Dieting With Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome
Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) is a metabolic syndrome that affects between 5 and 7.5 per cent of all women, and is a number one cause of infertility. Symptoms include irregular periods, facial hair growth, acne, obesity and erratic periods. Until recently, diet was not thought to be an important factor in easing PCOS, but there's increasing evidence that the condition may be related to insulin resistance. This is a syndrome in which cells become less responsive to insulin so the pancreas must secrete more and more of this hormone.
Why does having PCOS make it difficult to lose weight?
Insulin stimulates fat storage, which is why many women with PCOS are overweight. What makes it worse is that having continuously high insulin levels keeps blood sugar levels low, which in turn often prompts cravings for sugary carbohydrates.
How to lose weight if you've got PCOS
To tackle the condition you need to make sure you are consuming a moderate intake of carbohydrates that amounts to no more than 50 per cent of your daily calories. Ensure you are eating mainly low GI carbohydrates - this means unrefined complex carbohydrates such as heavy whole grain breads, wholemeal pasta and high fibre cereals, instead of white bread, cakes and white rice. Potatoes tend to be higher GI but this doesn't mean you can't ever eat them. Combine potatoes with a protein source - such as a jacket potato and tuna - and the GI will be lowered.
Don't forget to fill up on five fruit and veg a day as these will help to satisfy your appetite without breaking the calorie bank. You might find you lose weight more slowly than you'd like, but you should still see those pounds gradually drop off.
Some PCOS sufferers also find that they a have a greater tendency to yeast infections (such as thrush) and that a diet relatively low in sugar, yeast and wheat can help. But this is a very individual thing and you need to find by trial and error a diet that best suits you.
Taking supplements of magnesium, zinc and chromium may also help PCOS sufferers, as may the herbal preparation agnus castus which can help regulate female hormones.