Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) and Polycystic Ovarian Disease (PCOD) is a hormonal imbalance disorder. As per the results of a recent country-wide survey, close to 16% of women in the age group of 20-29 years suffer from PCOS/PCOD. It is typically earmarked by irregular periods or by no menstruation at all. In this condition, women typically have multiple cysts in their ovaries, caused by an overproduction of hormones called androgens. Many are overweight and develop associated complications. Lifestyle changes and dietary modifications can play a major role in dealing with this hormonal disorder and in losing weight. If the symptoms are not controlled, the risk for heart disease, endometrial cancer, Type II diabetes, and high blood pressure increases, which in turn affects the woman's fertility and can cause complications during pregnancy.
Many women with PCOS or PCOD have been able to manage their symptoms and reduce the risk of associated medical issues by modifying their diet and lifestyle choices. These simple lifestyle tweaks can also help improve your overall health while reducing the anxiety that can significantly impact one's ability to conceive.
Here are 5 top foods for PCOS/PCOD women to include in their diet:
1. Leafy Greens:
Women must include at least 1-2 servings of healthy nutritious green leafy vegetables in their diet. Not only are these nutritious, but they are also rich in Vitamin B. It is an important nutrient that supports fertility by regulating ovulation, insulin control, and regularizing blood flow in the body. Hence, a high intake of Vitamin B can help in managing the symptoms associated with PCOS. It may also help in reducing hair thinning and hirsutism (excess hair growth), two other symptoms often associated with PCOS and PCOD.
It is an important nutrient that can help correct hormonal imbalances. Certain fishes like salmon and sardine are rich in Omega-3. Omega-3 also helps to control stress levels and reduce inflammation, which could cause uncontrolled weight gain. If these fishes are not available, fish oil supplements can be taken. Vegetarians can opt for flax seeds or walnuts with yogurt or smoothies.
The nutrient-dense chickpea, beans, lentils, peas, and soybeans are loaded with fiber and protein with zero cholesterol. Legumes are beneficial for diabetes management because of their low glycemic index and help in regulating blood sugar after consumption. Additionally, they are also rich in proteins and can be taken by themselves, as a side dish or with salads, wraps, or tacos.
Berries are extremely beneficial for patients with PCOS as they are filled with antioxidants that may help reduce oxidative stress. Berries contain polyphenols, which have been shown to help in the management of weight, diabetes, and indigestion. A mix of strawberries, blueberries can be consumed with yogurt for additional benefits.
These contain soluble and insoluble fibers that slow down the absorption of fat and sugars in the body. Oats also contain vitamin B which helps in increasing the production of progesterone hormone. The zinc in oats can benefit hair growth while reversing PCOS.
A diet rich in vegetables and fruits helps to keep fuller and simultaneously allows women to consume fewer calories. It also helps to reduce the risk or impact of heart disease. Women who follow a low-carbohydrate or a low-GI diet have improved insulin metabolism and lower cholesterol levels.
Weight loss or weight management will help improve the symptoms of PCOS. Weight loss can restore the normal function of the ovaries and result in normal hormone production. This can in turn lead to improvements in symptoms of PCOS, such as excess facial or body hair growth, acne, scalp hair loss, and menstrual regularity. In addition, women with PCOS/PCOD should also seek medical advice, especially if they are taking fertility supplements to compensate for the nutrients missing from their daily diet. Women dealing with PCOS/PCOD, often find it challenging to keep stress at bay. But long-term stress can have a negative impact on hormones and fertility. However, there are multiple pieces of research that show a link between high stress and infertility. High levels of stress trigger the release of the hormone, cortisol. To more effectively manage stress, affected women can practice meditation, exercise, yoga, or try counseling.
About the author - Rohit Shelatkar, VP at Vitabiotics, Fitness & Nutrition Expert
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