What Are The Symptoms Of Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS)

Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) has made a significant  impact on our minds as every 10th woman seems to be affected by this disease and it’s even more heart breaking when someone very dear to you has been diagnosed by it and hence cannot have a baby as PCOS has rendered her infertile.

Never before PCOS had a significant effect on us as it has now and still so much of less attention has been paid to symptoms of PCOS. Symptoms when understood and treated early can reduce the damage by more than 50% in most of the cases.  A lot of young girls are falling prey to this condition and it’s difficult for the parents to think about PCOS (many of them don’t even know what’s PCOS) and they are happy to brush the symptoms aside thinking that’s normal for a growing girl to experience something like this.

PCOS can go undetected for years and many a time a women comes to know that she is suffering from PCOS when she cannot get pregnant. Our body communicates with us in the form of symptoms and it’s only wise to understand those symptoms and act on them to curb the disease.

What is PCOS?

A woman’s health is very critically dependent on how the hormones are functioning. Even small changes in the hormonal levels can attract problems for a perfectly healthy woman. In PCOS such hormonal changes bring about the development of small cysts in the ovaries. Well women can have cysts in the ovaries for a number of reasons, but when it comes to PCOS it is a clutter of some symptoms which bring about the characteristics of PCOS in a woman.

PCOS affects 5% to 10% of woman and girls as young as 11 can also get affected by PCOS. So it only wise to understand the symptoms of PCOS which will help administering medical help early on to tackle the disease effectively.

What Are The Symptoms Of PCOS?

There can be a various signs or symptoms for PCOS of which some occur early and some which occur gradually as the disease progresses.

Symptoms that occur early include

  • Menstrual periods problems – There can be a few or complete absence of menstrual periods
  • Pelvic pain
  • Acne or oily skin, caused due to high androgen levels
  • Extra hair growth (hirsutism) on the face, back, chest, stomach and fingers
  • Depression or mood swings
  • Dark skin patches on the back of your neck and other areas
  • Irregular heavy vaginal bleeding

Symptoms that may occur gradually

  • Weight gain – This happens gradually but is unusual and you add weight centrally, mostly around the hips
  • Hair loss – You may lose hair early but it takes time for you to notice the significant hair loss or thinning of the hair which is almost like male pattern baldness ( I know you are really scared now but stay calm). This happens due to the high androgen levels in your body
  • Infertility – As you may not be ovulating (ovaries releasing an egg) you may not get pregnant
  • Miscarriages –  Some women who may ovulate and get pregnant during PCOS may suffer from miscarriages due to high insulin levels in the body
  • Insulin resistance – In this condition the body cells do not completely respond to the action of insulin, which causes the sugar levels in the blood rise abnormally. Over time, this may put the woman on high risk of type 2 diabetes and gestational diabetes

Your body might experience any of these symptoms at some point of time, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that you are suffering from PCOS. Doctors have to analyse different aspects or the manner in which these symptoms appear to diagnose PCOS in woman.

Many doctors rely on a criteria known as Rotterdam criteria of which the guidelines have been set by The European Society for Human Reproduction and Embryology (ESHRE) and The American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) for diagnosis and management of PCOS.

As per the Rotterdam criteria, to be diagnosed with PCOS a woman must have two of the following three manifestations

  1. Irregular or absent ovulation
  2. Elevated levels of androgenic hormones
  3. Enlarged ovaries containing at least 12 follicles each

There may be other conditions with similar signs like androgen secreting tumors or Cushing’s syndrome  that must be ruled out before diagnosing PCOS. This criteria by no means can be considered as the final definition of diagnosing PCOS, says Dr.Robert Rebar,  MD and executive director of ASRM.

If you or anyone whom you know are going through these symptoms which more often occur simultaneously, you must not waste any time and visit a gynecologist for getting a clear perspective on whether that woman is having PCOS or not. Moreover, these symptoms when occur in teenage girls, should not be taken lightly and one should seek medical assistance at the earliest.

PCOS affects the quality of life of a woman, sexual satisfaction and sense of well-being gets affected. It only wise to understand what are the symptoms of Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) and act accordingly on them.

Photo Credits: SalFalco

Top 10 Heart Healthy Foods

Most of the times you think about heart healthy foods only when you are suffering from a heart condition or for some reason you know for sure that your heart is going to give up some day. When it comes to the health of your heart you are most concerned as you know life can take a major twist in a matter of seconds.

