PCOS : Polycystic Ovarian syndrome

PCOS or Polycystic Ovarian syndrome is a female hormonal issue. And hormonal issues are major problem  amongst young females especially in Indian metros. Its 2019 and it’s time we should talk about these issues openly, without feeling any embarrassment or any awkwardness. These issues need to be spoken about. As a male, I may not have the 1st hand account of what  it’s like having female issues, but what I do know as a Health , Nutrition & Wellness Coach and it’s my duty to spread the right knowledge, most specifically the correct science behind the health issues. Because this is the kind of area, where the right knowledge of nutrition & fitness will really help females to improve the condition.

Now before we move forward to discuss about PCOS & the fitness aspect of it, let me explain to you, if you are a female either suffering from this condition, or you think someone is suffering from this condition, let me tell you, 1st thing you got to know that there is no well-defined cause for this condition, nobody knows why this really happens, it’s a hormonal issue. And it’s completely normal. Today, with the kind of environment we are in, 1 in 5 girl today have this issue and there is nothing wrong in it. But your job now is to educate yourself about this condition and educate yourself about the solution. 

So let’s understand the science of it. Wikipedia defines PCOS as “A set of symptoms that take place due to elevated androgen, which is a male hormone within a woman’s body”. That means, there is  something going wrong with your hormone if you are a female. Now here what happens in a normal circumstances. This is how your body works. Every woman got ovaries, and those ovaries produce eggs every month. Any internal function that happens inside your body happens due to change in the hormonal level. Certain Hormone actually induce the formation of an egg and here what happen.  There is a gland called pituitary gland in your brain, So the pituitary gland releases a hormone called Luteinizing Hormone (LH) into your bloodstream. Every month there is a sudden spike in the LH level, and high level of LH causes the ovary to release one egg. So the egg is get released and then go and settle in the fallopian tube, which is part of the female reproductive system.  During this stage, if a sperm comes and fertilises that egg, that egg develop into a fetus with the help of the sperm. But if the egg is left unfertilised its then excreted by the body in the form of period. Thats what happen in the normal situation.

But when someone suffers from PCOS, your hormones are all over the place, and here what happens . If a women suffering from PCOS, the level of LH is constantly in high, there is no chance for a spike in the LH level. Because there is no spike, no egg is released from the ovary. These unusually high level of LH sometimes accompanied by high levels of insulin and this is where your hormonal system is totally out of place. And as your hormones are all over the place, this is also accompanied by release of androgen, or male hormones inside the female body. This is what gives rise to the symptoms of PCOS. Now PCOS stands for Polycystic Ovary syndrome. Poly means Multiple, cysts are these little bags of fluids that form in the ovaries as a result of this hormonal imbalance and ovarian syndrome is something that happens inside the ovaries. 

The PCOS has a lots of symptoms which are primarily caused due to this hormonal imbalance. The 1st is a super low metabolism, so it become difficult to lose weight and it become easy to put on weight easily . That’s a major problem and the 2nd is because of the elevated androgen level there is a lot of things that happen to the body in terms of lot of changes . The 1st of which is irregular periods, sometime don’t get the periods months at a stretch , some time the periods last for 10 days with lot of heavy flow, sometime, girls have facial hairs, a bit of body hair , a lot of time girls get acne,  usually one side of the face represent the affected ovary. Lot of mood swings, lot of weight gain. But all these are immediate short term effects. If PCOS is not treated early on, the long term effect include infertility which is a major concern in the 21st century. And that’s why PCOS is such a big deal. That’s why it has to be taken care of immediately. As mentioned earlier, there is no fix reason for it to affect someone. It’s usually a genetic disorder. If it runs in the family, one might get it at some point but doctors and medical experts believe that usually it results because of a poor lifestyle and lack of exercise and lack of a good diet. 

Now the cause of PCOS isn’t your concern. Here what your concern should be. Let’s move away from all the hormonal thing and all the science for a moment and let’s talk about history,  Human History. Human beings are the ultimate predators on this planet. We have just evolved from Monkeys with the highest kind of primate on this planet. We overtaken bears, lions, bulls & tigers to become the ultimate predators of this world. We all have read about  the food chain in school. Human beings are top of every single food chain of this world. Because with the most evolved predator on this planet, our bodies are like machines, they used to do physical activities like running behind the animals, throwing spears and hunting. That’s what our bodies are built to do. Our bodies are built to exert themselves and after exerting they are made for the right kind of food. That right kind of food is the right fuel that we are supposed to put inside our body. Now for the longest time that’s what was happening. Human diet were so clean, and the lifestyle was good. But in last 100 years or so, our lifestyle has changed. The world has become more modern, we started using machines. Forget the last 100 years, last 20 to 30 years , our lifestyle has changed for the worse. And that’s why things like PCOS & chronic obesity are on rise in such a horrible way and our lifestyle has been affected so badly. 

We have two major enemies in our society right now . The 1st “ SUGAR” and all the processed food.  We all know about sugar, the main cause of obesity today, and we do recognise it. However we refuse to get out from its influence. So I need to emphasise on that more here. Lot of girls says things like, yeah, you know, I can give up any kind of food, but I can not give up sweet, my dessert, my chocolate, my icecream. I need them to be happy. Let me tell you very bluntly,  All those are in your head. Sugar is an addictive substance and that’s ruining your body. If you could pick one food that’s the absolute worse for your body, its SUGAR. Its making you gain weight, and that weight gain is potentially causing all these hormonal issues inside your body. 

