Dr Anjali Mukerjee talks about Polycystic ovarian disease (PCOD) and how weight loss can help coping with the hormonal imbalances in women suffering from the disorder.
Polycystic ovarian disease (PCOD) is on the rise, and more and more young girls are being diagnosed with multiple small cysts in the ovaries, making it a common cause of infertility. However, it has not been clearly understood as to what causes PCOD. But when there is no ovulation for many cycles, multiple cysts develop on the ovaries.
Anovulation (no ovulation) can occur due to many reasons — stress, obesity, wrong eating habits, eating junk, too much exercise, and inadequate sleep. Those with PCOD usually have irregular periods and have to take hormonal tablets to induce a period. They may also have facial hair and a high level of androgens (male hormones).
Polycystic ovaries are not particularly troublesome and, in many cases, they do not affect fertility. The real problem starts when the cysts create a hormonal imbalance, leading to a series of other symptoms. Extreme form of PCOD would mean being overweight, scanty or no periods, being prone to acne, grow unusually heavy body hair, and mood swings. Along with this, there may be problems with fertility and often recurrent miscarriages.
As women with PCOD lose weight, hormone levels start to return to normal. Testosterone levels fall, serum insulin levels go down and the symptoms of PCOD diminish, with significant improvements in the growth of excess hair due to weight loss. Over the last few years, research into the nutritional approach to PCOD has revolutionised the treatment of this problem.
Vitamin and mineral supplements can help correct PCOD symptoms. With the proper supplements, one’s diet and exercise regimen can help reduce body fat.
Nutrients that help:
Taking B vitamins like B6 is very important if you have PCOD. Vitamins B2, B3, B5 and B6 are particularly useful for controlling weight. Vitamin B5 has shown to help with weight loss because it helps to control fat metabolism. B6 maintains the hormone balance and, together with B2 and B3, is necessary for normal thyroid hormone production.
Take vitamin D3 supplements if your blood levels are low. Vitamin D helps calcium absorption which in turn helps in normal follicular development. The antioxidant vitamins — A, C and E — are important if you suffer with PCOD. Antioxidants neutralise unstable molecules in the body that can damage cells.
Chromium is considered highly beneficial for those who suffer from the condition. It is known to enhance the action of insulin and helps to reverse insulin resistance and reduces and controls triglycerides in the blood. It also supports glucose metabolism and helps reduce hunger and sugar cravings.
Zinc is another mineral which is recommended as it drastically reduces food craving and binge eating. It also functions together with vitamins A and E and helps in the manufacture of thyroid hormone.
Magnesium is a common micro nutrient found to be low in people with insulin resistance especially with PCOD as it is essential for proper glucose utilisation and insulin signalling.
CoQ10, a vitamin-like substance which is a constituent of nearly every cell of the body is essential for producing energy by breaking down the carbohydrates from the food we eat. It is also useful in controlling the blood sugar level. While it is true that a body weight reduction of as little as five per cent can reduce PCOD symptoms, weight loss is not an easy task when your hormones are not in balance. For starters, begin to eat food that is unprocessed and unrefined which will help improve your condition.
Dr Anjali Mukerjee is a nutritionist and the founder of Health Total, a nutrition counselling centre.