Nutrient Deficiencies Caused by PCOS

Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) is a hormonal condition whereby there is an excess production of androgens (male sex hormones) in the female reproductive system. The name itself suggests that there is a formation of various fluid-filled cysts into the ovaries.

Usually, the process of ovulation begins when the matured egg is released from the ovary for fertilization by the male sperm while if the egg is not fertilized, it is discharged out of the body during periods. However, minerals and nutrient deficiencies can hinder the ovulation process due to which the ovaries develop small fluid sacs containing high levels of androgens in it.

Vitamins and minerals play an essential part in our healthy balanced diet. Research has proven that constant consumption of dietary fiber, folic acid, vitamins D and C, calcium, and cobalamin can reduce the levels of hormonal imbalance in our body. This can help in managing diseases like obesity, PCOS and insulin resistance in our body.

A study published in the Archives of Women’s Mental Health proves that Vitamin D deficiency is a major factor resulting in showing depressive signs and symptoms of PCOS in women.

Effect of Vitamins on PCOS

vitamins effect n pcos
Hearth shape in the middle of pills or tablets with copy space text area
  • Vitamins are vital dietary supplements that not only help in the overall functioning of the body but also ensure optimal energy levels. For instance, the deficiency of vitamin D has a direct relation with depression levels, insulin resistance, and PCOS.
  • Moreover, Insulin is an important hormone that helps the tissues and cells to use glucose for the energy storing process. But, the resistance of insulin might increase the risk of diabetes, hypertension, and PCOS.
  • Also, high levels of insulin in women can cause more androgen which can lead to acne, pimples, an increase in body hairs, and irregular mensuration. Vitamins such as B (12), D, E, and folate are quite useful in enhancing insulin resistance especially in those who are suffering from metabolic syndrome.

Effect of Minerals on PCOS

mineralsPCOS Nutrients deficiencies minerals

Source- Harvard Health- Harvard University

  • Minerals serve as constituents of enzymes, hormones, and vitamins which combine with the other chemicals or exist singularly. For example, calcium phosphate in bone or free sodium in urine form.
  • Minerals play a crucial role in providing the structural framework to the bones and teeth. Not only this, but they also help in regulating the metabolism to perform the cellular activity. These inorganic substances participate in the biosynthesis of the nutrients.
  • Magnesium, phosphorus, and calcium are the building blocks for our bones and teeth. Potassium, chloride, and sodium maintain fluid balance. Potassium and Calcium ensure muscle contraction and easy transmission of nerve signals.
  • Generally, Vitamin D is necessary for calcium absorption that is essential to decrease the levels of PCOS in women.
  • It was found that women suffering from PCOS have altered levels of cortisol hormone due to excess production of androgens by the ovaries. Nutrient deficiencies in your daily diet will lead to a shortage of the essential vitamins and minerals that will lead to PCOS.

Key Nutrient Deficiencies Caused by PCOS

1.    Zinc

Zinc is a trace mineral that is present in several dietary food items that ensure healthy digestion and absorption process. Not only this, but zinc also plays a major role in the healthy fertilization and regular menstrual cycles in women. Studies have shown that a mixture of magnesium and zinc can lower down the inflammation and growth failure in women.

Nutrient deficiencies of zinc can increase the risk of PCOS, smaller sex glands, and diarrhea. A regular intake of zinc can prevent hair loss, acne, high testosterone, and hirsutism in the women’s body.

Sources of Zinc: black beans, sunflower seeds, turkey, beef, pumpkin seeds, azuki beans, turkey, lamb, bison, and whey protein.

Dosage: The daily recommended level of zinc in women is around 8mg/day. Although, long-term consumption of zinc can affect the copper and iron levels in the body. Zinc picolinate is considered as one of the excellent absorbable forms of zinc. Make sure that you get your nutritional levels checked from your healthcare practitioner.

2.    Folate

Folate is a kind of vitamin B9 that is usually present in a plethora of green leafy fruits and vegetables. It is quite different in its origination from the folic acid. Not only this, but researchers have also found that an intake of 5 grams of folate can significantly enhance your blood pressure, blood glucose levels and the amount of the lipids. Also, it lowers the risk of PCOS in women. Although, nutrient deficiencies of folate in our body can cause anemia, diarrhea, and gastrointestinal diseases.

Sources of Folate: whole wheat products, green leafy vegetables like peas, spinach, broccoli, collard greens, asparagus, cabbage, etc., fruits like oranges and mangoes, soybeans, meat, azuki beans, eggs, milk products, and black beans.

Dosage: 400 mcg/day is the RDI of folate for normal women whereas 600 mcg/day for pregnant ladies. To avoid the nutrient deficiencies of folate, this vitamin can be combined with active B12 and L-5-MTHF.

3. Magnesium

Magnesium is regarded as one of the most popular minerals which are available in abundance in various kinds of food items. Not only this, but it also reacts with the enzymes that lead to a direct impact on the blood sugar levels, muscle tension, blood pressure, nerve functioning, and metabolic processes. Moreover, magnesium improves the inflammation and insulin resistance and lowers the risk for diabetes, strokes, etc.

It is quite common for women to have PCOS who are having a deficiency of magnesium in their bodies. Furthermore, frequent intake of birth control pills can reduce the levels of magnesium in our bodies.

Sources of Magnesium: Whey protein, sesame seeds, hazelnuts, soybeans, barley, rice, potatoes, raw cacao, sorghum, spinach, rice, black beans, oats, almonds, peanuts, pumpkin seeds, etc.

