The best PCOS diet: Foods to eat and avoid
Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a disorder that affects 6% to 12% of reproductive-age women in the United States. It creates a hormonal imbalance, mainly an increase in androgen (male hormones), which causes symptoms such as irregular periods, lack of ovulation, acne, thinning hair, increased hair growth on the face and body, and even infertility. Weight gain and insulin resistance are related with the disorder.
Changes in diet and lifestyle can aid in weight management and lower insulin resistance, which may improve other symptoms. But, with so many diet programs available, how can you know which one to follow if you have PCOS?
What is the best diet for PCOS ?
The optimal PCOS diet is determined by the symptoms a person is experiencing. Eating habits that assist to reduce insulin resistance, control blood sugar, reduce the risk of related disorders, and manage weight (if necessary) are ideal.
The greatest diet is one that is long-term sustainable and practical, isn’t restrictive, helps your body feel good, and effectively matches carbohydrate, fat, protein, and fiber meals to maintain stable blood sugar levels throughout the day.
This disorder increases the risk of developing the following conditions, particularly in overweight women:
- Gestational diabetes
- Heart disease
- High blood pressure (hypertension)
- Sleep apnea
Some diet regimens can aid in the prevention of several health disorders as well as the relief of other symptoms. The MD and DASH diets have been demonstrated to help PCOS symptoms. These diets are quite close to the American Dietary Guidelines.
Some PCOS patients may want to try a vegan diet, however “there are too few research to make conclusions concerning a vegan diet and PCOS.” It is, nevertheless, widely acknowledged as a health-promoting food pattern. It might easily be paired with a Mediterranean diet or DASH-style eating pattern, both of which have been shown to offer various health advantages.
For PCOS, experts typically advise avoiding the paleo and keto diets. There is little evidence that either diet is effective for PCOS, and both are difficult to follow.
Strict devotion to one diet plan is not as important as making healthy lifestyle choices regular. Many people with PCOS discover that eating nutritious meals they love and engaging in regular physical activity are sufficient to help them control their PCOS symptoms and feel better overall.
Some dietary recommendations may be more useful for specific ailments (for example, low glycemic index diets help with insulin resistance). You may discover that one diet works best for you, or you may discover that combining advice from multiple diets to build a plan more personalized to your own needs is more beneficial.
Can PCOS be treated by losing weight ?
PCOS does not go away with weight loss for the majority of people. However, for some persons with PCOS, weight gain aggravates their symptoms, which may improve marginally with weight loss.
Some overweight persons with PCOS may notice that their menstrual periods become more regular when they achieve a healthy weight, but subsequently become less regular if they gain weight.
Losing weight is not recommended for those with PCOS who are not overweight. It has no effect on menstrual periods or other symptoms.
The foods that are good for women with PCOS are also good for most people. Eating these foods can aid with insulin balance, easing certain PCOS symptoms such as irregular menstrual periods, and, in some situations, assisting people who want to reduce weight to do so.
1- Nuts and seeds
These are high in protein, healthy fats like omega-3s, and anti-inflammatory compounds. This is beneficial for persons with PCOS since their ovaries frequently generate androgen as a result of a form of low-grade inflammation. This can result in heart and blood vessel issues. Here are some nuts and seeds to try:
- Flax (use pre-ground or grind your own rather than using whole flax seeds)
Nuts and seeds can be eaten on their own as a snack, added to meals as a topping for oatmeal, sprinkled on salads, or blended into smoothies.
2- Lean and plant-based proteins
Proteins can also help you feel full while also boosting healthy muscle growth and lowering blood sugar spikes—but not all proteins are created equal. When it comes to meat-based protein, choose chicken, fish, and other non-red meats more frequently. Lean protein is preferable to fatty meat since it has the same amount of protein while containing less calories. You can also obtain enough protein without consuming meat. Some excellent plant-based proteins are:
When it comes to protein, you may not require as much as you believe. A protein serving is around the size of a deck of cards.
3- Fish that are high in omega-3s
This essential healthy fat can assist with insulin resistance and cholesterol levels in persons with PCOS. Omega-3 fatty acids may be found in a variety of fish, including:
A diet rich in anti-inflammatory foods may aid in weight loss and inflammation reduction in patients with PCOS. The following spices are considered to have anti-inflammatory properties:
5- Healthy fats
Fats are essential for a healthy diet. Many vitamins are fat-soluble, therefore lipids aid in vitamin absorption. They also aid in the prevention or reduction of blood sugar spikes, which are hazardous to patients with PCOS. It is critical to pick healthy fats over saturated or trans fats, such as hydrogenated oils, and to eat them in moderation, especially for PCOS patients who are at risk of heart disease. Look for the following:
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Avocado oil
- Walnut oil
- Flaxseed oil
6- Fruits and vegetables
According to the Harvard School of Public Health, a PCOS diet high in vegetables and fruits can treat or prevent some of the health problems linked with PCOS. They can help to lower blood pressure, lessen the risk of heart disease and stroke, and encourage healthier blood sugar levels. They have a low glycemic index, which helps to reduce blood glucose surges, which can increase appetite. Vegetables that contain a lot of carbohydrate, such potatoes or sweet potatoes, should be avoided. Fruits having a high glycemic index, such as watermelon, should be consumed in moderation. To begin, try the following fruits and vegetables:
3 List of Foods to avoid if you have PCOS
People with PCOS should not feel compelled to eliminate any one food or drink unless they are sensitive, intolerant, or allergic to it.
Rather, patients with PCOS should consider the big picture of their diet and focus on eating a well-balanced diet of healthful foods.
Some foods can have an effect on persons who have PCOS, frequently by increasing insulin levels or causing blood sugar increases. While these items are permissible, they should be consumed in moderation.
1- Processed foods
Foods that have been heavily processed can also contribute to insulin resistance. They frequently include extra sugar and salt and lack the fiber found in raw meals. A full apple, for example, includes fiber and lowers the sugar increase. Applesauce removes a lot of the fiber, allowing the body to absorb the sugar more quickly. Apple juice is further processed, resulting in a rapid sugar increase. Many processed meals in the same way, such as whole grain al dente pasta vs processed canned noodles.
2- Simple carbohydrates/refined sugars
Baked products prepared with simple carbohydrates (such as most cookies, cakes, and pastries), soft drinks, many juices, white bread/rice/pasta, and similar meals have a high glycemic index, which means they are easily absorbed into cells, causing excess insulin to circulate. This produces an increase in blood sugar and contributes to insulin resistance. To reduce sugar fluctuations, doctors recommend eating these items with or near a meal, and mixing them with healthy fats, proteins, and fiber.
3- Saturated and trans fats
People who have PCOS are at a higher risk of developing cardiovascular disease. Saturated fat should be used sparingly, and many health experts advise against consuming trans fats at all. These fats are abundant in processed meals and can make otherwise nutritious foods less healthful. Eggs and vegetables fried in butter, for example, are less healthier than poached eggs and steamed veggies.