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Does Diet Affect Polycystic Ovaries Syndrome?

Poly­cys­tic Ovary Syn­drome (PCOS) is a con­di­tion that affects approx­i­mate­ly 10 per­cent of girls and women in their late teens, 20s, 30s and 40s – in oth­er words, one in 10 women of child­bear­ing age. While it is not life-threat­en­ing, it can indeed cause health prob­lems if not dealt with prompt­ly and effec­tive­ly. Good nutri­tion­al choic­es – eat­ing a well-bal­anced diet with few or no excep­tions – can help ease the dis­com­fort of PCOS in most people. In this arti­cle, we explain PCOS, describe its symp­toms, and sug­gest ways in which nutri­tion can help ease dis­com­fort and lessen symp­toms. Our focus is large­ly dietary because obe­si­ty (and the health prob­lems that can stem from it) is a com­mon side effect of PCOS, and prop­er nutri­tion is vital for any woman deal­ing with this condition.

What Is PCOS?

PCOS is a dis­or­der in the female repro­duc­tive sys­tem, an imbal­ance of hor­mones. (Unfor­tu­nate­ly, med­ical experts and sci­en­tists have not yet pin­point­ed the pre­cise cause of PCOS). Often a patient has high lev­els of male hor­mones called andro­gens and flu­id-filled cysts on their ovaries. Women who are cop­ing with PCOS are often insulin resis­tant, which means their bod­ies do not use insulin cor­rect­ly. Con­se­quent­ly, the woman expe­ri­ences repro­duc­tive and meta­bol­ic prob­lems, including:
  • Irreg­u­lar or missed men­stru­al cycles.
  • Hair loss or thin­ning on the head, but unwant­ed hair growth else­where, such as the chest or face, stom­ach or toes.
  • Weight gain, around the stom­ach area in particular.
  • Infer­til­i­ty because of ovu­la­tion not occurring.
  • Skin prob­lems, includ­ing acne and dandruff.
  • Pain and dis­com­fort in the pelvic region.

What Risks Accompany PCOS?

These symp­toms are dif­fi­cult to cope with, but PCOS puts a woman at risk of oth­er prob­lems, too. These include:
  • Type 2 Dia­betes because of insulin resistance.
  • High cho­les­terol.
  • Obe­si­ty.
  • Anx­i­ety and depression.
  • High blood pressure.
  • Increased risk of endome­tri­al cancer.
But the prop­er diet and nutri­tion can help fore­stall prob­lems that stem from PCOS and may, in fact, help women avoid these out­comes altogether.

How Does Diet Help Manage PCOS?

Recent stud­ies have shown that a prop­er, bal­anced diet and reg­u­lar exer­cise can help women man­age PCOS and sta­bi­lize their condition. This hap­pens pri­mar­i­ly because a diet of whole foods, lots of fibre, plen­ty of lean pro­tein and oth­er ben­e­fi­cial nutri­ents help sta­bi­lize insulin lev­els. Women with PCOS under 40 are often pre-Dia­bet­ic; some have full Dia­betes. In addi­tion to mak­ing pos­i­tive changes to insulin lev­els, dietary and lifestyle changes can low­er cho­les­terol lev­els and blood pres­sure; help you lose weight; lessen anx­i­ety and depres­sion, and even reduce lev­els of male hormones.

First, Talk To Your Physician.

Before embark­ing on sig­nif­i­cant dietary and lifestyle changes, it’s impor­tant that you’ve seen your doc­tor and received a cor­rect diag­no­sis. If she/he con­firms you have PCOS, no doubt she/he will encour­age you to make these changes as prompt­ly as pos­si­ble. Once you are ful­ly apprised of your med­ical sit­u­a­tion, get start­ed mak­ing pos­i­tive changes as quick­ly as possible.

Foods To Consume When You’re Dealing With PCOS

Does Diet Affect Polycystic Ovaries - What is the best diet for polycystic ovarian syndrome - What foods to avoid if you have polycystic ovaries? If you’re a woman cop­ing with PCOS, it’s vital that you con­sume foods that help man­age insulin resis­tance and pro­duc­tion. We dove into the research of doc­tors, dieti­tians and nutri­tion­ists to put togeth­er the fol­low­ing list of foods they rec­om­mend you con­sume as much as possible.
  • Low glycemic index (GI) foods such as nuts, seeds, whole grains, fruits and veg­eta­bles, along with oth­er low car­bo­hy­drate foods, are all good choices.
  • Foods with anti-inflam­ma­to­ry prop­er­ties, such as blue­ber­ries, and fat­ty fish (like salmon and sar­dines), are also good nutri­tion­al choic­es for women with PCOS.
  • Extra vir­gin olive oil should be your go-to for mak­ing sal­ad dress­ing and light­ly fry­ing foods.
  • Kale and spinach and oth­er dark, leafy green veg­eta­bles. And, of course, a vari­ety of veg­eta­bles, both raw and cooked (cau­li­flower, onions, broc­coli, etc.), are also high on the list of rec­om­mend­ed foods.
  • Dried beans and lentils.
  • Lean meats, includ­ing chick­en and plant-based meat substitutes.
  • Spices such as cin­na­mon and turmer­ic. (Both are thought to have anti-inflam­ma­to­ry properties).
  • Foods are high in “good fats,” like avo­ca­dos. (For more infor­ma­tion on foods with the best fats, go to Amer­i­can Dia­betes Asso­ci­a­tion).
  • A lit­tle dark choco­late occa­sion­al­ly is accept­able if you’re a fan of sweets.

