1 out of every 3 women experiences infertility issues! Although there are many reasons for women infertility, studies have established polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) as one of the most common causes. PCOS can also lead to various other health conditions such as diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, depression, and an increased risk of endometrial cancer.
If you are a woman dealing with PCOS, you may feel frustrated at times hearing that there is no cure for PCOS. But some new researches have shown that plant-based diet can help reduce the impact of PCOS. Want to learn how to manage your PCOS with plant-based nutrition and dietary changes?
Let us discuss about PCOS and benefits of plant-based diet in this article.
|What exactly is polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)?|
PCOS affects women of reproductive age and is characterized by hormonal imbalance or/and presence of multiple immature cysts on the ovary. It is found in 6-10% of the female population, this means you or someone you know is dealing with PCOS.
Women with PCOS have higher levels of androgens (male hormones that are also present in female) in the body which may interfere with normal ovulation. This hormonal imbalance results in irregular periods, acne, excess facial and body hair, and male-pattern baldness.
Though the exact cause of PCOS is unknown, experts believe that a combination of genetic and environmental factors contribute to the condition. Some clinical evidence indicates that there is a close link between obesity and PCOS. About 40–80% of women with PCOS are reported to be obese. Additionally, women with PCOS have insulin resistance, that is, their cells don’t respond to the signals sent by the hormone insulin. Insulin resistance leads to high levels of glucose and triglycerides in their bloodstreams, and increased fat storage which worsens obesity and other lifestyle related factors.
So, what’s the cure?
There is no one-size-fits-all cure for PCOS yet. But with the right approach, PCOS can be managed and controlled. The treatment for PCOS ranges from simple lifestyle changes to prescribed hormonal medication. Studies showed that in 40-60% of obese women with PCOS, the symptoms can be managed with right dietary choices.
Maintaining a balanced diet helps maintain a healthy weight and promotes good insulin levels in women with PCOS. Currently, most health practitioners including doctors, naturopaths, and dieticians advocate plant-based diets to help combat insulin resistance and the related symptoms.
Health benefits of plant-based diets for PCOS
PCOS is a pro-inflammatory condition and is usually linked to nutritional deficiencies, poor gut health and insulin resistance. Most of the dietary plans touted for PCOS are a form of low glycemic, higher protein diets that are rich in fibres. Plant-based dietary fibers help decrease hormonal imbalances, and whole grains help in weight management.
Well-planned plant-based diets are naturally high in fibre, packed with essential nutrients such as vitamins B and C, folic acids, and magnesium, which effectively address the underlying inflammation. The PCOS experts also add that plant-based diets are gut-friendly and help the gut flora to flourish.
Additionally, eliminating meat and other dairy products can drastically help reduce inflammation, balance hormones, and control insulin resistance. A recent study found that women who consume high amount of meat protein had high rate of ovarian infertility than the group eating vegetable proteins.
Foods you should eat on a plant-based PCOS diet
A plant-based PCOS diet should include the following foods:
- Whole grains – whole oats, wheat, barley, quinoa, brown rice
- Unsaturated healthy fats – olive oil, coconuts and seeds
- Fruits – Avocado, blueberries, strawberries, cranberries, red grapes, prunes, plums
- Vegetables- Beets, spinach, broccoli, tomatoes, red bell peppers, eggplant, carrots, sweet potatoes
- Nuts and legumes- Pecans, almonds, walnuts, pinto beans, kidney beans, soy beans
- Other- Teas (green tea, black tea), dark chocolate
A review published in the Diabetes & Metabolic Syndrome: Clinical Research & Reviews stated that a favorable dietary plan in women with PCOS should contain low amounts of saturated fatty acids. Additionally, intake of fiber-rich diet with low glycemic index also helps improve symptoms of PCOS as well as decrease long term health risks.
If you’re coping with PCOS or any of its symptoms, adopt a whole-food, plant-based diet without added oils and refined carbohydrates for better results.
- Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/pcos/symptoms-causes/syc-20353439. Accessed on: 26-11-2020.
- Polycystic ovary syndrome. https://www.womenshealth.gov/a-z-topics/polycystic-ovary-syndrome . Accessed on: 26-11-2020.
- PCOS: Nutrition Basics. https://youngwomenshealth.org/2013/12/12/pcos-nutrition/ . Accessed on: 26-11-2020.
- How I Cleared Up PCOS, Had Kids, and Lost Weight on a Plant-Based Diet. https://nutritionstudies.org/cleared-pcos-kids-lost-weight-plant-based-diet/ . Accessed on: 26-11-2020.