Managing “PCOS”

Leading cause of female infertility

Dr Richa Mahajan
Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) is a syndrome that manifests in female body as a result of hormonal imbalance. This causes irregular periods, sometimes excessive bleeding, facial hair, thinning of scalp and weight gain. Today PCOS has become the leading cause of infertility in women. The first ever case of PCOS was detected in 1935 and today there are over 10 million women suffering from it. In India, one out of every 5 women is a PCOS patient. It was rare in 1940s but is quite rampant in 2019. Our fast modern lifestyle is to be blamed for it. PCOS can also lead to other serious health challenges, such as diabetes, cardiovascular problems, depression, and increased risk of endometrial cancer.
Although PCOS is a serious disorder but it can be cured if few simple lifestyle changes are adopted. Following a diet that meets a person’s nutritional needs, maintains a healthy weight, and promotes good insulin levels can help people with PCOS feel better.
Your food is your medicine
Research has shown that what people eat has a significant effect on PCOS. You can bring an ideal hormonal balance in your body by just eating the right foods. You need to stop packaged, processed foods and switch to fresh homely food.
* Practice The Healthy Plate Method. Fill half your plate with fresh vegetables, one fourth of that plate with protein like dal or paneer and the remaining one fourth part with complex carbohydrates like roti, rice or millets. First eat the salad and then eat the cooked food. You can add one teaspoon of desi cow ghee in your meal.
* Anything fermented like fresh curd, paneer, sprouts, idli or dosa is priceless for the ovaries for the abundant supply of vitamin B12 that it gives.
* Seasonal fruits must be part of your daily diet. Eat them during day time.
* Avoid high glycemic index carbohydrates like white rice, maida, potato, white bread.
* Take low glycemic index carbohydrates like, Brown rice, Oats, Sweet potato, Rava (semolina), Wheat, Multi grain bread, Legumes.
* High protein diet is recommended and because you are taking a high protein diet, you need to remain well hydrated. Keep checking your urine and make sure its clear all the time.
Avoid sugar
* Eat small frequent meals – PCOS patients might also experience water retention and the best way to avoid that is by having enough water and eating small and frequent meals.
* Some herbs have also been proven to keep your hormones in check. You can have herbs like meethi dana, flaxseeds and cinnamon to keep your hormones in control
Three diets that may help people with PCOS manage their symptoms are:
* A low glycemic index (GI) diet: The body digests foods with a low GI more slowly, meaning they do not cause insulin levels to rise as much or as quickly as other foods, such as some carbohydrates. Foods in a low GI diet include whole grains, legumes, nuts, seeds, fruits, starchy vegetables, and other unprocessed, low-carbohydrate foods.
* An anti-inflammatory diet: Anti-inflammatory foods, such as berries, fatty fish, leafy greens, and extra virgin olive oil, may reduce inflammation-related symptoms, such as fatigue.
* The DASH diet: Doctors often recommend the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet to reduce the risk or impact of heart disease. It may also help manage PCOS symptoms. A DASH diet is rich in fish, poultry, fruits, vegetables, whole grain, and low-fat dairy produce. The diet discourages foods that are high in saturated fat and sugar.
Exercise is non- negotiable
You must spend minimum of 20 minutes daily for exercise.
Begin with strength training and train your core muscles as well.
Hold butterfly pose.
5 minutes of rapid exhalation can give amazing results.
You can do all these exercise at home within 20 minutes.
Quality sleep is the key
The body of a woman reacts very quickly to hormonal disturbances. Irregular sleep times, phone calls, watching TV before going to sleep can make the condition of your hormones worse. A peaceful sleep is crucial for the absorption of minerals which is very important for maintain proper hormonal balance. Make sure to sleep and wake up at the same time everyday. Best time to sleep is between 9 pm to 6 am.
Avoid plastic
Strictly make it a point to avoid plastic containers, bottles, etc. as much as possible and replace them with glass bottles and containers. If you take your lunch along, pack it in a stainless steel container and not plastic. When plastic comes in contact with the food, it leaches chemicals like Xenoestrogens into it which are similar to the hormone Estrogen produced by the human body and it completely messes up the hormonal balance of the body. It will also help you if you stop using non- stick and aluminium cookware and switch to clay, brass and iron pots.
Diet chart for pcos patients
1 small serving of fruit
+ Protein ( 2-3 whole eggs, protein shake, upma, paneer).
Lean protein ( chicken breast, fish, 2-4 egg whites, paneer)
+Complex carbohydrates (2 rotis / bowl of brown rice, sweet potatoes, upma)
+ Dal + Salad
Small serving of complex carbohydrates (1 multigrain toast, bowl of upma, oats)
+ Tea or coffee (with 1 tsp sugar)
POST WORKOUT ( only if you follow an intense workout regime)
Small bowl of fruit
Same as lunch but avoid all forms of carbohydrates for dinner and replace them with salad.
(The author is Senior Resident Department of Community Medicine GMC, Jammu)