PCOS is the most frequent hormonal disorder in menstruators. Its symptoms include chronic inflammation, irregular menstrual cycles, increased body hair, and hormonal abnormalities such as excess testosterone (androgens) and insulin resistance.
PCOS and Diet
Back in the day, the elders in our families would constantly press on eating clean. By clean, they meant home-cooked food, for they knew its benefits. Where we went for foods that appealed more to our taste buds, our parents fed us foods that’d keep us healthy in the long run. As PCOS has become a common concern for many of us, the right nutrition and lifestyle can help us manage it well. Let’s understand if our Indian meals can actually put us at an advantage when it comes to managing our PCOS.
The Great Indian Diet and PCOS
The Indian diet is extremely diverse, with various grains, green leafy vegetables, seasonal fruits and varied combinations of recipes, making the absorption of nutrients easier for the body and offering several other benefits. Traditional Indian meals are nutrient-dense. They strengthen our immune system, and help manage body weight and blood sugar levels, all of which reduce the risk of illness. Indian spices and herbs have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory characteristics that aid in the management of PCOS symptoms. Probiotics are abundant in fermented foods such as idli, dosa and curds, which are some of the staples in the Indian diet. They help keep our digestive system healthy. Snacks such as makhana, and roasted chana are among low-calorie and healthy alternatives to packaged namkeens, which are typically rich in preservatives and hardly offer any health benefits. These are what precisely makes the Indian diet great for PCOS. Let us understand broadly the dietary requirements in PCOS:
1. Low GI Foods
Meals with a low GI are digested more slowly by the body, which means they do not cause insulin levels to increase as much or as rapidly as foods with a higher GI. Low GI foods include broccoli, cucumber, peanuts, beans, cherries etc. A well-balanced meal with rice, rajma, and cooked sabzi along with cucumber raita can help you maintain your blood sugar levels.
2. Healthy Fats
Fats are essential for our body to maintain hormonal health as well as restore your skin and hair health. Foods such as avocados, coconuts, olive oil, unsalted nuts, and seeds including walnuts, flaxseeds, pistachios, almonds, sunflower seeds, and pecan nuts are all good sources of healthy fats.
3. Antioxidant-rich diet
Since women with PCOS are more likely to have low-grade inflammation and increased insulin resistance, this leads to increased inflammatory markers in your body causing PCOS symptoms to worsen. A wide variety of vegetables, whole grains, and fruits and a few spices such as turmeric and clove are among the finest anti-inflammatory and antioxidant-rich foods groups.
Our moms would remind us to have green leafy vegetables back in our childhood. Green leafy vegetables are highly effective in keeping your PCOS symptoms under control. The nutritional benefits of spinach, amaranth, french beans, capsicum and broccoli can reduce PCOS symptoms such as irregular periods, sudden change in weight etc. They are rich in antioxidants and help in maintaining blood sugar levels as well as unexplained food cravings which aids in the reversal of insulin resistance and inflammation. Just reminded me of bhindi masala and baingan bharta - two of my most favourite dishes that are great in taste and greater for PCOS!
Pulses are a powerhouse of nutrients, and that's because they're high in protein, fibre, vitamins, and minerals, all of which can help many prevent lifestyle disorders such as PCOS and Type 2 diabetes. Pulses help us maintain good hormonal health and blood sugar levels. Make sure to add different varieties of pulses to your meals. Pulses are low in glycemic index and high in fibre and protein, providing us with all the essential nutrients, keeping us satiated for a long time and preventing sugar cravings. If you want to manage your PCOS symptoms, make sure to add pulses to your day!
6. Nuts and Seeds
Nuts and seeds are high in hormone-healthy nutrients, including fatty acids and Omega-3. This can help in weight management and regulate our hormones. They are high in protein, fibre, antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals, all of which help reduce PCOS symptoms. For example, snacking on dry-roasted and mildly salted nuts whenever we feel hungry instead of oily and processed foods can be a great choice if you have PCOS.
PCOS symptoms can only be managed well if we take care of our lifestyle, diet, physical activity and sleep - all of which are equally important. Diet is essential for maintaining a healthy weight and managing PCOS symptoms. If you or someone you know has PCOS, ensure they follow a nutritionist-recommended food plan that has all the critical nutrients in the right quantity!
Disclaimer: This information is educational and should not be construed as medical advice. Please consult your doctor before making any dietary changes or adding supplements. is a digital clinic for women, offering accessible, personalised, and confidential healthcare solutions. We offer outpatient care, diagnostic services and programs for various health concerns of Indian women across their lifetime - from puberty to pregnancy to menopause.