Are you experiencing irregular periods, unexpected weight gain, and/or thick hair sprouting all over your chin and neck? Chances are that these can be signs of PCOS (Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome).

One in every five women in India suffers from PCOS. It is a common disorder that affects women in the reproductive age group and is a condition related to the malfunctioning of the ovaries. 

PCOS is said to be a genetic disorder and it is also commonly seen in families where members are suffering from diabetes, high cholesterol, or obesity. PCOS can often seem daunting, but the key to treating it lies in taking small yet important steps towards better overall health. 

Exercise and diet are the two most important pieces of the puzzle. As important as it is to eat healthy while having PCOS, regular physical activity also helps improve multiple symptoms related to PCOS. 

Let's look at four easy steps to manage PCOS better. 

4 Tips to Tackle PCOS

1. Avoid Crash Dieting For Weight Loss. Diet control does not mean starvation. It should rather be about portion control and choosing nutritious food over processed or fast food. Eating the right kind of food will help you manage your PCOS better. 

If you are diagnosed with PCOS, you are likely to become insulin resistant. Insulin is a hormone secreted by the pancreas to reduce your blood sugar levels by increasing its uptake in the cells.  When you become resistant to insulin, glucose cannot enter the cells as easily, which leads to an increase in blood sugar levels. This is why women with PCOS are also at risk of developing type 2 diabetes. 

Including foods that are high in fibre causes a slower, more controlled rise in blood sugar levels. Good sources of fibre include barley, oatmeal, beans, nuts, and fruits such as apples, berries, citrus fruits, and pears. 

2. Choose The Right Foods in The Right Portion. Not eating the right portion of food can disrupt your weight management as well as blood sugar and insulin levels. 

  • Be more conscious of the serving sizes and try to check out the recommended servings of different foods. 

  • Have more frequent smaller meals and snacks to keep your blood sugar balanced throughout the day.

3. Get The Right Kind of Nutrients. It is important to introduce nutrients that will help you combat the symptoms (sudden weight gain or loss, abnormal growth of facial hair, irregular periods) and other side effects of PCOS. 

  • Get tested for vitamin D deficiency. Deficiency of vitamin D occurs in PCOS which leads to increased insulin resistance, an increase in body hair, and a rise in lipid levels.

  • Include vitamin D rich foods like mushrooms, fortified food products, oily fishes such as mackerel, tuna, salmon and trout, cod liver oil, and egg yolks in your diet. 

  • Consider taking a vitamin D supplement to meet your daily requirements, if you are a strict vegetarian.

Additionally, include the following types of foods to your diet:

  • High-fibre vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower, almonds, beans, and sprouts, etc. 

  • Yoghurt to promote the growth of good gut bacteria.

  • Anti-inflammatory foods and spices such as turmeric and tomatoes.

  • Lean proteins such as chicken, tofu, and fish.

  • Omega-3 fatty acid sources like nuts and seeds, fatty fish, avocados, etc.

On the flip-side, it is also best to know the kind of foods to avoid:

  • Foods that are high in refined carbohydrates such as white bread, muffins, bagels, and waffles.

  • Snacks and drinks high in added sugars. 

  • Inflammatory foods such as processed and red meats.

4. Incorporate Healthy Lifestyle Changes. PCOS, like many other disorders, responds positively to proactive lifestyle changes along with dietary modifications. 

  • Do regular exercise and stay physically active. You can choose any kind of workout that would suit you - swimming, Zumba, cycling, or a sport that you enjoy. 

  • Weight gain is a common symptom of PCOS. Daily physical activity combined with a well-balanced healthy diet can aid in weight loss.

  • Another annoying symptom of PCOS includes erratic sleep cycles and excessive stress. Practising Yoga and meditation will help calm your mind and let you connect with your body. 

  • Keep a food diary and write in it every night before going to bed to avoid mindless or stressful eating. A food diary is the first step towards adopting healthy lifestyle changes that stick.

Though PCOS can be an overwhelming experience, it can be easily controlled. With the above tips, you can get back to your radiant and healthy self before you know it. Consult your gynaecologist in case your symptoms do not get any better.

Disclaimer: This article is written by the Practitioner for informational and educational purposes only. The content presented on this page should not be considered as a substitute for medical expertise. Please "DO NOT SELF-MEDICATE" and seek professional help regarding any health conditions or concerns. Practo will not be responsible for any act or omission arising from the interpretation of the content present on this page.