One out of every five women in India suffers from polycystic ovary syndrome or PCOS. This is a reality that must be accepted with a pinch of salt. It is one of the most commonly occurring endocrine complications that leads to hormonal imbalance, affecting women of reproductive age. However, PCOS is not really a full-fledged disease in itself and is more of a medical condition. Through a conscious shift in lifestyle that includes clean, plant-based nutrition and holistic living; it is possible to manage the underlying symptoms of PCOS.
What are the causes of PCOS?
The main reason why PCOS syndrome is not categorized as a disease is that it is only a cluster of symptoms that can occur due to hormonal imbalances in the body. While the exact cause of PCOS is unknown, medical professionals across the world cite genetics and environmental factors as the main causes.
In this condition, the ovaries tend to produce an excess amount of androgens or the male sex hormones, which are usually present in women in small traces. It causes multiple symptoms like a large number of cysts or fluid-filled sacs in ovaries, excess hair growth, acne, obesity, and disrupted menstrual cycles, among others. Sometimes, the ovulation process can even come to a complete halt. In such severe cases, the chances of childbirth become very low.
It can also cause insulin resistance, where the body can create insulin but can’t use it effectively. This can lead to type-2 diabetes in the long run. However, it is quite feasible to control the symptoms of PCOS.
The foremost step is to switch immediately to a clean, plant-based, and healthy diet.
Also Read: Ayurveda and a plant-based diet helped me beat PCOS, says entrepreneur Vibha Harish
Here are 6 dietary and lifestyle changes you can incorporate in your daily lives to manage PCOS symptoms naturally:
- Whole foods and grains: Opt for foods that digest slowly as they have a lesser impact on insulin levels in the body. You can opt for whole grains like oats, brown rice, and quinoa. Ensure that you consume lots of legumes, pulses, nuts, seeds, and raw fruits as well.
- High protein intake: Protein is known to help manage weight. Adding clean protein to your diet can help keep your weight under control and also fuels the body with energy and strength. On average, a healthy adult should consume at least 0.8 grams of protein per kg of their body weight. For eg; if you weigh 60 kgs, you should have at least 0.8 x 60= 48 grams of protein daily.
- Greens and berries: Greens and fresh vegetables are high in nutrients and low on calories, making them a must-have in your diet. Studies have shown that many women with PCOS suffer from vitamin B deficiency. Dark green leafy vegetables like kale and spinach contain high levels of vitamin B and adding them to your daily diet can be highly beneficial. It is also advisable to have raspberries, blueberries, and blackberries in your PCOS diet.
- Herbs and herbal extracts: Age-old Indian herbs like Shatavari and Ashoka are known to help combat PCOS symptoms. Shatavari supports hormonal balance in women with PCOS, while Ashoka helps boost estrogen levels and is also beneficial for skin health.
- Anti-inflammatory foods: Healthy fats like olive oil can be consumed to combat the inflammation caused by PCOS. You should avoid highly processed foods, sugary drinks, and empty calories that further aggravates inflammation.
- Clean and holistic living: It is important to adopt clean and holistic living that focuses on physical and mental well-being at all times. Along with clean, plant-based nutrition ensure that you do some form of physical activity for at least 30 minutes. Daily physical activity like running, yoga, or any other form of exercise can help lower insulin levels in the body. Breathing techniques like pranayama or practicing regular meditation can be helpful in managing the rising stress levels.
While there is a lot of ambiguity around PCOS, always remember that with a clean, plant-based, and holistic lifestyle, you can win over this condition.