Food and lifestyle with PCOS
“The way you feed yourself is the most basic, most fundamental way you demonstrate care for yourself.”
Now that we’ve dealt with the knowing when to recognize the red flags that suggest PCOS, let’s look at how we can lessen its blow. There might be a lot of life hacks online, tempting you to ditch your way through it. But, a significant lifestyle change is all you need. The causes of PCOS are complicated, but insulin resistance and hormone regulation are key factors. Here, changing your diet is the best way to recovery.
Eating the right foods may help you manage your symptoms. A nourishing diet can help regulate your hormones and your menstrual cycle.
What to eat:
1. Whole foods: Foods that are free from artificial sugars, hormones, and preservatives. These are as close to their natural, unprocessed state as possible. Fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes are whole foods that you can add to your diet.
2. Balance your carb and protein intake: They both impact your energy and hormone levels. Instead of going for the painful low-carb diets, try to focus on increasing your protein intake. It’s more filling, and will aid to reduce insulin levels. Almonds, eggs, yogurt, milk, pumpkin seeds, chicken, cottage cheese are highly endorsed. Protein powders and shakes are also useful, but cannot be a substitute for real food. Avoid white polished rice, bread, pasta, cookies, sugar and soda.
3. Anti-inflammatory foods: Adding these to your palette will help ease symptoms. Olive oil, tomatoes, leafy greens, fatty fish (mackerel, tuna) and nuts- all fight inflammation.
4. Show some love to minerals: Heavy bleeding during PCOS might also invite amnesia and weakness. So, up your iron intake with spinach, eggs and broccoli. Almonds, cashews and bananas are also friendly and high in magnesium.
5. Fiber all the way: Sprouts, pears, avocados, lentils and beans are rich in fiber and ensure smooth digestion. Who needs bowel problems when we’re already dealing with so much, right?
6. Soy Products: Maintaining a safe distance with coffee might make you cranky, but it will always help your body. If you cannot go without a caffeine boost, go for green tea or herbal tea (comes with a brownie point: weight management). Opting for soy products, if approved by a doctor, acts like estrogen for your body. These include soy milk, tofu, and other soy alternatives.
Although supplements are advised only under your doctor’s approval, some natural supplements that might assist you during PCOS are:
Turmeric: Adding a dose of turmeric to your food is promising for decreasing insulin resistance and inflammation.
Cinnamon: Cinnamon is another great natural supplement for PCOS. It is something that is easy to sprinkle on foods for its blood sugar benefits. Cinnamon as whole cinnamon or cinnamon extract has been shown to improve insulin sensitivity, to help manage blood sugar levels during PCOS.
Omega-3: Omega-3s are a type of essential fatty acid found in fatty fish like salmon, but also in some plant-based sources like chia seeds, hemp seeds, and walnuts. Omega-3 is a natural supplement for PCOS and the benefits include improving insulin sensitivity and lowering total cholesterol.
Vitamin D: The above, when paired with vitamin D can help to lower testosterone levels and inflammation. Vitamin D along with essential oils may help to regulate your menstrual cycle and promote ovulation.
Cod liver oil: It’s like a magic potion of vitamins D, A and omega-3. These help make your periods regular and get rid of waist fat (although you are you, and you are beautiful).
Probiotics: They don’t just deal with gut health, but also stop your PCOS hormones from going crazy. Kimchi, yogurt, pickles, cheese and buttermilk are must haves.
Apart from the diet:
Stay Fit: Maintaining a healthy weight and exercising are key. Too much of anything is bad, so try striking a balance between the two. Gentle exercises like yoga, Pilates or swimming and light aerobics should be welcomed in your everyday schedules. High intensity interval training and running also help improve PCOS. If you’re overweight, losing even a little weight can better your symptoms by a lot!
Sleep right: Sleep affects your stress levels, and hence, your hormones. Sleep disturbances are common for womxn with PCOS, but –
· Aim for a good 8-10 hours of sleep every night
· Have a regular bedtime routine
· Avoid stimulants or fatty food before bed
Stop Stressing: Haven’t we been saying this enough?
A healthy lifestyle isn’t just common sense when you have PCOS. Make it a way of life. Although PCOS has no known cure, managing the symptoms is all your ball game. Be your own magic pill!
Written by Nibha Patil
Cover Image from Flo