ability to stick to your new habits.
The holistic approach to PCOS would be incomplete without addressing the impact mental wellbeing has on the condition and the results you can achieve for your efforts. Stress is known to release cortisol, which also worsens weight gain and insulin resistance, setting off a vicious cycle that can be difficult to escape without the proper emotional and mental support.
Lovneet Batra is a clinical nutritionist and author of 50 Desi Super Drinks