Women with PCOS, particularly when their symptoms are not managed, are at a greater risk of heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure and endometrial cancer. Women with PCOS often focus on weight loss rather than a healthy lifestyle which eventually worsens their condition. If you have PCOS, you must focus on a balanced diet, lifestyle changes and supplements. There are many supplements available in the market that claim to manage hormonal imbalances caused by PCOS.
If you are diagnosed with PCOS, you may experience abnormal menstruation, irregular period, obesity, infertility, acne, dark patches, oily skin, loss of hair and unwanted hair. Not just that, it can also hamper your blood sugar levels. When it comes to managing symptoms of PCOS, making random or frequent changes to your diet, workout routine and lifestyle may not show lasting results.
Since PCOS can often cause weight gain, many women try to lose that weight by skipping meals — this can worsen PCOS symptoms. On the contrary, eating well-balanced meals at regular intervals will help keep your hormones in balance, which will help improve PCOS symptoms. A great way to manage blood sugar levels is to build a balanced plate that serves up a combination of complex carbs, protein, healthy fats and dietary fibre. Meal prepping can help you stay organised and help you calculate portion sizes beforehand.
Popular diets like intermittent fasting which promote fasting for prolonged periods can worsen insulin resistance instead of reducing it.
Not Eating Enough Protein
All foods that you eat have an impact on your rate of metabolism and the number of calories burned. But eating more protein cannot only increase the number of calories burned at rest but also helps increase lean muscle mass. Because protein is digested slowly so it does not spike blood sugar levels. Every meal of your day should have a protein source to meet your daily protein intake. As a rule of thumb, your daily protein requirement is calculated as 1g/kg of body weight. So if you weigh 60 kg, you should ideally have 60g of protein every day.
Eating Too Much Fruit In One Sitting
Fruits are packed with many essential nutrients and fibre and form an important part of your daily diet. However, fruits also contain natural sugar which in a certain amount is okay but if had in excess can spike blood sugar levels. High glycaemic index fruits like watermelon, pineapple and mango should be had in limited quantities.
Eating Processed Foods
Buying processed foods can lead to people eating more than the recommended amounts of sugar, salt and fat as they may not be aware of how much has been added to the food they are buying and eating. These foods can also be higher in calories due to the high amounts of added sugar or fat in them. You have no control over the amount of salt, sugar and fat in processed food, but you do have control over what you choose to buy. Not all processed food is a bad choice. Some foods need processing to make them safe, such as milk, which needs to be pasteurised to remove harmful bacteria. Other foods need processing to make them suitable for use, such as pressing seeds to make oil.
Not Eating a Variety of Vegetables
Vegetables are not only low in calories but carry plenty of antioxidants, vitamins and minerals that are important for good overall health. Vegetables are also a rich source of dietary fibre that helps ensure smooth bowel movements and can maintain blood glucose levels. A diet low in vegetables can cause nutritional deficiencies and lead to GI issues like constipation or bloating.
Other Helpful Tips
Although there are plenty of supplements available in the market to meet nutritional deficiencies, not every woman with PCOS needs each supplement. Based on your blood test, your doctor can recommend which supplements you would need to meet the nutrient gaps. However, supplements are only a complementary therapy and not a replacement for a healthy diet.
Consider Cutting Out Dairy or Gluten if you have intolerance
Various surveys have shown us that there is a distinction between going completely dairy-free and reducing your intake of cow’s milk. Of course, women with lactose intolerance irrespective of their PCOS would improve their symptoms by taking a low-dairy approach.
A completely dairy-free approach for PCOS management may not be necessary for you.
Similar is the case with gluten. A gluten-free diet is effective for people with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity. There is absolutely no benefit to eliminating gluten or dairy unless you have an allergy or intolerance toward it.
Try an Anti-inflammatory Diet
Compared to women without PCOS, women with PCOS have higher levels of inflammatory markers, including C-reactive protein (CRP), pro-inflammatory cytokines and chemokines and white blood cell count. While dietary modifications can’t completely reduce inflammation in the body, diet plays a role in inflammation. Certain foods are part of an anti-inflammatory diet, while others have been shown to promote inflammation.
A study published in the North American Journal of Medical Sciences, states that women with PCOS followed a Mediterranean-style anti-inflammatory diet for 3 months and benefited from it
- Participants consumed 2 grams of protein, and 3 grams of carbohydrate for every gram of fat consumed.
- This diet was designed to be low calorie, low-fat, low-saturated fat, low glycaemic index and moderate-to-high fibre and emphasised anti-inflammatory foods such as fish, legumes, nuts, olive oil, herbs, spices and green tea.
Learn More With Veera
At Veera Health, we promote building healthy, sustainable habits instead of relying on fad diets. Speak to the experienced PCOS experts at Veera Health to learn more.