Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) is a complex metabolic condition experienced by many women, myself included. One of the keys to managing PCOS is to follow a low carbohydrate diet that is high in protein. This may be a daunting task, especially for those of us who love pasta, bread, potatoes, and practically any type of sugary dessert there is (and who doesn’t!!). But, the truth of the matter is metabolically our body does not process carbohydrates very well. The “batteries” in the cells of our body (aka: mitochondria: flashback to high school biology…lol) are charged the best with energy made from processing proteins. This does not mean we have to eliminate carbohydrates completely from our diet; but it does mean we need to limit the amount of simple carbohydrates we eat and instead choose more complex carbohydrates with a low glycemic index. We can eat a variety of foods. We just need to put a higher focus on proteins when balancing our meals.
Foods with a low glycemic index are ones that have minimal impact on blood sugar levels. There are many books available and even cell phone applications you can download to help you figure out a certain food’s glycemic index. Foods with a glycemic index of 55 and lower are slower to digest, keep you feeling full longer, and do not spike blood sugar levels. This prevents an increase in insulin levels in our blood stream. Keeping blood sugar levels at an even keel prevents the “roller coaster” effect. For example: You are starving and “hangry” you quickly grab a high carbohydrate sugary and no doubt fabulously tasty food like chips, a candy bar, or drive through French fries. Immediately, your body responds and all those excess simple sugary carbohydrates enter your blood stream: hence a rise in your blood sugar level. Your body responds by producing more insulin to push the sugar out of your blood stream and into the cells of your body. Then, your blood sugar level drops rapidly and you feel hungry and cranky again. This blood sugar up and down “roller coaster” effect can occur all day long. By, eating low carbohydrate (low glycemic index) high protein foods our blood sugar remains at a steady level not requiring an overproduction of insulin. High insulin levels can impact the ovary and the ability to ovulate a healthy egg. By maintaining the blood sugar/insulin level balance, the “hangry” is also kept in check…..lol!
Eating the proper food is just one of the many lifestyle changes women with PCOS must incorporate into their daily routine. Our dietician, Nancy Padilla, can help figure out a feasible diet that will fit with your lifestyle. She meets one on one with our patient’s here at our office and her nutritional consults are completely individualized.
The important thing to remember is although there is no cure for PCOS, lifestyle changes can greatly reduce the impact this condition has on a woman and her fertility.