How The Keto Diet Can Help You Overcome Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS)
Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) is becoming a very common hormonal disorder that women in India are struggling with.
Did you know that 1 in every five women in the country has this condition? 20% of women in India have PCOS. Isn’t that hard to digest?
Few women have this professionally diagnosed while others potentially ignore it and struggle with the side effects of the same.
When you have PCOS, your body produces more male hormones than what is normal. This causes the body to react differently and ruins regular menstrual cycles.
There are records of doctors treating the signs of PCOS in women as early as in the 1700s. The complexity of the condition has only increased with time.
What are the common symptoms of PCOS?
- Irregular periods (getting less than 8 menstruation cycles in a year)
- Heavy or scanty bleeding
- Excess growth of facial hair
- Spurts of acne and other skin breakouts
- Increased body weight and obesity
- Darkness of skin especially around the neck, underarms, and groin
Why should PCOS be treated as early as possible?
Apart from the above-mentioned conditions, PCOS can largely cause infertility issues in women. If you have plans to get pregnant and only then find out about your PCOS, then it could take years for you to successfully get impregnated and this period involves regular medications, fertility tests, treatments, and general mental trauma.
PCOS can also result in excess body weight that can only complicate the condition further. Women with PCOS are at a higher risk of developing type II diabetes too.
How is the condition usually treated?
Medically, fertility drugs are suggested to patients with PCOS. Birth control pills are also one of the common treatment methods. Some doctors suggest surgeries to improve fertility.
You will have to remember that none of these medical techniques promise 100% results.
All doctors agree that lifestyle changes and changes in your diet are what will make the difference.
Let us come to the causes of PCOS.
Genetics does play a certain role in women inheriting the condition from their parents or grandparents. Genetically inherited PCOS can also be treated with the right lifestyle changes.
Excess body weight
About 40-80% of women who are diagnosed with PCOS seem to be overweight or obese. This makes excess BMI levels a definite cause for the condition.
Studies say that even losing 4-6 kg of body weight can regularize menstruation cycles and control the effects of PCOS. Even if you are not clinically diagnosed with PCOS, if you are facing difficulties getting pregnant, weight loss can help.
PCOS and insulin resistance
About 70% of the cases of PCOS are a result of insulin resistance in the body.
What is insulin resistance?
Insulin is a hormone that your pancreas produces. Insulin converts the sugar and carbohydrates in food into energy for the cells and also stores them for future use.
Insulin resistance is a condition where the body’s cells stop responding to insulin. In people with this condition, there is always excess secretion of insulin in the body. The excess insulin seems to cause damage to the ovaries and encourages the production of excess testosterone (the male hormone).
Now you see directly how insulin resistance causes PCOS.
Given the relationship between insulin resistance and PCOS, the logical treatment for the latter would be to work on your body’s insulin resistance condition.
Here are some reasons why your body may get insulin resistant.
- Excess body weight
- Excess belly fat
- Lack of exercise
- Type II diabetes
A keto diet is one of the best treatment methods for insulin resistance. It is also the easiest diet form to help you lose weight and reverse type II diabetes. These facts have been time and again proven by various clinical trials and research studies.
How does a keto diet cure PCOS?
Early in 2005, eleven women with BMIs greater than 27 and with a clinical diagnosis of PCOS were asked to be on a Low Carbohydrate High Fat (LCHF) diet for 6 months. 5 women out of these were successfully able to complete the course of the diet. Here are the results of the study.
- They had an average reduction of about 22% in their free testosterone levels
- Their body weight had gone down by up to 12%
- Their fasting insulin levels were down by 54%
- Two women managed to get pregnant irrespective of their PCOS condition
In a recent study published in February 2020, 14 women who were overweight and had a diagnosis of PCOS were put on a ketogenic diet for 12 weeks. At the end of the diet, the following results were observed.
- An average reduction in body weight by 9.43 kg
- Average Fat Body Mass (FBM) came down to 8.29 kg
- Raise in High-Density Lipoprotein (HDL) levels (good cholesterol)
- Significant reduction in free testosterone
In this 2013 review analyzing dietary composition in the treatment of PCOS, the result of five studies were put together to create a meta-analysis. Based on the review, here are the conclusions.
- A Low Carbohydrate (LC) diet results in better weight loss than other dietary techniques
- An LC diet resulted in better menstrual regularities and increased Free Androgen Index (FAI) (female hormones)
- An LC diet initiated a decrease in insulin resistance
- An LC diet improved ovulation and led to a better quality of life too
How to kick start a ketogenic diet
A standard ketogenic diet requires you to consume 70-75% of your caloric intake through fats. You are allowed 20-25% of proteins throughout the day and just around 5% of carbs.
If you are on a 2000 calorie diet,
- 1400-1500 calories need to come from the fats you eat
- 400-500 calories from proteins and
- 100 calories from carbohydrates
Choose healthy fats like unprocessed cheese, butter, organic avocadoes, paneer (cottage cheese), fresh animal fat, fishes, eggs, and nuts and seeds as they improve your HDL cholesterol levels and decrease your LDL levels.
Make sure your carbohydrate sources are unprocessed and not refined and choose fiber-rich carbs to help with digestion.
There are so many doctors and nutritionists who specialize in creating keto diets for their patients. Get in touch with them to get better clarity on what to eat. You can also look through reputed keto websites for help.
Get a blood test done to measure your insulin resistance levels, HbA1c, cholesterol levels, and other basics before the start of the diet.
Give the diet 4-8 weeks of time and do the tests again to see the difference.
If you are on fertility medications or medications for PCOS, do talk to your doctor before you pick up the diet. Make sure you exercise at least 2-3 times a week and follow the keto diet diligently.
Your PCOS will definitely be a thing of the past in just a few months of time. Trust the diet, be aware of the changes in your body, and beat this condition like a pro!