PCOS is a complex medical condition that can affect various areas of your health in subtle ways – including reproductive, metabolic and psychological health. Although there is no cure for PCOS, you can manage PCOS and prevent the risk of developing future complications with a combination of lifestyle modifications and medications, where required.
Every woman is different and so will be their PCOS journey, this makes it important to have a personalized treatment that suits your lifestyle, symptoms and concerns. Mugdha Joshi, Senior nutritionist and care manager at Veera Health, Online PCOS Clinic said, “One of the most effective approaches in managing PCOS is making lifestyle modifications. Lifestyle modifications include following a healthy, balanced diet, coupled with regular physical activity, stress management and getting good quality sleep. Although medications also do help in controlling the symptoms, they are alone not a sustainable option in the long run. You need to build healthy lifestyle habits that can help treat the underlying hormonal imbalance.”
About 80% of PCOS treatment is about a diet that can help balance hormones, correct insulin resistance, and lower androgen levels. Eating the right diet can improve PCOS symptoms such as irregular periods, hirsutism, acne, and weight gain naturally.
However, most women with PCOS believe that following a generic weight-loss diet is enough to manage PCOS. In fact, you don’t have to starve yourself or try restrictive diets that cut out food groups. Many such diets can actually worsen food cravings, lower energy levels, and only cause temporary weight loss.
The vitamins and minerals that you get from whole foods such as fruits, vegetables, grains are important for a multitude of body processes and functions that are involved in gut health, immunity, metabolism, among others. There is no one single diet for PCOS, your diet plan needs to be personalised to your lifestyle, dietary triggers and hormonal profile. But as a rule, it is important to have balanced meals that have ample portions of complex carbohydrates, quality protein, healthy fats and dietary fibre. Having balanced meals ensure that your insulin levels don’t spike, which in turn helps prevent cravings and keeps you satiated.
Not just your diet, physical activity is as important to your PCOS journey. If you are a beginner to exercising, keep the intensity low and slowly allow your body to adapt to the new activity. Along with incorporating cardio exercises such as walking, running or cycling, it is also important to include strength training to make it a holistic routine. Start with 30 minutes of daily exercise and gradually increase intensity and frequency. Also keep yourself active through the day by taking the stairs, doing chores, walking to the market etc. Taking small steps, making small changes in terms of following a diet and exercise routine will help your body ease into a healthy lifestyle naturally.
Sleep plays an important role in maintaining healthy blood sugar levels. In fact, decreased sleep is a risk factor for developing high blood sugar levels so it is important to get 7 to 8 hours of quality sleep every night. You can start with optimising your sleep schedule, create a pleasant bedroom environment and follow a nightly routine.
Although stress alone cannot cause insulin resistance — high levels of stress hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline actually make it harder for insulin to work properly. In times of stress, it is important to look after yourself and treat yourself kindly. Being physically active, getting good sleep, taking time out to rest and relax can help cope with stress. For some people on-going counselling for stress management and relaxation techniques such as meditation can also help. Making lifestyle changes can take time, but it forms an important part of your PCOS journey. Staying consistent and patient with your progress can help you achieve lifestyle reset that is not only good for your PCOS but also for your overall health!