Understanding PCOS for Indian Women
Updated: Feb 14
How Common is PCOS/PCOD in India
It is estimated that almost 20% Indian women have PCOS/PCOD. PCOS/PCOD is not a disease, rather it is a condition that manifests itself in many ways.
What is PCOS/PCOD
Polycystic Ovarian syndrome/disorder is also known as Stein-Leventhal syndrome, is a hormonal imbalance that affects women. It’s characterized by the production of too many androgen ( male hormones).
PCOS typically caused excessive hairs and acne in women. In many women, cysts on ovaries are a typical diagnosis for PCOS. These cysts on ovaries causes irregular menstruation or no menstruation in women.
Generally as there is no test which can 100% confirm that PCOS is the prognosis generally it diagnosed based on symptoms, says Dr Dt Sheenu Sanjiv.
Polycystic ovary syndrome/disorder (PCOS or PCOD) has a typical characteristic of irregular periods or no menstruation at all. PCOS typically causes multiple cysts in ovaries, caused due to overproduction of hormones called androgens.
More often than not women with this disorder are overweight or obese.
Common symptoms include:
Hirsutism (excessive hairiness)
Male pattern baldness
Women with PCOS, specially when PCOS symptoms are not managed, can also be at greater risk for:
High Blood Pressure
How does what I eat affect PCOS?
Often it is found that women who have PCOS tend to have higher than normal insulin. In Our bodies Pancreas produces insulin. Main function of insulin is to turn glucose into energy in our bodies.
If someone is not producing enough insulin, naturally blood sugar levels can rise, now blood sugar may also rise because you’re insulin resistant which means that your body is not able to use insulin effectively.
So, naturally if someone is insulin resistant, their bodies might produce more insulin in order to properly regular blood sugar (glucose). Higher levels of insulin may cause ovaries to produce more androgens, such testosterone.
Insulin resistance in the body may cause by having a body mass index above the normal range. Insulin resistant people generally find harder to lose weight, which is the same reason why women with PCOS often struggle with their weights.
If your diet is rich in refined carbohydrates like starchy, sugary food, you can develop insulin resistance and thus weight loss issue may surface.
What foods should I add to my diet?
Lean protein foods (e.g. fish)
Anti-inflammatory foods (turmeric, tomatoes etc)
High-fiber foods typically lowers the digestion and thus help in combating insulin resistance, effectively lowering the impact of sugar(glucose) in blood.
High-fiber vegetables - Great options for high-fiber foods include:
Cruciferous vegetables, such as broccoli, cauliflower, greens, including red leaf lettuce and arugula
green and red peppers, beans and lentils, almonds, berries, sweet potatoes & pumpkin etc.
Lean protein sources like tofu, chicken & fish which don’t provide fibers but are very filling to stomach and a healthy dietary option for women with PCOS.
What Foods Should I avoid in PCOS
Refined carbohydrates are the biggest change that should be avoided in PCOS. These carbohydrates causes inflammation, increase the insulin resistance in the body. Refined foods are
Cake, Biscuits, Muffins & pastries
Sugar which is a carbohydrate and should be avoided
Anything made of white flour
Sucrose & Dextrose
Sugary drinks like Coke, Pepsi etc
Fried foods such as French fries etc
Lifestyle changes that have positive affect on PCOS
Being proactive is typically a life style choice which really help in this condition.
Regular brisk walking, exercise and being active throughout the day really helps in this condition. Exercise helps in cutting down the insulin resistance. Eating healthy and avoid refined carbs coupled with these changes really help in reversing or managing this condition.
Another positive aspect of these life style changes are weight management and overall mood enhancement which are major ways to get rid of this condition.
Yoga and meditation have also been shown to be very effective remedy against PCOS.
As already discussed above that PCOS/PCOD is not a disease hence there is no magic pill which can treat PCOS or take away its symptoms.
Lifestyle changes along with avoid refined carbs, sugar etc can really help.
Another better way to stick to haves and have-nots in terms of food it to be conscience good food/bad food & sticking to the same. Just about every food that may aggravate your condition has a healthier, beneficial counterpart.
If your symptoms persist, speak with your doctor. They can work with you to identify the cause and recommend next steps.