Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) is one of the most common causes of infertility in women today. It is estimated that 8-10% of women of reproductive age suffer from it and might not even know it.
Women with PCOS produce a surplus of androgens, often referred to as male hormones leading to irregular ovulation or even lack of ovulation (anovulation).
Symptoms can include irregular or absent menstrual cycles, heavy vaginal bleeding, oily skin and acne, excessive hair growth on the face, weight gain, insulin resistance, high cholesterol and infertility.
While PCOS cannot be prevented, or cured, the good news is that you can better manage your PCOS by following the 10 steps outlined below:
1. Avoid sugar and sweets. Simple carbohydrates such as sweets and sugar or foods and beverages that contain sugar like cakes, biscuits, cereal, candy, soft drinks, fruit juices and more can result in hormonal imbalance.
2. Avoid high glycemic index foods. They cause a sudden blood glucose rise which can also result in hormonal imbalance. High glycemic index foods include white bread, crackers, bagels, pretzels, most cereal, puffed rice, white rice, white pasta, pumpkin, popcorn, and more. Most processed starchy foods have a high GI.
3. Avoid bad fats. Saturated fats found in red meat and dairy products, hydrogenated and trans fats found in margarines and many processed foods are considered unhealthy. Good fats include monounsaturated fats such as olive oil, omega 3-fatty acids found in fish and flaxseeds and omega-6 found in nuts and seeds.
4. Increase your fiber intake. Foods that contain fiber are complex and unrefined carbohydrates. These include brown rice and pasta, wholegrain breads, quinoa, pulses, oats, fruits, and vegetables. Complexed carbohydrates can also cause a blood glucose rise but not to as much as and as fast as simple or refined carbohydrates can. Also, when having complex carbohydrates try not to eat large quantities all at once but equally spread them throughout the day.
5. Increase the consumption of green leafy vegetables. Not only will they increase your fiber consumption but also, they will provide you with many important vitamins and minerals.
6. Include healthy fats such as unsalted nuts, seeds, avocado, coconut and olive oil. Healthy fats are vital for hormonal balance and fertility but if you are overweight and need to lose weight, try not to consume them in large quantities.
7. Exercise is necessary. Exercise will help you maintain a healthy weight as well as give you a better glucose control. You do not need to overexert yourself with very high impact exercise regimes but aim to exercise for about one hour, three times a week.
8. Add vitamins that aid in blood glucose control. Whether you choose to add these vitamins through food or through a supplement is a personal choice. The vitamins that can aid in blood glucose control include vitamin B1, B2, B3, B6, B12, C, magnesium, chromium, and manganese.
9. Rule out gluten intolerance. There is evidence that some autoimmune diseases, such as PCOS, may be attributed to a non-celiac gluten intolerance.
10. Maintain a healthy weight. If you are obese or overweight, losing weight will dramatically improve your PCOS. Try to keep a Body Mass Index (BMI) anywhere between 18.5-25.