Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) is a hormonal disorder common among women between 15-45 years of age. This disease affects a woman’s ovaries. The early pubertal years are when PCOS begins to develop.
Majorly affecting the women of reproductive age, this clinical condition can cause severe hormonal imbalance and difficulties in childbirth. PCOS has been reported to adversely affect fertility among women and as a major concern for developing various metabolic conditions such as heart diseases, diabetes, hypertension, etc. Approximately 3.7 – 22.5% of females of childbearing age are affected by this disorder in India.
PCOS is a heterogeneous disorder characterized by infrequent or prolonged menstrual periods and increased levels of male hormones (androgens). Numerous small fluid-filled sacs (follicles) develop, as a result of which the ovaries fail to form and release eggs regularly.
Signs and symptoms of PCOS vary from one individual to another. The common symptoms are:
The exact cause of the disease is still unknown. Various reasons like heredity, excessive male hormones, faulty lifestyle, and poor eating habits have been suggested without conclusive results.
The following article focuses on how to control PCOS with diet and exercise to improve the quality of life for women suffering from the disease.
Table of Contents
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Faulty dietary habits are closely linked with PCOS. A diet high in refined carbohydrates, simple sugars, and fats and low in fiber might lead to excessive weight gain, making PCOS management difficult.
Obesity and difficulty in losing weight are among the most common complications of PCOS, and both are the result of poor dietary habits. A high-calorie diet has also been linked with increased insulin resistance.
Insulin resistance is a condition where the body cells are unable to use insulin to metabolize glucose and produce energy. This results in high levels of insulin circulating in the blood, leading to an increase in androgen levels.
The key to the effective management of PCOS is a healthy diet and an active lifestyle. A Diet chart for PCOS will contain the foods that improve the body's metabolism. Making small and sustainable changes to diet and physical activity patterns can greatly improve PCOS symptoms by keeping the weight under check.
Losing weight, in most cases, helps in improving insulin resistance, lowers blood glucose levels, and helps the hormones reach a normal range. Even a 10% loss in body weight may regularise the menstrual cycle.
Controlling PCOS with diet and lifestyle changes is the first step toward managing the disease resulting in the alleviation of PCOS symptoms.
The PCOS diet plan mainly focuses on meeting the person's nutritional needs, maintaining a healthy weight, and promoting a better insulin metabolism.
A typical diet chart for PCOS would contain foods that provide adequate calories and nutrients but by making correct food choices.
A variety of complex carbohydrates like whole cereals, whole pulses, a lot of fruits and vegetables, good quality proteins, and a restricted amount of healthy fats are the mainstay of the PCOS diet plan.
However, the diet for PCOS will restrict the use of processed foods, fatty and sugary foods, and drinks. Various other foods made from refined flour, loaded with fats and sugars, are also not a part of the diet.
However, the diet chart for PCOS needs to be individualized and customized according to the suitability and sustainability of the women. No one plan can fit the need of all individuals.
A diet plan for PCOS should include whole grain and complex carbohydrates in the form of rotis made with whole wheat flour, ragi, jowar, or bajra. In addition to this, pulses, seeds, and a lot of fruits and vegetables should be included in the diet to meet the requirement of all essential nutrients and antioxidants. Below is attached a sample diet plan for PCOS
Total Energy requirement: 20-25 Kcals/kg for Ideal Body Weight. (20 calories in case of obesity and 25 for overweight patients)
To calculate Ideal Bodyweight – Subtract height by 100.
Here is a simple and practical Indian diet plan for both vegetarians and non-vegetarians. All the possible food items and their alternatives are mentioned as options. This can be adapted to suit individual needs and lifestyles.
Early Morning: 1 glass lukewarm water + 10 gm soaked nuts (walnuts & almonds)
Breakfast (9:00 – 9:30 am): 200 ml milk/ 1 boiled egg + 40 gm raw/ 100 gm (cooked) upma/ poha/ ragi/ wheat/ jowar porridge/ 2 slices multi-grain bread +1fruit (1/2 apple/ 2-3 slices papaya)
Mid-morning meal (11:00 – 11:30 am): 200 ml buttermilk/ 8 halves of walnuts/ 20 gm roasted pumpkin seeds + 100 gm fruit
Lunch ( 1:00 pm – 2:00 pm): 40 gm cereal (wheat/ ragi/ jowar/ bajra/ makki) (2 flours can also mixed)/ 40 gm raw brown rice/ quinoa (soaked and boiled) + 30 gm raw dal (soaked and cooked in 1 tsp ghee) + 150 gm green leafy vegetable + 100 gm curd/ 50 gm paneer/ tofu
Mid-afternoon meal (4:00 – 5:00 pm): 1 cup tea (with less milk and no sugar)/ green tea/ black coffee + 20 roasted seeds/ 30 gm roasted makhana/ roasted chana
Evening snack ( 6:00 pm): 200 gm cut fruits + 10 gm roasted seeds
Dinner (7:00 pm- - 8:00 pm): Choose any one option listed below
75 gm sautéed chicken with vegetables and 30 gm raw rice/ quinoa (soaked and cooked)
100 gm paneer/ tofu with vegetables and 30 gm raw rice/ quinoa;
30 gm raw rice (soaked and cooked) + 75 gm cooked dal + green vegetables
2-3 Idli + 75 gm cooked sambhar with vegetables
150 gm cooked vegetable khichri + 1 tsp ghee
Note: To determine your unique body requirements, consult a nutritionist.
Leading a physically active life is very important for women suffering from PCOS. Consistent exercise helps with weight management, improves mood, can resolve fertility issues, and lowers disease risk, along with numerous other health benefits.
Regular exercise helps in correcting insulin sensitivity by improving the uptake of insulin by the cells and reducing weight, particularly in the belly area. This has a significant effect on the symptoms of PCOS.
No one type of exercise can be considered the best exercise for PCOS. A combination of cardio, strength training, HIIT, yoga, and pilates is considered to be useful. Also, in most cases, it’s a personal choice and suitability of an individual regarding the choice of type of exercise. Moderate exercises like brisk walking, jogging, swimming, or cycling are all great exercises for PCOS.
Doing 30 minutes or more a day for 5 days a week can help with weight management as well as relieve the various symptoms of PCOS.
Although walking is the most under-rated exercise, it is considered the best exercise for PCOS as it can be done anywhere and requires no specific equipment.
While it is easy to advocate for exercise, many people find it hard to exercise regularly. But with the proper mindset and approach, it is possible to turn it into a habit.
Also, many people fail to stick with a fitness plan because of opting for unsustainable exercise routines. The best PCOS exercise plan is the one that is practical, sustainable, and enjoyable for one to perform.
PCOS is a very common problem in females of reproductive age. In addition to medical treatment, diet therapy and exercise play an important role in managing PCOS. PCOS diet plan mainly focuses on making lifestyle changes and weight reduction. Even a 10% reduction in weight may help improve the symptoms of the disease.
For proper guidance through all these to achieve the goal of a healthy lifestyle, you should meet Dr. Preeti Singh. She is the best gynecologist in town. She will help you understand your health issues in a better way and thus, manage them correctly for better results.
Dr. Preeti Singh is a renowned Obstetrician-Gynaecologist in Noida. At her clinic, your fertility-related issues will be dealt with with great care and expertise. With her experience and expertise, you will be able to manage your disease better and learn how to control PCOS with diet.