What is PCOD?
PCOD is the abbreviation for Polycystic Ovarian Disease, a common disorder in women that affects the reproductive hormones. Women with PCOD develop cysts in their ovaries. Also, the body produces excess male hormones, resulting in an imbalance of hormones.
Along with other complications, the hormonal imbalance causes problems with menstruation and fertility. In addition to high amounts of the androgen hormone, women with PCOD may experience irregular or extended menstrual cycles or absence of menstruation which are prevalent symptoms of this disease.
The ovaries might produce many follicles, yet they might not consistently release eggs. PCOD, when left untreated, can increase the risk of Diabetes and heart diseases.
PCOD can be managed by adopting healthy habits and working with a gynaecologist. Diet and lifestyle choices have a significant impact on PCOD and its symptoms. Read to know more about the foods that females with PCOD should eat and stay away from.
How does diet affect PCOD?
Studies suggest that most PCOD patients are insulin resistant, which indicates that their bodies’ cells no longer react to insulin as they should, causing their blood levels of the hormone to rise above normal.
According to research, more than 50% of women with the polycystic ovarian disease develop Diabetes or pre-diabetes before they are 40. To reduce the symptoms of PCOD, it is essential to control insulin levels, eat a healthy diet and maintain a healthy weight.
Due to insulin resistance, the body requires more insulin than usual to control blood sugar levels. High insulin levels also indicate that the body is accumulating extra fat, which contributes to weight gain. Additionally, patients with PCOD have slower metabolic rates than average, making it challenging to curb urges for food.
Best PCOD diet chart
Numerous studies have shown that the primary causes of PCOD in women are an unhealthy diet and a sedentary lifestyle. Urban living has been a major factor in the increased sedentary behaviour and the consumption of foods with significantly lower nutritional value. As a result, urban India is observed to have a greater PCOD prevalence.
Foods to consume in PCOD
Women with PCOD should make an effort to follow a PCOD diet plan to ensure they acquire an adequate amount of essential nutrients. A calorie deficit is also beneficial for a weight loss diet and to help maintain ideal BMI and BMR levels.
A diet with a low glycaemic index
The best method to regulate the menstrual cycle and reduce the symptoms of PCOD is to lose weight, which can be achieved by following a low glycaemic diet.
One must use the Glycaemic Index (GI) scale when following a low GI diet to control blood sugar levels. Most foods in the diet should have a glycaemic index of 55 or less or a medium GI of 56 to 69.
Foods to include in a low GI diet for PCOD are,
- Non-starchy vegetables like sweet potatoes, spinach and cauliflower.
- Whole grains like oats, millets and quinoa.
- Lean proteins like salmon, turkey and eggs.
- Healthy fats like nuts, avocados and olive oil.
People run an increased chance of getting Diabetes when they have PCOD since the body is absorbing more insulin. As a result, consuming meals with a low GI will dramatically lower the risk of Diabetes.
For people with PCOD, eating an anti-inflammatory diet may help manage weight and lower inflammation.
Pointers for implementing an anti-inflammatory diet,
- To prevent drastic changes in blood sugar, split the consumption of carbohydrates throughout the day.
- Vegetables are low in calories and high in antioxidants, so filling half the plate with them is beneficial.
- Eat omega-3-rich fish (trout, salmon, and tuna) twice a week, but limiting certain types of tuna per week is advisable due to their high mercury level.
- Consume a variety of fruits to satisfy one’s sweet tooth and get a boost of antioxidants.
- Consume unsaturated fats from foods like almonds, olive oil and flax seeds.
- Eat a variety of high-protein beans and legumes.
- Steer clear of sweet foods and drinks.
- As red meat might cause inflammation, limit consumption to once every two weeks at most.
- Use herbs and spices to season, including thyme, bay leaves, fennel, anise, cumin, coriander, clove and chilli peppers.
- Green tea is a great addition to the anti-inflammatory diet.
The DASH diet
The DASH diet is usually prescribed for hypertension patients to decrease their blood pressure. It has a high content of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and low-fat dairy products and low content of refined grains, sodium, saturated fats and sugar.
The DASH diet is one of the best diets accessible for persons with PCOD. According to research, obese PCOD women following the DASH diet plan reduced their belly fat levels and significantly reduced their levels of insulin resistance and inflammatory markers.
Avoid these foods to get rid of PCOD
Patients with PCOD should refrain from using products that are already thought to be unhealthy in general.
High intakes of carbs, especially refined carbohydrates (such as sweets, white bread, and white rice), will raise insulin levels. A low glycaemic index diet would be preferable because high insulin levels can lead to several issues for people with PCOD.
Fried foods possess a high amount of saturated and trans fats. They are generally unhealthy and might raise the possibility of gaining weight.
Consuming such foods can also lead to bloating and stomach issues, raise blood sugar levels and cause other difficulties. Fried food is an inflammatory food that makes PCOD symptoms worse. Women with this disease must absolutely stay away from them.
Despite the popular opinion that juice and smoothies are healthy, certain pre-bottled varieties can contain about 30 g of sugar and will cause a blood sugar rise, which can be problematic for persons with high insulin levels.
Choosing natural sugars from fruits is advisable rather than concentrated sweets and sugars in fruit juices.
Carbonated beverages to stay away from while on a PCOD diet include,
- Soft drinks
- Energy drinks
- Smoothies in bottles
- Carbonated water
Research suggests that reducing dairy consumption may help some PCOD women shed kilos and ease some of their hormonal symptoms.
