With actors like Sara Ali Khan and Sonam Kapoor talking about their fight with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), experts have pitched for maintaining a healthy body weight through right diet to manage the hormonal disorder.
Typically characterised by irregular menstruation cycles and infertility, an elevated level of male hormone (gonadotropin), obesity and often diabetes, PCOS is a hormonal disorder which continues to baffle researchers till date.
However, experts believe that with one out of 10 women and young girls affected by the disorder, it is very important that people know that most of the clinical manifestations of PCOS can be managed simply by maintaining a healthy body weight.
“Most of the girls keep struggling with the consequences of the PCOS without knowing that solutions to most of these problems lie in maintaining healthy body weight,” Shikha Mahajan, a Delhi-based senior nutritionist and head of Diet Podium, said.
According to a research published in the Lancet in 2017, weight loss is found to improve all the features of PCOS, and therefore, along with lifestyle changes, weight management is recommended as the first line treatment for for it.
Swapna Chaturvedi, a dietician from AIIMS, said diet plays an important role in controlling PCOS and maintaining ideal body weight is important.
“A high fiber diet, low fat diet with Mufa (monounsaturated fatty acids) rich and Omega 3 source of fats, antioxidants in the form of fruits and vegetables should be included. Refined carbohydrate should be avoided like maida, sooji, sugars. Physical activity and a healthy lifestyle is important,” Chaturvedi said.
According to Manjari Chandra, consultant and functional nutritionist at Max Healthcare, polycystic ovarian disease (PCOD) is essentially a hormonal disbalance that happens because of insulin insufficiency.
Controlling or reducing the intake of carbohydrates and sugar in the diet and increasing fibre and antioxidants goes a big way in handling the disease, she explained.
So does this mean the women with PCOS should always follow a weight loss diet?
“Not really”, Mahajan said, adding since a high level of insulin can cause ovaries to produce male hormone, therefore it is the effective control of insulin hormone which is most crucial in PCOS management.
So the diet that helps in the PCOS treatment is the one that aids in insulin production and resistance. Such a diet, which also helps in weight management, is actually quite simple to follow.
While experts are all up for weight management to control PCOS, they also have some word of caution, especially for young girls who easily fall for trendy diets.
PCOS, like many other disorders, responds positively to lifestyle modifications, which primarily include diet and physical activity. However, when we talk about dietary modifications, it does not mean following fancy diets like keto, paleo, etc, as they are often nutritionally deficient and impractical to follow in the long run, experts say. “In fact, the best way to tackle PCOS with diet is to create a simple food list that can be easily followed,” Dr Mala Srivastava, a senior consultant, Dept of Obstetrics and Gynaecology at Sir Ganga Ram Hospital, said.