National Nutrition Week

Unexplained excessive weight gain, odd facial hair and the unseasonal burst of acne on the face are some of the common problems faced by one in five women in India. Did you know that this statistic corresponds to the number of women afflicted with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS)?

It starts with a hormonal imbalance that prevents the ovulated egg from being suspended from the body during periods, thus leading to irregular menstruation. These eggs, then club together and form cysts in the ovaries.

An increasingly sedentary lifestyle and diet play an important role in PCOS. “Hormonal imbalances are not hereditary in case of every person and those who are obese are at a higher risk of PCOS”, says Rasika Parab, head of department, nutrition therapy, Fortis Hospital Mulund.

Diet plays a very important role in PCOS and hormonal imbalances are caused if you are not packing enough vitamins and minerals in your food. Consuming good proteins is equally important to boost the hormones and to aid the absorption of micronutrients like calcium and phosphorus in the body. A disruption in such absorption leads to PCOS.

For vegetarians, protein intake presents a problem as there are not enough sources. “Drinking two glasses of milk a day is not good enough to meet your protein requirements,” adds Parab. She advises consuming dal and soya, that contains phytoestrogen which boosts estrogen levels. “At least 30-40g of soya can be taken in a day”.

However, Parab advises not to go for the soybean available in the market as it is not processed to take out the anti-nutrients.

Health tips

* Dehydration is one of the most important causes for PCOS. Drinking at least three to four litres of water every day is a must.

* Fried food is the greatest enemy of PCOS. However, not all fat is to be avoided. Good fat like Omega-3 fatty acids can prove to be very beneficial for PCOS patients. These are found in almonds and walnuts.

* The amount of oil should be restricted to one or two teaspoons a day.

* For overall treatment, diet, exercise and medication should work in tandem.

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