What is PCOD?
Polycystic Ovarian Disease/Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome is a condition in which cysts are formed in the ovaries. As name suggests (‘polycystic’ means ‘many cysts’), in PCOS, many tiny, fluid-filled sacs grow inside ovaries. Each of these sacs are follicles actually, as each one has an immature egg. The eggs does not mature enough to trigger an ovulation.
Lack of ovulation alters the levels of progesterone, estrogen, LH and FSH. While progesterone levels are generally lower than usual, androgen levels are higher than the usual. Extra male hormones disrupt the menstrual cycle, therefore women with PCOS get fewer periods than usual. The other common symptoms include male pattern hair loss, infertility, irregular periods and abnormal weight gain.
How is it caused?
The ovaries in the female body produce the female sex hormones called estrogen and progesterone and a small number of male sex hormones called androgens. These hormones help to enhance the formation of eggs in the ovaries during the menstrual cycle. The imbalance in these sex hormones leads to PCOS.
When a woman has PCOS, the ovaries produce more androgens than usual, resulting in a barrier to ovulation. During menstrual cycles, the ovaries release one or two eggs from the
Follicles. With PCOS, the eggs in the follicles do not mature and stay in the ovaries without any activity. As a result, these immature eggs turn into cysts in the ovaries, causing severe pain and other related symptoms.
PCOD is a genetically inherited syndrome. About 40% of women get this condition either from their mother or sister.
What are the symptoms of PCOD?
The most common symptoms include:
- Acne formation leading to pus cells on the face, termed Acne Vulgaris.
- Unusual weight gain
- Abnormal and darker hair growth on the face, back, belly and chest
- Trouble with menstruating or irregular menstrual cycle. Women with PCOS usually get only 9 periods in a year. Also, the menstruation will happen longer than usual with heavy bleeding. Few women may not even get their periods.
- Androgenetic Alopecia/Male pattern hair loss – permanent hair loss or thinning of hair commonly seen in men due to excess formation of Androgens.
- Infertility. Most women do not get pregnant or may have miscarriages.
How does changing the diet impact PCOD?
Though PCOD is a recurrent condition, the symptoms can be kept in control by regulating the hormones. A healthy and nourishing diet helps balance the hormones, which helps regularize the menstrual cycle. Eating the right foods and maintaining a healthy lifestyle is important to avoid this condition.
The insulin levels in women with PCOS will be higher than usual. High levels of insulin tends to cause more androgens, resulting in imbalance in the hormones, causing PCOS. Hence, it is important to maintain the insulin levels. This can be achieved by refraining foods that are high in refined carbohydrates.
Changing the diet helps enormously in weight reduction, especially with women suffering from PCOS. For PCOS, it is important to maintain the weight as it will lead to serious other issues along with the symptoms of PCOD.
What are the 10 best natural remedies for PCOD?
The ovarian cysts in most women will go away by themselves without any treatment. But for cysts with severe symptoms, it is mandatory to take the doctor’s advice.
The first step of treatment is usually lifestyle and natural remedies. These remedies for PCOD do not make the condition disappear entirely. However, help with the symptoms when clubbed with medications prescribed by the doctor.
Below are some of the best natural remedies for PCOD:
- Consuming Whole Foods – Whole foods do not contain artificial sugars and are free from preservatives. Some of the whole foods that can be added to women’s diet with PCOD are fruits, vegetables, whole grains and legumes. These may help to maintain the insulin levels, and thus PCOD can be kept in control.
- Watching out for Carbohydrate intake – Carbohydrates can impact the blood sugar level resulting in high insulin levels. It is important to consume only less carbohydrate and have more high protein and high fibre foods .
- Adding anti-inflammatory foods – PCOS can be considered as a chronic inflammatory condition. Hence, eating foods that are anti-inflammatory in nature helps to reduce the symptoms accompanied by PCOS. Foods like tomatoes, leafy veggies and greens, fatty fish like mackerel and tuna, tree nuts and olive oil possess anti-inflammatory properties.
- Keeping the iron intake high – Due to excess bleeding than usual during menstrual cycles in women with PCOS, there are more likely chances to have iron deficiency. This may make the woman suffering from PCOS become anemic. Adding iron rich foods in the diet can help avoid this problem. Foods such as spinach, eggs , liver and broccoli are the best iron rich foods to be included. It is also equally important to consult the doctor on iron supplements and consumption of iron rich foods.
- Increasing the intake of magnesium – Magnesium-rich foods such as cashews, almonds, bananas, spinach can be added to the diet to fight PCOS symptoms. Magnesium helps to maintain the insulin levels and helps in restful sleep.
- In-take of fiber – Adding fiber to the diet helps with digestion. Foods like lentils, lima beans, broccoli, brussels sprouts, pears, and avocados are rich in fiber and help to improve digestion for women with PCOS, as they may suffer from bloating and constipation during their menstrual cycles.
- Avoiding coffee – Caffeine in coffee stimulates the body by increasing estrogen levels. As a result, a hormonal imbalance may happen. It is advisable to avoid coffee. Instead, the individual can consume herbal tea for refreshment. Green tea also helps maintain insulin levels and acts as an agent for weight reduction, which is crucial for women with PCOS.
- Consuming Soy products – Including soy protein or soy products in the diet helps in balancing the estrogen in the body, and hence, the normal secretion of hormones can be maintained. Foods like soy milk, tofu, miso, and tempeh can be considered. However, people with any estrogen-related problems like breast cancer are advised not to consume soy products. Hence, it is necessary to check with the doctor before including soy in the diet.
- Avoiding junk and oily/fatty foods – Oily foods add to weight gain and abnormal functioning of the digestive system. This can cause severe symptoms of PCOS. Hence, it is essential to avoid junk and oily foods completely, although olive oil is an exception.
- Balancing exercises – To maintain a healthy lifestyle, it is necessary to exercise and keep the body healthy and fit. Exercising at least 150 minutes per week helps to reduce stress and balances the weight. Also, the calories are constantly burnt and hence, insulin levels can be kept under control.
Besides the above natural remedies for PCOD, having proper sleep cycles and maintaining a stress free life is vital to avoid the symptoms and ease off the complications of the syndrome.