PCOS and Indian Women - PCOS affects nearly 35% of Indian Women

 As some of you might know, I come from an Indian background. I was shocked to find out nearly 35% of women in India have PCOS. It is a no brainer why we would have got this as health awareness is very less in India. Our diet is full of refined foods and sugar and there is no sign of this epidemic slowing down. Though we have one of the largest PCOS population in the world, we don’t have any support groups to share our experiences.

When I was thinking about the reasons for our PCOS epidemic, our lifestyle comes to my mind. Typical of Indian families, many of us are not encouraged to do exercise or instructed to follow healthy food habits. The worst part is Indian doctors don’t think of PCOS as an issue, because it is so common. Even after I came to Australia, I was following typical Indian diet. My diet mainly consisted of parboiled rice, maida and refines wheat flour etc. The symptoms I had related to PCOS were acne and irregular periods. I never did exercise and don’t feel like doing it anyways. Luckily, I became aware of PCOS as one of my colleague’s girlfriend had it. As I had acne, I pretty much concluded even before getting my blood tests that I have PCOS.

For anyone reading this, please be aware that getting diagnosed with PCOS is not an easy thing. i.e. When you go to a doctor for irregular periods , they might just prescribe you BCP’s. Though 70% of women with irregular periods have PCOS, you might not get diagnosed for that in your first consultation. Most women get diagnosed with PCOS, only after they consult the doctor for infertility.

If you have adult acne or anyone you know has it, get diagnosed for PCOS. It is vital to get diagnosed and treat it appropriately to avoid the risks of diabetes and cardiovascular diseases. If you have family history of PCOS or diabetes, then your risks of getting PCOS is higher. Regarding diet, try to consume as much whole grains a possible.

I was able to change my diet and get rid of my PCOS symptoms such as acne and irregular periods. It tried cutting rice from my diet and it helped with my cravings. My diet typically contains Low GI bread and whole wheat flour rotis as my staple. Whole wheat flour is full of fibre. It releases energy slowly into your body and thus helps Insulin Resistance.

The rest of my diet consists of items such as avocado, which are easily available in Australia. To help with irregular periods, I consumed carrot and beetroot juice. Your body must be capable of detoxifying the toxins, beetroot being a blood purifier helps heavily with it. Carrot juice helps your liver in eliminating those toxins.

Try consuming lot of legumes and pulses, as they are high source of protein. Try consuming hot water whenever possible, as the fat deposits get released with hot water. Avoid deep fried foods from restaurants.

Exercise regularly. If you can’t join a gym try to do skipping at home. Start doing it for 5 minutes and slowly increase it to half an hour. You can do it while watching TV, so you don’t have to allocate a special time for it.:)

Also, d-chiro-inositol can be used to treat women with PCOS. As it is quite expensive to buy it online, you can try having buckwheat. Buckwheat is a rich source of DCI and it helps with the PCOS symptoms greatly. Buckwheat is also know as kuttu in Hindi and Papparai in Tamil.

I am a big fan of Buckwheat flour dosa..I will post the recipes soon....:)

In addition to making lifestyle changes I also took the Insulite PCOS system and False Unicorn Root in the month I  got pregnant naturally. Both are bit costly supplements but it worked in my case.

If you have been told by doctors that getting pregnant is harder and suggested the IVF path start making these lifestyle changes I see whether it makes any improvement in your symptoms(i.e. regular periods, less acne etc..) . If your PCOS symptoms improve with proper diet and eating habits, then there is a real possibility you can get pregnant naturally.
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Healty Eating Guide while TTC

As you might know, for women with PCOS healthy eating means everything. We don't have the luxury to follow a strict diet and then get back to junk. Once diagnosed with PCOS, we should adopt a diet which suits our lifestyle and also our PCOS.  For most of the women with PCOS, eating Low GI foods instead of Low Carb foods has been the key to success. Learn more about PCOS and Low GI here.

