By Dr. Ritu Singh, Dietitian/Nutritionist
A rising number of teenage girls in the country are getting affected with Poly Cystic Ovarian Disease or PCOD. Though an advanced menarche has become very rampant these days, there are many young women who are suffering from a delay in menarche which in turn is leading to PCOD as opined by gynaecologists. Obesity and sedentary lifestyle among young people have caused a rapid doubling of PCOD cases in the past five to eight years.
Occurrence and Symptoms:
Gynaecologists report that they get at least 15 fresh instances of PCOD cases, and a considerable number of teenagers aged 16-17 are not getting their menarche. Such patients are recommended to take a strictly balanced diet which will help them to lose weight. Initially, their mothers think that they would experience their menarche in proper time, but some girls are diagnosed with PCOD when taken to a family gynaecologist. Even worse, they could never imagine that their obesity can pave the way for such a grave health issue. PCOD can cause numerous other problems like delayed and irregular menses, rapid weight gain and tremendous difficulty in losing weight, developing acne and blocked skin pores.
Furthermore, it leads to thinning of hair and excessive growth of hair on chest, back and face. Infertility, continual miscarriage, high blood pressure and high blood sugar are also common with PCOD.
There is no proven evidence regarding the cause of PCOD though gynaecologists are of the opinion that some females possess a predisposition to this disease, and it may run hereditarily in the family. You can alleviate your PCOD symptoms to a considerable extent by regulating your diet properly.
Have loads of fruits and green leafy vegetables and try to abstain from dairy products as many experts believe that dairy products are a direct cause of an increase in insulin levels, which can aggravate skin troubles along with other PCOD symptoms. Avoiding red meat and eating lean meat instead will help the condition and reduce the chances of infertility. It is always recommended to avoid hydrogenated and saturated fats, which are normally found in animal and dairy-based food. Try to put a stop to cheese, cottage cheese, clarified butter, pork, lamb, beef, etc. and certain baked products like cookies, cakes and fudges as they will trigger a rise in your blood sugar and cholesterol levels.
The following dietary tips can be helpful with the condition:
- High levels of the insulin hormone causes PCOS symptoms like high blood sugar, increased hair growth, weight gain etc. So, refined foods rich in fat and carbohydrates should be consumed in small amounts.
- Whole foods in their natural, uncooked form should be consumed fruits, vegetables, nuts, beans etc. These are low glycemic foods that reduce the glucose circulation by insulin.
- Intake of salt should be very limited. You should not consume more than 3 grams a day.
- Green vegetables have antioxidants. These are good for women with PCOS because they have a high amount of oxidative stress.
- Your daily diet should contain at least 30 grams of fiber to improve the digestion process and remove toxins.
- Milk and dairy products are best avoided because milk helps to increase the level of testosterone (male hormone) in the body.
- Soy products should also be avoided, especially if you are trying to conceive, because they interfere with the ovulation cycle.
- Processed fat is harmful but essential fatty acids found in avocado, fish, olive oil and nuts are important for the body.
- High levels of male hormones also cause high cholesterol. So foods which have high saturated fats like butter, cream, coconut oil and fatty meat should not be included in the regular diet of women with PCOS.
- Protein-rich foods like lean meat, fish, legumes, whole grains are beneficial as protein can stabilize blood sugar. These foods also keep you feeling full and prevent over-eating.
PCOD is such a condition which you can never afford to overlook. If you had been facing any of the common symptoms, then it is probably time to pay a visit to a responsive gynaecologist.