Best Diet Plan For PCOS – The PCOS diet plan is not one diet that works for everyone with PCOS. It is a combination of different diets that work for different women. There is no single diet plan that works for everybody. Your body is unique and it functions differently than mine does or anyone else’s does.
Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is typically earmarked by irregular periods or by no menstruation at all.
People with PCOS typically have multiple cysts in their ovaries, caused by an overproduction of hormones called androgens.
According to research from 2019, between 33 and 83 percent of women living with PCOS also have overweight or obesity. Common symptoms include:
- hirsutism (excessive hairiness)
- male pattern baldness
People with PCOS, particularly when symptoms are not managed, may also be at greater risk of:
- heart disease
- endometrial cancer
- high blood pressure
Many people with PCOS find they’re able to manage their symptoms and reduce their risk of other health concerns with changes to their diet and lifestyle.
Food Items To Limit in PCOS Problem
- Don’t have refined carbohydrates: Foods such as white breads, pastries, muffins, and white potatoes exacerbate insulin resistance and cause inflammation which will worsen your PCOS symptoms.
- Don’t have sugary snacks or drinks: Excess sugar is one of the main causes of insulin resistance and should be avoided at all costs. When checking food labels, look for the other names of sugar such as sucrose, dextrose, and high fructose corn syrup.
- Don’t have inflammatory foods: These foods exacerbate PCOS symptoms. Foods such as French fries, margarine, red meat, and other processed meats belong to this group and should be avoided as much as possible.
PCOS Diet Plan: Do’s And Dont’s
- Make sure that proper weight is maintained. If you are overweight, reduce it by doing exercises regularly and having a healthy balanced diet.
- Practice Yoga Asanas and Prananyam regularly.
- Have adequate sleep.
- Maintain a record of your menstrual cycle.
- Do not smoke.
- Do not consume alcohol.
- Do not skip meals or sleep. A disciplined lifestyle is key to better health and freedom from PCOS.
- Avoid Hormonal treatment as far as possible.
Food Items You Can Easily Consume in PCOS
- Do have more of high-fiber foods: They slow down the digestive process and reduce sudden increases in blood sugar levels which helps in combatting insulin resistance. Broccoli, cauliflower, red and green peppers, almonds, sweet potatoes, and pumpkin are great examples of high-fiber foods.
- Do have more of lean proteins: Although they do not have much fiber, lean-protein foods such as chicken, fish, and egg whites keep you feeling full longer and help stabilize your blood sugar.
- Do have more anti-inflammatory foods: Inflammation is part of the underlying mechanism of PCOS and foods with anti-inflammatory properties which include tomatoes, spinach, strawberries, walnuts, almonds, turmeric, and fatty fish such as sardines and salmon help to reduce the symptoms of PCOS
How does diet affect PCOS?
Two of the primary ways that diet affects PCOS are weight management and insulin production and resistance.
However, insulin plays a significant role in PCOS, so managing insulin levels with a PCOS diet is one of the best steps people can take to manage the condition.
Many people with PCOS have insulin resistance. In fact, more than 50 percent of those with PCOS develop diabetes or pre-diabetes before the age of 40. Diabetes is directly related to how the body processes insulin.
Following a diet that meets a person’s nutritional needs, maintains a healthy weight, and promotes good insulin levels can help people with PCOS feel better.
People with PCOS are often found to have higher than normal insulin levels. Insulin is a hormone that’s produced in the pancreas. It helps the cells in the body turn sugar (glucose) into energy.
If you don’t produce enough insulin, your blood sugar levels can rise. This can also happen if you have insulin resistance, meaning you aren’t able to use the insulin you do produce effectively.
If you have insulin resistance, your body may try to pump out high levels of insulin in an effort to keep your blood sugar levels normal. Too-high levels of insulin can cause your ovaries to produce more androgens, like testosterone.
Insulin resistance may also be caused by having a higher body mass index. Insulin resistance can make it harder to lose weight, which is why people with PCOS often experience this issue.
A diet high in refined carbohydrates, like starchy and sugary foods, can make insulin resistance, and therefore weight loss, more difficult to manage.
Foods to eat
Women with PCOS generally see the best outcomes with a low carb, high fat, moderate protein diet. Getting 50% or 60% of calories from whole food sources of fat is a particularly powerful way to drive weight loss and reverse insulin resistance. Assuming adequate protein intake, this leaves room for around 20-30% of energy to come from carbohydrate-containing foods with a low glycemic index (GI). Low GI carbohydrate-containing foods tend to be high in dietary fiber. This is because fiber slows the rate at which blood sugar levels rise. This is one of the main reasons why high-fiber foods are generally considered “good for us”.
