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

Hormonal disparity: Actual culprit for weight gain

You must have seen many people eat too much or not doing any workout and still don’t gain weight and some people even when they don’t eat too much and are very regular on their workout find it difficult to lose weight.  Do you wonder why?? The answer is “METABOLISM”. And who decides their metabolism?? The answer is “HORMONES”.

Hormones are organic chemical messengers that decide about everything in your body like growth, mood and behavior, digestion and fertility and most importantly our shape and our weight.

See-Saw of Master Hormones: Insulin & Glucagon

Glucagon is the counter-hormone to insulin. It actually redirects fat for energy use and does not go into storage mode. In fact, when glucagon is present in the body, it will allow the body to open the fat cells, empty them and use the content for energy. In other words, it’s the key to the locked fat cells.

Insulin, a fat-storing Hormone: Insulin, a hormone produced by the pancreas.  Insulin is a “key” that “unlocks” your cells for glucose (sugar) uptake from the blood in tissues such as muscles, the liver, and fat. This is an important process to make sure that energy is available for everyday functioning and to maintain normal levels of circulating glucose.

When glucose is present in your bloodstream, insulin blocks access to your body’s fat reservesAfter all, why burn fat, when you have sugar around? Insulin also causes the body stores excess glucose as fat under the process called “lipogenesis”.

When there is an interruption in insulin levels, the body gets resistant to insulin. Muscle cells, then, fail to recognize the glucose-bound insulin and glucose remains in the bloodstream. Hence, it causes a spike in the blood sugar levels and leads to weight gain.

Glucagon, a fat-breaking hormone: Glucagon is a counterpart of Insulin. It is also secreted by the pancreas and it actually raises your blood sugar by converting glycerol in your fat cells into glucose for fuel. Glucagon signals the body to release stored fat to be used as fuel under the process called “lipolysis”

The take-home message here is that when you eat something, Insulin is secreted that promotes fat storage and it keeps you fat by blocking access to your fat reserves. But when you are in the fasting stage, Glucagon is secreted which is essential for breaking down body fat and burning it for energy.

Leptin, a hunger-suppressing hormone: Leptin is a hunger-suppressing hormone!…..sounds good right??. But wait ..here is the catch! When we eat food rich in sugar, the oversupply of fructose gets converted into fat that gets deposited in the liver, belly and other regions of the body. These fat cells secrete too much leptin and this makes you “leptin resistant” making your brain stop receiving signals to avoid eating and making you eat too much in turn.

People with obesity tend to be resistant to the effects of leptin. Consuming anti-inflammatory foods, exercising and getting enough sleep may improve leptin sensitivity.

Ghrelin, Hunger hormone: Ghrelin is a hunger hormone that stimulates the appetite and increases fat deposition. Ghrelin levels are also high when people are on a strict diet or while fasting.

Cortisol, stress hormone: It’s known as a “stress hormone” because it’s released by the adrenal gland when your body senses stress such as physical injuries, daily stress (overwork, relationships, finances, etc), and even activities like lifting weights and cardio workouts. Chronic stress leads to an increase in cortisol and chronically elevated levels of cortisol can lead to overeating and weight gain.

Estrogen: Both very high and low levels of estrogen can lead to weight gain. This depends on age, the action of other hormones, and the overall state of health. To maintain fertility during the reproductive years, estrogen starts promoting fat storage at puberty. However during menopause, when estrogen levels drop because less is produced in the ovaries, the site for fat storage shifts from the hips and thighs to visceral fat in the abdomen. This promotes weight gain, insulin resistance and increases disease risk.

Progesterone: A male hormone, required by both men and women at adequate levels. Most adult women have about the same testosterone levels as a 10-year-old boy making harder for women to burn fat and build muscle than it is for men. Low levels of testosterone promote fat storage and inflammation. Conversely, Excess testosterone in women, especially around menopause, is associated with insulin resistance and belly fat. You can see why having this hormone in the right balance is so important.

Cholesystokinin & Peptide YY: A Hunger suppressing hormone: Cholecystokinin (CCK) and Peptide YY (PYY) are other satiety hormone produced by cells in your gut. Higher amounts of CCK and PPY have been shown to reduce food intake in both lean and obese people.

Fight or Flight Hormone, Epinephrine: Known as a “fight or flight” hormone, epinephrine drives the burning of fat and its release for energy in the body. Epinephrine can also aid in reducing hunger. Exercise is the best way to turn on epinephrine release in your body, interval training in particular boost up epinephrine.

Take-Home: The best way to get your hormones back on track is to correct hormonal misfires with changes to the way you eat, move, think, and supplement. 80% of your weight is determined by Hormone-food interaction, so you want to eat in a way that optimizes your hormones. Following are some tips to consider,

  • Minimize all insulin stimulating foods. These include white sugar, excess alcohol, and all processed and refined flours.
  • Pick glucagon/CCK/PPY stimulating foods at every meal. Reduce carbohydrate content of your meal and include high protein items such as chicken, fish, turkey, cottage cheese, yogurt, lean red beef, eggs, hemp, protein powder (pea, rice or whey).
  • Essential fatty acids. In addition to cold-water fish, nuts, and seeds – it is advisable to supplement with a distilled fish oil supplement daily.
  • Stay hydrated. Drinking 2 liters of water per day is critical for energy, vitality and overall health. No excuses on this one –just make it a habit.
  • Exercise: Exercise is by far one of the most effective ways to lower cortisol and other stress hormone response.
  • Sleep: A good night’s sleep can do wonders for proper cortisol secretion and weight loss. Remember you secrete growth hormone only when you are sleeping.