Do you really need to diet hard against PCOD?

A diagnosis of PCOD often gives you a frightening picture about your well being and future. If we go by the problems and difficulties being linked to this ailment today, one is bound to be overly concerned. Does this mean that PCOD is a new disease of young girls today, that it is a result of all the ‘liberation’ and the rising independence of women in our societies? The answer is no. PCOD is an ancient disease which has affected genetically susceptible populations for thousands of years. It has no direct causal relationship to obesity or excess caloric intake; these features at most may only be manifestations of the disease process. The only thing that is certain is that it is related to the health of the ovaries. The symptoms and findings in PCOD can be very non-specific indeed and frequently vacillate between the normal and abnormal. Perfectly normal women at times become concerned about their weight, both due to excess and deficiency. Body weight is a biological function, and its variation is an acceptable natural phenomenon throughout our lifetime. We have all experienced inappropriate hair growth from time to time and easily managed by epilating at home. But for every extra hair follicle, for every acne spot and every irregularity of menstrual period, should one rush to the doctor? The hype behind PCOD is rising. Heightened propagation is happening by word of mouth and by ‘online remedies’, adding ready fuel to the fire. A youthful and intensely networked generation has developed, sharing knowledge without barriers, and PCOD has a distinct place in the media glare.

But, let’s take first things first. Our body functions chronologically due to rhythmic hormone secretions in our brain. Any disturbance in this rhythm can upset a variety of body function. Sleep, hunger, thirst, energy, emotions and desire are all under hormone control. So it is important that we perform our biological tasks in sync with time tested schedules and daily routines. The ovaries are such intermediate organs, which secrete several hormones and in turn depend on the integrity of hormones from higher centers in the brain. If we sleep right, eat and drink right and work and behave in an accustomed time tested manner, we can expect the ovaries to behave themselves. Upheavals in this pattern or shifting of the day night regularity once too often will cause the glands to dysfunction. Menstruation can get delayed or breakthrough two times in a month, pimples can appear, fat can accumulate above the hips, both blood pressure and blood sugar can rise, skin can darken behind the neck and in the armpits and to top it all, fine black hair can appear above the corners of the mouth.

But everyone with an overworked schedule running into days and then months does not fall in the PCOD trap. The ovary like most other organs in our body has a reserve capacity, and this comes into play during times of stress. The body systems adapt quickly to the new routine. If the adjustments and fine chemicals refinements within the body play out smoothly, life goes on as usual. The delay in menses is a one off event, never to recur, the pimples vanish almost overnight, puffiness of the body subsides and high blood pressure gets moderated quickly without any medication. The time to visit the doctor is when the symptoms linger on for more than three months. Yet the ovaries may not show the increased number of cysts arranged peripherally like a string of pearls, the ultrasonographer is so keen to detect. Without that we don’t have a diagnosis. Where does that leave you? The phobia lingers on however, that the cysts could appear later. Below each report are the words — ‘repeat ultrasound after one month’ — and the story goes on. And if you remain too enamored in your work to remember this advice, giving time for the cyclical pattern to correct itself, all is well again as the expected menstruation happens. Now you have positive ideas to relate, and you can motivate those friends who are under a cloud of suspicion, to take courage.

In this age of commercialization, consumerism is at the forefront of each new product. To remain competitive, most food products profess to have ingredients matching the best dietary healthy cues. Most brown breads will have the label — prepared from whole wheat, whilst it may be 90% refined flour, caramelized to give the brown color. Refined flour contains less fiber, which is a lot worse than whole wheat flour (atta). So why have bread at all then, why not the good old roti, from atta milled in front of your eyes. Today, the small neighborhood mill-shop has closed down; some are offering packed atta and maida alongside. It may still be cheaper to buy milled fresh atta, but not for too long. Most dietary experts advise against the consumption of dairy products if you have PCOD. They have also been allaying us since the last 20 years to avoid eggs in order to prevent atherosclerosis. Eggs give us the best source of protein, over 40% of which is in the yolk. Today research has shown that, it is not cholesterol, but genetic susceptibility that leads to blocked arteries. Similarly, it is not dietary sugar that leads to diabetes or PCOD, but genetic susceptibility and stress. We need more mind control than food control. And only if your mother and aunts had fewer children than they desired, could there be a genetic link and vulnerability in you. If your family tree is full of cousins and aunts and uncles both maternal and paternal, you are least liable to get PCOD or it’s after effects. Restrict your calories according to your physical requirement. Don’t stop it altogether. Widen the diet base to source these calories from all foods — sweets, dairy, fruits and meats, leaning towards a balanced meal.

The human body can perform outstanding physical feats with adequate training. Our mental capability however is more of a god given feature. The brain conveys and the body obeys. How to train the mind? Yoga and meditation can do it. Once wilful control has been achieved, a robust mind develops. The focus now shifts to the body. Exercise, exercise and exercise! The best advantage from exercise is redistribution of body weight in favor of muscles. It tones up the body, improves endurance, and raises self confidence by alleviating body image. As more and more fats are utilized in the body, the need for insulin reduces. The body manages with lower insulin levels, putting less strain on the pancreas and liver, which can now carry on with routine tasks of digestion and assimilation and all the so called ‘bad’ influences like sugar, cholesterol and triglycerides are kept in check. These methods are therapeutic in nature, and can be extremely successful for weight reduction, whether the ultrasound detects multiple ovarian cysts or not.

It is a battle to be won. Look to those colleagues who have slimmed down recently. Note down exactly how they have done it. Prepare your own plan, schedule it practically, and implement it with dogged resolution.