Understanding PCOS: The polycystic ovarian syndrome, or PCOS, affects women between the ages of 15 and 49. Worldwide, PCOS affects more than 116 million women (3.4%), according to the World Health Organization (WHO). This illness affects roughly 3.7% to 22.5% (1.3 – 7.9 crore) of women in India. On the other hand, PCOD, also known as polycystic ovarian disease, is more prevalent and impacts around one-third of women globally.
Polycystic Ovary Syndrome is a complex endocrine disorder affecting women of reproductive age worldwide, including India. PCOS is characterized by hormonal imbalances, insulin resistance, and multiple cysts in the ovaries, leading to irregular menstrual cycles, fertility issues, and various metabolic disturbances. While medical intervention plays a significant role in Polycystic Ovary Syndrome management, adopting a well-balanced diet and lifestyle activities can complement conventional treatments and help regulate hormones effectively. This article delves into the scientific evidence behind dietary and lifestyle modifications tailored to the Indian context for managing PCOS.
The importance of making the correct food choices to reduce PCOS
- Low Glycemic Index Foods : In the Indian context, a diet centered around low glycemic index (GI) foods is beneficial for PCOS management. Low GI foods (usually 55 or below) release glucose into the bloodstream more gradually, preventing sudden spikes in blood sugar levels and reducing insulin resistance. Include whole grains like barley, quinoa, and oats, legumes such as chickpeas and lentils, and fibrous vegetables like bitter gourd, spinach, and cauliflower.
- Healthy Fats: Incorporating healthy fats into the diet is essential for PCOS management. Sources of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, like olive oil, avocado, and nuts, can help regulate hormones and improve insulin sensitivity. Additionally, consuming omega-3 fatty acids found in fatty fish like salmon and sardines may aid in reducing inflammation associated with PCOS.
- Protein-Rich Foods: Adequate protein intake is crucial for women with PCOS to maintain muscle mass and stabilize blood sugar levels. Incorporate lean sources of protein, such as skinless chicken breast, lean cuts of meat, Fatty fish like salmon and sardines, whole eggs (in moderation), quinoa, and plant based lean proteins such as tempeh, lentils, chickpeas, beans, edamame, & tofu, into the diet.
The role of Indian spices and herbs in reducing PCOS
- Turmeric: Turmeric, a widely used Indian spice, contains the active compound curcumin, which exhibits anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. Studies suggest that curcumin may help improve insulin resistance and hormonal imbalances in women with PCOS.
- Cinnamon: Cinnamon is another potent Indian spice that may positively influence insulin sensitivity and glucose metabolism. Including a pinch of cinnamon in meals or beverages may be beneficial for managing PCOS-related symptoms.
- Fenugreek: Fenugreek seeds have been traditionally used in Indian cuisine for ages. These seeds may help reduce insulin resistance and lower blood sugar levels, making them a useful addition to the diet of women with PCOS.
Lifestyle Activities for Hormone Regulation
- Regular Exercise: Engaging in regular physical activity can significantly impact hormone regulation and improve insulin sensitivity. In the Indian context, activities like yoga, brisk walking,zumba and traditional dances (e.g., Bharatanatyam, Kathak) can be enjoyable and beneficial for managing PCOS. Aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise per week.
- Stress Management: High-stress levels can exacerbate PCOS symptoms by increasing cortisol levels and disrupting hormonal balance. Incorporating stress-reducing techniques such as meditation, deep breathing exercises, and mindfulness practices into daily routines can aid in PCOS management.
Importance of Adequate Hydration
Adequate hydration is often overlooked but plays a vital role in overall health and hormonal balance. Drinking sufficient water helps maintain body temperature, supports nutrient absorption, and assists in hormonal regulation. Aim to drink at least 8-10 glasses of water per day, and consider incorporating decaffeinated teas like spearmint, chamomile, hibiscus tea, etc., which have shown potential for reducing androgen levels in women with polycystic ovarian syndrome.
The Impact of Sleep on Hormonal Health
Getting enough quality sleep is crucial for hormone regulation and overall well-being. Poor sleep patterns can disrupt hormonal balance and exacerbate PCOS symptoms. Aim for 7-9 hours of uninterrupted sleep each night and establish a regular sleep schedule.
PCOS and Weight Management
For overweight or obese individuals with PCOS, weight management is an important aspect of hormone regulation and overall health improvement. In the Indian context, focus on a balanced diet, portion control, and regular exercise to achieve a healthy weight. Weight loss of even 5-10% can lead to significant improvements in polycystic ovarian syndrome symptoms.
In conclusion, PCOS management requires a comprehensive approach that includes medical intervention, dietary modifications, and lifestyle changes. In the Indian context, a balanced diet rich in low GI foods, healthy fats, and protein, along with the inclusion of Indian spices and herbs, can aid in hormone regulation. Engaging in regular physical activity, managing stress, staying hydrated, and prioritizing quality sleep are equally crucial for managing PCOS effectively. By adopting a holistic approach, women with PCOS can better regulate their hormones and improve their overall quality of life. As always, individuals with PCOS should consult with healthcare professionals, including nutritionists, to tailor a personalized plan that meets their specific needs.