Nutritional requirements for PCOS and PCOD
Caring for health during a worrying hormonal imbalance is not a difficult task if nutritional basics are met. Proper dietary interventions for PCOS and PCOD improve weight management, insulin resistance, oxidative stress and androgen adversity.
As PCOS/PCOD becomes diagnosed more frequently, health professionals should be aware of how lifestyle patterns influence the disorder and how to alter prognosis and treatments strategies without heavily relying on pharmacological treatments. Drugs to improve insulin sensitivity and promote weight loss work better when used early in combination with diet and exercise.
How to choose the right nutrition for PCOS and PCOD?
The patients should observe their meal pattern and focus on healthy and satisfying portion-specific eating. The patients can indulge in a guilt-free balanced diet for weight maintenance.
How to achieve and sustain weight?
Energy deficit can be achieved by limiting energy intake and increasing calorie expenditure. A calorie deficit of 200 kcal/day will prevent weight gain and will promote long-term weight loss.
Should carbohydrates be avoided?
Carbohydrate build energy stores and contributes to 45-55% of the total diet initially. However, it is necessary to reduce the intake of sugar-dense refined easy picks like soda, juices, white rice, white bread, chocolate and sweets. Foods labelled as “Fat-free” or “Carb free” are loaded with high sugar or refined flour. Hence it is better to opt for freshly prepared natural fiber-dense options like whole grains, fruits and vegetables.
Guidance about Glycemic index- High GI means high blood sugar. Sugar dense and refined carbs have a high GI compared to fiber-rich carbs. Having small portions of high GI food with other foods will help to reduce sugar spike.
What about fat and protein intake?
The patients are advised to consume around 30% of daily calories as fats out of which 10% should consist of saturated fats. Consuming low-fat dairy products, nuts, vegetable oils, high-quality protein etc. help with satiety and insulin sensitivity. Protein can attribute to 20% of daily energy intake and may be increased by it for substituting carbohydrates. An ideal daily menu for a PCOS/PCOD patient should consist of pulses, beans, low-fat fishes and white meats.
The role of other key nutrients?
Inositol– Improves insulin and ovulatory actions and decreases androgen levels. The benefits of metformin in PCOS appear at least partly due to increasing inositol availability.
Chromium– significantly reduce insulin resistance and hirsutism
Micronutrients– The addition of omega 3 fatty acids, Vit C, Vit B12, zinc, selenium and Vit D will reduce deficiencies
Do nutritional labels help?
Nutrition labels explain about serving size and the percentage of actual nutrients present which help to make healthy food choices
What grocery choices are to be made?
Maintaining a weekly meal, snack plans and healthy food options can help to formulate a proper grocery list. Keeping the stomach empty for too long increases glucose fluctuations. Filling in-between meal time with healthy snacks will reduce overeating during meals.
Tips to keep in mind
- Reduce processed food intake to reduce oxidative stress
- Eating five portions of vegetables and maintain fiber intake to promote
- Avoid skipping mealtimes especially breakfast
- Properly having food at regular intervals
- Avoid excessive intake of fruit juices and alcoholic drinks
- Performing 30 minutes of physical activity daily
- Having a regular sleep schedule
- Adapting healthy coping mechanisms to lower anxiety and depression levels
- Choosing food as per needs and preferences and not get burdened with “healthy fad diets”.
Aparna Das Parmar has over 8.5 years of rich experience in the field of nutrition and healthcare and is currently a corporate nutritionist.