PCOS is a disturbance of metabolic function, which may present with any of the following features:
- Irregular or no periods
- Acne and greasy skin
- Abnormal body hair
PCOS is characterized by excess production of male hormones, hormonal imbalance and/or impaired glucose tolerance. On pelvic ultrasound, ovaries will appear enlarged with multiple small follicular cysts. The incidence of PCOS is up to 8 to 20% of women worldwide and is very common in the female population of the UAE.
The exact cause of PCOS is unknown, but is considered to be caused by genetic factors. The treatment methodology of PCOS focuses on managing individual symptoms and conditions. Women should follow a healthy lifestyle and diet. Obesity and insulin resistance are very common in such women. They are also at a higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular diseases later on. Weight loss may be difficult but it is very important for the patients’ self-image and reducing the symptoms. Consulting with a specialist, dietician and fitness expert is necessary. Furthermore, a balanced diet and regular exercise is crucial in the management of PCOS.
- Understand the word ‘Diet’
Diet does not mean starvation or eating minimal amounts in order to shed extra weight. Dieting is acceptable when it is done the healthy way. Do not indulge in a diet that does not provide with the required nourishment.
- Green leafy vegetables
Green leafy vegetables (especially spinach, kale, swiss chard, watercress and arugula) have the most nutrients per calorie than any other food. Moreover, they are rich in vitamin B, which is vital in managing PCOS.
- Indulge in a protein rich diet
Proteins from fish, lean meat, chicken, beans, tofu and peanut butter are a prominent part of a healthy PCOS diet. Combine proteins with some amount of carbohydrates to keep the blood sugar levels optimal.
- Opt for healthy fats
It is important to know that not all fats are bad or unhealthy. Essential fatty acids are vital for hormone balance such as fat found in tuna, salmon, nuts and seeds (walnuts, pumpkin seeds), olive oil and avocadoes is healthy and can be consumed in moderation.
Fruits are a natural rich source of fiber, vitamins, mineral and phytonutrients. Fruits recommended for PCOS women are cherries, plum, grapefruit, apple, pear, apricot, coconut, kiwi fruit, oranges and prunes.
In addition to consuming certain foods, some foods that need to be avoided include;
- White rice
- Mashed potatoes
- Rice cakes
- Muffins & cakes
- Dairy products
- Soy products
- Red meat
- Tips to manage insulin resistance
- Eat whole grain foods instead of processed, refined foods
- Eat whole fruits instead of fruit juice
- Eat small, healthy meals and more frequently to manage cravings & hunger pangs
- Never miss breakfast
- Life style changes
- Exercise regularly
- Manage stress
- Get support from family & friends
By making these diet and lifestyle changes, women can easily manage symptoms and feel good about themselves.