Khullam Khulla #8: Change in Diet Might Cure PCOS
Reporting back from Khullam Khulla, our candid platform to speak about sex and relationships to bolster advice from Mumbai’s sexpert Dr. Mahinder Watsa.
Question: My sister is 24 years old she is suffering from pcod problem. she is going get marry in next month its a love marriage. she consulted many doctors but thr a no good response. pls help her with this prblm i want my sister to b happy.
Perhaps because cures to PCOD are not well known, Dr. Watsa did not respond to this question. That’s where we come in.
In large part due to our huge taboo on talking about menstruation, not many people know that Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome/Disorder (PCOS/PCOD) is widely prevalent globally. Rough estimates show that at least 1 in 10 women are diagnosed with PCOS, though it could be as high as 1 in 5.
What is PCOS? In lay-woman’s terms, it’s a vicious cycle between your blood’s insulin resistance (ability to control blood sugar), your male androgen hormones, and your progesterone levels (the hormone that regulates your menstrual cycle) that leads to cysts on your ovaries.
The symptoms can range from bloating and missed periods to more disconcerting symptoms like weight gain, increased facial and body hair (thanks to those male androgens), acne, and even an inability to conceive, which is the most stigmatizing aspect in the Indian context. Possibly related symptoms include debilitating pain and increased PMS during periods.
Most well-informed doctors will tell you to get on a daily contraceptive (hormonal) pill. The pill should be an effective short-term solution that will quickly get your hormones back in balance and reverse the negative symptoms you’re experiencing. However, birth control pills cannot cure PCOS and definitely will not increase your fertility. (I’ve also heard stories of less-informed doctors simply telling their patients to “get married and the PCOS will go away.” The absurd state of sexual and reproductive health information in India is a topic for another day, however.)
Emerging research (and personal experience) shows a more effective, longer term treatment. Changes in diet have shown to greatly reduce symptoms, and even cure PCOS patients.
Here’s why: Our modern diet—rife with sugar and carbohydrates (think roti, rice, bread, pasta, even dal)—cause sudden and massive spikes in blood sugar that our bodies are not equipped to handle. In women, this has started to cause a global epidemic of hormonal issues.
“But we have been eating rotis and rice for hundreds of years—this is in no way ‘modern!'”, you may argue. Actually, one of the biggest food movements today—the Paleo diet and lifestyle—harkens back to the days of the hunter-gathers, before agriculture, arguing that grains were never part of the original diet for human beings. And in recent years, our high sugar intake has amplified the issue further.
I was diagnosed with PCOS earlier this year, after missing three periods in a row and feeling constantly bloated. I decided to give Paleo a try. According to Paleo, you cut out all sugars and carbohydrates and replace them with good fats (e.g. butter, ghee, olive and coconut oil) and protein. And so I did.
For a month, I ate sabzi without roti, diverse green salads with olive oil and meats, hearty broths and creamy soups with oils, stir fry, fruit smoothies, dahi—basically everything except for sugar, rotis, rice, and breads. I continued drinking tea and coffee, but I replaced the sugar with honey. Above all, I listened to my body. If I feel bloated, dizzy, or light headed, I knew I had had too many carbs or sugar (even if it was just a few bites).
At first it was difficult. Research shows that we are actually addicted to carbohydrates as if they were drugs and we experience withdrawal symptoms when we stop consuming them. I felt completely drained, sleepy, and unable to concentrate without a bite of bread. But after 1-2 weeks, my body adjusted and I no longer felt bloated or dizzy. I lost weight, and my body felt light and strong. And after precisely four weeks, my period came on time (for the first time in several years). After that, it continued to arrive with precision within 4-5 weeks.
We’re never taught the consequences of our diets on our menstrual experience, but reducing sugar and carbs goes a long way even in addressing pain and pre-menstrual symptoms. As the old adage goes, We are what we eat!
So to answer your question: Do not worry. PCOS does have alternative cures. It’s just up to your sister to explore them. Want to give Paleo a try? Check out lots of Paleo recipes here and let us know how it goes!