Probiotic and prebiotic foods are other key ingredients for maintaining good gut health. Probiotics contain live cultures of “good” gut bacteria. Prebiotic foods, by comparison, provide the nutrients needed for a healthy gut microbiome.
Non-starchy vegetables should form the largest part of a PCOS-friendly meal. Non-starchy vegetables improve gut health and aid in better blood sugar regulation. They also provide many vitamins, minerals, and unique phytonutrients.
Healthy Fat-Rich Foods
- Coconut products
- Nuts and seeds
- Olives and olive oil
- Oily fish (for omega-3 fatty acids)
Healthy Carbohydrate-Rich Foods
- Black/red/wild rice
- Peas and beans
- Root vegetables
- Sweet potato
Healthy Protein-Rich Foods
- Meat and eggs
- Fish and seafood
- Coconut yogurt
- Natto, tempeh, and miso
- Kimchi, sauerkraut and other pickled vegetables
- Fennel bulb
- Snow peas
- Leafy greens, like Romaine lettuce, spinach, and Swiss chard.
- Cruciferous vegetables like bok choy, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, and kale.
- Gourd vegetables like cucumber and zucchini.
- Nightshade vegetables like bell peppers, tomatoes, and eggplant.
Research has found that what people eat has a significant effect on PCOS. That said, there is currently no standard diet for PCOS.
However, there is widespread agreement about which foods are beneficial and seem to help people manage their condition, and which foods to avoid.
Three diets that may help people with PCOS manage their symptoms are:
- A low glycemic index (GI) diet: The body digests foods with a low GI more slowly, meaning they do not cause insulin levels to rise as much or as quickly as other foods, such as some carbohydrates. Foods in a low GI diet include whole grains, legumes, nuts, seeds, fruits, starchy vegetables, and other unprocessed, low-carbohydrate foods.
- 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.
- The DASH diet: Doctors often recommend the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet to reduce the risk or impact of heart disease. It may also help manage PCOS symptoms. A DASH diet is rich in fish, poultry, fruits, vegetables whole grain, and low-fat dairy produce. The diet discourages foods that are high in saturated fat and sugar.
A 2015 study found that obese women who followed a specially-designed DASH diet for 8 weeks saw a reduction in insulin resistance and belly fat compared to those that did not follow the same diet.
A healthful PCOS diet can also include the following foods:
- natural, unprocessed foods
- high-fiber foods
- fatty fish, including salmon, tuna, sardines, and mackerel
- kale, spinach, and other dark, leafy greens
- dark red fruits, such as red grapes, blueberries, blackberries, and cherries
- broccoli and cauliflower
- dried beans, lentils, and other legumes
- healthful fats, such as olive oil, as well as avocados and coconuts
- nuts, including pine nuts, walnuts, almonds, and pistachios
- dark chocolate in moderation
- spices, such as turmeric and cinnamon
Researchers looking at a range of healthful diet plans found the following slight differences. For example:
- Individuals lost more weight with a diet emphasizing mono-unsaturated fats rather than saturated fats. An example of this kind of diet is the anti-inflammatory diet, which encourages people to eat plant-based fats, such as olive and other vegetable oils.
- People who followed a low-carbohydrate or a low-GI diet saw improved insulin metabolism and lower cholesterol levels. People with PCOS who followed a low-GI diet also reported a better quality of life and more regular periods.
In general, studies have found that losing weight helps women with PCOS, regardless of which specific kind of diet they follow.
Foods to avoid
In general, people on a PCOS diet should avoid foods already widely seen as unhealthful. These include:
- Refined carbohydrates, such as mass-produced pastries and white bread.
- Fried foods, such as fast food.
- Sugary beverages, such as sodas and energy drinks.
- Processed meats, such as hot dogs, sausages, and luncheon meats.
- Solid fats, including margarine, shortening, and lard.
- Excess red meat, such as steaks, hamburgers, and pork.
Other lifestyle changes to consider with PCOS
Some lifestyle changes can help improve PCOS symptoms.
These changes include exercise and daily physical movement. When coupled with a limited intake of refined carbohydrates, both can help reduce insulin resistance. Many experts agree that at least 150 minutes per week of exercise is ideal.
Daily activity, low sugar intake, and a low-inflammation diet may also lead to weight loss. People may experience improved ovulation with weight loss.
The symptoms associated with PCOS can cause stress. Stress reduction techniques, which help calm the mind and let you connect with your body, can help. These include yoga and meditation.
In addition, speaking with a therapist or another healthcare professional may be beneficial.