Dosage: One must intake 400 mg of magnesium either in the form of magnesium glycinate or magnesium chelate. Avoid the intake of magnesium citrate in case you are having constipation. Also, add 800 mg of calcium along with 400 mg of magnesium if you are consuming it for a longer period.

4.    Vitamin B12

Vitamin B12, also known as Cobalamin, is an essential nutrient that helps in proper nerve functioning, DNA synthesis, the formation of red blood cells, and metabolizing proteins and fats. Not only this, but a study has also proven that nutrient deficiencies of vitamin B12 are higher in vegetarian Indians as most of this vitamin comes from animal foods.

Women with PCOS have fewer amounts of Vitamin B12 which leads to infertility, fatigue, obesity and less insulin resistance. Additionally, the use of metformin by any means also results in the reduction of B12 levels in the women’s body system.

Sources of Vitamin B12: salmon, eggs, crab, liver, dairy products, oysters, herring, pork, mussels, beef, etc.

Dosage: The optimal intake level of vitamin B12 is about 2.4mcg/day. There are various kinds of capsules and serums of vitamin B12 available in the market such as cyanocobalamin, adenosylcobalamin, methylcobalamin, and hydroxocobalamin. Make sure to consult your doctor before consuming any of these medicines. Also, it is highly recommended that this vitamin should be consumed along with other vitamins to neutralize its impact on the human body.

5.    Vitamin D

Vitamin D is the only vitamin that can be synthesized by the human body from natural sunlight. It is very useful for bone making and maintenance and allows the absorption of dietary calcium and phosphorus inside our body. Also, it can regulate the reproductive processing by the hormones by controlling the blood sugar levels, anti-mullerian hormone, insulin regulation, follicle-stimulating hormone, and progesterone levels in the women’s body.

Most of the women in today’s world are suffering from PCOS as they do not get enough of the sunlight which leads to a negative impact on their testosterone levels and fertility.

Sources of Vitamin D: U. V. radiations from sunlight, eggs, fortified dairy products, salmon, liver, cod-liver oils, tuna, swordfish, and many more.

Dosage: There is no standard dose of vitamin D yet individuals must get their vitamin levels checked by their health expert. Moreover, 600 IU/day is the recommended amount although it is quite low from elderly individuals. Suggested levels of daily intake are 25(OH)D are ≥50 nmol/L. Although some people require a high dosage of vitamin D which is up to 10,000 IU/day to maintain a balance and overcome the deficiency in the body.

Vitamin K must be combined with vitamin D to lower the risks of calcium deposits in your arteries. Aloe Vera Juice and Thorne vitamin D/K2 drops are quite useful in balancing the vitamin levels.

Some Final Words

A healthy balanced and nutritious diet is all that it takes to stay PCOS free. This diet must be full of vitamins, minerals, and especially those which are mentioned above in the article. Do regular physical activity and consume at least 8 glasses of water daily. Also, you can get some consultation and guidance by contacting us at support@modernmonk.in.

 

Can PCOS be Cured?

Women who have been recently diagnosed with PCOS often find it pretty confusing when they get to know about it in detail. There are many myths that are being circulated around the internet, which makes it even more difficult. One of them being whether PCOS cure is available or not. Well, to answer the question- No, PCOS cannot be cured. 

Hey, don’t get disheartened, cause it can be managed. The symptoms of PCOS can be reduced to a great extent if it is treated properly. Making changes in your lifestyle and diet is the first step. A lot of diseases can be managed if your lifestyle is healthy. 

An important thing to remember here is that PCOS is a metabolic ailment. This is also the major reason why there is no PCOS cure. If you are once diagnosed with PCOS, it is going to stay with you for your entire life. So, you cannot expect that once it is managed, it won’t get triggered again. You can again disrupt it by going back to your unhealthy life choices. 

What is a Metabolic Ailment?

Our body undergoes various sets of chemical reactions for our life sustenance. Removal of waste and conversion of food into energy are some of the examples. All this comes under the metabolism of our body. 

When this regular chemical reaction is disrupted, it causes our body to show various symptoms due to it. This happens when our body has either too little or excess of the chemical component in our body. All these clusters of symptoms result in a metabolic ailment.

PCOS, also comes under this ailment as it is not just a disease, rather a group of symptoms. Further even other metabolic disorders such as diabetes, insulin resistance and obesity are also linked with PCOS. Metabolic Ailments such as PCOS cure is very difficult.

What is PCOS?

PCOS, or polycystic ovary syndrome, is a condition that affect women’s hormone levels, producing excess amount of androgens, a group of male sex hormones. 

It is normal for every woman to produce some amount of it in her body. But in women with PCOS the production of these hormones increases manifold leading to problems such as acne, abnormal hair growth, like facial hair or male pattern baldness. Infertility and irregular periods are another set of issues that come along with PCOS. 

How reducing Insulin Resistance is the key to managing PCOS?

Insulin Resistance and PCOS have been linked by various medical professionals. Insulin is a hormone that balances the blood sugar level in our body. When this does not happen during insulin resistance, both insulin and glucose level spikes up. High insulin has its own fatalities, such as increasing deposition of fat in the belly region as insulin is a fat-storage hormone. Secondly, insulin also triggers the release of excess androgens, and increases the symptoms of PCOS.  

Although not all women with PCOS suffer from Insulin resistance, it for sure is one of the leading causes for PCOS. Many research [1] [2] proves that the production of these excess male hormones is due to Insulin resistance. Over 60% of women suffering from PCOS are insulin resistant. Insulin resistance causes many of the symptoms of PCOS and hormonal imbalance. Thus, it is necessary to treat insulin resistance first to manage PCOS.

