Posted on September 04 2022
PCOS is one of the most commonly misunderstood conditions among women, and there's no doubt that a plant-based diet can help those suffering from PCOS. I have already written a detailed blog on PCOS management with a structured nutrition plan here:
It is without doubt, that the popularity of a plant-based diet is on the rise. More and more people realize just how much better it is for their overall health, animals, and the environment.
The main thing to remember about a plant-based diet is that it is high in fiber and antioxidants. High fiber foods help with digestion and reduces inflammation in the body. Reduced inflammation can in- turn help with PCOS symptoms like irregular periods.
Besides this, fiber consumption has also been linked with reduced rates of diabetes and other lifestyle diseases.
What really is PCOS?
Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a hormonal disorder that affects women in their reproductive years, typically between the ages of 15 and 35. PCOS is characterised by ovarian cysts, an ovulation (unable to reach fertility) and/ or elevated levels of sex hormone production int he body.
According to research by the World Health Organization(WHO) over 116 million women are affected by PCOS worldwide.
PCOS can present with multiple symptoms, including irregular menstrual cycle, irregular or absent periods (amenorrhea); acne; excess hair growth in places other than your head (hirsutism); unwanted facial hair (facial hirsutism); weight gain despite attempts to maintain a healthy diet and exercise routine (overnutrition); lethargy even after regular exercise (insulin resistance); difficulty sleeping due to frequent urination at night or waking up multiple times per night (nocturia); irritability and depression
There are several factors that come into picture when women suffer from PCOS like genetics, diet, stress levels, metabolism, or exposure to certain chemicals. Watch this to understand some factors that may cause PCOS:
Some experts also believe PCOS is caused by our modern environment's increased exposure to toxins such as pesticides and plastics.
Many health problems can arise from PCOS, including diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, depression/anxiety disorders, gallbladder disease, liver diseases, and some types of cancer. The symptoms of PCOS can be severe or mild, depending on the underlying issues' severity.
PCOS is a major cause of concern because it can impact your life in many ways. Namely:
- First, PCOS can impact your fertility. If you cannot conceive naturally, you may need to consider IVF or other methods of conception, such as surrogacy. It is important to understand though that natural pregnancy is absolutely possible when you make lifestyle and nutritional changes to manage your PCOS symptoms.
- Second, PCOS can lead to weight gain and obesity. Besides this, hormonal fluctuations can lead to disordered eating patters, food addictions, eating disorders and even a negative body image.
- Third, PCOS, if untreated, can cause serious health problems, including diabetes and cardiovascular disease. One study found that women with PCOS were twice as likely to develop type 2 diabetes than women without this condition. The risk increases with age because insulin resistance worsens as people age.
- Fourth, PCOS can increase blood pressure and cholesterol levels, which leads to heart disease and strokes later in life.
Why Nutrition Plays An Important Role In PCOS management?
One of the most common causes of PCOS is nutrition. Food you could be eating might actually contribute tot he rise of sex hormones in the body. At the same time, certain herbs and spices can actually help your body heal. I have curated a step- by- step guided holistic healing protocol for PCOS management that has helped thousands of people globally. Here is the link or the same:
Customised nutrition plays a vital role in PCOS patients as it helps reduce their weight, stabilize their blood sugar levels, elevate their insulin sensitivity, and even regulate menstrual cycle.
A low AGE diet is the most optiomal for PCOS management. AGEs or Advanced Glycation End- Products are harmful toxins found in dairy alternative's and meat. Avoiding meat and dairy, and emphasising on raw fruits, vegetables and cooked legumes and grains is the best approach.
On the other hand, eating a diet high in sugar, processed foods, and saturated fats increases your risk of developing PCOS. These foods can lead to more hormonal fluctuations.
Excess estrogen prevents ovulation and makes it more difficult for your body to produce eggs. This can lead to irregular menstrual cycles, infertility, and other health issues like endometriosis or adenomyosis.
How Does A Vegan Diet Help Manage PCOS?
If you've been looking for a way to manage PCOS, a plant- based diet might be the best approach.
PCOS is an endocrine disorder that affects millions of women around the world. While it may seem like there are no quick fixes for this condition, it is possible to find ways to manage PCOS through a plant-based diet.
The vegan diet is naturally rich in fiber, antioxidants, and vitamins that can help support good health. In addition, vegan diets have been shown to reduce inflammation and improve insulin sensitivity, two critical components of PCOS.
A vegan diet also tends to be low in saturated fat, which can help lower cholesterol levels. This makes it easier for women with PCOS to lose weight without wanting to binge on junk food or suffer from cravings for high-fat foods.
