First let us understand GI and PCOS. GI stands for Glycemic Index. To simplify the definition, it is the unit for measuring the effects of carbohydrates on blood sugar levels. It is the ranking according to how soon does the carbohydrate release their sugars into the blood stream, and raise the blood glucose levels. Carbohydrates that are quick to release glucose during digestion have a high GI, while those who take time to breakdown and release glucose slowly have a low GI. Each food is given a number that is its glycemic index, the value is from 1 - 100. The lower the GI value the longer will it take for the food to be digested and release blood sugar, making you feel fuller for longer. The higher the GI index, the food will release glucose faster and hence make you full for a short time, in turn making you hungry soon. Now talking about PCOS, it is, Polycystic Ovary Syndrome, which is a common endocrine disorder in women, affecting at least 6 - 10% of women at any stage between puberty and menopause. In this condition, ovulation does not occur, and the symptoms are irregular periods, weight gain, facial hair, etc. PCOS is more of an endocrine problem and not a gynecological one. In some cases, women tend to develop medical complications like Hyperinsulinemia, (excess levels of insulin in the blood). This makes women prone to the risk of type 2 diabetes, and it is even difficult to lose weight. Studies have proved that a low glycemic index diet can help in losing weight and minimizing the symptoms.
Low GI Diet and LOW GI Food
Foods that rank under 55 value in the GI index are considered low glycemic foods. These foods will lead to a much slower and balanced rise in blood sugar. The following are some low GI foods for treating this endocrine disorder. We have segmented the diet in carbohydrates, proteins and fats.
|GI Value for Food|
(55 & below)
(56 - 69)
(70 & above)
We know about two types of carbohydrates, mainly simple and complex. Complex carbs are good in fiber and also slow on digestion. Some of the healthy low GI carbs are whole grain starches like brown rice, whole wheat pasta, noodles, sweet potatoes, whole grain breads, and oat bran. They are very good sources of soluble fiber which decrease the effect of blood glucose levels. You can substitute white rice and potato with couscous, bulgur wheat and brown rice. Like all the vital diets, the low GI diet emphasizes on eating lots of vegetables and fruits. Vegetables are packed with phytochemicals, vitamins and minerals, and have a low GI value. Most of the vegetables like broccoli, carrot, tomato, cauliflower, peppers, lettuce, cabbage, onion, mushrooms,etc., and specially green leafy vegetables, are low in GI. Beans like soy beans, chickpeas, black eyed beans, boiled haricot beans, etc., are also low on GI, and can help in maintaining the blood glucose level. Some fruits are also included in low GI foods, for example apples, apricots, cherries, grape fruit, pear and peaches. If you feel like snacking, you should opt for sourdough muffins, dried fruit, fresh cut vegetables, nuts and seeds, oatmeal cookies, etc., instead of other foods that are high on GI value.
Proteins and Fats
The most recommended protein is the one low in saturated fat. Protein sources like fish, egg whites, whole eggs, turkey, pulses, milk, beans, quorn, lean beef, lean ham, nuts and seeds, and chicken, are some healthy options. Others like milk, cottage cheese, tofu, low fat yogurt, low fat cheese, etc., are recommended proteins in a low GI diet. Fats are also an essential part of our diet. Good fatty acids like omega 3 and polyunsaturated fats are healthy. Use extra virgin olive oil for cooking. For dressing in salads, you may use canola oil, flax oil, hemp seed oil, walnut oil or wheat germ oil. Fats can also be obtained from fish like mackerel, salmon, tuna, sardines, and other oily fish.
Other Important Factors
Some other factors like maintaining the amount of sugar intake and sweeteners is also essential. Even if you are using nutritive sweeteners, some of them contain minerals and vitamins like potassium, calcium, and magnesium, which include raw sugar, maple syrup and honey. Keep a watch on the sweeteners you use in your diet. The good news is that there are many low GI recipes for PCOS that will make this diet easy to follow. Along with a diet, a combination of exercise will give much better results to lose weight. Make sure you follow a healthy lifestyle and exercise regularly.
A complete balance of low GI foods with exercise and other healthy options will be very helpful for women suffering with PCOS. Studies have shown amazing improvement in women following a low GI diet for PCOS. So if there is a healthy and easy solution, why not start today? It's time to change the food palette!