Women undergo various changes throughout their lifetime. These could be caused by hormonal fluctuations, a decreased ovarian reserve, or even an age-related decline in fertility. In fact, they face various health issues specifically related to their ovaries. Among them, the most common condition is Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) or Polycystic Ovarian Disease (PCOD). People often confuse these two conditions. While PCOS refers to a group of symptoms, PCOD is an established condition.
As many of us know now, PCOS is common among women today, and lifestyle is often attributed to being the major cause behind this. Polycystic ovaries are associated with hormonal imbalance, irregular periods, including missed and delayed periods, acne or oily skin, dark or thick skin patches, obesity, abnormal facial hair growth, and, most importantly, infertility. It is an issue that affects 1 in 10 women of childbearing age. There is no’set’ cure as such for PCOD and PCOS, but one of the best ways to manage them is by introducing changes in your lifestyle and diet. Maintaining a healthy weight with a nutritious diet is an effective way to get your PCOD and PCOS under control.
Increase your intake of fruits and vegetables while minimising dairy-based foods. Many healthcare experts believe that dairy-based products may increase insulin levels, which may aggravate acne and other symptoms.
l Include lean meat like fish, and avoid red meat. Avoid sugary foods and drinks. If possible, put a complete stop to them.
l Saturated and hydrogenated fats should be avoided. Make sure to read the label. Saturated fats are a particular type of fat molecule that is naturally present in many foods, primarily those that are made from animal or dairy products. It can significantly increase cholesterol levels and increase calories. Always read the label because certain baked items also contain saturated fat.
l PCOD patients might experience water retention, and the best way to beat that would be to eat small, frequent meals and drink a lot of water throughout the day.
l There are some natural herbs you can take to help keep your hormones under control, such as meethi dana, flaxseeds, and cinnamon.
A low glycemic index (GI) diet: Foods with a low GI take longer for the body to digest, so they do not raise insulin levels as quickly as other foods, such as some carbs do. Foods in a low GI diet include whole grains, legumes, nuts, seeds, fruits, starchy vegetables, and other unprocessed, low-carbohydrate foods
An anti-inflammatory diet: Anti-inflammatory foods, such as berries, fatty fish, leafy greens, and extra virgin olive oil, may reduce inflammation-related symptoms, such as fatigue.
The DASH diet: Doctors often recommend the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet to reduce the risk or impact of heart disease and fertility issues.
It may also help manage PCOS symptoms. A DASH diet includes fish, poultry, fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and low-fat dairy products. Foods that are high in sugar and saturated fat should not be consumed.
Limit your intake of dairy and alcohol: According to a study published in the International Journal of Preventive Medicine, limiting your dairy intake may help certain women with PCOS lose weight and alleviate some of their hormonal PCOS symptoms.
Also, it is best to limit excess alcohol intake to manage the condition.
Dr Muskaan Chhabra is a
Consultant at Birla Fertility and IVF.