PCOS & Nutrition – Diet & Foods To Eat/Avoid

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Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) is one of the most common endocrine disorders. It is only diagnosed in people with ovaries, most often women during their reproductive years. PCOS can cause a variety of symptoms due to hormonal imbalance, insulin resistance, inflammation, and metabolic problems. 

There is no cure for PCOS, but research has indicated that certain changes in diet and lifestyle can help people control the condition. If you have PCOS, your doctor will probably recommend that you create a personalized PCOS diet plan as a first line treatment. 

Ovarian cysts can cause a variety of symptoms and health problems, but the effects of PCOS are often felt throughout the body.

One of the key areas of PCOS treatment involves healthy diet, nutrition, weight control and exercise. These also play an important role in managing PCOS (Polycystic Ovary Syndrome). Since young women with PCOS  have higher levels of insulin in their blood, and they also have trouble maintaining a healthy weight, therefore weight management and diet plays an important role.

You must know which type of foods you must eat as well as which foods to include in your diet and which to avoid, in order to maintain a healthy weight. Doing this effectively can help you reduce PCOS symptoms to a large extent.

Although PCOS is usually diagnosed by specialists in reproductive health, other parts of the body (including the mind) are also affected by the condition. If you have PCOS, you may need to work with more than one type of health professional to control your symptoms.

The doctor can start by talking with you about how your current health condition is affecting (or being affected by) PCOS. A common example is weight.

Maintaining a healthy weight can be a challenge if you have PCOS. Almost half of the people with this condition are overweight or obese

Before going further let’s have a recap on what is PCOS and its symptoms.

What is PCOS?

Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a common condition in teenage and adult women. PCOS occurs when there is a hormonal imbalance. In addition to estrogen (the main female hormone), women also produce a small amount of testosterone (the main male hormone). Teenage girls and women with PCOS produce some additional testosterone. The body doesn’t go through regular ovulation, so the eggs that are not properly released each month often swell and cluster around the ovaries, forming cysts.

PCOS is also one of the most common causes of female infertility. Many women discover they have PCOS when they’re trying to get pregnant and are unsuccessful. Women with PCOS often fail to ovulate or ovulate infrequently, which means they have irregular or absent periods and find it difficult to get pregnant. 

PCOS affects approximately 10% of American women and often their fertility, but its symptoms vary widely from one patient to another: the disease can manifest itself very mildly, such as being very debilitating. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the doctors suspect that it’s more like 25 percent, as many cases go undiagnosed or dismissed.

Common symptoms include:

  • acne
  • hirsutism (excessive hairiness) – usually on the face, chest, back or buttocks
  • male pattern baldness
  • irregular periods or no periods at all
  • difficulty getting pregnant   
  • weight gain
  • thinning hair and hair loss from the head  

Why losing weight with PCOS is so difficult

Maintaining a balanced diet and therefore a healthy weight can be key in managing PCOS symptoms, by improving the way the body processes glucose, and potentially improving fertility, according to experts. Research has shown several important connections between PCOS and certain metabolic functions. PCOS is mainly related to hormonal alteration, specifically high levels of androgens such as testosterone. But hormones have other roles in the body besides reproduction. They also help regulate insulin levels.

Alterations in the production and regulation of insulin cause almost half of the people diagnosed with PCOS to become diabetic or prediabetic for middle age.

In a six-month trial, people with PCOS who consumed a high-protein diet (more than 40 percent protein and 30 percent fat) lost more weight and body fat than those who followed a standard protein (less than 15 percent protein, 30 percent fat).

No type of diet-restricted calories, which led researchers to speculate that because diets high in protein tend to be more abundant. Those who ate more protein ate less overall, which led to greater weight loss.

Eating foods with low GI can also be beneficial if you have PCOS, especially if you are overweight or have high levels of insulin. Foods with low GI tend to be high in fiber. When eaten in moderation, these foods do not increase glucose and insulin levels.

Studies have shown that even moderate weight loss in people with PCOS can improve symptoms and reduce the risk of other health problems. Unfortunately, it is common for people with PCOS to have difficulty losing weight.

