PCOS and nutrition

Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) is the most common hormonal disorder in women of reproductive age.1

A woman’s ovaries contain ‘follicles’ which are small fluid-filled sacs in which eggs or ova develop. In PCOS, these follicles are formed but are often unable to open up and release an egg, and eventually get converted into cysts. This results in irregular or absent periods.2

6-15% women of reproductive age suffer from PCOS.1

Women with PCOS have a higher risk of developing problems like infertility, obesity, high blood pressure, heart disease, or diabetes.2

All women suffering from PCOS benefit from dietary therapy, exercise and/or medications. In fact dietary and lifestyle interventions are considered among the first-line treatments and can improve PCOS symptoms and prevent its complications.1,2

 

Nutritional management of PCOS  

Carbohydrates:

In PCOS, carbohydrates should be consumed after considering their glycemic index (GI). GI is a measure of how quickly blood sugar rises after eating different carbohydrates. High GI foods have simple carbohydrates that break down quickly during digestion and release glucose rapidly. Foods with low GI have complex carbohydrates that break down slowly and release glucose more gradually in the bloodstream.1

Eating low GI foods can be useful to reduce the symptoms of PCOS and regularize the menstrual cycle.2,3 Complex carbohydrates in the form of unprocessed or minimally processed wheat, rice, oats, and barley should be preferred over simple carbohydrates present in sugar, honey, and fruit juice.4

Proteins:

Proteins can increase the feeling of fullness after a meal and help control blood sugar levels.5 Good quality protein can be obtained from fish, poultry, lean red meat, eggs, dairy products, nuts, dried beans, peas, lentils, and soy foods.4,5

Fats:

Fats release glucose slowly causing an effect of lowering the GI of the meal. They also help in better insulin management. Hence, fats should be included in an adequate amount in the diet. Omega-3 fats are essential fatty acids which improve cholesterol levels, insulin levels, and inflammation.  Good sources of omega-3 include fish, walnuts, flax seeds, soybeans, and canola oil.4.5

Dietary fiber:

Fiber slows down the digestion process and helps in slowing down the release of glucose. High-fiber diets can also help in weight loss.5 Good sources of dietary fiber include sapodilla, guava, apple, and pear (eaten with their skins), whole wheat bread, and green leafy vegetables.4

Vitamins and minerals:

Calcium and vitamin D (cholecalciferol) can help regularize menstrual cycles, improve weight loss and PCOS symptoms.1 Chromium enhances the action of insulin and lowers risk of heart disease.6 Also, it has been observed that in women suffering from PCOS, deficiencies of zinc, magnesium, chromium, and B vitamins are common.7

So, adequate supply of vitamins and minerals through fruits, vegetables, grains, pulses, dairy products like milk, and meat is important in women with PCOS.

Tips for managing nutrition in PCOS:

  • Small meals should be consumed regularly throughout the day.1
  • Breakfast should not be skipped as it can lead to overeating later.1
  • High GI foods like candy, sweetened beverages (i.e., soda, iced tea, juice), honey, sugar, sugarcane juice, and sugar syrups should be avoided.4,5

 

How can a nutritional supplement help?

Adequate nutrition and smaller frequent meals can help manage symptoms of PCOS. But with a busy day at home and work, women often forget or may not have the time to prepare and eat regular meals. In such a case, a healthy snack in the form of a drink, which can be consumed anywhere, can help curb hunger, and help women manage their weight.

Our nutritional supplement, VidavanceTM, has a low GI, high-quality protein and other essential vitamins and nutrients which may meet nutritional requirements in PCOS. It is a healthy snacking alternative and helps a person feel full for a longer time.

Drink it when hunger strikes during the mid-morning and evening snack time i.e. at 11 am and 5 pm or before bed to avoid drop in blood glucose levels during the night.

We suggest having 1 serving of VidavanceTM, 2 levelled scoops prepared with water, twice a day, along with a balanced diet for dietary treatment of PCOS.

 

References:

  1. Paliwal M, Bharti V, Tiwari K. Diet And Nutrition Management In Polycystic Ovary Syndrome. International Journal of Food and Nutritional Sciences. July 2016. 5(3):53-59.
  2. BDA. The Association of UK Dietitians. Polycystic Ovary Syndrome. Food Fact Sheet. [internet]. [cited 2016 Oct 05] Available from: https://www.bda.uk.com/foodfacts/pcos.pdf
  3. Marsh KA, Steinbeck KS, Atkinson FS, Petocz P, Brand­Miller JC.Effect of a low glycemic index compared with a conventional healthy diet on polycystic ovary syndrome.Am J ClinNutr. 2010 Jul;92(1):83­92.
  4. Misra A, Sharma R, Gulati S, Joshi SR, Sharma V, et al. Consensus Dietary Guidelines for Healthy Living and Prevention of Obesity, the Metabolic Syndrome, Diabetes, and Related Disorders in Asian Indians. Diabetes Technology & Therapeutics Nov 2011.13(6):683-94.
  5. PCOSchallenge.org. PCOS Challenge E-Zine [internet]. March 2014 Volume 1 Issue 3. [cited 2016 Nov 08]. Available from: http://www.pcoschallenge.org/pcos/pcos-challenge-ezine-mar-2014.pdf
  6. A scientific review: the role of chromium in insulin resistance. Diabetes Educ 2004;Suppl:2-14.
  7. Grant ECG. Polycystic ovarian syndrome: the metabolic syndrome comes to gynaecology. Rapid responses. BMJ 1998; 317.