Saturday, June 9, 2012

Diet for Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome

Diet for Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome

Polycystic ovarian syndrome is often associated with obesity, cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, infertility, etc. Nowadays doctors recommend weight loss as part of the treatment and this can be achieved through exercises and a change in the diet. Read on for more information regarding diet for women affected by PCOS.

Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) is a condition caused by the imbalance of hormones in females. The symptoms of this disease include obesity, irregular menstruation or amenorrhea, insulin resistance, depression, hair loss, excess of male hormones characterized by increase in facial and body hair, enlarged ovaries with many small cysts, etc. This condition may also lead to type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, cardiovascular diseases, stroke, high blood cholesterol, miscarriage and endometrial cancer. The symptoms and the associated medical conditions vary from one woman to another.

The treatment of this condition is tailored to fit individual problems, like, abnormal growth of body hair, infertility, etc, but the most important part is controlling or managing the long term risks. Long term risks include diabetes, cardiovascular disease, stroke and high blood pressure. As all these conditions are directly or indirectly related to obesity, doctors suggest weight loss as a part of the overall treatment plan. It is believed that maintaining a healthy weight can be beneficial in reducing and controlling the symptoms and conditions associated with this disease.

Obesity and PCOS

Studies show that about 50 to 60 percent of the women affected with PCOS are obese. It is believed that this obesity is linked to the levels of insulin. Insulin is a hormone secreted by the pancreas to break down carbohydrates and to carry sugar from the blood to the muscle, fat and liver cells. These cells convert the sugar into energy or store it as fat. It is said that 80 percent of the women affected by PCOS are insulin resistant. In women affected by PCOS, these cells are resistant to insulin, which affects the process of transporting sugars from the blood to the cells. This leads to an increase in the production of insulin, causing hyperinsulinemia (high levels of insulin in blood), which in turn could lead to many other problems like obesity, heart disease, diabetes and polycystic ovaries. Hence it is suggested that the underlying cause of PCOS is insulin resistance and so, apart from the conventional medications, weight loss and lifestyle changes are also necessary in tackling this disease.

Carbohydrates and PCOS

A diet low in fats, but high in carbohydrates may not be beneficial for women with PCOS. High levels of carbohydrates can trigger the overproduction of insulin, which is detrimental in effect. Hence, a diet which is low in carbohydrates is considered as ideal, but avoid refined ones like breads, pastas, cookies, ice creams, etc. You can include more complex carbohydrates like whole-grain breads and cereals, whole-wheat pasta, barley, brown rice and beans. Prefer lower glycemic index foods, which take more time to turn into blood sugar. They have higher fiber content than the high glycemic foods (foods that break down quickly during digestion and release glucose rapidly into the bloodstream).

The daily consumption of carbohydrates should not be less than 40 grams. A lower intake of carbohydrates can cause ketosis. Maintain intervals in the intake of carbohydrates. If you consume the whole recommended levels of carbohydrates in a single meal, it can cause a rapid rise in the blood sugar and insulin. Try to drink more water and liquids. Avoid caffeinated drinks. Avoid foods containing saturated and trans fats like red meat, whole dairy products, butter and margarine, fried and spicy foods, etc. Foods high in mono unsaturated fats and omega 3 fats are good for the health of the heart.

According to some studies, dietary changes and regular exercise are found to be beneficial in restoring the regular menstrual cycle and ovulation. It is also helpful in controlling the health problems associated with PCOS. Above all, a healthy diet and exercise are good for the overall wellbeing of any human being.


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