1- Weight Management
Weight reduction if overweight or obese and prevention of weight gain if you have healthy weight. Losing weight by only 5% to 10% can highly improve symptoms such as restore of normal hormone growth, regular periods, and improved fertility etc.
In some cases, lean women can also have PCOS but still suffer from irregular menstrual cycle.
Tip: It may be harder to lose weight if you have PCOs, seek the advise of GP and dietitian to get the best approach.
2 – Choose Carbohydrates with Low Glycaemic Index
What is GI?
It is a rating system for foods containing carbohydrates. It shows how quickly each food affects your blood sugar (glucose) level when that food is eaten on its own. Carbohydrates with a low GI value (55 or less) are more slowly digested, absorbed, and metabolised
and cause a lower and slower rise in blood glucose and, therefore usually, insulin levels. Therefore, choose food that are low in GI. Below are some examples of Low GI carbohydrates:
➢Keeping foods ‘whole’ is a good guideline, e.g. wholegrain bread instead of wholemeal or white,
➢ Traditional Rolled oats instead of instant oats
➢ Natural Muesli
➢ Whole meal pasta instead of white pasta
➢ Uncle Bens Cajun style Rice instead of jasmine rice
➢ Soba noodles
➢ Sweet potato instead of the white potato
Tip: Read ingredients and make sure the first ingredient is a whole grain or wheat and not something else such as sugar and similar alternatives. Stay away from refined carbohydrates such as white bread and sugary snacks and drinks.
4- Make Omega-3 Part Of Your Daily Diet
Based on current evidence and an interesting meta-analysis in which data from randomized controlled trials were obtained to
assess the effects of Omega-3 fatty acid versus placebo or western medicine in women with PCO, it was concluded that Omega-3 fatty acid may be recommended for the treatment of PCOS with insulin resistance as high total Cholesterol(especially LDL-C) and Triglycerides.
Where to find Omega-3?
➢ Fish and other seafood (especially cold-water fatty fish, such as salmon, mackerel, tuna, herring, and sardines)
➢ Nuts and seeds (such as flaxseed, chia seeds, and walnuts)
➢ Plant oils (such as flaxseed oil, extra virgin olive oil)
➢ Dark chocolate at least 75%
➢ Fortified foods (such as certain brands of eggs, yogurt, juices, milk, soy beverages)
Tip: Have at least two times a week fatty fish such as salmon, add a teaspoon of extra virgin olive oil to your salad, add a teaspoon of chia seeds to your morning porridge, base your snack on raw nuts.
5 – Cinnamon is another trick!
Studies have shown that cinnamon can decrease insulin resistance. Most women with PCOS suffer from insulin resistance which makes it harder to lose weight. A study on women has shown those taking cinnamon supplements had a decrease in Insulin resistance. In addition to that cinnamon has helped restore and regulate menstrual cycle (more regular periods). along with a
significant decrease in serum level of testosterone the male hormone. High levels of testosterone lead to irregular periods.
Cinnamon also being a great antioxidant and anti-inflammatory has shown to decrease the LDL the bad cholesterol and increase HDL the good cholesterol. Many women with PCOS suffer from dyslipidemia thus cinnamon can help to regulate cholesterol levels.
Tip: Add around teaspoon (or ½ teaspoon) of cinnamon to your morning porridge, add it to your hot tea drink.
6 – Flaxseed and PCOS
Flaxseed is a rich source of lignan and has been shown to reduce androgen levels in men with prostate cancer and because women with PCOS have high androgen levels(Testosterone levels) a study has proven that supplementation with flaxseed has also helped in regulating PCOS symptoms. This randomised Control trial has shown promising results in decreasing PCOS symptoms
in a group of women who were supplemented with flaxseeds compared with those who were not. This was a 30g (4 Tablespoons) of ground flaxseed per day for a period of 12 weeks. Results have shown a significant reduction in insulin resistance, leptin, body weight, androgen levels, hirsutism, reduction in total cholesterol level and enhancing regular menstrual cycle.
7 – Bulk your diet with anti-inflammatory food
A study published in North American Journal of Medical Sciences was conducted on a total of 100 nonpregnant, overweight, and obese adult females with PCOS. They followed an anti-inflammatory Mediterranean diet for a period of 12 weeks. At baseline and study end, fasting blood samples were drawn to measure biological markers, body fat percent (BFP), and visceral fat area (VFA) were assessed by the InBody720 device and anthropometric measurements were done for all participants who were subjected to an
anti-inflammatory hypocaloric diet and physical activity for 12 weeks.
Results showed at least
✓ 7% weight loss
✓ Significant improvements in body composition, hormones and menstrual cyclicity, blood pressure, glucose homeostasis, dyslipidaemia,
✓ This was a clinically relevant weight loss that is associated with a reduced prevalence of type 2 diabetes mellitus (DM2) and metabolic syndrome (MS) in the general population
✓ Improved fertility outcomes in PCOS
✓ 63% regain of menstrual cyclicity
✓ 12% spontaneous pregnancy rate within 12 weeks.
Tip: Increase the intake of omega-3 food, reduce meat intake to once a week, use herbs and spices, Turmeric is an excellent anti-inflammatory spice, corporate green tea in your hot drink’s choices. It is a great antioxidant.
8 – Exercise and PCOS
Exercise helps improving insulin sensitivity and having PCOS highly linked to insulin resistance thus exercise will be of great help.
Lean women with PCOS should not fear exercising on the contrary focus on resistance exercise this will help to increase your muscle mass thus reduces insulin resistance. A study comparing women with PCOS who walked 7500 steps a day versus inactive women showed that active women had showed a decrease in androgen levels, decreased waist circumference and lower BMI.
Tip: Aim for 150 to 300 minutes (2 ½ to 5 hours) of moderate intensity physical activity or 75 to 150 minutes (1 ¼ to 2 ½ hours) of vigorous intensity physical activity, or an equivalent combination of both moderate and vigorous activities.
Anxiety, Stress and PCOS
A Fact is that women with PCOS have been shown to have more anxiety and this increases inflammation. Managing anxiety is
important. This could be achieved by getting enough and good quality sleep. Go outside and enjoy some sunshine and vitamin D
when possible. Meditation, yoga, and exercise are of great help.
Should I Go Dairy Free or Gluten Free?
To keep it short there is no clear evidence or study that shows gluten free or dairy manages PCOS. However, there is some evidence that going dairy free helps in reducing acne.
In conclusion PCOS management is a long-term journey that requires a lifestyle intervention. A complete PCOS management team is important this may include a dietitian, GP, endocrinologist, and gynecologists’. My advice to you do not gather random information from friends and the internet and feel helpless, Seek Professional advice. In this article I have tackled major controls and approaches that can help in reducing PCOS symptoms. However, this is not all!
If you have not chosen your dietitian yet, I am keen with PCOS management and ready to join your management team.
Each woman is different and requires her unique approach.
• Jean Hailes
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