There is no cure for Polycystic Ovary Syndrome, commonly known as PCOS. However, research indicates that dietary and lifestyle changes can help you manage the condition. Women suffering from PCOS often have higher than normal insulin levels. If you have symptoms of PCOS, your doctor is most likely to recommend a personalized PCOS diet plan.
A PCOS specific diet plan is a first-line treatment to help with the range of PCOS symptoms and potential complications. These potential complications can be due to hormonal imbalances, inflammation, and insulin resistance.
Here we present how specific diet plans can be your primary PCOS treatment option for fighting against PCOS.
How does PCOS Diet affect Polycystic Ovary Syndrome?
This diet plays an important role in controlling PCOS symptoms. This diet can help you with weight management and insulin production, and resistance.
Women with PCOS often deal with insulin resistance. Meaning the body can make insulin, but it cannot be used effectively. Hence insulin resistance increases your risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
This we see insulin plays a significant role in PCOS. Hence managing insulin levels with this diet is one of the best ways you can manage the condition.
In short, people with PCOS have insulin resistance. According to stats, about 50% of women with PCOS develop diabetes or pre-diabetes conditions. You can develop this condition at the age of 40. Diabetes is directly related to how your body processes insulin.
If you follow a diet that meets your nutritional needs, maintain a healthy weight, and promote good insulin levels – it can help you deal with PCOS better.
PCOS Diet – What Food You Should Eat
A high-fiber diet will offer many benefits to women with PCOS. You should be high in antioxidants which will help you fight to lower inflammation. This will lead to creation of better gut bacteria. Most high-fiber foods contain prebiotics, which will feed the probiotics in your gut. This helps to nourish your gut microbiome.
Examples of high-fiber foods for this diet include:
- Seeds like chia, sunflower seeds, and flax.
- Legumes like lentils, black beans, and chickpeas.
- Berries like raspberries, blueberries, and blackberries.
- Whole grains like brown rice, bulgur, quinoa, and whole oats.
2 Lean Protein
For PCOS patients eating more lean protein is better. As red meat and cured meat is higher in saturated fat. A diet rich in lean meat will help in weight loss, as well as make you feel fuller for longer. When it comes to protein sources, doctors recommend having 2 to 3 servings of fish every week. In addition to chicken that is grilled or baked and plant-based sources of protein.
Examples of foods high in lean protein for this diet include:
- Fish like tuna, salmon, shrimp and cod.
- Lean poultry preferably skinless chicken and turkey.
- Plant protein sources like peas, beans, tofu, tempeh.
3 Antioxidant-rich Food
PCOS women show signs of low-grade inflammation and elevated inflammatory signals that can raise insulin levels in their body. This, in turn, would worsen the PCOS symptoms. The best antioxidant-filled foods include vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and unsaturated fats. And hence should be consciously included in this diet.
Examples of antioxidant-rich foods for a PCOS diet include:
- Fruits like blueberries, strawberries, and raspberries.
- Vegetables like spinach, kale leaves, and artichokes including green vegetables.
- Whole Grains like whole oats, whole wheat, quinoa and brown rice.
- Unsaturated fats like pecans, olive oil, nut butters and avocado.
PCOS Diet Rules
1 No Processed Foods: PCOP patients should avoid processed and refined foods. Food items like white flour, sugar, bread and pasta should be avoided. Instead try eating whole gluten-free grains like brown rice, oatmeal, millet, amaranth and quinoa. Or a gluten-free diet.
2 Increase Fiber: Eat more leafy vegetables that are high in fiber. Because fiber slows down your digestion and hence is effective in combating insulin resistance.
3 No Refined Sugar: If you have PCOP symptoms, avoid food with refined sugar, artificial sweeteners, high-fructose corn-syrup, artificial colors, MSG, trans-fats and high saturated fat.
4 Drink More Water: try drinking two liters of water every day. You can flavour it with fresh citrus, mint, cucumber, or berries.
5 Limit Alcohol: Indulge in alcohol occasionally. One glass of red wine is just fine but after one glass, the benefits are reversed.
6 Less Ingredients: try eating packaged food which has five or less all-natural ingredients. Any product with a long ingredient list is usually considered highly processed.