Management of PCOS

PCOS can be managed to a great extent if certain healthy life choices are made. We often tend to approach for an instant result as a PCOS cure. But managing PCOS takes time. Solutions such as surgery and pills may show you results at first, but can have adverse effects in the future. So, let us see how we can manage PCOS, just by changing ourselves

Remove  refined carbs and processed foods from your diet:

 Simple carbohydrates are the main culprits in increasing the glucose levels in our body. So, the first step in the management of PCOS is to reduce the carbohydrate intake. Similarly, the mass produced processed foods harm our body to a very large extent. To add flavors, they contain added sugar in it, which must be a complete no for women with PCOS.  Both of these products can be easily broken down into glucose in our body, leading to higher insulin levels.

Add more and more Complex Carbohydrate, Fiber and Protein in your diet:

 Complex carbs like whole grains and sweet potatoes are actually good for our body. They don’t break down easily into glucose and provide energy for a longer time. Fiber and Protein rich foods are the best option to reduce insulin resistance. This reduces digestion in our body, which inturn reduces the sugar levels. Fiber also makes us feel full easily. This makes us eat less and helps us to lose weight.

Reduce Dairy Intake

 We usually hear from our parents, about the goodness of the milk. But they forget the fact that today’s milk is not the same as they think. The milk that we get in our homes, goes through many processes such as pasteurization, homogenization, and is even added with pesticides. The intake of milk for women with PCOS acts as an androgen increasing food. So, it is advisable to reduce the dairy intake for stopping the hormonal imbalances in our body.

Exercise Regularly

 When a woman with PCOS exercises, it helps her to manage the insulin and glucose levels in her body. The continuous movement in our body helps it to move glucose. This process takes the glucose from our blood and spreads it to other parts of our body. This reduces the load of glucose management from insulin, thus increasing our body’s sensitivity towards it. Listen to your body and opt for the exercises which suit you.

Get Enough Sleep

No method would work until and unless your body is properly rested. Getting a sound sleep is the easiest home remedy that you can do to rejuvenate your body. If you find it difficult to sleep, methods such as meditation, listening to calming sounds while sleeping can help. Just as they say a good laugh and a long sleep are the two cures for anything. It is true even for PCOS. A well rested body can function better and it would be easier for you to handle the stress of PCOS.

Get in check with your mental health

PCOS not only affects your body, it has a negative effect on your mind too. It is therefore necessary to put your mental health in consideration too. Pick up a self-motivating book to begin with. Talk with other people about your problems. Share your feelings. You would be amazed to see the difference in your stress and depression just by telling someone how you feel. And if these home remedies aren’t working for you, try seeking professional help. Remember it is you who matters. There is nothing wrong in going to a therapist or talking about your mental health.  

Conclusion

There is no cure for PCOS as it is a lifelong disease, but can be easily managed by making changes in the lifestyle. Daily exercises and healthy food choices are the perfect solution to handle PCOS in the best way possible.

All you need to know about PCOS and Dairy Products

When a woman finds out that she has PCOS, many questions arise. One of them being what to eat and what not to? One of the biggest debates about this has been whether dairy is good for PCOS or not. Many women with PCOS thus often follow a dairy free and gluten free diet. But how true is it? Is dairy really bad?

PCOS is a disease which causes hormonal imbalance to a great extent. When women with PCOS consume dairy, it boosts all of its symptoms. Dairy and PCOS always had a complex relationship. With the recent changes in the dairy industry, it has only worsened. PCOS triggers many aspects of the women’s body including insulin resistance, acne, obesity and hormones. It is quite confusing when these symptoms arise. Self diagnosis can be the first step to realize it. The consumption of dairy in such a situation can be even more fatal. Let’s take a deep dive into how dairy affects all these symptoms.

PCOS, Dairy Products and Messed up Hormones

Estrogen and IGF (a growth hormone) are the primary hormones present in dairy. The hormones in milk can target the breasts, uterus and ovary of a woman very badly. Women with PCOS have excess androgens and synthetic hormones in dairy can spike up these levels.

Estrogen and progesterone present in dairy are fat soluble hormones. Thus the amount of hormones is higher in whole milk when compared to skim milk as whole milk contains larger amount of fat. These excess hormones can even lead to breast and ovarian cancer. However women with PCOS should completely avoid the dairy as external hormones are the last thing they want in their already hormonally imbalanced body.

The link between Insulin Resistance, PCOS and Dairy Products

pcos, insulin resistance

There is no hiding the fact that women with PCOS have their insulin levels spiked up. About 60 percent of the women with PCOS suffer from insulin resistance. This has even caused a  variety of other diseases such as diabetes and obesity. So special care must be taken by women to check their insulin levels constantly. 

Dairy contains IGF or Insulin like growth factor. As the name suggests it acts as insulin in our body. The excess of IGF along with insulin rises the insulin resistance to much higher extent. 

In 2015 a study was conducted by Journal of Diabetes Research on 272 middle-aged women to find the relationship between dairy intake and insulin resistance. It was found that higher dairy intake was linked with higher insulin resistance in these women. This clearly states that dairy is a big NO for women, especially women with PCOS.

How PCOS and Dairy Products affect your Acne?

Hormonal acne is yet another symptom that follows PCOS and dairy triggers this as well. Many studies have shown that dairy triggers the acne and can often lead to skin breakouts in women. 

The androgens present in the milk affect the hormonal levels. Excess androgens, especially in women with PCOS, shows its effect in various forms. One of them being acne breakouts. 

Cows are also injected with many other hormones, which also increases IGF (Insulin like growth factor ) in the milk. When IGF and Insulin exceeds in our body, it stimulates the production of sebum in our skin. Sebum is the oily secretion from our sebaceous glands which is the known cause for acne breakouts.

