Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a condition that affects women. In PCOS there is a disturbance in the balance between the hormone levels in the female body. This imbalance causes them to produce higher amounts of male hormones.
Higher amounts of male hormones lead them to skip their menstrual cycle and it can get harder to get pregnant. Other than that, it causes increase facial and body hair growth, and baldness. It is also a contributing factor for diseases such as diabetes and cardiovascular diseases.
Lifestyle modification and diet can help fix hormone imbalance and improve symptoms. Other treatment options such as birth control pills and diabetes drugs are also used.
Causes Of PCOS:
Polycystic ovary syndrome is a common condition affecting about 27% of women between the age of fifteen to forty-four. From 27% of all women 70% of which have not been diagnosed. In this condition, there is the formation of a cyst that contains immature eggs. The eggs are never fully mature to cause ovulation. This results in irregular periods.
The cause of PCOS is still unknown. Doctors believe it can be due to:
PCOS is a condition that runs in that family. There may be many genes contributing to it.
Insulin resistance is a condition in which the cells do not respond to insulin properly. 70% of women suffering from PCOS also suffer from insulin resistance.
Insulin is a hormone that is produced by the pancreases to convert sugar into energy.
When your body does not respond to insulin. It results in an increase in insulin production. Extra insulin production triggers your ovaries to produce more male hormones.
Increased body weight or obesity is a major cause of insulin resistance.
Some studies have linked high androgen (male hormone) levels to inflammation. Women suffering from PCOS have an increased level of inflammation in their bodies. Obesity also contributes to an increased level of body inflammation.
Common symptoms of PCOS:
Some women start seeing symptoms at the start of their first menstrual cycle (period). For other women symptoms might not be that obvious, they notice they have PCOS after they have gained a lot of weight or they are facing troubles while trying to get pregnant.
As discussed above during PCOS ovaries remain immature hence ovulation does not take place. This prevents the uterine from the uterine wall from shedding every 28 days. Women suffering from PCOS might get less than eight periods a year or even none at all.
Since you do not have a regular menstrual cycle, the uterine lining builds up for a longer period, so the periods you do get can be heavier than normal.
One of the most common symptoms of PCOS is excessive hair growth. More than 79% of women suffering from PCOS grow hair on their face and body. This includes their chest, back, and belly.
You might experience breakouts on your face, chest, and back. This is because male hormones can make skin oilier.
This is another common symptom affecting up to 80% of women suffering from PCOS. They are generally overweight or obese.
Male Pattern Baldness:
You might experience your hair thinning out or falling out.
Darkening of The Skin:
Hyperpigmentation or dark patches can occur in the skin. This usually happens in body creases like on the neck, under the breast, and in the groin area.
Headaches can result due to hormonal changes in some women.
How PCOS Is Diagnosed:
Women who have at least two of these symptoms are diagnosed to have PCOS.
- high androgen levels
- irregular menstrual cycles
- cysts in the ovaries,
You might be asked by your doctor if you have faced other symptoms such as face and body hair growth, acne, and weight gain.
For the diagnosis of PCOS, a pelvic exam is performed to look for any problems with your ovaries or other parts of your reproductive tract.
Doctors also perform laboratory blood testing to check for higher-than-normal levels of male hormones. Other than that blood tests for your cholesterol, triglyceride, and insulin id performed. To evaluate the risk for a related condition such as diabetes and heart diseases.
Doctors can also perform an ultrasound to look for any problem with your ovaries or uterus or abnormal follicles.
Diet and Lifestyle Tips to Treat PCOS:
Like any disease, the first treatment and preferred treatment for PCOS is lifestyle changes and diet. You are suggested to lose weight, eat a healthy diet, and exercise regularly.
Weight loss is sometimes challenging for people suffering from PCOS. But it is very important losing about 5 to 10percent of your body weight can improve PCOS symptoms and help regulate your menstrual cycle. It also helps in:
- improve cholesterol levels.
- lower insulin
- reduces heart disease and diabetes risks.
Any diet that can help you lose weight is beneficial for PCOS. Certain diets are recommended over others due to their advantages.
Diet Plan for PCOS:
For women that suffer from PCOS what they eat has a significant effect on their bodies. So, your diet is very important when dealing with PCOS.
There are certain foods that are proven to be beneficial for some people when dealing with their condition.
The diets that are used to manage symptoms of PCOS are:
A Low Glycaemic Index (GI) Diet:
Since PCOS is related to insulin resistance. Controlling your sugar levels is very important. Foods with a low glycemic index are digested slowly. Hence, they do not cause your sugar levels to spike. Foods with low GI include protein-rich foods such as legumes, nuts, seeds. Unprocessed carbohydrates have a comparatively low GI than processed carbohydrates. So, they can be included in Low GI diet such as green vegetables, berries, etc.
An Anti-Inflammatory Diet:
An anti-inflammatory diet includes eating food that is rich in antioxidants. Inflammation is caused by free radicle formation in our body. Antioxidants prevent inflammation caused by free radicles. Anti-inflammatory foods include.
