A Healthy Low-GI Diet Is Critical for Women with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome
Life can be anything but normal for women who deal daily with polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS). These women not only struggle with weight gain, finding it hard to lose weight, but they also battle depression and other problems. Their sex hormones become imbalanced, and they produce more male sex hormones, which causes ovulation to stop and acne to develop. Women with PCOS even grow facial hair, while feeling embarrassed from thinning hair on their scalp.
In most cases, small cysts grow on the ovaries, which why the disorder is referred to as “polycystic ovary syndrome.” The good news is that PCOS symptoms can improve by simply eating foods with a lower GI (Glycaemic Index). If you are one of the ten percent of women with PCOS, nutrition is critical. Here are some of the reasons you should follow a low-GI diet and how nutrition plays a vital role in improving PCOS symptoms.
Causes of PCOS
PCOS develops in women of child-bearing age. It’s still not entirely clear why it occurs in some women, but most medical professionals believe that a main contributing factor is insulin resistance. The hormone known as insulin is released by the pancreas after sugar and carbohydrates have been consumed.
It’s insulin that’s responsible for the body maintaining normal blood sugar levels by transporting the sugar that a person consumes from the blood stream into the cells. The sugar can be stored as fat or glycogen, or it can be used for energy. Women with PCOS seem to have more insulin in their bodies, which is a condition known as hyperinsulinaemia.
Understanding the Glycaemic Index
The Glycaemic Index (GI) is a tool used for rating foods, according to how much they’re able to increase blood sugar levels after food is consumed. Foods with a high-GI number can quickly elevate blood sugar levels. As a result, too much insulin is released.
On the other hand, low-GI foods create a slower increase in blood sugar levels. This means that less insulin is released from the pancreas. Foods with a GI number greater than 70 are considered high-GI foods; foods with a GI of less than 55 are low-GI foods. Medium-GI foods range from 56-69.
Benefits of a Low-GI Diet for PCOS Women
A low-glycemic index (low-GI) diet offers several advantages. Women with PCOS are at a far higher risk of developing diabetes, pre diabetes and gestational (pregnancy-induced) diabetes. One of the main reasons that PCOS women should eat low-GI foods is to make it more unlikely for diabetes to develop. As women with PCOS have more insulin traveling in their body, this creates insulin resistance (as their insulin receptors get tired of the constant exposure to insulin), and this leads to the diabetes tendency. Therefore, eating foods with a lower GI number reduces the risk of developing diabetes.
What’s more, low-GI foods promote weight loss. Weight gain is far more about the laying down of fat through sugar accumulation than it is about calories. Additionally, when you consume more proteins and healthy fats than carbs, you have fewer food cravings. Because you feel full, you are not as hungry, so you don’t tend to overeat as much.
Hormone balance is another reason women with PCOS should consume a low-GI diet. A glycaemic overload in your diet affects many of your hormones. These include those hormones, such as adrenaline and cortisol, which control stress tolerance. When you eat too many high-GI foods, it’s easier for your hormonal system (endocrine system) to become imbalanced.
Infertility is a common dilemma for women with PCOS, but they have a better chance of becoming pregnant when they eat low-GI foods. This is because these foods do a better job in stabilizing hormones, which can lead to ovulation, increasing the odds of pregnancy.
Tips for Changing to a Low-GI Diet
Basically, you’ll need to restrict the amount of high-GI foods you eat and consume more foods with a low-GI number. For example, eat a lot of salad vegetables, using a vinaigrette dressing. Choose whole grains over white breads, and instead of white rice, eat unrefined basmati rice, which has a lower glycaemic index.
Rather than eating dates or watermelon, consume fruits with a lower GI rating, such as grapefruit, apples and peaches. Also, eat sweet potatoes, rather than white potatoes.
Other Considerations and Warnings
- Being on a low-GI diet doesn’t mean never having to enjoy a few foods that have a higher GI, such as pasta.
- When you do eat pasta, try combing a much smaller portion of pasta with veggies, protein and other low-GI foods, and have a side salad. This can help in slowing down your body absorbing sugar from pasta.
- Genetics can be a factor in developing PCOS as it appears in families. In other words, you stand a higher chance of getting this disorder when there are other females in your family who’ve had PCOS. It can also come from your father’s family.
To find out more about how proper nutrition can improve your health, call the professionals at Dr. Allie’s Vitality Clinics. We focus on helping women and men find natural solutions to the common symptoms of perimenopause and menopause and other hormone imbalance. Please contact us.