Inflammation, PCOS and Dairy Products

inflammation

Whenever our body finds any injury or infection, our body responds to it with inflammation. However, when our body is constantly under attack, then it continues to be in inflamed state. Dairy and gluten are inflammatory foods, i.e when a person eats them, our body goes to inflammatory condition. Regular consumption of these foods can lead to a constant state of inflammation in your body. 

Women with PCOS have 96 percent higher C-reactive protein. This protein is released by the liver in response to inflammation. This means that PCOS doubles the risk of inflammation in a woman’s body.

Dairy being an inflammatory food, creates even worse problems for women with PCOS. When our body remains in an inflammation overdrive state, it starts to heal the body even when it is not required. Swelling of the intestinal tract, leaky gut, cancer and diabetes are some of the diseases that follow inflammation.

If not Milk, What else?

milk,alternative, almond milk, PCOS

Replacing Dairy completely is not that simple. Dairy is the main source of calcium for our body. So, the first question that arises when dairy is removed from our diet is about our bone health. What about your bones? Where do we get calcium from?

Firstly, calcium is not the only important factor that must be considered while talking about bone health. To absorb the calcium into our bones, our body needs Vitamin D. Research says that about 80% of women with PCOS are deficit in Vitamin D. So, women should not only look for calcium alternatives but also Vitamin D supplements.

Here are some alternatives which you can look for to fulfill the calcium requirements:

  • Oranges and dried fruit contain small amounts of calcium but all fruit and vegetables are a source of nutrients that improve bone health.
  • ‘Bony fish’ such as sardines, pilchards, tinned salmon and whitebait. Seeds such as sesame seeds (sesame seed paste). Some nuts, including almonds, hazelnuts and brazil nuts.
  • Dairy alternatives that have been enriched with calcium. For example- rice milk, oat milk, soya milk and soya yoghurts.

If replacing dairy doesn’t seem an alternative for you, then choose skim milk instead of whole milk and use low-fat dairy products. Whole milks have a higher amount of hormones and have much more insulin like growth factor (IGF). Choose organic dairy products directly from the farm rather than packaged products. But, if possible try skipping dairy intake.

The White Truth About Milk

milk, dairy, pcos, bad

The hormones and antibiotics in dairy have been due to the commercialization of this field.

Costs have been increased and supply has been reduced. Cows are fed diets that allow them to produce more milk. They are fed very unnatural things such as synthetic hormones, which encourages them to produce a lot more milk. 

These cattle are also injected with antibiotics. Naturally these antibiotics are passed down into the milk. These excess antibiotics are extremely unhealthy for a human body as these make it antibiotic resistant. Thus, when a person gets actually sick a normal dosage of antibiotic doesn’t work. Thus increasing its dosage causing much drastic problems. 

This also kills the good bacteria in our gut, which makes it hard for our food to digest. Bloating and inflammation are some other problems that come along with it.

 

Conclusion

Dairy items have a significant amount of effect on the Indian cuisine. Be it the paneer craze or the mithai fever. There is no proper meal without a dairy item. On the other hand, every one in ten women in India has PCOS. So, with all this happening there should be constant check on the intake of dairy by every woman.

If possible, the best option is to cut out dairy completely. If not, check the source from where you are getting your products. Find alternatives. 

So, is it possible for you to quit dairy? If so, what alternatives are you opting for? Tell us in the comment section.

Yoga For PCOS

PCOS is not just an external problem, it begins at the very cell of our body. So, to tackle it we need to reach that cellular level. The science of Yoga works at a deeper level than just our external body. The holistic medicine which was developed over 5000 years ago, shows its effectiveness even today. Yoga not only helps one’s calm but also cams one’s mind. Yoga can be one of the effective solutions for PCOS due to this very reason.

Some women with PCOS experience pelvic and abdominal pain. Many asanas (yoga postures) designed for Polycystic ovary syndrome help in them. Other than that Pranayamas (breathing exercises) are known to reduce stress and can be said as the instant relaxation technique. When all these are combined with the ever-powerful meditation, it helps in the complete transformation of the body. In a way, yoga and meditation completely detoxifies and de-stresses our whole system.

pcos program

Benefits of Yoga

A mental health tonic:

Yoga emphasizes on the movement of one’s breathing. Through this, it handles many problems of mind such as depression and anxiety. There is no hiding in the fact that a woman suffering from PCOS has a major toll on her mental health. Through yoga one experiences a different kind of ‘high’, that makes one feel calm, content, and centered. A study conducted by International Journal of Yoga for twelve weeks says that a holistic yoga program in adolescents with PCOS is significantly better than a physical exercise program in reducing anxiety symptoms. Yoga has also shown wonders in handling stress and trauma by calming and soothing one’s mind.

Hormone Balance:

By practicing Yoga one can regulate cycles, reduce thyroid, and improve fertility. All of these are linked with our Hormones. By reducing stress, yoga reduces the release of excess cortisol (stress hormones). This further reduces the excess release of androgens in women. When compared to other exercises such as cardio or strength training, yoga doesn’t pressurize our body. Instead, it takes an alternate path and reduces the stress and physical tension of our body. This has a very positive effect on the adrenal glands and thus reduces the symptoms of PCOS.

Weight Loss:

Yoga is a mind-expanding activity. It gives complete awareness to the human being. This helps in reducing many eating disorders such as overeating and binge eating disorder. Also, studies have shown that certain aasanas can help you burn calories. It also helps in increasing your metabolism. Practicing yoga has a long term effect on your body. The effect of yoga stays with you for a long time.

