wellness

How To Manage PCOS With Diet And Exercise

Exercise and diet play an important role in managing PCOS. Here’s everything you need to know about the PCOS diet.

By Sneha Desu
22 September 2021

The following is an excerpt from Health Hour with Dr Sneha Desu, MBBS, NASM, AAHF and Gayatri Chona, Dietician, MSc Nutrition, UK. Watch the YouTube video for the full practice as well as the question and answer session.

PCOS affects one in every 10 women worldwide. In some cases, PCOS is also associated with other conditions such as diabetes, hyperthyroidism, or heart disease. Also, PCOS can be confused with other metabolic issues such as thyroid, diabetes or hyperlipidemia. So, it is important to rule out other conditions.

 

Common PCOS Symptoms

PCOS is often characterised by menstrual irregularities such as prolonged periods, delayed periods, scanty bleeding or early onset period. Some women suffer from weight gain issues but lean women can have PCOS too. Other common symptoms of PCOS include elevated androgen levels that show up as facial hair, body hair or thinning of scalp hair. PCOS can influence mood changes, anxiety, and sleeping difficulties.

Seek medical consultation followed by lifestyle changes if you experience at least two of these PCOS symptoms. A doctor usually performs an ultrasound to get a clear picture.

Diet Tips To Manage PCOS
 

1. Avoid high inflammatory foods: One of the important aspects to managing PCOS is to control inflammation. Several studies confirm the presence of low-grade inflammation in women with PCOS. Anti-inflammatory diet has shown some positive results in managing PCOS. “Your gut is the source of inflammation and therefore you should watch what you eat,” explains Gayatri Chona, Dietician, MSc Nutrition, UK. Including anti-inflammatory foods such as tomatoes, green-leafy vegetables, tree nuts, and olive oil helps, she says.
 

2. Eat complex carbohydrates: It’s a myth that carbs are the biggest villain in PCOS. “If you completely eliminate carbs from your diet, it results in craving and binge eating. Instead of completely avoiding the carbs, you should focus on eating clean carbs,” says Chona. Clean carbs are rich in fibre, are unprocessed, unrefined and have a low-GI (glycemic index). Some examples include brown rice, chickpeas, oatmeal and others.
 

3. Limit dairy: A growing body of evidence supports the association between dairy and PCOS. Study says that women found improvement in acne, a symptom of PCOS, after they cut out dairy from their diet. Excess dairy causes rise in blood glucose level, stimulates insulin growth factors and worsens inflammation.
 

4. Choose better fats: Healthy fats help tackle weight loss and other symptoms of PCOS. Good fats create a feeling of satiety, fight inflammation and boost the absorption of vitamin A, E and D— that is vital in PCOS, says Chona. Good fats include foods like canola and olive oil and nuts like avocado.
 

5. Try gluten-free alternatives: Limit consumption of biscuits, pasta and white bread, instead of refined carbs have gluten free alternatives such as millets, jowar, bajra or ragi. These have B complex vitamins, fibre, iron and calcium that are essential to manage symptoms of PCOS, says Chona.
Related Story: The perfect PCOS breakfast: Why your diet matters?

6. Take vitamin D supplements: Study published in Indian Journal of Medical Research finds a significant correlation between vitamin D and PCOS. Low levels of vitamin D causes further insulin resistance in women with PCOS, finds the study. Consider intake of vitamin D supplements or vitamin D fortified foods such as yoghurt and breakfast cereals, suggests Chona.
 

7. Try seed rotation: Seeds cycling is effective against PCOS when consumed in the first 14 days of the menstrual cycle,” says Chona. Seeds such as sunflower, pumpkin and flax in your rotis or salads can do the wonder!

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