The benefits of rethinking how you eat go beyond weight loss if you have PCOS. Changing your diet can also help restore hormonal balance, regulate the menstrual cycle and reduce the risk of chronic diseases.

Researchers and doctors are not sure what causes PCOS, but it is believed that inflammation plays a key role. Many people with PCOS consider that following an anti-inflammatory diet is useful for controlling their symptoms.

Another option is the DASH diet, which reduces salt intake and focuses on heart-healthy foods. It is a popular eating plan to reduce the risk of heart disease, another concern for people with PCOS, especially if the condition makes it difficult for them to maintain a healthy weight.

A 2015 study published in the Journal of Hormone and Metabolic Research found that overweight patients with PCOS who followed the DASH diet lost more abdominal fat and showed significant improvements in insulin resistance and inflammatory markers compared to patients who followed a standard diet.

In a study published in the North American Journal of Medical Sciences, people with PCOS who followed an anti-inflammatory diet for three months lost 7% of their body weight and showed significant improvements in cholesterol, blood pressure, and inflammatory markers.

There also seemed to be benefits for reproductive health: 63% of the patients in the study recovered menstrual cyclicity and 12% conceived while following the diet.

How does PCOS diet works

The typical symptoms of PCOS, such as abnormal hair growth, acne, problems getting pregnant and weight gain are influenced by hormones, in particular, testosterone. If these hormonal imbalances are not treated, you can increase the risk of type 2 diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure and certain types of cancer.

Changing the way you eat has been shown to help relieve PCOS symptoms and may reduce the risk of these health problems, especially those related to insulin.

PCOS can influence (and is influenced by) the amount of insulin your body produces, as well as the amount it weighs, two factors that you can change by changing the way you eat.

Many people looking to control their insulin levels begin by choosing foods with a low glycemic index (GI) and observing their carbohydrate intake. Depending on your other needs, such as weight control, you can also choose to adjust your fat and protein intake.

Both obesity and PCOS are related to inflammation. Sometimes, the relationship can feel like an endless loop: obesity is related to inflammation, PCOS symptoms can be made worse by inflammation and people with PCOS are more likely to be overweight or obese.

Research has shown that dietary changes that support a healthy weight and reduce inflammation can disrupt this cycle. The general recommendations for a PCOS diet focus on foods with low GI and anti-inflammatory properties. Modified amounts of protein, fat and carbohydrates can help with weight control. Research has also indicated that dietary changes may have psychological benefits for people with PCOS.

You may want to work with a registered dietitian nutritionist (RDN) who specializes in PCOS to design a meal plan that works best for you.

One of the main causes of infertility in women is polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). It affects women of all age groups, but especially women of childbearing age.

In women with PCOS, there is usually an intrinsic insulin resistance, which increases the risk of diabetes and heart disease and contributes to infertility.

Methods to cure this disease include drug therapies and even surgical intervention, which often do not solve the problem definitively.

This is the reason why some women choose to treat their condition naturally, modifying their diet and acquiring habits that alleviate the symptoms, resulting in getting relief for their discomfort.

If we add the appropriate vitamins and minerals to a proper diet for PCOS, insulin levels will begin to normalize and practically all the unpleasant symptoms that come with this disease will disappear.

There is no definitive cure for PCOS and, although it is more common in people of reproductive age, symptoms and health effects may persist after menopause.

pcos-diet-foods-to-avoid
pcos-diet-foods-to-eat

Guidelines for healthy eating

1.- Organic fresh fruits and vegetables are the best choices. These foods have no inorganic chemicals in them, they are a rich source of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants that your body needs to maintain cellular health.

2.- Eat cereals, pasta, brown rice and oatmeal, make sure to avoid their over intake. Your blood sugar indicators should be kept at a healthy level and whole grains are great to keep them at bay.

Refined carbohydrates such as white rice, pasta and other foods made with enriched flour should be avoided. 

3.- Generally, proteins do not raise insulin levels such as carbohydrates and provide a feeling of satiety, stabilizing blood sugar levels.

