Polycystic ovarian Syndrome (PCOS), Symptoms, Causes & Diet
PCOS/D is considered to be the new gynecological epidemic. Statistically, one in every ten women go through this hormonal problem. A lot of women do not go ahead with diagnosing themselves with PCOS symptoms, and those who are diagnosed are left to deal with it on their own. Since the myths and certain misinformation is floating around, I hope you find this blog helpful in fighting with this endocrine disorder.
What is PCOS/D?
Polycystic ovarian Syndrome: When the disease is only limited to Ovary, we call it PCO but when it affects other parts of the body accompanied by other host of disease like Type 2 Diabetes, Infertility, Sleep apnea etc, we call it a syndrome.
Symptoms of PCOS/D
Period Problems: Many patients with PCOS will have an irregular menstrual cycle that may vary from patient to patient. Some may have delayed periods, prolonged periods and some may have scanty bleeding or Heavy bleeding. This happens because of disturbed ovulation which is the direct result of hormonal imbalance.
Weight Gain: More than 80% of women with PCOS find losing weight difficult and continue to gain fat mostly in the midsection area (Abdominal area). Here the main culprit is Insulin resistance, which leads to unnecessary fat deposit and can make weight management difficult. But you must know, losing 10% of your weight will improve your PCOS symptoms.
Histruism: The PCOS is related to hormonal imbalance that causes ovaries to produce male pattern hormones called androgens. You may see an increase in hair growth or thick hair growth on your upper lips, chin, belly and back. On the other hand some women may face male pattern hair loss also known as Androgenic Alopecia.
Infertility: PCOS is the main cause of infertility in among 80% of woman suffering from it. Due to hormonal imbalance, ovulation process could be affected and your ovaries does not release an egg which in turn hampers conceiving process.
Sleep Apnoea: Due to PCOS, some woman may suffer from obstructive sleep apnea causing them to snore more. Disturbed sleep can cause fatigue, mood swings, memory loss and weight gain.
Mood Disorder: Some scientists believe that due to hormonal imbalance and inability to deal with physical changes like weight or unwanted hair growth, it can lead to anxiety, mood swings, depression and eating disorder.
Causes Of PCOS/D:
It is difficult to state the exact reason for the cause, but many health care professionals feel the reasons could be manifold and can vary from heredity to environmental toxins.
Many scientists believe hereditary is the main factor, which means that it may pass on from one woman in the family to another. But I beg to differ from this opinion, as if we widely see PCOD was rarely mentioned in the text book 20 years ago, which means that the generation before us hardly ever complained of this disease. Even if they had the genes, it highly possible that they were not expressed then. The only difference between the previous generations and our present generation is our sedentary lifestyle and eating habits. Unhealthy eating leads to insulin resistance which is the root cause of other lifestyle disorders like obesity, Type 2 diabetes and of course, PCOD.
Other factors that contribute is low grade inflammation. Inflammation is the natural response of the body to any disease, cut or wound or any kind of stress. But if you are under chronic stress it could be any physiological (E.g. pollution) or psychological stress (E.g. relationship issues), this causes your body to be in an inflamed state.
Environmental Factor like pesticides, fertilizers or Plastic also contribute to PCOD. Such substances contain chemicals which mimic our hormone, when consumed for longer period of time it makes our internal system confused and it eventually disturbs equilibrium of our body.
How can you manage PCOS/D ?
PCOS is the most common endocrine disorder that affects most women in the current generation. Being diagnosed with it may come as surprise to you, but don’t worry you are not alone! By adopting this simple lifestyle modification, you can easily manage your condition.
Dietary Modification for PCOD:
Get your basics right, once you do that, managing your diet would be like a cake walk. As we discussed, Insulin resistance is the main culprit. Anything that helps you to increase insulin sensitivity should be a part of your diet.
Your diet should be rich in fiber and with low Glycemic index, as it helps in regulating your sugar level. Therefore, including whole grains, fruits and raw salad is a must. Avoid any kind of refined flour and trans-fat from junk food. Change your oil from refined to ghee, cold pressed coconut oil, and mustard oil for cooking. Try to eat fresh and homemade food.
Try to include good quality protein in every meal like grass-fed lean chicken, Eggs, Pulses, almonds, Cottage cheese, Quinoa etc in your everyday meals. Protein helps in synthesising of hormones like estrogen, testosterone and insulin. It also helps in boosting metabolism and control appetite. Protein powder and shakes should be avoided unless required as they can’t be replaced with natural sources.
Third, Snacks are encouraged, so including fruits, nuts and seeds, coconut slice, Veg juice in between your meals. It will not only help increase insulin sensitivity and but helps to control insulin surge. Mid meals helps to reduce your hunger thus controlling your calories intake. Also it will give you much needed fiber and micronutrients.
Fourth, Include low fat dairy products like curd, buttermilk, cottage cheese. It’s advisable for PCOD patients that they switch to low fat dairy products or in some cases completely avoid them. It depends on the severity of the symptoms. Switching your dairy products will helps you to regulate your ovulation cycle and hormones.
Fifth, Include cinnamon in your diet either in the form of herbal tea or adding it in your curd or veg juice. Cinnamon is said to control your blood sugar levels and hunger. You can have around ½ tsp. to 1 tsp. of cinnamon in a day.
Other than this try to eat organic and seasonal vegetables and fruits as much as possible. Try to source kitchen ingredients from local vendors. Don’t overcook your vegetables, their color and crunchiness should be intact. Don’t store your food in plastic containers instead start using glass or steel containers. Try to avoid processed and package items. Steer away from low calorie and low fat namkeen, biscuits available at the supermarket.
Exercise with dietary modification does wonders in making your periods regular and managing PCOS symptoms. Regular exercise helps you to absorb sugar from blood directly in your muscles without the help of insulin. Less insulin means less production of male hormones and less fat storage and thus regular menstrual cycle.
Women with PCOS may not get good quality sleep and feel daytime sleepiness. By maintaining good sleep hygiene you can improve your quality of sleep.
Few tips that you can use for good sleep:
- Avoid having any kind of stimulant 4 -5 hours before sleep like alcohol or tea or coffee.
- Avoid exposure to your gadgets or any kind of blue light 2- 3 hours before sleep.
- Use aroma therapy to unwind, scents like lavender, jasmine and sandalwood promote relaxation.
- Keep your room tidy and decluttered. Sleep with cleans sheets – they limit your exposure to dust, germs and allergens.
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