7 Balance Carbs and Proteins: Always combine a complex carb and a lean protein every meal. For example, you can combine a slice of turkey with half of a banana. Or yogurt with a small piece of cheese.
8 Eat Smaller Meals: Try having a short meal every 3-4 hours to avoid spikes in your blood sugar and keep blood sugar levels under control.
9 Take the Right Foods With You: Pack your own lunch box for work or play. Make sure you carry snacks so you have healthy choices wherever you go out. And do not eat any junk food because you are starving.
Is the Keto Diet Good for PCOS?
Having polycystic ovary syndrome or PCOS can impact different areas of your life. It can impact your weight drastically, and hence a lot of questions come up.
So what is the best way to manage PCOS weight gain via your diet? This is one of the frequently searched queries. Whether the keto diet is a balanced diet to help manage PCOS weight gain and other PCOS symptoms. PCOS is nothing but a health condition caused by an imbalance of few reproductive hormones.
So, how does the keto diet work? The keto diet is an eating schedule that primarily focuses on minimizing your intake of carbs. It also increases your fat intake to get your body to use fat as a form of energy. If you are on a keto diet, you should not take more than 50 grams of carbs a day.
As you may know, carbs convert into glucose or sugar in your body. Insulin is required to take that sugar to your cells in your body for energy.
By limiting your carb intake as in a keto diet, you can help relieve the insulin resistance that occurred due to PCOS. But this would only be for the short term.
However, for long term benefits, losing weight and building lean body mass are the only options.
PCOS Diet and Lifestyle Changes
PCOS is a lifelong condition, but today there are several options to help minimize PCOS symptoms and prevent complications.
Diet, behavioral changes and physical activities can have a big impact in preventing and managing PCOS in the long run.
Try making lifestyle changes and adopting a diet in order to control your PCOS symptoms. You maintain a balanced diet. A healthy weight can be a key factor in managing PCOS symptoms.
This will, in turn, improve the way your body processes glucose and potentially improve fertility. PCOS patients often have chronic low-grade inflammation. And much of that inflammation exists in the gut lining.
By eating a healthy diet, you can overcome your gut issues. A good diet will also help you manage your PCOS symptoms better. There are some food groups you should increase and limit.
PCOS Diet vs Other Diets
Most women with PCOS develop a personalized eating plan. Combinations of some eating plans like weight loss, lowering blood pressure and managing insulin levels may work well for you if you have PCOS.
Research has found that your diet can have a significant effect on PCOS. However, there is no standard diet for PCOS.
You can manage other conditions by restricting your diet. For example, if you have PCOS and high blood pressure, you may benefit from a DASH diet.
Work with your nutritionist or doctor to design a diet plan that’s customized to your individual needs and preferences. Three diets that may help women with PCOS manage their symptoms are:
- A low glycemic index (GI) diet: The human body digests foods with a low GI more slowly. Meaning they do not cause your insulin levels to rise as quickly as other foods like some carbohydrates. A low GI diet includes food like whole grains, legumes, seeds, nuts, fruits, starchy vegetables, and low-carbohydrate foods.
- An anti-inflammatory diet: Anti-inflammatory foods, such as berries, leafy greens, fatty fish, and extra virgin olive oil, can help reduce inflammation-related symptoms. Choose the right anti-inflammatory diet, and you may be able to reduce your risk of PCOS.
- The DASH diet: Doctors often recommend the DASH diet or Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension diet to reduce your risk of having heart diseases. The DASH diet can also help you manage PCOS symptoms. A DASH diet is rich in poultry, fish, fruits, vegetables, whole grain, and low-fat dairy produce. The diet strongly discourages foods that are high in sugar and saturated fat.
It is true that PCOS is typically diagnosed by reproductive health specialists. But other parts of the body are also significantly affected by the condition, especially your mind. If you have PCOS, you will have to be aware and work more with health professionals to manage your symptoms from various angles.
It’s important for you to understand that there is no cure for PCOS. No magical formula will make the symptoms better.
But, by making these diet and lifestyle changes, many patients are able to manage their symptoms, improve their fertility, and lead fulfilled lives.
As far as your diet goes, give some time for the changes to take effect. Keep your mind open and continue to make adjustments to the way you eat – as you tune into how it makes you feel.