PCOS stands for Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome, also called the Stein-Leventhal syndrome . It’s an endocrinal disorder in women of reproductive age. Symptoms of PCOS include irregular or no menses, hypermenorrhoea, excess body and facial hair, pelvic pain, and trouble conceiving. Conditions like Type 2 Diabetes, obesity, endometrial cancer, obstructive sleep apnea, cardio-vascular disease and mood disorders.
PCOS has no cure, per se. But it can be managed. Primary managements includes a three-pronged approach:
- Lifestyle modifications
Diet and exercise are important aspects of managing Polycystic Ovarian Disease. This is because young women with PCOS often have high levels of a hormone called insulin in their bloodstream. Many women with PCOS have trouble maintaining their weight. Knowing what to eat and what not to, exercising and losing even a small amount of weight for overweight women can help control and manage symptoms of PCOS.
Let’s discuss lifestyle modifications that can be adopted by young women suffering from PCOS to keep healthy :
1. Exercise and weight loss : Where PCOS is associated with obesity, women must work out regularly for effecting weight loss. Studies have shown that women with a minimum of 160 minutes per week can prevent onset of diabetes.
2. Low carbohydrate diet : Women who follow low carbohydrate diets can stay fit for longer periods of time. Insulin levels in the blood are raised after we eat. But the levels go up the most after we eat food rich in carbohydrates. They are found in grains ( pasta, read etc.), snacks ( cookies, candy etc.) and sugary drinks and fruits. But how much insulin levels go up after consumption of carbohydrates also depends on the type of carbohydrates. Carbohydrate foods with fiber are usually good for people trying to keep off the extra pounds. Carbohydrate foods which are sugary or refined ( white bread or rice) can cause insulin levels to spike- these foods do not provide satiety, and we feel hungry shortly after consuming them. Women with PCOS must choose high-fiber low sugar carbohydrates to maintain proper body weight.
3. Fibrous foods : Women with PCOS must eat enough fiber through fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Studies have shown that women with PCOS benefit most when they eat 25-30 grams of fibrous foods.
4. Protein : Protein-filled foods are fish, poultry items and nuts. These foods help fulfill hunger and act as an appetizer, plus is also a booster for metabolism. These can benefit women with PCOS.
5. Mini-meals : Women with PCOS must eat mini-meals throughout the day to regulate blood insulin levels. They must eat every three hours.
6. Avoid stimulants : Stimulants like caffeine can cause an increase in insulin levels, which may negatively affect women with PCOS. So they must avoid coffee and other stimulants as much as possible.
7. Physical exams : Women with PCOS may develop Type 2 Diabetes, cardiovascular diseases and endometrial cancer, so they must get blood sugar tests, lipid profile and physical exams done regularly to check the onset of these conditions.