Scientists have found that following a PCOS-friendly diet and lifestyle can help women avoid the negative effects of this syndrome (1). This hormonal disorder affects women of reproductive age and is characterized by multiple cysts in the ovaries, irregular or no/prolonged periods, weight gain, excessive hair growth, high blood pressure, diabetes, depression, etc. (2).In fact, a PCOS diet and workout plan can help improve your physical as well as mental health.
What Is PCOS?
PCOS or Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome is a hormonal imbalance that occurs in women of reproductive age, which leads to small cysts in the ovaries, more androgen production, insulin resistance, facial hair, depression, anxiety, diabetes, and infertility.
More than 100 million people suffer from PCOS worldwide. And though genes play a vital role, lack of exercise and proper diet can also lead to this condition. But how? Well, PCOS is interlinked with diabetes, unhealthy lifestyle, hormones, and insulin resistance. Let’s talk about it in detail so that you understand your condition better.
What Causes PCOS And Why Do You Gain Weight?
PCOS or cysts in the ovaries are mainly caused due to hormonal imbalance. The second most predominant cause is faulty genes. Stress, unhealthy foods, and following an unhealthy lifestyle for a prolonged period can trigger PCOS. So, even if no one in your family has PCOS, you can have cysts in your ovaries. How is that possible? Here’s a brief explanation.
Your pancreas produces a hormone called insulin that helps transport glucose to the cells for further breakdown and energy release. When you follow unhealthy food habits and binge on foods, your glucose levels are constantly high. This causes the beta cells in the pancreas to secrete more insulin to lower the blood glucose levels. When there’s a constant high level of insulin, your body becomes insulin resistant. It is similar to mosquitoes being resistant to DDT or bacteria becoming resistant to antibiotics. So, now that your body is insulin resistant, the blood sugar levels remain high. This, in turn, triggers even more insulin production.
In the meanwhile, your cells are devoid of glucose or sugar to convert it into energy. This is precisely the reason you constantly feel hungry and lethargic. Insulin resistance causes diabetes and imbalance in the hormones, especially the androgens, leading to hirsutism (excess facial hair) and PCOS. Sometimes, the beta cells just don’t produce enough insulin, and therefore, your blood glucose levels remain high for prolonged periods.
It is a complex process, but it sure has got to do a lot with what and how much food you eat. We will get to that in a while. First, let’s take a look at the symptoms of PCOS.
Here are some symptoms that you should be aware of:
- Irregular or no periods
- Excessive bleeding for prolonged periods
- Weight gain
- Facial hair
- Male pattern baldness
- Hyperpigmentation in the inner thigh area
- Increased appetite
- Insulin resistance
If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, here’s what you should do.