How to Change My Lifestyle If I have PCOS?

PCOS is an endocrine disorder in which a woman’s hormones go out of balance. It is a chronic condition that causes irregular menses and amenorrhea (absence of periods).

With PCOS, insulin resistance causes too much insulin in the blood stream. The excess of insulin interacts with the ovaries and pituitary gland. This in turn disrupts ovulation and hormone production.

Though there is no treatment but it can be managed very easily. Studies have shown that lifestyle management alone has helped in improving the condition. A healthier lifestyle will also reduce long-term risks for diabetes, hypertension and cardiovascular disease.

Proper diet, staying active and working towards a healthy weight (or losing even a small amount of weight if you’re overweight) can improve PCOS symptoms. It is believed that even a weight loss of only 5% can improve insulin resistance, leading to lower levels of male hormones, improved menstrual function, and a reduction in cholesterol abnormalities.

  1. Diet modification
  • Avoid sugars. This is very essential as it will greatly reduce your intake of excess calories and excess sugars which will cause your cells to release more insulin to break down.
  • Eat more low glycemic index fruits and vegetables on a regular basis (e.g. broccoli, cabbage, lettuce, cherries, prunes, dried apricots etc)
  • Choose whole grains (brown rice, whole wheat breads) instead of refined grains
  • Aim to eat 25-30 grams of fiber per day
  • You must eat lean proteins that include fish, skinless poultry, egg whites, beans
    (especially soy and their products), nuts and nut butters
  • Opt for heart-healthy fats like liquid oils from olives, canola, soybeans, corn, flaxseed, sunflower, and peanuts
  • Cut out caffeine. It contributes to blood sugar imbalances and insulin resistance.
  1. Drink enough water – It helps to keep hormone systems working. Drink at least 2-3 liters of purified water daily.
  2. Control blood sugar – Blood sugar management is very essential as insulin resistance experienced by women with PCOS increases the risk of developing diabetes. If you have a long gap between meals your blood sugar levels will drop. So eat smaller meals and eat often like every 3-4 hours.
  3. Heal through exercise – Exercise consistently. Schedule a time and stick to it. 3-5 days a week is recommended with 1-2 days of rest that is necessary. The four vital elements in your exercise regimen must include resistance or strength training, cardio, high intensity interval training and stretching.
  4. Get good sleep everyday – Get at least 7-8 hours of uninterrupted sleep every night. Maintain a regular sleep schedule. No matter how much you exercise, if you don’t rest enough, there are ample chances of your body being in a state of stress due to lack of rest.

We would also like to hear your success stories or tips that have helped you. Additionally, if there is any particular issue you are facing with incorporating these changes drop your thoughts in the comments below.

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