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If you are struggling with an irregular menstrual cycle, hair loss, heavy bleeding, acne, hair growth in unwanted areas, weight gain, or metabolism issues, there’s a high chance that you might be suffering from polycystic ovary syndrome, more commonly known as PCOS.
PCOS has become one of the most common conditions among women of reproductive age. It is said that 1 in 5 women of reproductive age in India are affected by this condition.
It is a hormonal disorder that causes enlarged ovaries with small cysts on the outer edges. Though not life threatening, this condition can produce higher than normal levels of male hormones, making it harder for women to get pregnant.
The exact cause of this common hormonal condition is relatively unknown. However, factors such as genetics, poor lifestyle choices, and obesity are said to contribute to this disease. Nonetheless, making positive lifestyle changes is considered the first and foremost step in managing this condition. These changes include following a proper diet and leading an active life.
Let’s explore how diet and regular exercise can help.
Many women with PCOS experience insulin resistance in the body. This means that our body is unable to absorb glucose from the blood, leading to some lifestyle disorders such as diabetes. According to a study, 50 percent of women with PCOS develop pre-diabetes or diabetes, before the age of 40. One of the ways to address the issue is to follow a structured diet viz. a calorie-deficit diet. Several studies have shown that such diets have a positive impact on women suffering from PCOS. Women should also include high-fibre food items such as oats, muesli, sweet potatoes, and green leafy vegetables, along with lean protein food items such as tofu, lentils, chicken and fish, in their diet.
Equal care must be taken to avoid foods that can aggravate the situation. These are mostly food items, which are fattening and high in calories such as bakery products, fried and junk food.
Following a regular workout regime, especially resistance training, has a positive effect on PCOS. Apart from improving the lipid profile of PCOS patients, regular exercise also alleviates chronic inflammation, a common problem experienced by women suffering from the hormonal disorder. Including a 30-minute workout routine in your daily schedule plays an important role in decreasing PCOS symptoms. Exercises, other than resistance training, such as jogging, brisk walking, or swimming can help with weight loss, as well as improve ovulation and insulin sensitivity. Regular strength and cardio training help the body to respond better to insulin, thus lowering the symptoms of PCOS and the risk of type 2 diabetes in women.
A combination of proper diet, regular physical activity, adequate sleep, stress management, proper hydration, along with the right medication prescribed by the doctor can go a long way in keeping PCOS under control.