Asanas (Yoga Postures) for PCOS

Badda Konasana (Cobbler’s Pose)

cobbler pose yoga pcos

  1. Bend your knees and bring the soles of your feet together as you let your knees fall out to either side.
  2. Draw your feet in as close to your body as is comfortable. Back off if you feel any pain in your knees.
  3. Press the outer edges of your feet together strongly. The feet may begin to open like a book. You can encourage this with your hands or hold onto your big toes in a yogi toe lock
  4. Sit up tall with a long spine while keeping your shoulder blades on your back and your shoulders moving away from your ears.

Bhujangasana (Cobra Pose)

Cobra Pose
Source- Yoga Journal
  1. Lie down on your abdomen, with your legs and feet together, forehead on the floor.
  2. Position your palms on the floor, next to your chest.
  3. Elbows are tucked in toward your body and pointing upward.
  4. Breathe in, pushing your navel into the floor, and raise your head and chest off the floor. Take easy, relaxed breaths as you hold the pose.

Chakki Chalanasana (The churning mill pose)

yoga for pcos
Source – Medlife
  1. Sit with your legs splayed apart. Clasp your hands and outstretch your arms at shoulder height in front of you.
  2. Take a deep breath in and start moving the upper part of your body to the front and right, forming an imaginary circle with your body
  3. Inhale as you go forward and to the right, and exhale as you go backward and to the left.
  4. Keep breathing deeply and easily while rotating. 
  5. Make 5-10 rounds in one direction and then repeat in the opposite direction. Your wheat flour is ready to be cooked!

Shavasana (Corpse Pose)

yoga for pcos
Source – pixabay
  1. Be positioned flat on your backside, like our sleeping pose. Legs are supposed to be separated.
  2. Maintain your arms at your side and your palms facing up. Now slow down.
  3. Close your eyes moreover breathe deeply and bit by bit through the nostrils.
  4. Start concentrating from your head to your feet. This way you are deliberately calming your each portion of the body. Avoid moving ahead devoid of relaxing each part of the body.
  5. On every inhaling plus exhaling (breathing) feel that your body is entirely relaxed. Allow your tension, depression, worry and stress run away on every exhale.
  6. Those having excellent concentration can perform for a long time and others can perform for 3-5 minutes.
  7. Relax the muscles which lead to a decrease in the demand for blood and oxygen, giving the circulatory and respiratory systems a break.

Naukasana (Boat Pose)

yoga for pcos
Source – Medlife
  1. First lie down flat on your yoga mat, with your feet together and your arms on the sides.
  2. Keep your arms straight and your fingers outstretched towards your toes.
  3. Start Inhaling and as you exhale, lift your chest and feet off the ground, stretching your arms towards your feet. Feel the tension in your stomach area as the abdominal muscles contract.
  4. Let the weight of your body rest entirely on the buttocks. Make sure your eyes, finger and toes are all in one line. Hold your breath and remain in this position for a few seconds.
  5. Now exhale slowly as you bring the body down to the starting position and relax. You can perform 3-4 repetitions daily but do not overdo it.

yoga online

PCOS treatment: 6 Simple Exercises for PCOS

When it comes to managing PCOS, the two main factors that should be concentrated are- Diet and Exercises for PCOS. Often many people do all the necessary things required for their diet and neglect the exercise part of their lifestyle. But the thing is that there are no bad exercises. The only bad workout is the one that didn’t happen. 

 

An article published by Oxford Academic in the year 2011, says that there is no dependency of the improvements in PCOS on the type of exercise, frequency or length of the exercise sessions. . Exercise for PCOS not only helps in weight management, but can also brighten up our moods and help with other symptoms of PCOS. It doesn’t always need to be heavy or intense workouts. A simple change such as taking the stairs or walking to your office can make a huge difference in your exercise regime.

 

How does Exercise affect PCOS?

person's left hand wrapped by tape measure

PCOS, as its name suggests, includes various symptoms. It is not confined to one particular disease. Most of these symptoms can be blamed upon Insulin resistance. If insulin resistance is managed, then the hormonal imbalances and excess weight gain can also be controlled.

 

When a woman with PCOS exercises, it helps her to manage the insulin and glucose levels in her body. The continuous movement in our body helps it to move glucose. This process takes the glucose from our blood and spreads it to other parts of our body. This reduces the load of glucose management from insulin, thus increasing our body’s sensitivity towards it.

 

How much and How often to Exercise for PCOS?

person wearing orange and gray Nike shoes walking on gray concrete stairs

The American Diabetes Association (ADA) recommends a weekly exercise of 150 minutes can do the trick. This is when you are doing moderate exercises such as brisk walking, hiking, sports etc.  However, if you are aiming for intense workouts, then 75 minutes per week is sufficient.

 

It further says that the combination of moderate and vigorous activities, spread throughout the week can also be beneficial. Further, it can be increased with time as one gets used to it.

 

It must be noted here that no exercise should stress you out. When stress happens, our body releases cortisol, which further stimulates androgens. So, if you are already stressed out from the day, skip workouts that day.It is you that matters. Listen to your body. If you body says no, don’t pressurize it.

 

Exercises for PCOS

Get a Fun start:

women dancing near mirror

If you are just beginning with the exercises, try not to exert your body. Give it a fun start. Go  for a simple walk or in the morning. Zumba and aerobic classes are also fun ways to get into exercising. Choose exercises for PCOS that make you happy and do not stress you much. Get yourself a workout buddy and enjoy it to full extent.