Below is a healthy eating guide for all of us. You can tailor it to suit your lifestyle. This might not help you with loosing weight, but once you had lost weight, food habits below will provide you the necessary nutrients for a sustainable well being. 
  1. Try to consume fresh and organically grown foods whenever possible. If you can't get hold of organically grown vegetables try washing the veggies and fruits with diluted vinegar to get rid of chemicals and toxins.
  2. Try having 2 serves at least a day. This should come from a primary protein: an animal source, which is a complete protein(that means it contains all the amino-acids) or
  3. A combination of secondary proteins, which comes from a plant source and are incomplete proteins (they don not contain all the amino-acids), therefore will need to be combined to make a complete protein. By combining 2 of the food groups below, you will make a complete protein: Nuts, Grains/Seeds, Legumes/Pulses

Below is the list of protein providing foods:

·       Fish - 3 times a week. Low in saturated fats, high in essential fatty acids, especially deep ocean fish, cold water fish such as herrings, mackerel, salmon, trevally, ocean trout, pilchards, luderick, rainbow trout, sardines, blue grenadier, king George whiting, redfish, golden perch. Avoid large fish as they may be high in mercury.

·       Chicken - Free Range or Organic only and avoid all fats

·       Eggs - An excellent source of protein unless you are sensitive/allergic. Buy organic or good quality free range which are fed chemical free food.

·       Dairy - Use low fat; use little as it creates mucus in tubes and mal absorption. Natural low fat organic non-flavoured organic is good or use goats milk or soy.

·       Red Meat in moderation

·       Legumes/Pulses/Grains - Good protein source and good detoxifiers.

·       Nuts/Seeds - Fresh, store in fridge, away from heat and light. Nuts should not taste bitter. Use on breakfast cereals, in stir-fries, salads, pasta dishes or a snack.

  1. Fats -Avoid all saturated fats, which can upset your prostaglandin, hormone and mineral balance.
  2. Fried Foods - No fried foods except stir-fry. Cook with extra virgin, cold-pressed olive oil.
  3. Cold-Pressed oils on Salads - Extra virgin olive oil, flaxseed, safflower, sunflower oils are high in essential fatty acids if not heated.
  4. Avoid Margarine - Margarine is a saturated in the processing and contains chemicals. Can use butter sparingly. Try avocado instead of butter.
  5. Veggies - Lots of veggies everyday. Should make up to 40% of the food intake.
  6. Grains/carbs - Eat in moderate levels and choose low GI cards whenever possible.
  7. Sugar - Avoid all sweet things including sugar, sugar substitutes, processed foods with sugar, undiluted fruit juices, cakes, biscuits, soft drinks.
  8. Fruits - 2-3 serves a day
  9. Drink plenty of purified water
This is just a generic eating guide for anyone and it is especially helpful for women who are trying to conceive. Above eating guide will give you and your baby a healthy environment to grow in, especially because our hormones are messed up due to PCOS.
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Preparing for your TTC Journey

Preconception care is a time of preparation to optimise your health and thus ensure the best possible start for your child. Therefore areas to be addressed are nutrition, environment, lifestyle and detoxification.

Here are some things u might consider following before and during your TTC journey.

1. To provide your body with the building blocks necessary to create a healthy baby, you need to eat healthy, nutritious, whole foods. This means buying fresh, unrefined foods that have been grown organically and therefore have plenty of nutrients.

2. To avoid the toxins that come through your water and food supply, such as agri-chemicals and heavy metals, you need to use water purifier and buy organic whenever possible. This is especially important when buying animal products as animals might have been fed hormones or antibiotics, or been exposed to polluting chemical, as these products collect in the animals fatty tissues and organs.

3. Avoid sugar and all forms of sugar substitutes, coffee and alcohol as these contributes to nutrient loss. Eat plenty of veggies, whole grains and protein rich foods. Avoid saturated fat and processed foods. Buy and consume fresh produce whenever possible.

4. Drink roasted dandelion tea , which is an excellent detoxifying herb through its action on the liver. Eat plenty of garlic and onions which will also help to eliminate toxins.

5. Avoid chemical estrogens which can contribute to reproductive issues and fertility problems with both sexes. To protect nutritional content of your food you should avoid using processed, pre-prepared and packaged foods or foods that have been microwaved.

6. Take a comprehensive nutritional supplement, including the complete range of vitamins, minerals and essential fatty acids. These are required for proper fertility and healthy embryonic growth. The anti-oxidant nutrients (Vitamin A,C,E , Zinc and Selenium) can help you detoxify and eliminate heavy metals and chemicals.

7. Avoid all drugs. This includes social drugs such as alcohol, caffeine and nicotine, which have all been linked to reproductive and fetal ill health.

8. Avoid breathing in petrol fumes, or using household cleaning materials that are based on ammonia or any other solvents. Studies have shown that oven cleaners, mould treatments, paint, glues, and all types of solvent can affect the health of sperm or eggs.