- Fatty fish leafy greens
- Extra virgin olive oil
These also help reduce fatigue which might be caused by fatigue.
Keto For PCOS:
Ketogenic diet is a diet in which you get 70% of your calories from fats, 20% from protein, and 10% or less from carbohydrates. This results your body to enter ketosis. In which your body starts to use fat for energy.
Since PCOS is associated with high levels of insulin in your body. When you cut down glucose your body decreases the production of insulin. This has shown to improve the symptoms of PCOS.
Keto Meal Plan For PCOS:
PCOS is a chronic condition in which you have low levels of inflammation in your body. With the combination of a good meal plan, antioxidants, exercise, and lifestyle changes, you can minimize the symptoms of PCOS. You can follow the following guideline to create the perfect PCOS plan:
Adhere to a Very Low-Carbohydrate Diet
Refine carbohydrates that contain no fiber results in a spike in your glucose and insulin level. Start with setting your goal to less than 50 grams of carbohydrates in a day. Ensure you eat carbohydrates that are high in fiber. If you see symptoms such as low energy levels. Increase your carbohydrate intake by 5 grams a day until your energy level is normal. Now that you have achieved a healthy energy level, start to reduce your carbohydrate intake by 5-10 grams per day. This causes an increase in free-floating ketone levels and fat-burning capacity.
Intermittent fasting has become very popular over the years. There are many ways you can fast, but the most popular way is to take advantage of the fasting stage your body is already in while sleeping and skip breakfast and have lunch as the first meal of the day. Ideally, people start with a 12-hour fast. At 12 hours your body is in a fasting state and it starts to burn fat for fuel. There are multiple benefits of intermittent fasting other than fat loss. Intermittent fasting also reduced inflammation. Improvement of brain function and fatty liver, insulin sensitivity, and the starvation of bad gut bacteria.
If you are diabetic and take diabetes medicine, we recommend consulting with your physician before starting intermittent fasting.
Working out is important for a healthy body. You can do mild exercises for 40-45 minutes or HIIT workout 4 times a week. This will help you with insulin regulation, weight loss, and fat adaptation.
Water is 70% of our body. It is a key element, especially when dealing with PCOS. It is responsible for transporting hormones to different parts of your body, carry essential nutrients to your organs, and remove toxins. It is recommended that you drink at least 1-2 liters of water a day. Because dehydration can cause mood alteration, mind-body coordination which is important for the hemostasis of the body.
Natural Supplements For PCOS:
Natural Supplements are a good addition to your diet. As research shows supplements help with insulin resistance, hormone regulation, and inflammation related to PCOS. Some popular supplements are listed below:
Flax seeds are rich in omega-three fatty acids. They are known to reduce insulin level and androgen levels. Not only that, they increase sex hormone-binding globulin levels.
Cinnamon is believed to help in weight loss. It has also been shown to reduce insulin resistance, improve menstruation and ovary function. It comes from the bark of cinnamon trees. You can intake ½ to 1 teaspoon a day to see positive effects.
Nuts are rich in proteins and healthy addition to any diet. Walnuts and Almonds have shown a positive effect on women with PCOS. Walnuts increase sex hormone-binding globulin and Almond decreases free androgen levels.
Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV):
Apple cider vinegar is known to decrease insulin resistance and help in weight loss. It also helps in promoting ovulation. You can intake 1-2 tablespoons in the morning.
Magnesium deficiency leads to insulin resistance, increases neurological firing rate leading to stress and anxiety resulting in more PCOS symptoms. Intake food that is rich in magnesium such as Almonds, cashews, spinach, and bananas.
Zinc deficiency results in hormonal imbalance worsening PCOS symptoms. Zinc helps in the function of the immune system, hormones, and enzymes. It has shown a positive effect on excessive and unwanted hair growth.
Inositol has been extensively studied for PCOS. It is found in nuts and citrus fruits. It is a sugar alcohol compound. It promotes ovulation and fertility. It has also decreased insulin resistance and male sex hormone in the bloodstream.
Vitamin B9 is also known as folic acid. It is an essential vitamin that is suggested for women who are trying to get pregnant. It prevents fetal abnormalities. People in a healthy weight range should take 400 micrograms of folic acid and people who are overweight or obese should take 5 mg of folic acid. Other than that, you should add foods that are rich in Vitamin B9 in your diet such as cauliflower, kale, spinach, cabbage, collard greens, and broccoli.
Vitamin D and calcium can help in irregular periods and restore ovulation. Vitamin D is produced by our kidneys, it plays an important role in our endocrine system. Its deficiency is very common in people struggling with PCOS.
Some Final Thoughts:
PCOS is one of the most common causes of infertility in women. Since there is no cure for PCOS you can manage you can take steps to manage your symptoms. PCOS can easily be managed with the right diet and lifestyle changes. The Ketogenic diet is the best diet for PCOS. It can reduce insulin resistance and insulin levels in the body. It also promotes weight loss. In some cases, keto might even reverse PCOS. Try not to stress too much about it because stress can also increase your symptoms. Before starting any diet, we recommend talking to your physician. So, your doctor can guide you regarding how this diet can affect your body.