Foods To Avoid If You Have PCOS

Although no one should con­sume junk food or fast food in large quan­ti­ties, it is par­tic­u­lar­ly impor­tant that women with PCOS avoid these foods entirely. Stick­ing to the list of foods we just men­tioned is the health­i­est option, and resist­ing the temp­ta­tion to eat processed and refined foods is cru­cial. Here is a list of items you should­n’t con­sume, accord­ing to experts.
  • Fast foods. That means that foods like burg­ers, French fries, onion rings, piz­za, etc., are off the menu! These foods impact insulin lev­els and send cho­les­terol lev­els and blood pres­sure soar­ing, as they con­tain preser­v­a­tives and a great deal of sodium.
  • Too much red meat. Focus on lean meats like chick­en and plant-based pro­teins like veg­gie burg­ers. Eat lots of fish, too, as we sug­gest­ed ear­li­er – fish that’s high in omega‑3 fat­ty acids, like salmon.
  • Avoid processed meats. That includes hot dogs and deli meats.
  • Replace white bread. Opt for whole wheat or rye, or oth­er multi­grain breads.
  • Sug­ar-laced pop. Instead of drink­ing sug­ary sodas and juices, switch to water.

Benefits Of Dietary Changes When You Have PCOS

Weight loss is, of course, a ter­rif­ic out­come when you cut refined sug­ars and processed foods from your diet and replace them with nutri­tious choic­es that relieve symp­toms of PCOS. But weight loss is not the only benefit! Oth­ers include:

- Lower Blood Pressure & Cholesterol Levels

Eat­ing prop­er­ly – focus­ing on fresh fruits and veg­eta­bles, lean pro­teins, yogurt and oth­er cal­ci­um-rich dairy prod­ucts – has an imme­di­ate impact on insulin lev­els, blood pres­sure and cho­les­terol. Bring­ing these down ease PCOS symp­toms and may help low­er lev­els of andro­gens in the bloodstream.

- Dietary Changes Can Relieve Depression & Other Symptoms

Because too much sug­ar and sodi­um can pro­duce a false “high” fol­lowed by a jit­tery crash, elim­i­nat­ing them from your diet can help sta­bi­lize your mood. And these changes may also lessen pelvic dis­com­fort, which in turn eas­es anx­i­ety. The right foods offer ben­e­fits to women with PCOS phys­i­cal­ly, which in turn prompts ben­e­fits emo­tion­al­ly and psychologically. For exam­ple: when the lev­el of male hor­mones in your body drops, male-pat­terned hair growth should lessen as well, which in turn makes you feel more in con­trol of the con­di­tion. That is a boon to your men­tal and phys­i­cal health.

- Lifestyle Changes Help As Well

If you make pos­i­tive changes in your life in accor­dance with the dietary changes, your PCOS will ease off even more. Fol­low­ing a good diet filled with nutri­tious foods should­n’t be all you do! There are oth­er changes you should make to feel bet­ter, phys­i­cal­ly and emotionally. Get lots of fresh air and exer­cise. Diet and exer­cise go hand in hand, and get­ting active in the great out­doors is good for your mind as well as your body. If it’s win­ter, con­sid­er tak­ing up ski­ing or skat­ing – or both! In milder tem­per­a­tures, get out­doors for a hike every day. Carv­ing out at least an hour each day for an aer­o­bic activ­i­ty of some kind is key to cop­ing with PCOS. Does Diet Affect Polycystic Ovaries - What is the best diet for polycystic ovarian syndrome - What foods to avoid if you have polycystic ovaries?

Final Thoughts

Talk about your sit­u­a­tion with fam­i­ly and friends. Con­fide in your clos­est friend. Talk to your moth­er, as well. (PCOS can run in fam­i­lies, so it’s impor­tant you learn whether oth­er women in your fam­i­ly have had it). Get a ther­a­pist, if nec­es­sary. The point is you need to feel able to talk to some­one or sev­er­al peo­ple about your con­di­tion and how you’re man­ag­ing it. Con­sid­er find­ing a sup­port group online if you’re tru­ly not com­fort­able talk­ing to some­one in your cir­cle about what’s happening. Keep in close con­tact with your doc­tor. Once your doc­tor has con­firmed you have PCOS, keep in touch with her/him. Sched­ule reg­u­lar appoint­ments until you feel as informed as you can pos­si­bly be. Research the con­di­tion your­self – a knowl­edge­able woman with PCOS is a wise woman, bet­ter able to cope with what­ev­er changes your body goes through. Poly­cys­tic Ovary Syn­drome can­not, at present, be com­plete­ly cured. How­ev­er, experts agree on this: fol­low­ing a healthy diet rich in nutri­tion and fibre is key for man­ag­ing, and less­en­ing, the symp­toms of the con­di­tion. Many women with PCOS live vir­tu­al­ly nor­mal, rich lives because they learn to cope with the con­di­tion phys­i­cal­ly and men­tal­ly. So can you!. Nutri­tion. Exer­cise. A strong sup­port sys­tem. These are the keys to not just sur­viv­ing with PCOS but thriving.

*Medical Disclaimer

Please note that all the con­tents appear­ing on our site are the opin­ion of SeizeY­ourLife­To­day and are intend­ed for infor­ma­tion­al and edu­ca­tion­al use only. None of our con­tent is meant to replace reg­u­lar doc­tor vis­its or physi­cian con­sul­ta­tions. If you have a med­ical ques­tion or con­cern, we advise you to speak to a doc­tor as soon as possible. SeizeY­ourLife­To­day and the pub­lish­ers of our con­tent do not claim any lia­bil­i­ty for any dam­ages or health com­pli­ca­tions that may emerge from users fol­low­ing the infor­ma­tion giv­en on our site. All users are advised to speak to their physi­cian or licensed health­care provider before start­ing any diet, tak­ing any sup­ple­ment, or fol­low­ing any rec­om­men­da­tion they find on our site.

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