Some individuals may benefit from reducing their dairy intake or even switching to a vegan diet, especially if they have digestive problems due to dairy intolerance.
Some people don’t need to cut out dairy from their diet if they don’t have a sensitivity or an allergy to it. This is especially if they require calcium and vitamin D.
Staying away from sugary options like yoghurt with a candy topping and instead choosing healthier options like plain Greek yoghurt is preferable.
A PCOD diet should exclude dairy items like the following,
- Highly processed cheese
- Yoghurt with added-sugar
- Ice creams
Refined flour is found in foods like white rice, candy, bread, potatoes and pastries. The worst foods for PCOD are refined carbs, which should be restricted. Diabetes is more likely to affect PCOD women. Our bodies produce more insulin when we consume refined carbs, which can result in Diabetes.
Unhealthy fats, such as lard, margarine and shortening, are trans-fat foods. People with PCOD can avoid foods that contain harmful fats like trans or hydrogenated.
This decreases oestrogen levels and may lessen PCOD symptoms. Since they don’t raise oestrogen levels in women’s bodies, polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats are better for controlling hormone-sensitive diseases like PCOD.
There is a larger possibility of developing PCOD by consuming foods high in unhealthy fats, which also increases the risk of Diabetes, heart disease and obesity.
Overindulging in red meat, such as steaks, pork and hamburgers, can lower progesterone levels. A healthy menstrual cycle and pregnancy depend on this hormone.
Additionally, it makes the body’s inflammation worse. Red meat also contains unhealthy fat, which contributes to weight gain. Consuming red meat can worsen PCOD symptoms.
Women with PCOD are most often advised to refrain from alcohol consumption. The use of alcohol can alter the hormones necessary for ovulation and raise levels of testosterone hormones.
It decreases blood sugar levels, which makes some people gain weight and cause nutrient deficiencies. It also increases food cravings, and for some people, it causes migraines.
Lifestyle change aiding in PCOD
One can modify their lifestyle in a few different ways to help prevent and treat PCOD.
Keep your weight in check
Obese or overweight women make up about 50% of PCOD patients. Many PCOD women discover that food and weight management really help them manage their symptoms and lower their risk of contracting other chronic conditions for which PCOD puts an individual at a higher risk. Ovulation is also enhanced by weight loss.
The signs of PCOD will improve with even a slight weight loss. Losing weight can make the ovaries function normally and lead to regular hormone production. Improvements in PCOD symptoms such as an excessive face or body hair growth, acne, scalp hair loss, and regular menstruation may follow weight loss.
Stress is the one constant factor in modern life. It not only impacts our mental health but also raises the risk of various lifestyle diseases like Diabetes, hypertension and obesity.
PCOD and its symptoms might be quite stressful. Reducing stress can aid in symptom management and make it simpler to adopt a healthy lifestyle.
Try adding extra relaxation techniques to the routine, such as tai chi, yoga or meditation.
Effective stress management is essential for maintaining healthy levels of cortisol and insulin in the body. Allocate time daily to meditate, go for regular walks and practise yoga.
Keep a notebook to note the causes of stress, anxiety and sadness. Create a hobby that calms the mind and distracts from anxious thoughts.
In addition to following a balanced diet and regular exercise, sleep is regarded as the third pillar of lifestyle improvement. It is very significant that lack of sleep has a substantial impact on one’s health. PCOD women require proper sleep to get fruitful results.
Sleep deprivation prevents the body and mind from adequately healing and rejuvenating. It is also associated with having trouble losing weight and consuming more carbs to energise the body and stave off weariness.
According to experts, an adult must sleep for at least 6 to 8 hours daily. Given the demanding work hours, incorporate adequate sleep daily and make an effort to stick to consistent sleep and waking times each day. Before going to bed, stay away from electronics and blue lights.
If one can’t consistently keep these lifestyle modifications, the symptoms of PCOD can worsen. Make an activity and food plan that one can actually stick to in order to benefit themselves.
It could also be good to make only little modifications to the routine gradually. Don’t hesitate to bring up any concerns during the consultation so that health care professionals can assist in resolving them.
Benefits of aerobic exercise
- Burns calories
- Supports weight loss
- Lowers blood pressure
- Increases HDL levels
- Reduces insulin resistance
Benefits of resistance training
- Helps build lean muscle mass, which accelerates metabolism.
- Aides in osteoporosis prevention.
Consult a doctor about a potassium supplement while on an extremely low carbohydrate diet.
Ensure to drink enough water.
Infertility can have negative effects on a woman’s mental health, including stress, low self-esteem and marital issues. Therefore, it’s vital to remember that PCOD if left untreated, can lead to infertility.
PCOD should, therefore, always be viewed as a comprehensive issue and addressed as such. Allow the body and mind to adapt to the disease after it has been diagnosed, then change the lifestyle choices for permanent adjustments.
Keep PCOD symptoms at bay by modifying the lifestyle—eating well and losing weight. Relax and refresh through exercise and meditation for the proper functioning of the body, immune system and mind.
Is rice good for PCOD?
White rice is a refined carbohydrate which isn’t good for PCOD women as it can raise insulin levels and poses a high risk of Diabetes. It is therefore recommended to restrict its intake.
Can I drink milk during PCOD?
Dairy products like milk need not be completely restricted for people with PCOD. Milk intake is advisable for the nutritional value it has to offer, but its consumption can be limited as they have an effect on hormones and develop insulin resistance.
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