Foods To Include In A Vegan Diet For PCOS.
Vegetables are packed with vitamins and minerals, including calcium, iron, zinc, and vitamins A, C, and E. micronutrients are essential for the body as they act as a co- enzyme, aiding multiple functions.
Aim to consume 4-5 servings (one fistful is one serving) of vegetables daily. The cruciferous group among the list is the most important. Thus, make sure to include cauliflower, cabbage, broccoli, kale etc as much as you can.
Leafy greens are another essential group and one should aim to consume atleast 50 grams per day.
The rule when it comes to vegetables is that you want it raw, steamed or lightly sautéed. Do not overcook vegetables to a point that they lose their nutritional value.
Nuts And Seeds:
Nuts and seeds are a source of whole fats and essential fatty acids. They retain their fiber, unlike oil's, thus, are a healthier source of fats.
Nuts are rich in antioxidants that help reduce inflammation and support hormone balance. Walnuts are particularly good at balancing your blood sugar levels because they're low in calories but high in omega's and vitamins.
Flaxseeds, chia seeds, or hemp hearts can help with digestion and regulate better gut health. Flaxseeds are also high in phytoestrogens, protecting women with PCOS against breast and a few other cancers.
Legumes And Whole Grains:
Both of these food groups are protein packed and essential for health. Legumes are good sources of fiber and contain folate and other nutrients that may help with hormone balance in women with PCOS. Whole grains, in particular, contain fiber, beta-glucan, potassium, and magnesium. They also provide B vitamins and vitamin E.
They're packed with protein and fiber, which can help regulate your blood sugar levels. Plus, they have many healthy fats that help keep your hormones balanced.
Concerned about the carbs in grains? Read this:
These natures candies are surprisingly low in GI, thus, not causing a glucose spike after consuming. Fruits act as an excellent snack between meals and a great appetite suppressor before a meal. They are packed with essential minerals and fiber. Note though, you want to avoid fruit juices and stick tot he whole fruits instead.
Choose high-fiber fruits like berries, apples, pears, papaya, and mangoes. These are low in calories but still packed with nutrients like vitamins C and E and minerals like potassium and magnesium. They're also good sources of fiber and antioxidants that can help fight off disease.
Supplements To Consider For A Vegan Diet For PCOS.
One of the essential nutrients to get is B12. Vitamin B12 is vital in maintaining energy levels and helps mood stabilize. It also plays a crucial role in red blood cell production, so it's essential for people with PCOS who have low iron stores.
Iodine is an essential mineral that helps regulate thyroid function, crucial in regulating hormone production. Low levels of iodine can lead to an underactive thyroid, which can cause some symptoms of PCOS, including menstrual irregularity and infertility.
Magnesium is another mineral that can help with weight loss, PCOS symptoms, and even sleep disorders like insomnia or restless leg syndrome (RLS).
Magnesium deficiencies have been linked to obesity because it decreases appetite and controls insulin levels. It's also great for managing anxiety and stress levels because of its calming effect on the nervous system.
It is however important to note though that consuming magnesium rich foods is suggested VS depending on a supplemental form.
Zinc is another micronutrient that can help with PCOS. It plays an essential role in insulin sensitivity and metabolism. Optimal zinc levels also help maintain your skin and hair health.
Other Factors That Play Important Role For PCOS management.
Regular exercise is a vital component of a healthy diet for PCOS. Exercise helps to regulate your weight, improve blood sugar levels, and lower your risk of heart disease. Maintaining a healthy weight is essential for PCOS patients dealing with obesity and insulin resistance issues.
A healthy circadian rhythm:
Sleep is key for all of us—it's when our cells repair themselves, and we get all those benefits from sleep. But for PCOS patients, who often struggle with irregular periods and other hormone imbalances caused by their condition, getting the proper rest can make a huge difference in how they feel throughout the day.
If you're suffering from mood disorders such as anxiety and depression, getting help from a qualified therapist is essential. Therapy can help you manage these conditions and ensure they don't interfere with your life.
A therapist can play a critical role in helping you deal with the emotional aspects of PCOS. Working through your feelings and learning how to manage those emotions better is necessary for maintaining your health and well-being.
PCOS is a syndrome that affects as many as 5 million women in the U.S. that’s 6%-12% women in their reproductive age. A plant- based approach has been proven to be the most effective. While it is not a cure-all, it can help women with PCOS manage their condition and live healthy lifestyles.
It's easy to implement and maintain. Plus, eating more plants is beneficial for your overall health and well-being!
While many different components make this diet work for you, it's important to remember that consistency is key!
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