Polycystic ovarian syndrome is a condition seen in women in which ovary produces multiple follicles but none of them releases egg after maturation. Normally an ovary produces about five follicles during a menstrual cycle of which at least one will release an egg after maturation.
About 5 to 15 percentage of women in reproductive age gets affected with polycystic ovarian syndrome and this happens when a woman’s hormonal system goes out of balance. The root cause for polycystic ovarian syndrome is resistance to insulin hormone. Usually the food breaks down to produce glucose which is then absorbed by the cells with the help of insulin.
But in certain cases the cells becomes de-sensitive to insulin and hence it becomes difficult for the body to absorb glucose from the blood. The glucose is then sent to the liver which then converts glucose to fat which leads to weight gain and obesity. In order to get glucose, body produces more insulin than normal and it increases the level of insulin within the blood.
Excess insulin in the blood affects the hormonal level of the body and instead of producing follicle stimulating hormone, it encourages the production of luteinizing hormones which makes the follicles in the ovaries to produce more male hormone called testosterone than the normal female hormone called estrogen. It also affects the adrenal glands and promotes the production of testosterone. The matured follicles do not release egg in the absence of sufficient estrogen.
In addition if polycystic ovarian syndrome is left unattended then it increases the cholesterol level, blood sugar level and leads to cardiovascular diseases and type 2 diabetes. Usually women came to know about their polycystic ovary only when they try to get conceived. Since eggs do not get developed during ovulation, the sperm can’t unite with an egg to produce an embryo. Those who are suffering from polycystic ovarian syndrome have irregular menstrual cycle and are more likely to have nine or even lesser cycles per year.
Most of them have heavy or light bleeding during their cycle accompanied with moderate abdominal discomfort. They may also have excessive hair growth on face, lower abdomen and chest, skin acne, skin tags etc because of the excessive testosterone level in the body. Weight gain or obesity is another symptom of this disease and all these ultimately result in infertility.
Since polycystic ovarian syndrome is caused by insulin resistance it has to be dealt with multi-faceted approach of well balanced and nutritious diet and regular exercise. If the diet is specifically designed to lower the testosterone and insulin levels and the associated cholesterol and weight gain, then it improves the fertility status of the women as it lead to the restart of ovulation. There are hormonal treatments and drugs to correct hormonal imbalance but before trying fertility drugs most of the doctors prescribe the natural methods of lifestyle changes and dieting to regain the fertility.
Diet For Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome
Losing about 5 to 10 percentage of the body weight can correct the menstrual cycle irregularities, skin problems, insulin resistance and even fertility. But a low calorie, low fat diet is not enough for this rather a low glycemic index diet that releases glucose slowly to the blood provides better response. Patients who have regular periods, non-obese nature and have insulin resistance and infertility problems can take their 50 to 55% calorie intake from complex carbohydrates, 20 to 30 % calories from protein.
However an obese patient with insulin resistance should limit their calorie intake from complex carbohydrate to 40% and the carbohydrates can be replaced with monounsaturated fats. The diet plan should be customized as per the individual requirement and the level of insulin resistance and the effectiveness of the diet can be determined only after having improved menstrual cycle, decreased insulin level and weight loss.
The dieter should include low glycemic index foods in her diet like pearl millet, whole wheat, sorghum and green vegetables as they increase the blood sugar level slowly and insulin gets sufficient time to act on the glucose produced after the breakdown of the low glycemic index and thus it helps to maintain a balance between glucose and insulin within the blood. Change the habit of consuming white bread, maida or rice naan etc and rather prefer whole wheat bread, wheat roti, whole wheat pasta, brown rice, cereals, quinoa, beans etc.
Also substitute the fruit juice with fresh fruits with low glycemic index. Most of the low glycemic index foods have high fiber content. Space the intake of complex carbohydrates evenly throughout the day. Also take care to have small and frequent meals that balance the blood sugar level instead of three large meals.
Women under polycystic ovarian syndrome diet should restrict the intake of simple carbohydrates that have high calorie ingredients and sugar such as candies, pie, pizza, chocolates, sweets, ice cream etc as they trigger the craving and hunger by increasing the blood sugar level all of a sudden and then drops it down drastically and causing craving for food. Protein constitutes another part of the diet and protein obtained from plants is ideal. Lean meat taken from pork and chicken, seafood etc is also good substitutes for carbohydrates.
Protein obtained from egg and milk is also good for women trying to regain their fertility. For reducing the weight and to regain the health the dieter should limit the intake of saturated and trans fat like whole milk, red meat, butter, desserts rich in fat, fried and processed foods etc. Instead of that choose monounsaturated fats which can be obtained from canola oil, olive oil, nuts, omega 3 fatty acids, flax seed etc, which are heart healthy foods.
Along with this diet the dieter should take at least 8 to 10 glasses of water a day because the high fiber carbohydrate foods may cause dehydration. Besides this a woman trying to conceive can supplement herself with 1000 to 1500 mg calcium per day and multivitamin tablet that contain folic acid. Regular exercise should be a part of your daily routine as it not only reduces the weight but also improve the insulin response of the cells and regains the functioning of pituitary gland that regulates the hormonal level in the blood. A properly followed diet and exercise can help you to have a baby which you are longing for.
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