Protein foods come mostly from animal sources, although we can find proteins that come from plants, such as legumes, nuts, and soy.

4.- Green leafy vegetables are full of nutrients. They contain iron, potassium, calcium, magnesium, and vitamins, such as vitamins B, K, C and E.

B vitamins are important for the management of symptoms associated with polycystic ovary syndrome. In addition, it is important to know that vitamin B has an important role in the metabolism of sugars and fats, maintaining hormonal balance and ensuring the optimal functioning of the thyroid.

5.- Olive oil and salmon are a natural source of Omega-3 fatty acids.

6.- Maintain a healthy weight. By maintaining a healthy weight you will help regulate blood pressure and cholesterol levels.

If you find it difficult to avoid sweets, consume them in moderation. Refined sugars, such as sugary juices, sweets and industrial pastries can cause an increase in insulin levels. Avoid drinks that have high sugar content.

Avoid snacks such as breadsticks and cookies that are high in white flour, lots of refined sugar and starches that can make your insulin levels rise.

Foods to incorporate into your diet to overcome Polycystic Ovary Syndrome

As you can see, food plays a fundamental role in your health and can help you find yourself much better. As you know, PCOS is not cured, but it can be controlled if you manage to balance your hormone and insulin levels with good nutrition, frequent exercise, and an effective diet.

Three diets that may help people with PCOS manage their symptoms are:

A low glycemic index (GI) diet: Ingestion of food causes blood sugar to rise. Insulin is the hormone that is secreted by the pancreas immediately after the ingestion of carbohydrates. This allows glucose to be used by cells and to prevent sugar from remaining too much in the blood.

An anti-inflammatory diet: Anti-inflammatory foods, such as berries, fatty fish, leafy greens, and extra virgin olive oil, may reduce inflammation-related symptoms, such as fatigue. Chronic inflammation is considered a risk factor for diabetes and cardiovascular disease. It is also associated with certain cancers, the risk of dementia and more generally increased mortality in the elderly.

The DASH diet: The Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet reduces high blood pressure by decreasing the amount of sodium in your diet to 2300 milligrams per day. Lowering sodium to 1500 mg a day further reduces blood pressure. It also includes a variety of nutrient-rich foods that help some people lower blood pressure, such as potassium, calcium, and magnesium.

1.- Carbohydrates:

  • Wholemeal flours (Oatmeal, rye, spelt)
  • Wheat pasta
  • Integral rice
  • Legumes, quinoa.
  • Oatmeal flakes, muesli (without sugar)

2.- Fats:

  • Olive, Sunflower, coconut (natural).
  • Nuts.
  • Flaxseed, pumpkin seeds.
  • Avocados
  • Butter.

3.- Vegetables:

  • Broccoli.
  • Spinach.
  • Zucchini
  • Green beans.

Lean protein

Eating more lean protein helps you keep fuller for longer and can also assist you in  weight loss 

PCOS diet – Foods with high lean protein 

  • beans
  • peas
  • tofu
  • tempeh
  • Fish (salmon, shrimp, tuna, cod)
  • poultry 

Antioxidant-heavy foods

PCOS diet – Foods with high Antioxidants  

  • Whole Grains 
    • whole oats, 
    • whole wheat 
    • quinoa 
    • brown rice
  • Unsaturated fats 
    • nuts like pecans
    •  nut butters 
    • olive oil
    • avocado
  • Fruits 
    • strawberries
    • blueberries
    • raspberries 
  • Vegetables 
    • spinach, 
    • artichokes 
    • kale

Organic whole soy Foods 

PCOS diet – Foods with Organic whole soy

  • Miso
  • Edamame
  • Tempeh

Foods to avoid in your diet 

There are foods which you need to avoid in order to alleviate PCOS symptoms. Such foods can result in spike in your blood sugar levels and may cause excessive weight gain and inflammation.

  • Processed foods especially if they contain sugar and preservatives.
  • Potatoes.
  • Pumpkin.
  • Cooked carrot.
  • Packaged juices
  • White sugar, sweeteners, glucose syrup.

