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PCOS Awareness Month 2023: Foods to eat and food to avoid

Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) is characterized by an excess of male hormones in women and an insufficient supply of female hormones. It affects approximately 1 in 10 women and is often a leading cause of ovulatory disorders.

PCOS symptoms can be highly disruptive, making daily tasks challenging. It typically presents with irregular periods and ovulation disorders. Additionally, around 80 percent of PCOS patients tend to be overweight and may carry excess abdominal fat. This weight gain resistance is frequently linked to hormonal imbalances, which result in difficulties in regulating insulin. Due to their weight and related factors, PCOS patients may also face an elevated risk of conditions such as sleep apnea, depression, eating disorders, joint pain, and infertility.

Dr. Aswati Nair, Fertility Specialist at Nova IVF Fertility, emphasized that maintaining a balanced diet and a healthy weight can play a pivotal role in managing PCOS symptoms and boosting fertility. Such practices can contribute to improved glucose metabolism and potentially enhance fertility.

“Additionally, since many PCOS patients experience chronic low-grade inflammation, which can be prevalent in the gut lining, adopting a healthier diet may aid in addressing gut-related issues and alleviate various uncomfortable effects of PCOS from within,” added Dr. Aswati.

Let’s delve into the food groups that can effectively help manage PCOS symptoms and increase the likelihood of experiencing the joy of parenthood:

High-Fibre Foods: High-fibre foods can be beneficial in addressing insulin resistance by slowing down digestion and mitigating the impact of sugar on blood sugar levels. They play a crucial role in managing PCOS symptoms and enhancing gut health. Examples include vegetables, whole fruits, sprouted legumes, brown rice, and multigrain bread.
Omega-3 Acids: Omega-3 fatty acids are effective in alleviating various metabolic issues, including improving insulin sensitivity and regulating the menstrual cycle. Therefore, individuals with PCOS should consider incorporating omega-3-rich foods like walnuts, soy, fish, and eggs into their diet.
Calcium and Vitamin D: Supplements of calcium and Vitamin D have shown favorable outcomes in promoting menstrual regularity. Foods such as spinach, soybeans, and dairy products are frequently recommended for women dealing with PCOS and fertility issues, as they are rich sources of calcium and vitamin D.
Chromium-rich Foods: Chromium picolinate enhances glucose tolerance, stimulates ovulation, and reduces insulin resistance in women with PCOS. Including chromium-rich foods like walnuts, almonds, various nuts, and oilseeds in the diet can mitigate the potential adverse effects of PCOS.
Antioxidant-rich Foods: Fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and unsaturated fats are the most effective foods for combating inflammation and containing a wealth of antioxidants. These nutrient-rich foods provide antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals that promote general well-being and help maintain hormonal balance.
Lean Meat: When selecting meat, opt for lean options such as chicken breast, turkey, and lean cuts of beef. Try to avoid meats that are higher in fat, such as pork belly, beef ribeye, and chicken thighs.
In terms of dietary choices to avoid when attempting to alleviate PCOS symptoms:

Processed Sugars: Reduce or eliminate sugary beverages, candies, and processed foods with added sugars, as they can lead to blood sugar spikes, causing irregular menstrual cycles and weight gain.
Saturated and Trans Fats: Reduce the consumption of foods high in saturated fats, such as fried foods and fatty cuts of meat. Avoid trans fats found in processed and packaged foods.
Dairy: Some individuals with PCOS may benefit from reducing dairy intake, as it can affect insulin sensitivity and hormone balance. Opt for dairy alternatives like almond or soy milk.
Excessive Caffeine: Limit caffeine intake, as it may contribute to hormone imbalance and affect blood sugar regulation.
Alcohol: Limit alcohol intake, as it can disrupt hormonal balance and worsen PCOS symptoms.
It is essential to keep in mind that PCOS can vary from person to person. Therefore, consulting with a healthcare professional or a registered dietitian who specializes in PCOS management is crucial to creating a personalized nutrition plan tailored to individual needs and goals.


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