Cardio:

woman jogging near wire fence

Cardio is the simplest thing that you can do. Go for a morning stride, listen to some great music and lighten yourselves up while exercising. Doing this 30 minutes a day can help with PCOS by managing weight and helping with depression and anxiety. Cardio can also help with regulating menstrual flow and can manage your ovulation. Try taking breaks and make it easier by changing the pace frequently. For example, try 10 minutes of brisk walking followed by 10 minutes of jogging. This can amp up your cardio game and encourage you to continue it for a long time.

Water Exercises:

woman floating on body of water

Water sports such as swimming and water aerobics can be a fun way to do exercises. These are resistance exercises and do the  whole body workout. Try to push yourself to achieve longer laps while swimming. Enjoy yourselves in the pool and have a great workout.

 

Strength training:

woman pushing bars

Strength training is a great way for reducing Insulin resistance and boosting metabolism. Exercises such as squats, push-ups and tricep dips can increase the flow of glucose to other parts of our body. Thus reducing the work of Insulin. Try to combine these exercises with cardio. Both balances your whole workouts and helps in reducing various symptoms of  PCOS.

 

Take up a Sport:

pair of red badminton rackets

If you are not a big exercise person, make exercising your own. Choose a sport for yourself and practice it regularly. It can be anything, even a daily game of badminton in your courtyard can be a game changer (pun intended ;D). Basketball, tennis, cricket or even kabaddi can help you to take the stress out and refresh your body.

 

Meditation and Yoga:

person doing yoga on floor

If you reduce stress in your body, then the release of androgen is reduced to a large extent. And nothing soothes you more than a perfect balance of meditation and yoga. Include the following aasanas in your exercise regime:

  1. Butterfly Pose
  2. Supta Badhakonasana
  3. Bharadvajasana
  4. Chakki Chalanasana
  5. Shavasana
  6. Padma Sadhana
  7. Sun Salutation

Remember to relax while doing these poses. The main aim to decrease PCOS symptoms is to reduce your stress. Co-ordinate you breathing along with the aasanas to ensure best results.

PCOS: Simple Ways To Treat It At Home.

PCOS is the most common endocrine condition that happens to women. Insulin resistance, genetics and hormonal imbalance are the main reasons for the condition. There is no one solution to PCOS. However, making changes in one’s diet and lifestyle can make a huge impact in managing PCOS.

 

How Diet affects PCOS?

 

Diet has a significant role in managing PCOS. The two main parts where diet plays the key factor is –

  • Weight management
  • Insulin resistance

A study shows that almost 50% of women with PCOS have insulin resistance. The rise of insulin levels in our body is due to the increase of glucose. This can happen due to various reasons like overeating, eating junks and sugar etc.  By treating insulin resistance, PCOS can be handled to a large extent.

 

 

 

Diet Changes to Manage PCOS

A woman suffering from PCOS has insulin levels already spiked up. The least she could do is to not increase it. Removing all those food items that are responsible for the insulin spikes can be a start. Later replacing it with healthier options can do the charm.

 

Replace and Remove

 

  • Refined carbs:

 

four sliced breads on plate

 

Simple carbohydrates are the main culprits in increasing the glucose levels in our body. So, the first step in the management of PCOS is to reduce the carbohydrate intake. But the sad part is that most portions of our diet is filled with carbohydrate rich foods such as white rice, maida, white bread and potato. These can be easily broken down into glucose in our body, leading to higher insulin levels.

 

  • Processed foods:

 

burger and fries in box

 

The mass produced processed foods harm our body to a very large extent. To add flavors, they contain added sugar in it, which must be a complete no for women with PCOS. Avoid those burgers, pizzas, and especially sugary cold drinks. They can easily increase your blood sugar level.

 

  •  Dairy Intake:

 

photo of milk bottle lot

 

We usually hear from our parents, about the goodness of the milk. But they forget the fact that today’s milk is not the same as they think. The milk that we get in our homes, goes through many processes such as pasteurization, homogenization, and is even added with pesticides. The intake of milk for women with PCOS acts as an androgen increasing food. So, it is advisable to reduce the dairy intake for stopping the hormonal imbalances in our body.

 

Increase and Include

 

  • Complex Carbohydrate:

 

 

If you think all carbs are bad. Think again? Our body needs carbohydrates, just not refined and simple carbs. Complex carbs like whole grains and sweet potatoes are actually good for our body. They don’t break down easily into glucose and provide energy for a longer time. Start by replacing your rice with rotis and maida with atta.

 

  • Fiber:

 

assorted variety of fruits

 

Fiber rich foods are the best option to reduce insulin resistance. This reduces digestion in our body, which inturn reduces the sugar levels. Fiber also makes us feel full easily. This makes us eat less and helps us to lose weight.

 

Some fiber rich foods:

 

Fruits                  :  Apple, oranges, strawberries, guava, pears 

Vegetables         :  Spinach, Broccoli, Cauliflower, Peas, beetroot

Legumes            :  Lentils, chickpeas, soybeans and kidney beans

Nuts and seeds  :  Almonds, flaxseeds and sunflower seeds

 

  • Protein:

 

flat-lay photography of assorted-variety of stir fried and vegetable foods

 

Just like fibers, eating fibers also make you feel full easily. Thus helping you to lose weight.

 

Protein rich foods:

 

Omega-3 rich foods such as Fish and Almonds.

Legumes, soy, nuts and seeds.

 

  • Antioxidant rich foods:

 

tray of food on white surface

 

Inflammation is one other problem that comes along with PCOS. Inflammation can be troublesome for our gut and digestive system. Foods rich in antioxidants can help with inflammation.

 

Foods rich in antioxidants:

 

Fruits                    : Strawberries, blueberries, raspberries.

Vegetables           : Spinach, artichokes, kale.

