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Why you don’t need to eat less for PCOS

Do you have PCOS? Is the first thing everyone tells you to do is “just lose weight?" Keep reading to know why it’s NOT about eating less, but about the good impact of low GI foods on PCOS and your body:

Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is the most common yet untreated hormonal condition in women between the ages of 14 to 56 i.e., in between the start of puberty and menopause. PCOS describes a number of symptoms, including- irregular periods, extreme cramps during periods, excessive hair growth on the face and body, oily skin and acne, thinning of hair and hair loss, weight gain and difficulty conceiving. This hormonal condition is believed to affect 7-10% of young women on average and the condition is mainly related to abnormal hormone levels - excess or inhibition, and is often thought to be hereditary.

Contributing Factors:

Weight or obesity is considered a contributing factor in PCOS, but it is not necessarily the cure. Women who weigh above the set range of 'healthy' BMI category have an increased risk of hormonal abnormalities. This results in  a lower rate of ovulation hence making them more prone to PCOS. Focusing on a controlled healthy lifestyle can help control PCOS. 

Women with PCOS are often insulin resistant. Insulin helps the body turn sugar (glucose) into energy. Insulin resistance can cause higher blood sugar levels which result in higher chances of women getting diabetes or pre-diabetes. Insulin resistance can also lead to higher insulin being pumped by the pancreas in an effort to keep the blood sugar levels normal. Those increased levels of insulin can cause the ovaries to produce more androgens, such as testosterone. Many overweight women who are dealing with  PCOS  might find it even harder to lose weight due to insulin resistance. 

“Insulin resistance tends to reduce insulin sensitivity, making your pancreas unable to tell how much sugar is too much sugar, and cause abnormal blood sugar spikes in the bloodstream. It is found that high insulin levels eventually stimulate the ovaries to produce large amounts of the male hormone testosterone, which in turn could lead to ovarian cysts. Excess sugar is also an unhealthy choice and eventually leads to fat accumulation. In such a situation, low GI foods can prove to be an ideal dietary choice.” 
- Ms Jyoti Bhatt (Senior Dietician - Jaslok Hospital)

Therefore, a Low GI, high fiber, and low sugar diet is recommended to reduce  the spikes in blood sugar levels. 

Following a low GI (glycemic index) diet

The glycemic index is a measure of the spike in blood sugar level a particular food causes. Foods with a low GI cause your blood levels to rise slowly, helping in reducing the symptoms of PCOS. 

Low GI foods, improve and help the individuals in balancing insulin levels.  

Therefore, women with this condition may find shifting to Low GI foods  effective, even if they do not need to lose weight. 

It has also been found that, when combined with weight-loss, a low GI diet can help them regulate the menstrual cycle as well as to help ease some of the symptoms worsened by being overweight or obese. A balanced nutritious diet will also help in reducing a woman’s risk of developing diabetes. This includes incorporating low GI rice or other staples and even foods such as oats, sweet potatoes or natural yoghurt in your diet. A low GI diet not only helps you manage your insulin levels and PCOS, it is also your first step towards a healthier lifestyle.