Your heart is a muscle which contracts and relaxes around 70 times a minute (so what?). That’s 100,800 times per day and over 2.76 billion times during an average life span (OMG! Now that’s something). For the heart to keep on beating like that it’s a no brainer that it should be in a healthy condition, so that you can have an increased lifespan.

We often fail to pay attention as to what is good for the heart and how much care and attention should be given to the heart, until something really bad happens to it.  Only after that we actually start looking for information which will help your heart bounce back to a healthy state. Life would be much easier and enjoyable if we start caring for our heart early on. It’s better late than never. If you have really got conscious of your heart lately, have a look at some heart healthy foods that can provide good maintenance to your heart.

Top 10 Heart Healthy Foods

1. Whole Grains

Whole grains contain lots of fiber which lowers the risk of heart diseases. Whole grains help people stay leaner thus lowering the risk of heart diseases than in people who are obese. People who have a high-fiber diet, have a 40 % lower risk of heart diseases than people who are low on fiber.  High fiber foods help to eliminate LDL (bad cholesterol) which can give rise to atherosclerosis. Foods that are high in fiber include beans, barley, oatmeal, egg-plant and citrus fruits.

2. Fish

Fish, specifically like salmon and tuna contain omega 3 fatty acids which are really beneficial to your health. You know how dreadful the word ‘blood clotting’ sounds, the omega 3’s help in lowering the level of triglycerides in the blood which contributes to blood clotting. Omega 3’s also help in lowering the blood pressure. If you are a vegetarian then don’t worry, have foods like walnuts and flax seeds which also contain omega 3 fatty acids.

3. Garlic

You may be making faces, but there is noting like garlic when it comes to lowering your blood pressure. Garlic also helps protect you against hardening up of the arteries. I know a couple of neighborhood men in their 60’s who have a couple of garlic beans raw after smashing them in the morning and they swear by it.

4. Beetroot Juice

Beetroot juice contain certain dietary fibers which causes the blood vessels to dilate. This dilation of the blood vessel helps to lower your blood pressure (if you are suffering from a high one). Drink at least 500 ml of beetroot juice that can significantly lower your blood pressure within a few hours after ingestion.

5. Green Leafy Vegetables

Green leafy vegetables like spinach, lettuce leaves, fenugreek, etc are very beneficial in lowering the risk of heart diseases. The main reason they are so good is that they are high in dietary fiber and very low on fat and calories. They contain magnesium, potassium, calcium and folic acid which is important for the overall functioning of your heart.

6. Olive Oil

Olive oil is one of the best oils available when it comes to the health of your heart. Using olive oil regularly in cooking helps to lower the LDL (bad cholesterol) in your body.  It also helps in decreasing blood pressure by helping to prevent artery-narrowing plaque formation. Olive oil also contain mono-saturated fats that are good for the heart and contain antioxidant properties. Olive oil helps unwanted blood clots and boost blood flow through the coronary arteries.

7. Tomato

Tomatoes are a great source of vitamin C and vitamin A and also acts as  a blood purifier. Vitamin K present in tomatoes are known to prevent hemorrhages. Tomatoes are high in lycopene which in conjunction with other vitamins and minerals help in preventing diseases of the heart.

8. Apples

Apples are a rich source of antioxidant flavonoid compounds like quercetin, epicatechin, kaempferol which play an important role in preventing LDL which in turn can result in plaque formation in the arteries. Apples are also a rich source of pectin, a soluble fiber which helps in lowering cholesterol.

9. Almonds

Almonds are known to lower the cholesterol levels and the heart diseases. They contain vitamin E, B17 and minerals like magnesium, zinc and mono-saturated fats which prevent cholesterol formation when eaten in moderation.

10. Pomegranates

Pomegranate contains powerful polyphenols and tannins which helps to reduce the buildup of plaque in the arteries and lowers blood pressure. Among other berries pomegranates contain the highest level of antioxidants which does a lot of good for your heart.

Having these heart healthy foods on a regular basis can definitely improve your heart health. It’s never too late to start anything, especially good eating habits for a healthy heart. Embrace these heart healthy foods for a better healthy heart and a better lifestyle.