Whole Grains       : Whole oats, whole wheat, quinoa, brown rice.

Unsaturated fats  : Nuts like pecans and nut butters, olive oil, avocado. 

 

Conclusion

 

A balanced diet and a healthy lifestyle is a simple solution for reducing PCOS symptoms. This helps in reducing the glucose levels, further reducing the insulin resistance in our body. 

 

Remember the two golden rules to manage PCOS:

  1. Lose fat.
  2. Be mindful of what you eat.

 

Stop ignoring the signs that your body is giving you about PCOS. Start acting on it immediately before it’s late. Because if you ignore it for a long time, it can lead  to much more problematic complications.

Overeating and PCOS: The Cause and the Disease.

Overeating and Insulin resistance

 

There is no one reason that can be said as the cause of PCOS. But there are few habits that we develop that will for sure trigger and exceed the already existing PCOS in our body. One of them is Overeating.

Consider each individual cells in our body as little houses. These little houses function when we provide them with fuel as food.  The food which is converted into glucose is absorbed by our cells in order to attain energy. But excess of a good thing can cause havoc even in the little cell houses. When we overeat, it causes problems in the happy-go-lucky cell homes. The intake of glucose becomes difficult.

When a person overeats, it’s as if there has been a permanent lock in our cell houses for the intake of glucose. The work of insulin in our body is to open the cell house doors for the glucose to enter. But due to overeating, the glucose level rises in our body. It is thus very important to control our habit of overeating to manage insulin resistance and PCOS.

 

 

 

Now, since glucose has nowhere to go, it stays in the carrier itself. This leads to the assimilation of glucose in our blood rather than our cells. 

 

But the insulin still keeps trying. Our pancreas sees that there has been an increase in the blood sugar level. So, it tries to compensate it by producing more insulin. This excess production of insulin in our body is Hyperinsulinemia.

 

Hyperinsulinemia and PCOS

 

 

The excess production of Insulin or Hyperinsulinemia, is one of the reasons for the production of excess male hormones. These male hormones or androgens are the cause of PCOS.

 

Thee androgens are the reason for excess body hair, specifically facial hair, balding, acne, decreased breast size, deepening of the voice or increased muscle mass.

  

Not only this, high insulin, can even impair ovulation, leading to infertility in women. Thickening and darkening of the skin on the back of the neck, under the arms, and groin area, are also caused by this, which are the symptoms of PCOS.

 

Women with PCOS over-produce insulin in an attempt to maintain a normal blood sugar level, and this frequently leads to more androgen productions and weight gain.

 

So, even though we feel that we are having just one extra bite, overeating can have serious consequences.

 

It is thus very important to maintain a healthy lifestyle and keep a check on our food habits. Because every time you make a wrong choice, you create a big mess in those little cell houses.

 

Overeating and Binge Eating disorder

 

Eating more food than what is needed for our body is called as Overeating. Our body spends a particular amount of energy and stores the rest in the form of fat in our body. Thus when a person overeats, he has too much excess after spending the energy required. All of which is settled in our body in form of fatty tissues.

Binge eating Disorder or BED is another eating disorder that is similar to overeating. However it is the most common eating disorder that was recognized by the American Psychiatric Association. A person with BED finds it very difficult to stop eating while binges. It may also take a toll on their mental health by causing depression and anxiety.

 

Symptoms of Overeating

 

person holding burger

 

  • You are not able to stop eating. You continue to eat even though you know its bad.
  • Eating very fast, eating until you are extremely full, eating even though you are not hungry, feeling depressed or sad after eating are some of the common symptoms.
  • Depression or mood swings. Eating disorders affects mental health adversely. Thus, it is common to have depression and anxiety if you binge-eat.
  • Excess weight gain in a short period of time.
  • Eating to feel better about any problems or embarrassment.

 

Ways to reduce Overeating

 

woman in black top

 

  • Eat every 3-4 hours, but in small quantity.
  • Reduce Carbs and increase protein and fiber intake. Protein and fiber makes you feel full faster. This helps you to reduce your food intake.
  • Get enough sleep. Lack of sleep may make you feel tired, which is compensated by overeating.
  • Get your insulin levels and diabetes checked. This can help you to know about your condition and act upon it.
  • Remember that you cannot change a habit of yours overnight. It takes time. Don’t pressurize yourself. Take small steps each day and soon you’ll be able to see a whole lot of difference.

 

Click here to know about the work of insulin in our body and more about Insulin resistance

Insulin Resistance and PCOS: How are they connected?

“The pain of PCOS is invisible, most people don’t understand it. And the hardest battles are those which we fight against the unseen”.  This was written in a gynecologist’s office, and is true in every sense. Many people don’t even know the cause for PCOS. Some blame it on insulin resistance, some on obesity or overeating and some on genetics. 

Insulin Resistance and PCOS

 

Today every 1 in 5 women suffers from PCOS, and sadly many even don’t recognise it. They fight this unseen battle without the basic knowledge of it. The number of problems and symptoms due to PCOS is extremely high. PCOS messes up women’s hormones and this imbalance in hormones have a drastic effect on health and appearance of a person.

What is PCOS?

PCOS , Insulin resistance

PCOS, or polycystic ovary syndrome, is a condition that affect women’s hormone levels, producing excess amount of androgens, a group of male sex hormones. 

It is normal for every woman to produce some amount of it in her body. But in women with PCOS the production of these hormones increases manifold leading to problems such as acne, abnormal hair growth, like facial hair or male pattern baldness. Infertility and irregular periods are another set of issues that come along with PCOS. 