Avoid these carbohydrates in a PCOS diet  

  • White bread
  • Pizza dough
  • Regular pasta
  • White rice

Avoid these Sugary beverages in a PCOS diet   

  • Soda
  • Fruit juice
  • Bottled smoothies
  • Cold-pressed juices

Avoid these processed foods in a PCOS diet 

  • Cakes, candy, cookies, and other sweets
  • Sweetened cereals
  • Yogurts with added sugar
  • Ice cream with excess added sugar or sugar substitutes

Avoid these foods with trans & saturated fat in a PCOS diet  

  • Saturated fats (red and processed meats like fast food hamburgers)
  • Trans fats (doughnuts, French fries, frozen pizza)

Avoid these dairy food items in a PCOS diet   

  • Artificial or processed cheeses
  • Yogurts 
  • Ice creams with added sugar

Avoid these alcoholic items in a PCOS diet   

  • Cocktails made with sugary mixers like juice or bottled mixers
  • Canned cocktails

Do not forget to exercise! Good nutrition is important, but it is not enough. You also need to exercise regularly. Increasing exercise or increasing physical activity will help you control your PCOS.

Changing your eating habits will improve your health by not introducing any harmful chemicals into your body, even avoiding excess hormones from meat.

Consult the Assisted Reproduction specialists of the Eden Fertility Centers if you have more questions. Ask for a free appointment to solve your infertility problem.

Pcos Specialist Newport Beach CA

Eden Fertility clinic provides full support to accommodate women who want to treat their , we are fully dedicated to providing comprehensive healthcare specifically tailored specifically for women with PCOS and fertility problems. Know more about our fertility services and fertility treatments here.

All under one roof

Advanced testing: We identify your specific variation of PCOS as well as the contributing factors

Fertility enhancement: We will guide you towards natural fertility so that you have maximum chances to conceive in a natural way. You can have natural pregnancy and give birth to healthy baby with our treatments. In case you want to opt for advanced fertility treatments, we will help you increase the chances of success and having a healthy baby.

Aesthetics: Since PCOS symptoms impact your physical appearance. We can consult you with wide variety of effective acne treatments.

Nutritional counseling: Our experts will teach you how to heal your cells with nutrition and introduce life changing benefits of fasting and having a healthy balanced diet

Mind-body health: Women with PCOS are prone to anxiety and depression. We teach you how to use guided imagery, aromatherapy, essential oils, light therapy, and supplements to improve mental health. We have on-site massage and acupuncture and partner with highly-skilled therapists.

Conventional treatments: We use the safest, and most natural treatments first, depending upon the condition and severity of PCOS. In case natural treatments aren’t enough, we can go with the full range of cutting edge and advanced medical procedures and therapies.

Sources:

  • H. Farschi, et al. ” Diet and Nutrition in Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS): Pointers for Nutritional Management .” Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, 2009
  • Moran, Lisa J., et al. “ Dietary Composition in the Treatment of Polycystic Ovary Syndrome: A Systematic Review to Inform Evidence-Based Guidelines †.” Human Reproduction Update, vol. 19, no. 5, 31 May 2013, pp. 432-432
  • Gambineri, A, et al. “ Obesity and the Polycystic Ovary Syndrome .” International Journal of Obesity, vol. 26, no. 7, 25 June 2002, pp. 883–896
  • Sørensen LB, Søe M, Halkier KH, Stigsby B, Astrup A. Effects of increased dietary protein-to-carbohydrate ratios in women with polycystic ovary syndrome. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 2011; 95 (1): 39-48.
  • Riley JK, Jungheim ES. Is there a role for diet in ameliorating the reproductive sequelae associated with chronic low-grade inflammation in polycystic ovary syndrome and obesity? Fertility and Sterility. 2016; 106 (3): 520-527.
  • Moran, LJ, et al. “ The Contribution of Diet, Physical Activity and Sedentary Behavior to Body Mass Index in Women with and without Polycystic Ovary Syndrome .” Human Reproduction, vol. 28, no. 8, June 15, 2013.

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