Polycystic ovary syndrome, or PCOS, affects about 15-20% of women of reproductive age. It occurs when certain hormone levels are out of balance, causing the growth of fluid-filled sacs on the ovaries.
*written by Caitlin Evans, header from depositphotos.com
Some of the unpleasant side-effects of PCOS include weight gain, acne, hair growth, irregular periods, and even fertility problems. PCOS also increases the risk of type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and obesity.
While there is no cure for PCOS, lifestyle changes can improve the condition and reduce the symptoms.
One of these lifestyle changes revolves around nutrition, which can not only promote weight loss, but may even promote fertility as well.
Let’s explore how eating better can help.
Eat foods with a low glycemic index
Women who suffer from PCOS are often insulin resistant, which means their cells can’t transport sugar as well as they should. This leads to increased blood sugar levels and added symptoms.
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Eating foods with a low glycemic index can help keep these levels more stable, as they raise them slowly, preventing insulin spikes. Foods with a low GI index include fruits and vegetables, whole grains, healthy fats, and lean protein. Opting for a low-GI eating regime means avoiding processed foods and sugary drinks, and sticking to a healthier and more straightforward diet.
A good option for those with PCOS is the paleo diet, as it precisely focuses on eliminating processed foods and added sugar. While it may be a bit difficult to get used to it, by arming yourself with plenty of recipes and shopping only specifically to make them, you should be able to manage your blood sugar levels.
Eat plenty of healthy fats
Healthy fats can help balance hormone levels and improve insulin levels in women who have PCOS.
These healthy fats include avocados, olive oil, fatty fish, as well as unsalted nuts and seeds. You can also choose to supplement your diet with omega-3 fatty acids if you find you can’t eat enough through your diet.
However, bear in mind that you should be replacing unhealthy fats with their healthier substitutes, not adding more fat to your diet, as that will cause weight gain.
Eat less carbs
While carbs are no longer considered the enemy, eating less of them can improve the hormonal imbalances that are associated with PCOS.
First of all, this will mean that you naturally eat a diet that has a lower GI index. As a result, you’ll be promoting slower insulin rises and falls, as well as weight loss.
Diets high in protein and fats are the better choice for women with PCOS, but can be a bit more bland and difficult to manage. After all, who doesn’t love carbs?
Instead of cutting out carbs altogether and all at once, try testing out what works best for your body. Cut down on your carb intake slowly, and make sure you find delicious meals you will want to eat that will replace your carb-based ones. That way, you won’t have to feel like you are giving up something you love, and the transition will be easier.
Eat more lean protein
Foods that are high in protein, as opposed to foods that are high in carbs, do not cause insulin spikes, and they are also better at surprising hunger pangs.
Proteins are the building blocks of muscles, so if you add a weightlifting or other exercise routine to your lifestyle, your body will also put the protein you eat to good use, helping you gain more muscle as you lose fat.
Make sure you get your proteins from different sources, such as fish, lean meats, eggs, dairy products, and beans.
Again, while protein may not be the most appetizing item on the menu, with a bit of creativity, you can enjoy what you are eating, as well as the benefits it will have on your PCOS.
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There are different micronutrients whose intake you can also tweak:
Increase your intake of folate and folic acid
Both are a form of vitamin B9, and are a contributing factor to reducing the risk of heart disease and stroke.
Foods that are rich in folate include beans, spinach, asparagus, broccoli, and romaine lettuce, but you can also take it in supplement form.
Take a Vitamin D supplement
Vitamin D is produced by the body after sun exposure, and can be found in small amounts in food. Most women with PCOS are deficient in this vitamin, which can worsen their symptoms.
Adding a Vitamin D supplement to your diet can help keep your hormone levels in check and help you with weight loss.
L-Carnitine is an amino acid derivative that plays a role in energy production and the metabolism of glucose. Women who suffer from PCOS tend to have lower levels of it, which can tamper with their insulin resistance.
Adding an L-Carnitine supplement to your routine can help you manage the symptoms of PCOS.
Before you take any supplements, make sure you consult with your doctor.
Living with PCOS can be a challenge, but with the right dietary choices, the condition can be more manageable and the symptoms reduced. Make sure you talk to your doctor before you start making major changes, and monitor how what you eat affects your symptoms. Bear in mind that what works for some may not work for you, so listen to your body, and work on finding the best diet for your own need
Caitlin Evans is a bookworm and a writer especially interested in health, nutrition, and wellness related topics. When she is not trying to find the meaning of life and Universe, Caitlin is researching and writing for the various awesome blog since she loves sharing her knowledge. She is happily addicted to art in all its forms, grilled tofu, and hiking. To see what Caitlin is up to next, feel free to check out her Twitter dashboard.