PCOS stands for Polycystic Ovary Syndrome. It is a hormonal disorder that is caused by hormonal imbalances. PCOS can be reversed naturally by making the right changes in our lifestyle which includes eating habits and exercise. But before going into this topic let’s understand what PCOS is in simple terms.
What is PCOS?
Let’s understand the term by breaking it into parts,
Polycystic Ovary Syndrome is short for;
Poly – Many
Cystic – A Sac like structure with fluid inside
Ovary – An Oval shaped gland on either side of the uterus
Syndrome –A Set of symptoms that occur together
The general perception of PCOS is that it is a complex issue and that is made even more complex by our use of medical terminology. But if presented in everyday terms, it is simple to understand.
The ovary is one of the woman’s reproductive organs. Millions of eggs are present in the ovary, and since the ovary produces eggs throughout a woman’s lifetime, she will never run out of eggs.
These immature eggs are kept in follicles. Every month, one free egg is released into the fallopian tube; if this egg fertilizes, you are pregnant; if it does not, menstruation should result.
In women with PCOS, however, this does not occur; the egg will not get fertilized and the immature egg will not mature. So the egg will instead remain as a cyst on the ovary. This condition is called PCOS.
All of the aforementioned events take place inside a woman’s body, but how can you be aware that you have this condition? There are few symptoms for PCOS, if you experience any of the ones listed below then there are chances that you may have PCOS. However, this should be confirmed by further analysis of the situation. Now let’s see the PCOS symptoms.
Symptoms of PCOS:
How can one identify that they are having this condition by checking if they have any below symptoms?
- Irregular menstrual cycles
- Excessive hair growth
- Weight gain
- Fatigue and mood changes
So now we understood how to identify if one has this condition. Now let’s understand the primary cause i.e., hormonal imbalances. To understand this we need the answer to the below two questions.
- What is the hormonal imbalance?
Hormonal imbalance is nothing but a situation where you have one or more of any of the hormones causing various physical and emotional symptoms.
- How do we know that we have hormonal imbalances?
If we encounter any of the following signs, we can be certain that we have hormonal imbalances:
- Facial hair
- Hair loss
- Skin tags
- Weight gain
- Irregular periods
- Mood swings
Now let’s discuss managing PCOS symptoms with diet.
Best Diet for managing PCOS symptoms:
The best eating habits include knowing when and how much to eat in addition to what to eat and what not to eat. Our eating habits should focus on maintaining stable blood sugar levels and promoting hormone balance.
What to eat?
There are many types to classify foods like low fiber, low fat, high sodium, gluten-free, vegetarian, and non-vegetarian. But to reverse PCOS we should start eating living food and avoid dead food.
Before knowing what is living food let’s understand what is dead food. Dead food is food that can sit on the counter for days or weeks and doesn’t turn bad. BasicaTheseackaged foods that are refined and highly processed and have no nutritional value. These contain chemicals, colors, and preservatives to increase their shelf life.
Now that we understood what is dead food, let’s go to the “living food”. Living food is the one that is close to its original natural form like vegetables, fruits, nuts & seeds, and whole grains. These foods are rich in nutrients and inflammatory-fighting antioxidants.
Now let’s go by each type of food that one can consume to fight PCOS.
- Vegetables higher in fiber: Broccoli, Sprouts, Carrots, Spinach, Sweet potatoes, Peas, Cauliflower, Cabbage, Green peppers, and Green beans.
- Fruits that are richer in fiber: Papaya, Guava, Oranges, Apples, Kiwi, and Avocado.
- Tomatoes & Garlic: They contain a powerful antioxidant that may help reduce inflammation and improve insulin sensitivity.
- Cucumbers: These are low in calories and help in hydrating the body.
- Antioxidants: Blueberries, Blackberries, Strawberries, Raspberries, Grapes, Cranberries, and Cherries.
- Nuts and Seeds: Almonds, walnuts, chia seeds, flax seeds, and pumpkin seeds. These are fiber-rich foods and hence provide healthy fats and proteins.
Other than this try to substitute processed foods with unprocessed ones and try using whole grains. Also by opting for local and seasonal choices, we honor nature’s wisdom for hormonal balance.
What to avoid?
- Fried foods: French fries, potato chips, corn chips, and fried chicken or fish should be avoided as they increase inflammation.
- Processed snacks: Cakes, cookies, candy, etc might seem tempting to eat but contains high sugar levels so they should be avoided.
- Sweetened beverages: Soft drinks, coffee or tea, sodas, and energy drinks are high in calories so avoiding them will help to maintain a healthy diet.
- Refined carbohydrates: Processed and refined carbohydrates like white bread, pasta, and pastries increase blood sugar levels contributing to insulin resistance.
- Meat, Milk & Milk based food: The chemicals and steroids injected to have better production through the food reaches our system creating havoc in the hormonal imbalance.
- High Glycemic Index foods: Carbohydrate foods that are broken down quickly and cause a rapid increase in blood glucose are those with high GI. These foods include white rice, potatoes, and certain cereals. Minimise and only part of the afternoon lunch meal.
When to eat?
- Breakfast: Breakfast post your morning exercise routine, and keep it light with water-rich fruits or vegetable juices.
- Lunch: Lunch around noon to 1 pm, a balanced home-cooked meal. Include carbohydrates, proteins, healthy fats, fiber, vitamins, and minerals.
- Dinner: A easy & light meal, not later than 8 pm.
- Snacks: Water-rich fruits are a good option.
- Consistent meal timings: Following consistent meal timings each day helps to regulate your body’s internal clock and improve insulin sensitivity. Irregular eating patterns result in hormonal imbalances and the development of PCOS symptoms. Try to adopt a consistent daily eating window of 12 hours from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.
- Avoid late-night eating: This should be avoided because our biological clocks are linked to the environment we live in. Hence our body is best at digesting when we are active and when sunlight is present. So eating or drinking late at night when our body expects us to rest and when it’s dark will disrupt the system and compromise the metabolism. Late-night snacking may worsen PCOS symptoms by interfering with sleep cycles and negatively affecting hormone control.
How much to eat?
- Eat Aware: Pay attention to your body’s hunger and fullness signs
- Listen to your body: Observe how your body reacts to various foods and to any food at various times of the day. Individualize your diet based on how it makes you feel because everyone has a different body type.
- Stay hydrated: Observe & listen to the body, and have a regular intake of water as required.
Along with the aforementioned eating patterns, people should also incorporate the below two things into their daily routines:
Physical health (Exercise):
The reason for gaining weight is not just eating more but also moving less. The only way for the food we eat to be digested is through physical activity, but nowadays, since most of our jobs only require our brainpower, we have begun to forget that we should occasionally take a walk.
Sitting still for long pperiodsmay get the job done, but it can be physically damaging. Start living a more physically active life.
Mental health is as important as our physical health. Physical health can be maintained by moving our bodies more, whereas mental health can be maintained by stressing our brains less.
One of the causes of poor mental health is overthinking. Women are known to think significantly more than males, which contributes to their worse mental health than men.
But the symptoms of PCOS can also be impacted by poor mental health. So it’s crucial to control our stress levels and our thinking.
There’s a saying “Things out of our hands should be out of our brain” Adapting this kind of attitude helps to stay positive in addition avoids stress and overthinking. Also doing yoga and meditation calms our mind, so one can practice any of these to develop their mental health.
To sum up, adopting healthy eating habits and placing a priority on your physical and mental health can naturally reverse PCOS by regulating your hormones.