Why You Should Add Sprouts To Your Diet: Health Benefits & Nutrition

Yeah we all know how healthy sprouts are for our body, big deal ! But I really wonder what keeps us from having them and why it’s not the first preference for food most of the times. I have never hated them but when I came to know how power packed these tiny looking bead like things are, I was really amazed by the health benefits that it has to offer and so will you.

They look nothing great (just my view) compared to many great looking fruits and vegetables but surely have great nutritious content to give many fruits and veggies a run for their money. Sprouts contain 100 times more enzymes than uncooked fruits and vegetables. These enzymes play a vital role in carrying out important body functions and ensures that your body works more efficiently.

When it comes to nutrients, sprouts though small in size, have 10 times more nutritive value that its weight. Sprouts are packed with vitamins like vitamin A, B, C , B1 , B6 and vitamin K. Sprouts are also rich in potassium, magnesium, calcium, phosphorous, iron and the classy omega 3 fatty acids. If you are a non-vegetarian you are doing a crime if you are not adding sprouts to your diet daily. Why? They will give your body the necessary protein intake required per day and that too without adding any fat , cholesterol and calories.

Yeah you knew that, didn’t you? Now let’s see how these nutrients in sprouts can offer health benefits to your body.

Health Benefits From Sprouts

1. Weight  Loss

Are you trying to lose weight and are struggling to find a proper diet.  Add sprouts and see the wonders it does for you. Sprouts like mung beans are the best for a diet loss plan. Mung beans contain proteins are very low on calories. Mung beans also contain fibers due to which complex carbohydrates are formed. This will help you feel fuller for long and help you to avoid extra snacking.

Have a bowl or two of boiled sprouts at night after having some fruits for great results for weight loss (personal experience). Make sure you don’t over boil sprouts as they may lose more than half of the nutrients and don’t drain the water after boiling. Have it like a sprout soup, you can add salt as per your taste. The soup may look ugly but it will taste great, don’t worry. It’s one of the best weight loss foods that you can happily eat.

2. Aids In Digestion

Sprouts are alkaline in nature and they can prevent acidity in the stomach. They have a good fiber content which break down slowly and aid in intestinal contractions which helps in good bowel movement.

3. Healthy Skin

Did I forgot to mention the antioxidant properties of sprouts? I guess I did. Well sprouts contain vitamin E which in an antioxidant that can help from free radicals that can damage your skin. Sprouts help in giving you skin a soft feeling and help in skin rejuvenation. Have sprouts for a healthy skin.

4. Good For Sperms

Consume sprouts regularly for a good quality of sperms. As sprouts contain vitamin E, specifically vitamin E- alpha, this might help men improve their infertility problems or at the best help fertile men from having infertility problems. As mentioned before vitamin E is an antioxidant which will protect cells from the free radicals.

5. Prevents Cancer

Sprouts are alkaline in nature and contain antioxidants which help to maintain a healthy environment for your cells. Sprouts also contain lots of fiber and water which helps to maintain a clean environment in the gut and helps to remove impurities in the colon. The growth of cancer cells in initiated by lack of oxygen, the cancer cells have a less chance of surviving in an alkaline and an oxygen rich environment. Sprouts exactly help in making such kind of environment which won’t promote cancer cells.

6. For A Healthy Heart

Sprouts help in lowering LDL cholesterol levels (bad cholesterol) which is mainly responsible for conditions like atherosclerosis. No doubt, patients with a heart condition are advised to consume sprouts daily. Have sprouts daily to avoid your heart getting into such harmful environment.

There are lots of variety of sprouts available, like mung beans, alfalfa, soybean and clover, out of which mung beans are my favorite. Mung beans contain 3 gm of protein and just 30 calories which is lowest among all other bean sprouts. They also contain omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. Mung beans contain a good nutrient mix among all other bean sprouts.

Be careful while selecting sprouted beans directly from the market. If they appear to be discolored or are smelly, then don’t buy them . Most of the times it’s best to buy beans and then sprout them at home, it doesn’t cost anything after all.

Make sure you don’t miss out on your daily dose of sprouts for a healthy body. They come to a great rescue when you are our of vegetables. Just cook sprouts with some spices and enjoy it with some bread. Tell us about your favorite sprout and the way you like to have it in the comments section below. Sprout your way to a better health.