Nutrition tips for Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS)
If you have Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS), eating well can help manage some of the long term complications of this condition. Read on to learn about the best nutrition choices you can make if you have PCOS.
What is PCOS?
PCOS is a condition that affects women. It is caused by an imbalance of a woman’s sex hormones which may lead to:
Menstrual cycle changes
Skin problems such as acne
Increased hair growth on the face and body
Cysts in the ovaries and
Trouble getting pregnant
PCOS affects up to 10 percent of women. It may be genetic since women with PCOS are likely to have a mother or sister with PCOS. Women are usually diagnosed in their 20s or 30s, or sometimes when they are teenagers.
PCOS and weight gain
If you have PCOS, your body makes too much androgen. Androgen is often called the "male hormone, " but small amounts are made in women’s bodies too. If your body makes too much androgen, it can lead to weight gain, especially around the belly area. This type of weight gain can increase the risk of:
High blood pressure
High blood sugar
Heart disease and
Tips for maintaining a healthy weight with PCOS
There is no specific diet that can prevent or treat PCOS. However, eating well and being active can help manage some of long term complications of PCOS. The good news is that losing anywhere from 5 to 10 percent of your body weight can help with weight-related health problems.
The best eating plan if you have PCOS is one that helps you manage your weight and also lower the long term risks of diabetes and heart disease. This plan should be low in saturated fat and high in fibre.
Choose better fats:
Too much saturated and trans fat in the diet can lead to weight gain, high blood pressure and high cholesterol. Limit foods that contain saturated and trans fats. Instead of these bad fats, choose smaller amounts of healthy unsaturated fats, which are found in vegetable oils like canola and olive oil, avocado and nuts. Aim for a total of 30 to 45mL (2 to 3 Tbsp) of healthy fats each day. You can learn more about choosing healthy fats here.
Eating more fibre can help maintain blood sugar levels and lower your cholesterol. Plus, fibre helps make you feel full, so you tend to eat less. This can help with weight control. Aim for 21 to 25 grams per day. Here are some high fibre foods to try:
Fruit – especially berries, pears, oranges, figs, kiwi
Vegetables – especially peas, spinach, squash and broccoli
Whole grains – such as oats, brown rice, whole wheat, quinoa, barley and buckwheat
Legumes – such as lentils, chickpeas, soybeans and kidney beans
Cereals made with wheat bran, psyllium or whole grain oats
Nuts and seeds – such as almonds, flax, sunflower seeds
Similar to fibre, protein also helps you feel full for longer, so you will eat less. This is a great way to help control your weight. Make sure that you have some protein at every meal and snack like chicken, turkey, beef or fish. Or, try vegetarian options such as legumes, soy or a quarter cup of nuts or seeds. Milk and low fat yogurt are also good sources of protein.
Foods to limit:
Some foods cause weight gain if you eat them often. Choose fewer foods that are high in sugar, salt, refined flour and fat such as:
White rice, pasta or bread
Candy and chocolate and
Try to get at least 2 ½ hours of exercise each week. Start with 10 minutes of activity and work up to longer times as your body adjusts. Review the Canadian Physical Activity Guidelines for activity ideas. Even if you don’t lose weight, exercise can help control your blood sugar and cholesterol levels and lower your risk for heart disease and diabetes.
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