Tuesday, 27 May 2014

The Not-So-Secret Life of PCOS

You might have experienced irregular periods at some point in your life. But have you ever found them extra painful? Were you stressed throughout the cycle? If you aren’t aware of what causes these irregular bouts of periods, then it’s time take a closer look and figure out the reason.

What is Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS)?
Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) is a condition where there is an imbalance in the level of sex hormones in women. This leads to the growth of cysts in the ovaries, which disturbs the entire hormonal axis and in turn aggravates the condition by forming more cysts. PCOS can take a toll on a woman’s menstrual cycle, fertility, cardiac function, and appearance.

What causes them?
As the exact cause of this disease is unknown, it is said that hormonal imbalances and genetics play an important role. And in most cases, the hormones that are impacted are:

  • Increase in androgen levels (male hormone)
  • Decrease in progesterone levels
  • Resistance in the production of insulin (poor sugar control)

Women suffering from PCOS often produce higher-than-normal levels of androgen that can affect the development and release of eggs during ovulation.

It is seen that the symptoms typically start right after the woman begins to menstruate. Due to the disturbance in the hormonal levels, the symptoms of PCOS include:

  • Irregular menstruation 
  • Excessive hair on the face and body 
  • Male pattern of baldness
  • Weight gain/obesity
  • Anovulation
  • Inability to conceive or a higher likelihood for miscarriages
  • Irregular and painful periods
  • High cholesterol and blood pressure

Women with PCOS tend to gain weight and find it difficult to lose that weight. And because it forms a vicious cycle, it is important and significant for them to lose weight, as it helps in bringing the hormonal level under control. Weight loss is so important that even losing 10% of the weight brings down the severity of PCOS.

It is important to remember that the serious nature of these symptoms makes it very important to get treated in a holistic way and at the earliest possible.

Diet and guidelines to control PCOS
If you’re suffering from PCOS, it is vital that you get yourself diagnosed by the doctor at the earliest possible. It is even more important to follow guidelines and maintain a diet to control PCOS.

  • Cut down to simple sugar, as complex sugars bring about a surge in the blood sugar levels, leading to poor control of blood sugar and weight gain 
  • Include complex carbs in your diet such as whole wheat products, barley-natural diuretics, oats, fruits and vegetables, pulses and legumes, and lean meat
  • Regulate your blood sugar and insulin levels by eating certain fruits such as apple, jamun, grapefruit and vegetables such as bitter gourd, fenugreek and herbs (cinnamon
  • Limit yourself to monounsaturated foods (olive oil, almonds and walnut), polyunsaturated fats (vegetable oils), and omega 3 fats (salmon and flaxseeds) as they help correct the lipid profile
  • Drink at least 8 glasses of water in a day. Regular intake of water will help with detoxification, avoid water retention, keeps you hydrated throughout and helps you lost unnecessary fat in the body
    • Exercise regularly as it will help in: 
    • Maintaining your metabolic rate
    • Reducing weight
    • Bringing down stress levels with the release of hormones like serotonin and dopamine. 
  • Quit smoking as it stimulates the androgen hormone production and is the main cause of PCOS
  • Avoid alcohol as it affects the liver and is responsible for the entire body metabolism

Women suffering from PCOS have a good prognosis for conception. All it requires is a little patience, dedication, time, and the will to modify your lifestyle. Along with the regular check-ups with the doctor, it will help in enhancing your fertility naturally. With the proper treatment, PCOS can be managed in the long run and the patient can live a relatively symptom free life.

Wednesday, 14 May 2014

The Healthy Holiday Hogfest

It’s vacation season and during this time of the year we tend to indulge a little more than usual. In fact, holidays are incomplete without gorging on a few delicacies. It’s time to avoid bringing back a few extra pounds and a paunch as your souvenir. Here are some tips to eat healthy without restricting yourself on your vacation.
  1. Always carry healthy snacks such as dry fruits, instead of adding on calories on a bag of potato chips. This will let you enjoy something a little extravagant for dinner/dessert.
  2. Eat a healthy breakfast that constitutes a combination of both protein and complex carbohydrate food. It is strongly recommended that you include more proteins than carbohydrates, as proteins take longer to digest and make you feel full. For a healthy start to the day, break the fast with cereals, milk, eggs, yoghurt, and oats. 
  3. Don’t limit yourself to salads the whole time, but share your meals with someone you’re vacationing with. By doing so, you cut down the amount of fat in the meal, and both of you will be more satisfied. 
  4. Monitor liquid calories and keep an eye on what you’re drinking. Limit yourself to one drink a day and switch from cocktails to wine or light beer. Alternate a high-calorie drink or cocktail with a glass of water throughout the night. In addition, drinking plenty of water helps you stay hydrated and curb your cravings. 
  5. Split and share the desserts amongst the other members of the group. Also, you can indulge in these desserts during lunchtime or carry a dark chocolate that will fortify your dessert. 
While on vacation, eating out and indulging is part of the experience, making it hard for us to strike a balance between going overboard and eating extremely healthy. All you have to do is follow the right guidelines, let go off the restriction, eat healthy, and have tons of fun with family and friends!

Tuesday, 6 May 2014

Ward off the Water Weight

You might have heard people complain about the extra layered fat, irrespective of the number of hours they put to work out. Well, that ‘accumulated fat’ or the ‘muscle-masking mess’ is what is termed as ‘Water Retention’ or ‘Fluid Retention’.

Water Retention, also known as Edema, is an abnormal build up of fluid in the body. Most commonly seen in pregnant women and older adults, in this condition the ankles, feet, and legs get bloated up. Water Retention is broadly categorised into two main causes: General and Pathological.

While General causes involve: gravity, pregnancy, menstrual cycle, burns, and dietary factors, Pathological causes include conditions like heart diseases, kidney failure, and allergic reactions that have been associated with water retention in arms and legs. Such factors of water retention result in the accumulation of fluids in spaces between cells and tissues by changing the process that normally clears the extra fluid. Pregnant women, who are mostly affected by this, undergo a wide variety of changes in the body and the hormonal levels. The different also seasons have a great impact on water retention, especially summers. Summers are when you sweat a lot, don’t consume enough water, and are copped up in air conditioned rooms, all of which can lead to water retention. However, water retention, without any underlying diseases, can be easily treated with home remedies.

You can try these at home:
  • Place a pillow below the legs while lying down. It helps revive the bloodstream from these areas 
  • Limit your intake of salt, as it is quite beneficial 
  • Drink lots of water and cut down on natural dehydrators such as tea and coffee 
  • Exercise regularly and eat a lot of fruits and vegetables. It will supply the required nutrients that improve blood circulation and also prevent water retention. 

Thus, depending on how deeply it is affected, one has to undergo appropriate, prompt diagnosis and treatment of the underlying condition that will resolve the water retention in the body.

After all, it’s better late than never.