Do the balancing act

Do the balancing act

Here are some of the lifestyle tweaks you need to adopt during home quarantine, suggests Dr Aparna Jha

art

Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) is a common medical condition affecting women. In this, women start to produce more than normal amounts of male hormones. This causes a hormonal imbalance in the body leading to irregular periods and difficulty in conceiving. It also increases the growth of hair on the body and face and contributes to health problems like heart disease and diabetes.

Here’s how it affects the body

Too much testosterone in the body can affect your menstrual cycle by preventing ovulation. It also disrupts sugar levels in the body. The body starts producing a higher-than-normal amount of insulin. When there is excess insulin in the body, it also increases the testosterone levels in the body causing absent or irregular periods, reduced fertility, alopecia or less hair on the head, hirsutism or excess hair on face and body, changes in the skin like dark skin patches or acne.

When a woman is suffering from PCOS, her body image takes a hit and her self-esteem goes down. It is very common for women to experience anxiety and depression from the physical changes their body is going through. And now that you have to stay at home because of the lockdown, this feeling can get extreme. So, it is more important than ever to control these symptoms. A few tweaks in your lifestyle can help in improving the signs and symptoms. There are two major fields to work on — exercise and nutrition. Here are some exercises you can try during quarantine:

Cardio: These are moderate exercises and can help women with PCOS. Doing cardio for about 30 minutes a day can help with symptoms of anxiety, depression, weight management, and improve the frequency of ovulation and menstrual cycles.

Strength training: Bodyweight exercises that you can do from the comfort of your home like push-ups and squats can help in improving the function of insulin.

Interval training: This involves swapping between small durations of high-intensity workout and low-intensity recovery. Not only will you be able to get relief from the symptoms of PCOS, but you will also be boosting cardiovascular fitness. It improves insulin resistance and reduces excess testosterone.

Core strength: Core training is important when your weight is resulting in poor posture and lower back pain. Make sure that you switch the muscles supporting the spine so you don’t hurt yourself while exercising. The most important thing is to choose something that you enjoy and consult a doctor to make sure that it is the right one for you.

Diet

Some dietary restrictions can help in relieving symptoms of PCOS:

Do not eat red meat as it increases the risk of infertility. This means no steaks, hamburgers or pork, too.

Avoid eating hydrogenated and saturated fats like in dairy-based products. Also, baked goods contain a lot of these fats.

Eat a lot of green vegetables like broccoli and lettuce. You can also have red fruits that are rich in antioxidants and nutrients like berries. Make sure to include plant proteins like lentils, legumes, and dried beans in your daily diet.

You need to follow a diabetic diet as you are insulin resistant. This means that your diet should have foods that are low in carbs and rich in fibre. This includes wheat, whole grains, poha, wheat pasta, and brown
rice.

Avoid any refined carbohydrate products like white bread, biscuits, and pastries. Also, stay away from sugary beverages like energy drinks and sodas.

Women with PCOS experience water retention. So, it is important that you eat frequent, small meals and have enough water.

Here is what you should eat

Cereals: Bran flakes, barley, brown bread, multi-grain bread, whole wheat porridge, muesli, oatmeal, oats, quinoa, whole wheat.

Dairy products: Skimmed milk, tofu, yogurt, paneer, and soy milk.

Fruits: Apples, berries, pears, peaches, plums, oranges, papaya, and watermelons.

Nuts: Almonds, flaxseeds, and walnuts.

Pulses: Beans, chana dal, green moong, whole pulses, and yellow moong.

Dealing with PCOS can be difficult. However, if you follow your doctor’s advice, eat healthy food and work out regularly, it becomes slightly manageable.

(The author is consultant OB-GYN, Apollo Cradle, Brookefield, Bengaluru)