PCOS (polycystic ovary syndrome) affects one in 10 women. Though pinpointing the actual cause and cure for this condition is a bit difficult, however, there are doctors who agree that diet and lifestyle play a significant role in managing PCOS. Therefore, to understand the relationship between food and PCOS, we got in touch with Dr Sandeep Datta, MBBS MD fellowship in diabetes, cardio-metabolic and BHRT specialist, and Kavita Devgan, a nutritionist, who explain how what you eat matters if you have PCOS.
What is PCOS
Polycystic ovary syndrome can be defined as a health condition in women, where a cyst gets formed in ovaries. The cyst is primarily formed due to the overproduction of androgen hormones. PCOS can lead women to gain weight; it is also linked to insulin resistance and high insulin levels can lead to symptoms like excessive hunger, hair fall, acne, facial hair, etc.
Role of diet
A proper diet and nutrition can help PCOS patients to lose and manage their weight along with controlling their insulin levels as well. Most experts agree that a high protein and low carbohydrate can help in dealing with weight and insulin issues.
Type of foods
Greens: Leafy greens such as spinach are rich in multiple nutrients and low in calories. They are also rich in Vitamin B. And more than 60% of PCOS patients happen to be Vitamin B deficient. Lack of this vitamin is linked to various PCOS symptoms such as irregular periods, excessive hair growth and obesity. Opt for spinach, cabbage greens, kale, broccoli, and other green leafy vegetables.
Omega-3 fatty acids: These fatty acids are essential for regulating one’s menstrual cycle. They help in regulating your hormones; they also reduce your body’s sensitivity to prolactin — a hormone that can suppress ovulation. Opt for salmon, flaxseed, chia seeds, etc.
Low glycemic index food: Eating low GI food is imperative for weight management. Foods high in GI can cause your blood sugar levels to rise, which has implications for diabetes caused by PCOS. Opt for fruits low in GI such as apples, pear, grapefruit, blueberries, and foods such as oatmeal, sweet potatoes, and legumes.
Whole grains: PCOS also causes type 2 diabetes, in most cases. And whole grains contain fibre, which is necessary for maintaining insulin levels. Also, whole grains such as rye, oats, and buckwheat they slowly release carbohydrates in our body, which does not cause a spike in our sugar levels.
Processed food: They have a high GI, which is directly linked to insulin production and diabetes.
Dairy: Not all, but in some cases it can cause inflammation, acne and increased insulin levels.
Unhealthy fats: Saturated or hydrogenated fats can increase estrogen production making PCOS symptoms even worse.
Soy: Women with PCOS tend to have high estrogen levels and consuming soy will increase it even further.
Gluten: Gluten can cause inflammation, which in turn can lead to insulin resistance leading to diabetes.