Many research [1] [2] proves that the production of these excess male hormones is due to Insulin resistance. Over 60% of women suffering from PCOS are insulin resistant. Insulin resistance causes many of the symptoms of PCOS and hormonal imbalance. 

 

What is Insulin Resistance?

 

insulin resistance

Insulin is a hormone produced in our pancreas which allows the cells to absorb or use glucose. When insulin resistance happens, our body stops responding to this insulin. 

Resistance to any substance happens, when there is an increase in the amount of the substance. Just as an increase in dosage of antibiotics creates resistance to antibiotics, or excess consumption of alcohol makes a person resistant to it. Similarly when insulin production increases in our body, our body becomes resistant to it. 

Our body stops responding to the insulin produced in pancreas, thus causing troubles in its function.This further leads to many diseases  such as obesity, diabetes and heart diseases.

 

What does Insulin do in our body?

 

Blood, Cells, carrier, insulin resistance

One of the functions of insulin in our body is that it acts as the primary hormone that signals for energy storage into our fat cells. 

Imagine our cells as houses. Like every house, our cells also need necessary things for its functioning such as food or water. So the food that we eat is the source for our little cell houses. These foods break down into glucose and this glucose is the energy source for our cells. 

Now, the next step is to send this glucose to every cell in our body, and this is the work of blood. Our blood acts as a carrier and transports glucose to our cells.

But the requirement of every house is different right? Similarly every cell has a different need for glucose. This must be regulated in our body. The regulation of glucose is done by insulin. 

Insulin acts as key to our cell houses. It allows the necessary amount of glucose and stops its entry when the amount exceeds. Thus insulin is a very important hormone as it affects the basic unit of our body- Our cell.

How to know if you are Insulin Resistant?

Person Holding Black Tube

1. Increased Cravings and Hunger

Our body releases insulin to lower the excess glucose to a safer level. This insulin also helps our cells to absorb this glucose to gain energy. But when Insulin resistance happens, the insulin does not do its work. As a result, the glucose level increases manifold in our body, and our cells cannot absorb the glucose. This means that the food that we are eating is not being converted to energy.

2. Increased thirst and excess urination

Insulin resistance may make you feel parched all the time. This is due to the excess glucose in your body. High glucose levels forces our kidneys to get rid of the excess. Thus causing frequent urination. In order to get rid of the sugar, it pulls excess water from our body too. This sends a signal to our brain of being dehydrated. hence we feel thirsty quite often. This cycle of thirst and urination continues until the blood sugar levels are balanced. This also happens in the case of diabetes.

Diabetes and Insulin resistance are the two sides of the same coin. One follows the other. When blood sugar increases insulin resistance increases and vice-versa.

3. Weight Gain

if you feel that lately, you’ve started gaining more weight than usual, then it maybe due to insulin resistance. The increased hunger can cause you to eat more, especially load up on carbs and sugar. This can easily make you gain weight in a short period of time. The excess insulin and glucose also make your abdomen area fattier. This is because the insulin settles down in the region and increases your waist size.

4. Dark Skin Patches

Insulin resistance can also cause visible skin changes. Dark patches on the back of your neck, or on your elbows, knees, knuckles, and armpits are some of the skin problems that come with it. This usually happens when Insulin resistance is severe.

How Insulin Resistance is connected to PCOS

Insulin Resistance and PCOS have been linked by various medical professionals. Insulin is a hormone that balances the blood sugar level in our body. When this does not happen during insulin resistance, both insulin and glucose level spikes up. High insulin has its own fatalities, such as increasing deposition of fat in the belly region as insulin is a fat-storage hormone. Secondly, insulin also triggers the release of excess androgens, and increases the symptoms of PCOS. 

 

Although not all women with PCOS suffer from Insulin resistance, it for sure is one of the leading causes for PCOS. This is why many studies say that women with PCOS must be first treated for insulin resistance.

 

Exercises for Insulin Resistance:

 

Insulin resistance can be managed to a great extent through exercise. This is because when a person exercises, our body tries to use up the excess glucose in our body. Exercising specifically for Insulin resistance shows quick results, sometimes within 48 hours of the exercise.

 

HIIT:

High Intensity Interval Training, has gained its popularity due to its effective results. It involves high strength exercises performed for about 30 minutes. The recovery period given for this type of training is higher. Thus this is done only 2 or 3 times a week.

 

This training stimulates the muscle fibre to take up the excess glucose. The adrenaline released during it also helps in fat loss. Thus helping with PCOS to a great extent.

 

Aerobic Activities:

Combining aerobic activities such as brisk walking, cycling and swimming with HIIT has shown best results. During the recovery period of HIIT, aerobic activities can be adopted to the exercise regime. Women with PCOS must be careful to not let their body sit idle for longer hours. Exercising is very important to maintain a healthy lifestyle and reduce the symptoms of PCOS. Thus aerobic activities are an easy way to jump start your exercise routine.

 

Yoga:

Yoga and meditation can never go wrong. Various yogic asanas have their effect on balancing the blood glucose levels. Other than this, yoga calms down our mind, thus reducing stress. It reduces the release of cortisols, thus also helping in managing insulin levels. This 5000 year old way of exercising has benefits not only for the treatments of metabolic syndrome, but also for any other health problem. In Yoga, everything is interrelated. Thus, by curing one problem through Yoga, many other problems are also managed.

Conclusion

PCOS is just like any other disease, and it can be treated. But, one can’t just take a medicine and cure it.  We need to change and improve our lifestyle and eating habit along with it. You should take special care if you suffer from insulin resistance. This is because PCOS and insulin resistance are directly proportional. One increases naturally with the other one.

Click here to understand how overeating, insulin resistance and PCOS are related