PCOS Diet: What You Need to Know
Polycystic ovarian syndrome, or PCOS, is a hormonal disorder that causes enlarged ovaries and, often, the formation of ovarian cysts. PCOS causes a number of symptoms, which may include acne, excessive hair growth, and irregular or missed periods. Irregular periods can make it difficult for women to become pregnant.
While the symptoms of PCOS are not ideal, many women are able to manage their condition through lifestyle changes, including controlling their diet. Specialists from our fertility clinic, Arizona Associates for Reproductive Health, serving Scottsdale, AZ, Gilbert, AZ, and surrounding areas, offer women valuable information about the ideal PCOS diet. Here we explain how diet can affect PCOS and review what PCOS sufferers should and should not be putting in their body.
How Does Diet Affect PCOS?
There is a lot that is still unknown about PCOS, including the exact cause of the condition. However, one factor that seems to play a role is excess insulin. Women with PCOS are often found to have higher than usual levels of insulin. Insulin is a hormone produced in the pancreas that allows the cells of the body to use sugar as energy.
High levels of insulin can cause the ovaries to produce more androgens, or male hormones. If insulin levels are consistently high it may indicate that the body is insulin resistant, meaning that the insulin produced is not used effectively. Insulin resistance makes it harder to lose weight, and can lead to obesity, pre-diabetes, or type-2 diabetes.
Since women with PCOS already have high levels of insulin, they need to be especially careful about their diet. Certain foods increase the likelihood of insulin resistance.
What Should I Be Eating?
Women with PCOS should strive for a balanced diet that contains fiber, lean proteins, and natural anti-inflammatories.
- High fiber foods - High fiber foods slow down digestion and help combat insulin resistance. Good choices for high fiber food include broccoli, leafy greens, sweet potatoes, beans, and lentils.
- Lean proteins - Lean proteins are ideal for women with PCOS because they are healthy and filling, so they assist in weight management. Lean protein options include chicken, fish, and tofu.
- Anti-inflammatories - Evidence support the idea that chronic low-grade inflammation contributes to PCOS. To combat inflammation naturally women can add foods like tomato, kale, spinach, olive oil, almonds, and berries to their diet.
What Should I Avoid?
It is important for women with PCOS to avoid foods that increase inflammation or exacerbate insulin resistance, which primarily includes refined carbohydrates and sugars. Foods to limit or eliminate from the PCOS diet include:
- White bread
- Pastas made with white flour
- Muffins or pastries
- Sugary desserts
- Juices, sodas, or other beverages high in sucrose or high fructose corn syrup
Contact Arizona Associates for Reproductive Health
PCOS can have a huge impact on female fertility. To get more information about lifestyle changes that assist in the management of PCOS, or to discuss fertility treatment options available at Arizona Associates for Reproductive Health, send us a message online, or call our Scottsdale fertility clinic at (623) 469-3992.