PCOS (polycystic ovary syndrome) is a one of the most common gynecological issue among Indian women today. The symptoms can be rather difficult to manage but with the right diet, you’ll feel a whole lot better.
“While food alone may not completely reverse the PCOS problem, consuming certain types of foods may aid the body to slow down the PCOS process and prevent harmful side effects of PCOS like heart disease, diabetes and hypertension in the future,” says Dr Nithiya Palaniappan, consultant obstetrician and gynaecologist, Kokilaben Dhirubhai Ambani Hospital, Mumbai.
So, what should a woman diagnosed with PCOS eat?
Whole grains and proteins
A well-balanced diet with whole grains, proteins, green leafy vegetables and lots of water is extremely important in a PCOS diet. Ideally, a meal should consist of 50% carbohydrates, 30% proteins and 20% fats. “But lifestyle changes have lead to people consuming meals with high level of carbohydrates and less fats and proteins creating an imbalanced meal. Portion control is also a must for PCOS patients,” says Dr Usha Bohra, obstetrician and gynecologist, Apollo Hospitals, Ahmedabad.
Green leafy vegetables
Green leafy vegetables like spinach are a must-have. The high water and fiber content slows down the sugar absorption and maintains blood sugar for a longer period of time. “This would ultimately reduce the sugar surges that occur in the body. The phytochemicals, vitamins and anti-oxidants in the green leafy vegetables are anti-inflammatory and help with the acne that could be secondary to PCOS,” says Dr Palaniappan.
Oats are an excellent source of complex carbohydrate that takes a greater time to breakdown keeping sugar levels steady. “Its rich fiber content keeps bowels regular. Routine consumption of oats can lower the cholesterol and help in weight loss, and so, is strongly recommended in the PCOS diet,” says Dr Palaniappan.
Fish, eggs, milk
“Most of the times, women with PCOS are diagnosed with deficiency of Vitamin D. In such a case, intake of foods rich in Vitamin D is advisable along with supplements/ shots for Vitamin D,” says Dr Bohra. Fish, eggs, milk are rich in Vitamin D.
Tomatoes are a rich source of lycopene which is a carotene that has powerful anti-oxidant properties that helps combat PCOS. “The high water, fibre, vitamin C content is especially good for the skin, typically for ladies suffering from acne. One can even say that a tomato a day keeps the PCOS at bay,” says Dr Palaniappan. Tomatoes could be eaten raw as in salads, or cooked as in soups and stews.
Walnuts and almonds
Walnuts and almonds have the right balance of mono-unsaturated fats. “For someone suffering from PCOS, it is extremely beneficial as they aid in reducing free testosterone levels and help balance the female hormones (hormonal imbalance is the hallmark of PCOS),” says Dr Palaniappan. This in turn will reduce the prevalence of acne, hair fall, facial hair which is a significant feature of PCOS.
Green tea is naturally rich in anti-oxidants. “Regular consumption of green tea will help in stimulating your metabolism, which is extremely slow in PCOS. This, along with other dietary changes and exercise, could help in weight loss,” says Dr Palaniappan.
Certain foods can worsen your symptoms and need to be steered clear of. Consuming cakes, biscuits and red meat are not the best idea. “Women diagnosed with PCOS should refrain from refined carbohydrates, sugary foods and aerated drinks,” says Dr Bohra.