9. To avoid the effects of non-ionizing radiation use your mobile phone and microwave as little as possible.
10. To avoid the most toxic, ionizing form of radiation, which can affect eggs and sperm for up to 3 years, avoid X-rays for as long as possible before conception.

11. Exercise for at least 2 hrs per week, three 45 minutes walk or four 30 minutes walk a week or join a gym. This will help u normalise your weight in conjunction with eating a wide variety of healthy foods.

12. Stress can be problem for those who are trying for a while. One approach is to try some visualisation. Lie down in a quiet place, with no interruptions, and direct your breath to each part of your body in turn. If stress is an ongoing problem then it can affect your nutritional status and fertility. Seek professional help if needed.
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PCOS and Low GI

GI – Glycemic Index is the measure of carbohydrates based on their effect on our blood glucose levels.

Carbohydrates that easily breakdown, increasing the blood glucose levels rapidly are said to have high GI. Carbohydrates that breakdown slowly, releasing glucose gradually into the blood stream are said to have low GI.

Several scientific studies have shown that individuals following low GI diet over several years are at significantly low risk of developing Type 2 Diabetes and coronary heart diseases.

How does high GI food affect PCOS?

Insulin is a hormone that performs various functions in a body. One of its function is to maintain the blood glucose levels. As high GI food increases the blood glucose levels rapidly, more insulin is secreted to maintain the blood glucose levels. Releasing high levels of Insulin over prolonged period of time will cause your Pancreas (gland which secretes hormone Insulin) to wear out. Since, optimum levels of Insulin is necessary to maintain your blood glucose levels, eating high GI foods will increase your risk of Type 2 Diabetes.

PCOS and Low GI Diet

As most of the PCOS women have insulin resistance, it is advised to follow low GI diets which will gradually releases energy into your blood stream. This will not create Insulin spikes and hence your pancreas will not overwork.

Following a Low GI diet is not that hard as it sounds. Being an Indian, all I need to do was cut down on my rice intake and increased my wheat intake. Instead of getting the soft atta flour, I purchased the whole wheat flour and to my surprise it tasted better. I started having Green Tea twice as day as the antioxidants in the green tea is supposed to get rid of toxins in our body.
Purchased a juicer and started having vegetable juices after my exercise routine. I am not overweight, so following a low GI diet resulted in some weight loss for me as well. But, the good thing I felt a lot more energetic than I used to.

As the name suggests, it is not diet that you follow for a while and forget about it. It is kind of a lifestyle change.
If insulin resistance is the primary cause of your PCOS, then it might be necessary for you to make this lifestyle changes. This will not only reduce your PCOS symptoms, but prevents your from future diabetes and heart diseases risk.

Choosing foods for your Low GI change

If you live in any of the developed countries, it might be easy for you to the get the low GI breads. You can see the cover of the bread and in most of the low GI ones they specify the GI index.

But, if you are not lucky enough to get GI details from the food you purchase in your country, then the best thing to do is to increase your whole grain intake. You can start to have brown rice instead of white rice. Also, you can purchase fibre supplements such as Metamucil to complement your daily fibre intake.

Fibre is a natural source for detoxifying your body. The good source for learning about the GI value of variety of food and meals is: http://www.glycemicindex.com/

You can safely follow a low GI meal while taking other medications such as Metformin. You can make your whole family follow a low GI diet as it is beneficial for everybody. This way you don’t have to prepare a separate meal for yourself.

There are many low GI diets available on the internet. For obese women with PCOS, following a traditional low fat high Card diet will make the situation worse. This is especially true if the carbohydrate you are consuming is of high GI. 

Take time to do your research on the internet regarding the GI values of food. This website provides a GI database which contains the GI values of various food items across different continents. Use that as your basic source before investing in costly low GI diet books available over the internet.

Don’t forget to send your success stories to me. Please remember it provides inspiration and confidence to lot of PCOS sufferers out there!!
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All information in this blog is for information purposes only. It is by no means a replacement for formal consultation with your doctor or MP.Options discussed here are not meant to cure any disease as such. It is merely just a journey of a PCOS individual just like you.:)
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PCOS Research Papers

Preparing for your TTC journey: - Some simple steps that can be followed to increase your chance of conception.
PCOS and Indian Women - PCOS affects nearly 35% of Indian women indicating the ethnicity as a factor in PCOS
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PCOS Alternate Remedies

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PCOS Conventional Treatments

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