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Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) – Diet and Lifestyle Changes That Help

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Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is majorly marked by a complete absence of periods or irregular periods. Women who have PCOS have multiple cysts in their ovaries, and these are caused by an overproduction of hormones known as androgens.

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An estimated 50 percent of women who have the disorder are obese or overweight. Common PCOS symptoms include:

  • Acne
  • Male pattern baldness
  • Hirsutism (excessive hairiness)
  • Missed or absent periods

Women who have PCOS, especially when its symptoms are left unmanaged, may also stand a significant risk for:

Many women with PCOS can manage symptoms and lessen their risk of suffering other medical problems by taking control of their diet and other lifestyle choices.

What effect does my diet have on PCOS?

Women who have PCOS are usually found to suffer insulin levels that are higher than usual. Insulin is a hormone produced in the human pancreas. Its function is to help the cells in a person’s body convert sugar (glucose) into energy.

If you do not produce enough insulin, you will experience a rise in blood sugar levels. This can also occur in people who are insulin resistant, which means such people aren’t able to make use of the insulin they produce effectively.

If you are insulin resistant, there is a chance that your body will try to pump out high amounts of insulin in an attempt to normalize your blood sugar levels. When your insulin level is too high, it can make your ovaries produce too many androgens, like testosterone.

Insulin resistance can also be caused by having an above standard body mass index. Insulin resistance may also make it more challenging to shed weight, which is the reason women with PCOS usually experience this problem.

A diet that is high in refined carbohydrates, such as sugary and starchy foods, can lead to insulin resistance and thus cause weight loss that is more challenging to control.

What foods are fit for my diet?

The foods to add to your diet omit you have PCOS include:

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  • Lean protein, such as fish
  • High-fiber vegetables, such as broccoli
  • Anti-inflammatory foods and spices, such as tomatoes and turmeric

High-fiber foods will also assist in the combat of insulin resistance by reducing sugar impact on the blood and slowing down digestion. Foods with high fiber may be beneficial to women dealing with PCOS.

Good high-fiber food options include:

  • Greens, including arugula and red leaf lettuce
  • Cruciferous vegetables, such as cauliflower, broccoli, and Brussels sprouts
  • Green and red peppers
  • Almonds
  • Beans and lentils
  • Pumpkin
  • Berries
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Winter squash

Sources of lean protein like fish, tofu, and chicken do not contain fiber but are quite filling and a healthy option for people with PCOS.

Foods that assist with reducing inflammation may also be of great benefit. They include:

  • Kale
  • Tomatoes
  • Spinach
  • Olive oil
  • Almonds and walnuts
  • Fruits, such as strawberries and blueberries
  • Fatty fish with high omega-3 fatty acids, such as sardines and salmon

Which foods must be limited or completely avoided?

Women with PCOS must avoid Foods such as:

  • Foods high in refined carbohydrates, such as muffins and white bread
  • Sugary drinks and snacks
  • Inflammatory foods, like processed and red meats

One cause of inflammation is refined carbohydrates. They also exacerbate insulin resistance and must be avoided entirely or limited to a significant level. These include foods that are highly processed, such as:

  • Anything made with white flour
  • Muffins
  • Sugary desserts
  • White bread
  • Breakfast pastries

Pasta noodles that have durum flour, semolina, or durum wheat flour in its list as it’s the first ingredient have very high carbohydrates content and low or no fiber content. These should ultimately be eliminated from your diet.

Pasta made from lentils or bean flour rather than wheat flour is a great alternative.

Sugar is a carbohydrate and must be avoided as often as possible. When shopping for foods that may contain sugar, read the labels to look for the various names for sugar. These names include:

  • High fructose
  • Corn syrup
  • Sucrose
  • Dextrose

Sugar may also hide in the things you drink, like your favorite soda and juice.

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It’s a great idea to either reduce or eliminate inflammation-causing foods, such as margarine, fries, and red or processed meats from the foods you eat as well.

Other lifestyle changes women with PCOS should consider

PCOS, just like several disorders, will have a positive response to proactive lifestyle choices.

These choices include daily physical movement and exercise. Both activities can help with reducing insulin resistance, especially when a limited intake of bad carbohydrates is included.

Many experts believe that exercising for at least 150 minutes a week is excellent for the body.

Daily activity, a low-inflammation diet, and low sugar intake may also contribute to weight loss. PCOS patients may experience better ovulation with weight loss. So women who are overweight or obese and are trying to get pregnant may find exercise approved by their doctor, especially vital.

The symptoms of PCOS can lead to fatigue and stress. It would be helpful to adopt stress reduction techniques, as they may help to calm the mind and give you a chance to connect with your body. These techniques include yoga and meditation.

Talking to a therapist or other medical professional can also be of great assistance.

Conclusively, If you’re dealing with PCOS or any of the symptoms associated with it, you may feel depressed and frustrated sometimes. Taking proactive steps when it comes to your health will help improve your mood and reduce your symptoms.

If you need help to start, all you have to do is to make yourself a good food/bad food list and adhere to it.

There is always a healthier alternative to every food that has a negative effect on health. For instance, if you’re accustomed to having white toast and margarine for breakfast, you can substitute it for high-fiber whole-grain bread and avocado or olive oil.

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If your symptoms persist, after trying the above changes, speak with your doctor.

Leave your comments and suggestions below.

Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)
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Disclaimer: This article is purely informative & educational in nature and should not be construed as medical advice. Please use the content only in consultation with an appropriate certified medical or healthcare professional.

Emmanuella Ekokotu
Ekokotu Emmanuella is a sociologist and Anthropologist, writer, and fashion model who lives in Benin city, Edo state,Nigeria.
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