Again, there is no fix reason for PCOS, but it’s linked to having your dirty diet. That’s what even the doctors agree on. You go to the doctor, and you will be told these two things for sure. The moment you tell the doctor you got PCOS, either they will tell you to take some kind of medicine or he will tell you to fix your lifestyle. Tell you to start exercising & eating clean. And if you are talking about eating clean, remember, rule no. one, you give up sugar completely. and rule no. two, give up those processed foods and you just need focus on eating clean.  Take your protein intake right, your carb intake right, get lot of vegetable on your plate and eat some healthy fat . You need to completely avoid sugar and avoid anything that comes out from a packet, anything that is made in factory. Those stuffs are not meant to be within your system. Remember PCOS is a condition, your body is kind of signalling, Hey, you know what, something is wrong with this machine ( your body) , and you need to change that. You need to take that signal and act on it. You are doing something wrong, you are putting wrong fuel inside your machine ( body).

The 2nd enemy in the society today is , we are not exerting your body enough. Remember, our body is built to climb trees, hunt animals, and run super long distances. Our bodies are used to exerting themselves. But in the 21st century, especially in Indian society, no importance is given to exercise. And by exercise I don’t mean just walking around, I mean exerting your body in real sense, pushing your body to the limit where it really get tired after sweating , and you feel your muscle grow in terms of strength. It means really pushing yourself. That’s what our body is built to do. And in the 21st century, that’s what we are not doing. This lack of active lifestyle  and the bad diet are combining and causing all these hormonal imbalances and wrong happenings inside the body. 

coming to the medicines for PCOS, which I am not in favour as any such medicines have huge side effects. Any health issue due to food, I strongly feel can be fixed by eating the right kind of food. Your food can be your medicine. Hope you must have read the famous quote by Hippocrates, the great physician & an outstanding personality in the field of medicine “ Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food”

And that’s what you got to fix as a women, as a human. So if you are a female and suffering from PCOS, and you are looking for a solution, that’s it. It’s about following a clean diet and  having an active lifestyle. And talking about diet, nothing can come as clean diet as an LCHF way of eating. LCHF as I keep mentioning is not a diet rather is a way of eating lifestyle. The most clean way of eating as our ancestors were eating. It not only helps you to lose weight, it will help you in this case as well. And once your body get low carb adapted within 4 to 6 weeks, modulate your carb intake and give ketogenic diet a try, bringing carb intake to 20 – 25gm. per day range, and increasing your green veggie, clean dietary fat intake, keeping the protein in moderate range. LCHF can be practised by both vegetarian as well as non-vegetarian. As you have understood by now, LCHF way of clean eating philosophy is not based on food you eat, rather based on the nutritional value of it. Just use your all knowledge to 1st find out the nutritional values in term of the three macro nutrients ( carb, protein & fat) and plan your meal. chose your source of macro based on your lifestyle , your faith. For example, if you are a strict vegetarian, complete your protein macro by eating more of paneer, soyabean, protein rich vegetables, legumes & pulses in moderation, and do supplement your food with one or two scoop of whey protein. If you are an eggetarian, 50% of your problem is solved. Fat, what better source than Ghee & coconut oil can you have.  so think wisely and plan your meal. 

Now when we are talking about the exercise side of thing, one thing you got to know, I repeat once again, you need to exert yourself. so whether you are choosing yoga or zumba or (bollywood) dance or  weight training which is your ultimate form of exercise , as a human being it’s upto you. The only thing you need to make sure, you exert yourself. That’s all. If you want to find the best kind of exercises for PCOS or weight loss in general, you can find plenty in youtube. Hope you have gone through my last Newsletter on GYM Motivation.

Finally before I conclude this topic, two very important thing for all you women there, suffering from PCOS needs to know, 1st as I mentioned earlier, the whole condition you are in is not your fault. Especially all we indians, we need to understand that, Indian society is lagging behind from rest of the world in terms of fitness education. There is a lack of correct fitness ideas and concepts in our society . Even the kind of food we eat at home , “The Ghar ka Khana “  isn’t proper,  is very focussed on the carbohydrate. And deserts are laden with way too much sugar & are too calorie heavy, which it should not be. We have wrong ideas about the balanced food everywhere. So this condition you are facing is the result of the society that you live in. It’s not something that you have done wrong. 

So the very 1st step, start educating yourself. The 2nd thing you need to understand, and this is very crucial. Anything that is going wrong with your body, isn’t something you should be disheartened by, its something you should be learning from, its just the signal from your body , It’s your body telling you that you are doing something wrong & you got to look at this whole situation positively. That’s what I feel, anything that goes with your body, it’s just a wake up call, and it’s going to be your biggest teacher. If you are able to overcome this challenge that life is throwing at you, you are going to come out as a stronger individual. Look at it that way. And 1st step as usual is correctly educating yourself , especially in terms of nutrition , your diet & fitness. 

Hope this will help all you ladies and men as well, to not only for PCOS but health in general. because the basic philosophy of good health is eat clean & exert.

Reference : various sources including the book “ Ovarian Cyst Miracle”  by Carol Foster 2015-2016.