Did you get your last period a few months back? Have your periods been irregular? Are you facing weight gain issues? Or are you terrified with facial hair?
If you answered yes to either question, you may be suffering from PCOS.
One of the most common female hormonal disorders is PCOS. It raises a lot of questions around exercise and diet but the good news is that with the right approach to nutrition and fitness, PCOS doesn't have to be a barrier to getting fit and feeling awesome. Better still, the right food and fitness approach can help manage it.
Polycystic Ovary Syndrome is a complex condition that affects how your ovaries work. Although the exact cause is unknown, PCOS is related to abnormal hormone levels including resistance to insulin and raised levels of testosterone. It often runs in families and you'll usually start to notice symptoms in your late teens or early twenties.
Symptoms can include irregular or absent periods caused by an imbalance of hormones, difficulty in getting pregnant, excess facial and body hair, weight gain, thinning hair on your head and oily skin and acne.
Not everyone with PCOS will have all of the symptoms and they can vary in severity from person to person so if you think you may have the syndrome, the first port of call should be your General Physician who can help you get a diagnosis.
While there's no cure for PCOS, the great news is that symptoms can be managed with the right lifestyle changes including exercise and a healthy diet and medication if needed.
We don't have a definitive cause for PCOS. Research says it is purely a lifestyle disorder, but genetics and environmental factors may also play a role sometimes. Although PCOS is not completely restricted to obese women, there is an entity called lean PCOS seen in lean women with a poor lifestyle. Obesity doesn't cause PCOS but makes it worse because of insulin resistance which leads to diabetes, with high levels of insulin—a hormone made by your pancreas.
Changing your lifestyle will not be easy, which is why we suggest that you start slow, but without delay.
Here are 5 lifestyle changes that can help you fight PCOS and lead a healthier and much happier life!
Doing any sort of physical activity for at least 50 minutes daily helps you stay fit and healthy. A lot of toxins are released from your body while you are working out, cleansing your system in the process. It keeps you in good shape, de-stresses you and helps preserve the overall hormonal balance of your body. Exercise increases metabolism which increases the body’s ability to burn the food we eat.
Processed and oily food is a big no-no if you are suffering from PCOS. Switch over to unprocessed and whole foods as soon as you can. Food in its natural, unaltered form, especially with a lot of fibre in it, helps to lower the male hormones. Also, maintain a proper balance of proteins and carbohydrates in your daily intake of food.
Keeping yourself hydrated all the time is the key to a fit and healthy lifestyle. Say no to aerated drinks and alcohol, and drink 3-4 litres of water per day, natural juices, and coconut water instead.
Tea and coffee are stimulants that have a drug-like effect on our body. And although they are harmless in moderate measure for others, they have quite a negative impact on women with PCOS and can further worsen their condition by reducing sleep which increases stress. You can always have green tea instead, as it is great for your immune system.
Taking too much stress can aggravate the symptoms of PCOS and further disturb your hormonal balance. Indulging in de-stressing activities like yoga and meditation can help calm you down. Take out some “me time” daily, in order to calm your mind and help your body relax.
Make a conscious effort to get adequate sleep for at least 5 to 6 hours every night and at the right time. Respect the biological clock which means - early to bed and early to rise. Avoid excess screen time, especially at night. More screen time at night leads to stress and weight gain.
Although there are specific medications to take care of PCOS, however, some changes in diet along with an active lifestyle can bring back normalcy in the way ovaries function and control these fluid-filled cysts. Let us take a look at 5 food changes that can help tackle Polycystic Ovaries at home.
Green leafy vegetables are a great natural source of vitamins K, C, E and B-vitamins besides providing iron, calcium, potassium, and magnesium. These vitamins and minerals, micronutrients like selenium, copper, magnesium are essential for hormonal balance and in managing PCOS.
Foods rich in antioxidants help manage PCOS, therefore aim for including bright vegetables like red & yellow bell peppers, sweet potatoes, brinjals, beetroots, etc. Antioxidants fight the free radicals and reduce oxidative stress from the body.
Women suffering from PCOS need to be careful while consuming fruits that have a high glycemic index or sugars. The solution lies in combining fruits with protein in the form of yoghurt or nuts and seeds. The protein content in these additions helps absorb the instant blood sugar that fruits release. Also, gorge on low GI fruits like apples, pears, cherries, plums, grapefruit, coconut, kiwi, oranges, etc.
PCOS interferes with insulin function thereby stimulating the pancreas to produce more insulin, which wreaks havoc on the overall health and is the cause for weight gain too. Thereby, women with PCOS must take extra care of their insulin levels. Avoid refined carbs like refined flour, white rice, white bread, white pasta; restrict sugar consumption and ward off stress as much as you can to maintain healthy insulin levels.
If you are suffering from Polycystic Ovaries, then you must avoid processed foods, canned juices, soda, high GI foods like mashed potatoes, corn, chips, cookies, candies, fruits with high sugars are bananas, custard apple, chikoo, mangoes, grapes etc.
“The first thing to start with is exercise rather than going on a diet plan. Once exercise becomes a routine, an additional diet plan will enrich the result of weight loss. Exercise also helps in releasing endorphins which are happy hormones which help in destressing”, says Dr Swarna Sree, one of the best gynaecologists of Zoi Hospitals, Somajiguda and Attapur.
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