PCOS, the Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome, is a common reproductive problem. It is one of the leading causes of infertility. Following a PCOS diet can help to manage this situation.
While there is no strict diet regime that will cure PCOS completely as such, it helps to still manage and watch what you consume. In fact, PCOS can’t be said to have a definite cure. But again, it doesn’t mean you leave it be and just watch it get worse and worse. It can be controlled.
There are negative effects that PCOS has on reproduction too. So, if you are looking to conceive, and you happen to have PCOS, then you certainly want to do all you can to increase your chances of conception.
Why diet can help with managing PCOS.
The pathology of PCOS, as seen in this guide to PCOS, shows us why it can be improved by dietary choices. For example, there is a correlation between the incidence of PCOS and obesity. Insulin resistance and diabetes are also linked. There is an interconnection between these conditions. Therefore, to manage this syndrome with diet, the dietary approach is primarily based on weight management(for obesity) and insulin production or insulin resistance (which affects the level of insulin in the bloodstream).
PCOS Diet – What to eat.
1. Foods with Low Glycemic Index(GI).
The glycemic index is a measure of how rapidly blood sugar levels rise after taking a meal. If you take food with high GI, the blood sugar levels rise rapidly. Consequently, there is a corresponding increase in the levels of insulin in the blood. High levels of insulin in the blood sets up a chain of reactions that aggravate the polycystic ovarian syndrome.
This is why it is important to take foods with low glycemic index if you are to effectively manage PCOS. The blood sugar levels rise moderately, and an equally moderate amount of insulin is released to handle the situation.
Such foods that with low glycemic index for managing PCOS include:
- Whole grains;
- Unprocessed low carbohydrate foods;
- Seeds, etc.
Thankfully, you can follow ayurvedic diet, nutrition, and lifestyle tips for blood sugar management.
2. DASH Diet.
DASH means Dietary Approach to Stop Hypertension. A DASH diet helps to manage the cardiovascular complications(heart problems) that arise due to polycystic ovarian syndrome. DASH is arguable the most effective and comprehensive dietary approach to lowering the risk of cardiovascular problems. DASH is low in total fat, saturated fat, and cholesterol.
A DASH diet will usually consist of:
- Whole grain;
- Foods containing less saturated fat;
- Food with less sugar, etc.
3. Anti-inflammatory Diet.
Foods with anti-inflammatory properties help to mitigate symptoms like fatigue, which present in cases of PCOS.
Such foods with anti-inflammatory properties include:
- Leafy greens;
- Virgin oil;
- Fatty fish, which contain omega-3 fatty acids.
4. High-Fibre Foods.
Foods containing high amounts of fibre keep you full for longer without loading you up with calories.
Fibres are not digested very fast, so they stay in the stomach for longer, making you feel full. As such, you feel hungry less often. With less food, there’s less calories. Additionally, fibres are themselves low in calories. So, they take up space that would have been occupied by calorie packed foods.
Essentially, high-fibre foods help to reduce the risk of being overweight or obese, or to manage it if you already are. Some high-fibre foods include:
- Vegetables generally are high in fibre. Additionally, they are low in carbohydrates.
5. Natural Unprocessed food.
Thermodynamics deal with the transfer of energy from one medium to another. Plants get their energy from sunlight, and then this energy is tapped by the animals that eat them. Unfortunately, a lot of the energy is lost in the process. If we, as humans, are to consume the animals or plants, we still process them further.
At each stage of processing and transfer of energy, a good part of the stored energy is lost. By the time it gets to the final level of consumption, there is very little of it left.
Eating processed foods is like eating food that has been stripped of its energy. A good part of the nutritive value is lost. Unprocessed food still have a relatively higher percentage of the energy and nutritional value left.
Furthermore, processed foods would have had some additions to them along the way. While some are beneficial, not all of them are very healthy.
Taking a lot of greens also help to manage PCOS by dietary approach. Some greens to take include:
- Red leaf lettuce;
- Spices: including turmeric and cinnamon.
- Fatty fish: salmon, tuna, sardines, mackerel, are rich in the good fat, omega-3 fatty acids.
- Dark chocolate in moderate amounts.
- Fruits: grapes, berries, cherries, etc.
PCOS Diet – What not to eat.
Having considered what to eat to mitigate PCOS, let us now consider what to not eat in case of PCOS. Again, the diet is focused on keeping insulin levels low, and weight management.
- Reduce your consumption of processed carbohydrates like pasteries, white bread, etc.
- Take less carbohydrates. Generally, women who take less carbohydrates have a better chance at ovulation.
- Avoid consuming too much of red meat as in steaks, pork, hamburger, etc.
- Do not take food containing too much sugar. Check the label for labels like high fructose corn syrup, sucrose, dextrose. These are sugars, and you should be wary of them.
- Pasta noodles that have semolina or durum are aslo high in sugar, and should be avoided.
- Avoid solid fats. They are add to break down. Solid fats can be found in margarine, lard, etc. On a whole, mind the fat you take. With fats, the two Q’s are important, I.e. quality and quantity both.
These lists are far from exhaustive, but it should give you a good idea of what to embrace and what to shun.
Ayurvedic Dietary Tips for PCOS.
How are the three doshas related to PCOS? In Ayurveda, PCOS is considered a problem of Kapha primarily. Kapha then blocks the Vata and Pitta doshas, leading to various symptoms and complications as are seen in PCOS.
Therefore, to manage PCOS, the efforts are concentrated on dietary and lifestyle tips to pacify the Kapha dosha. Some tips are as follows:
- Drink a glass of warm water on an empty stomach in the morning, mixed with lemon juice or honey.
- Breakfast should be light, with generous amounts of vegetables and fresh fruits. Take breakfast before 8am.
- The heaviest meal of the day should be lunch, and even that should not be too heavy. Take this before 2pm. Don’t eat lunch late. The agni(digestive fire) peaks out at midday and begins to drop. Consequently, the lunch will not be digested well if taken late. This leads to a build up of ama, and it will further complicate issues.
- Dinner should be the lightest. Your dinner should be freshly cooked, taken before 8pm.
PCOS is worrisome, especially for people who are looking to conceive. Couple that with all the other undesirable symptoms, and it is a real pain. You can manage your situation with these simple tips. Medhya Herbals is always open to you if you have more questions.