Best Diet Plan for PCOS Patients
What is PCOS?
Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome or Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) simply described is an imbalance of a woman’s hormones.
If left untreated, serious health problems can occur over time such as heart disease, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, insulin resistance, diabetes and endometrial cancer. To help prevent long-term health problems, key treatments for PCOS include exercise, weight control and proper diet.
Major Symptoms of PCOS
Some women may only have one symptom while others may show signs of all the major symptoms. Symptoms may be mild or extreme.
No two women with PCOS are alike and there is no simple test to diagnose PCOS. Therefore, it is important to visit a medical professional to begin tracking a history of potential symptoms and rule out other causes. Major PCOS symptoms include:
- Weight gain and/or trouble losing weight
- Irregular periods (may be less often, sporadic, heavy or non-existent)
- Excess unwanted hair growth on face and body
- Thinning hair on scalp (similar to male-pattern baldness)
- Infertility (unable to become pregnant)
PCOS: Did You Know?
- PCOS is also referred to as Stein-Leventhal Syndrome, named after the doctors who reported the condition back in 1935.
- As many as 1 out of 15 women are affected with PCOS.
- PCOS symptoms often occur in the teen years and can occur in girls as young as 11 years old.
- PCOS is the number one cause of infertility.
- PCOS is one of the most common hormonal endocrine disorders in women.
The Importance of a Proper Diet Plan for Women With PCOS
The best way to fight against the potential long-term health problems associated with PCOS is to eat healthy and avoid the foods that intensify PCOS symptoms.
Unwanted weight gain and difficulty losing weight are extremely prevalent for women with PCOS. Yet it is important to know that even losing small amounts of weight such as 10 pounds can help balance hormones and regulate the menstrual cycle.
The typical “Food Pyramid” diet plan is NOT the best approach for women with PCOS. This is because of the high carbohydrate intake.
Since PCOS is linked to insulin resistance, it is wise to avoid foods that cause extreme spikes in insulin levels. Therefore, characteristics of a diabetic eating plan are extremely effective for women with PCOS.
Important: Avoid Foods That Increase Insulin Levels
Food Type To Avoid
Any food that is naturally high in sugar content or made with refined sugar such as desserts, candy, soft drinks, sports drinks, and juices.
Any food that is made with refined grains such as white bread, white rice, white pasta, low-fiber cereals and baked goods.
Any vegetable that is high in starch such as corn and potatoes.
Carbohydrates and Fiber
Symptoms of PCOS tend to worsen with high levels of insulin caused by excess intake of “bad” carbohydrates. It is important to stick with complex, unrefined “good” carbohydrates. In addition, foods that are less processed tend to have more fiber. Patients with PCOS should eat high fiber, non-starchy foods.
Examples of "Good" Complex Carbohydrates and Fiber
Whole Grain Bread
Whole Grain Flour
Fat and Protein
Combining “good” carbohydrates with foods high in protein or fat will help minimize a rise in blood sugar levels. For example, instead of eating whole grain pasta with marinara sauce, add a lean protein such as ground turkey to your sauce.
Examples of Healthy Sources of Fat and Protein
Exercising & PCOS
Regular exercise can help reverse the symptoms of PCOS in addition to enhancing weight loss. Exercise assists your body in using glucose more efficiently.
It will lower insulin levels while building calorie-burning muscle. This will also increase your metabolic rate during times when you are not exercising.
Smoking & Women With PCOS
In women with PCOS, smoking not only increases the risk for heart disease but also adds higher androgen levels that could contribute to PCOS symptoms. Consider quitting!
Keeping Your Insulin Levels Regulated
Eat Five Times A Day
Eating three meals a day with two snacks in between will help women with PCOS keep their insulin levels regulated. You should eat soon after you awake and also within an hour before you go to sleep. Don't forget to begin each meal with a glass of water.
An example would be: Breakfast > Snack > Lunch > Dinner > Snack.
Balance Meals & Snacks With Equal Protein and Carbohydrates
It is best to eat close to equal amounts of protein and carbohydrates every time you eat. For example, do not only eat toast for breakfast. Add an egg for protein to balance your intake. Another example would be instead of simply eating an apple, add peanut butter.
Freedom From PCOS
Taking Care of Yourself
Women with PCOS can potentially reverse the effects with proper nutrition and exercise. In some cases, medication may be suggested by your healthcare provider. They may also suggest you speak with a registered dietitian. Do your homework to determine the best treatment plan for you.
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PCOS Diet Plans
Disclaimer: The information presented in this article is for educational purposes only. It is not intended as a substitution for medical advice from a health care professional.
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