What is the best PCOS diet? Here’s how the Mediterranean diet aids weight loss and improves insulin resistance in people with PCOS.
Most patients of PCOS demonstrate signs of insulin resistance, have high body fat and have irregular hormonal functioning. The Mediterranean diet addresses all of these effectively, says Dr Ushakiran Sisodia, Dietician and Clinical Nutritionist, Nanavati Max Super Speciality Hospital, Mumbai
When 32-year Ahilya Karmarkar came to see me, she was suffering from polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), weighed 87.50 kg, much above what was normal for her height of 5’6”, and was borderline diabetic with a HbA1c count of 6.1. She was not getting her periods regularly and had been diagnosed with permanent infertility.
Her gynecologist advised her to lose 15 kg while putting her on PCOS medication, obesity being a trigger for the condition. We worked with her diet and achieved that target in six months after which she conceived.
As a clinical nutritionist, I helped her lose weight in six months with a Mediterranean diet. Of course, she did regular follow-ups and once her weight was in control, she did not need her medication anymore. Being a non-vegetarian, we changed the protein content of Ahilya’s animal protein to mostly fish and poultry.
PCOS Diet: WHY MEDITERRANEAN DIET WORKS BEST FOR PCOS?
If you’re looking for the best PCOS diet, try the Mediterranean diet. Why is that the best diet for PCOS? That’s because most patients of PCOS demonstrate signs of insulin resistance, have high body fat and have irregular hormonal functioning.
- First of all the Mediterranean diet ensures blood sugar control because it uses only whole grains and complex carbohydrates, which not only avoid blood sugar spikes but lend bulk to the diet and longer term satiety, thereby keeping hunger pangs at bay.
- The sugar release is gradual, giving you enough energy throughout the day. It relies a lot on plant foods, whose compounds help muscles use blood sugar for energy.
- The Mediterranean diet uses a lot of healthy fats like olive oil, avocado, nuts and seeds, which improve insulin sensitivity and reduce inflammation, one of the major triggers for PCOS.
- Research shows that people with PCOS show evidence of all-over inflammation, which is associated with heart disease and other illnesses.
- Also, since this kind of diet is high in fruits and vegetables, your body gets a rich supply of vitamins and phytochemicals, which collectively rectify hormone balance.
- Many studies have shown that a Mediterranean diet, while decreasing fat mass and body weight, helps maintain lean muscle mass, which is required to lower insulin resistance.
- Besides, it improves ovarian function. Clearly, this diet is a one-stop solution to take care of all the triggers and is sustainable enough to blunt all kinds of co-morbidities.
- And because it is effective on so many counts, many PCOS patients feel energetic after simple dietary corrections.
EASY TO RUSTLE UP AT ANY TIME OF THE DAY
The best part of a Mediterranean diet is that it is not only fuss-free but can be a full meal or a snack. Just toss up a bowl of chickpeas with cucumber, bell peppers and dribble olive oil dressing with lemon juice.
You can have a whole grain sandwich with grilled tofu or chicken, or fish wraps with tomatoes, cucumbers, and onions. There are also spinach, brown rice and lentils to choose from. You can even mix Greek yogurt with fruit pieces.
Since all of these are easy to prepare, you can easily pack them for work instead of indulging in junk food.
WHAT SHOULD YOU LOOK OUT FOR AS SUBSTITUTES?
- Replace meats with Omega-3 rich fish such as salmon.
- Have them baked or grilled.
- Replace butter with olive oil, have beans and other protein-rich legumes instead of animal protein.
- Drop the starch and go for non-starchy vegetables such as leafy greens like spinach, tomatoes, mushrooms, peppers, broccoli and cauliflower.
- Junk the refined flour and go for brown rice, barley, sorghum and other wholegrain flour.
- Drop desserts and have a whole fruit instead.
In this competitive world, most women battle new challenges every day at the cost of neglecting their health and diet. That’s the reason you see so many symptoms of PCOS bothering every third woman.
Conventional medicine cannot reverse or heal PCOS. Birth control pills and other drugs manage the condition only temporarily. PCOS is actually a metabolic disorder that can be reversed by treating the underlying metabolic dysfunction.
That’s why functional nutrition helps in managing the root cause of PCOS and reversing the condition. I suggest analyzing advanced metabolic and other related blood markers for this and using diet and lifestyle therapy for treatment.
Click here to read more about the best PCOS diet.