Foods that fight PCOS

crop1_240x240_6mar15PCOS or polycystic ovarian syndrome, also known as the Stein-Leventhal syndrome, is one of the most commonly occurring endocrine disorder in women. In this condition the sex hormones – estrogen and progesterone in women are out of balance. This leads to formation of several cysts in a “string of pearls” pattern on the ovaries, hence the name Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome.

As such these cysts are benign and harmless but can lead to hormonal imbalances. Hormones are chemical messengers that activate various processes in the body like metabolic functions, growth, energy production, sexual urges, moods etc. But one of the significant functions of hormones is to trigger the release of other hormones. What these cysts do is disturb the hormonal pathway that leads to the release of egg and prepares the uterus for pregnancy.

In India about 2 % to 26 % of women are suffering from PCOS and the number is steadily increasing. Studies have revealed that approximately 40% of women suffering from Diabetes have PCOS. There is a 50% chance that a daughter will suffer from PCOS if the mother has it.

What causes PCOS is not yet fully understood, but genetics is one of the factors. Also, hormone changes in the body are said to be a cause.

There is no individual test, which can diagnose this syndrome, and therefore it is also known as a “silent killer.” There are several signs and symptoms that point out to a woman having PCOS. Facial hair or hirsutism, irregular menstrual cycle, absence of menstruation, weight gain, hair loss, brittle nails, acne, mood swings, depression, trouble conceiving are all signs of having PCOS. It is very important to catch this problem at the earliest as PCOS is linked to increased risk of diabetes, heart problems, infertility, miscarriages and various types of cancers. The good news however is that, if diagnosed and treated early, most of the symptoms are manageable.

Nutrition and right food choices can play a pivotal role in managing POCS. A healthy lifestyle and healthier food choices it self are found to be one of the best treatments for this condition. I am going to discuss five foods that will help you in the management of PCOS.

Fiber
Aim to have about 25 to 30 gms of fiber in your diet daily. Include a wide variety of fruits, vegetables and beans in your diet. Green leafy vegetables, broccoli, lettuce, radish, cabbage, cucumber, spinach, corns are all excellent sources. Consuming good amounts of fiber will help in shedding the excess weight and also regulate the bowel movements, which your haywire hormones tend to disrupt. Fiber will also lead to better insulin management in the body and avoid sugar spikes and cravings. Also it will give you long-term satiety.

Flax seeds and sesame seeds
These seeds are not only a powerhouse of omega fatty acids but they also contain something called as lignans, which are chemical compounds found in plants. They are co-passengers of dietary fibers and most closely mimic the effects of estrogen. Flax seeds and sesame seeds contain higher levels of lignans than most foods. What they do in the body is lower the levels of testosterone in the body, which is the cause of a few of the PCOS symptoms.

Indian Gooseberry or Amla
Amla is a fruit known for its rich stores of vitamin c. High levels of vitamin c not only help fight the free radicals in the body and boost immunity but also, but also help to flush out the toxins from the body. Amla is well established for being beneficial in diabetes, heart ailments, constipation, inflammation, weight loss etc. Amla also has nutrients, which help in treating hairloss, which is one of the most common symptoms of PCOS.

Wheatgrass
Wheatgrass is a powerhouse of Vitamin E, with about 3g giving 320mg or 1600% of the daily value. It is also rich in Vitamins C, A, B6, thiamine, riboflavin and niacin. Wheatgrass sprouts as well as wheatgrass juice are known to help in improving fertility. It also helps in flushing toxins out of the system, in treating anemia and thalassemia, improving constipation, immunity etc.

Lettuce
This low calorie food with high water and fiber content, offers a host of health benefits. It contains the trace mineral chromium, which is a component of the glucose tolerance factor. The glucose tolerance factor helps maintain normal blood sugar levels by improving the efficacy of insulin. This helps in cases of insulin resistance, which is associated with hirsutism. Chromium also aids in weight loss as it helps in controlling hunger and cravings. Besides lettuce is also a food rich in vitamin c which helps in increased absorption of chromium in the body.

Apart from these foods, herbs like basil and spearmint also help in reducing androgens – the cause for unwanted facial hair. Make breakfast your main meal and dinner the lightest. Have green tea to boost your metabolism and help in weight loss. Even reducing 5 kilos will have a significant impact in improving the symptoms and also in the cycle of egg production.

Deleting junk and sugar rich foods from your life, increasing the intake of good quality, low fat protein, increasing the intake of water, regularly exercising and choosing a healthier lifestyle will help you in your fight against this silent disease.

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Ms. Nisha Singh
Nutritionist & Wellness Consultant

Nutritionist Nisha Singh is a gold medalist with over 10 years of independent experience of managing various ailments through lifestyle and dietary modifications, counselling of patients, diet and meal planning. She specializes in weight loss diets, pregnancy and post pregnancy diet plans, cardiac and lipid management, dealing with everyday diseases through dietary modification and health management of the athletes.

Image: Getty Images

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