A PCOS diet can benefit women by controlling the unwanted symptoms of PCOS
Up to 70% of all women with polycystic ovary syndrome, or PCOS, struggle with controlling their weight or are obese. Because PCOS sufferers have higher than normal insulin levels, controlling insulin, a hormone that’s produced in your pancreas, through a PCOS diet can have many benefits. The wrong kind of diet, one high in refined carbohydrates, can make insulin resistance, and therefore weight loss, more difficult to control.
PCOS is typically earmarked by irregular periods or by no menstruation at all, which means ovulation occurs rarely or doesn’t occur at all. Women with PCOS typically have multiple cysts inside their ovaries, caused by an overproduction of male hormones called androgens. Around 50 percent of women with the disorder are overweight and common symptoms include acne, hirsutism (excess hair growth), and male pattern baldness. Women with PCOS, particularly when its symptoms are not controlled, may also be at greater risk for heart disease, endometrial cancer, type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure.
Diet and lifestyle choices help manage PCOS symptoms
Many women with PCOS find they are able to manage their symptoms and reduce their risk of other medical concerns by controlling their diet and lifestyle choices with a PCOS diet. Women who thrive with PCOS know that food is medicine. The right PCOS diet foods in conjunction with a regular exercise routine can heal your most challenging symptoms. And an added bonus is that even a weight loss of just 5-10% of body weight can improve the chance of ovulation by 50%.
The essence of eating to heal with PCOS is to consume food in its most natural state. The less ingredients the better. In addition, learning to distinguish between simple carbohydrates (refined sugars, corn syrup, soda, fruit juice, white bread, etc.) and complex carbohydrates (whole grains, legumes, whole fruit, starchy vegetables, etc.) can help you keep hormone levels in check. Processed and refined foods high in simple carbohydrates are digested quickly by the body and spike blood glucose levels, wreaking havoc with hormone levels. On the other hand, complex carbohydrates are digested more slowly, helping your body respond more efficiently and effectively to blood glucose levels. As insulin, cortisol, testosterone, progesterone, estrogen, and the thyroid become more in balance, PCOS symptoms can be more controlled.
9 PCOS Diet Rules:
1. No Processed Foods: Avoid processed and refined foods such as white flour, sugar, breads, pasta and white rice. Instead eat whole gluten-free grains like oatmeal, brown rice, millet, amaranth and quinoa.
2. Increase Fiber: Eat more foods that are high in fiber. Because fiber slows down digestion it is effective at combating insulin resistance.
3. Drink More Water: Drink two liters of water per day, flavoring with cut-up fresh citrus, cucumber, mint or berries.
4. No Refined Sugar: Avoid foods with simple carbohydrates such as refined sugar, high-fructose corn-syrup, artificial sweeteners, artificial colors, MSG, trans-fats and high saturated fat.
5. Less Ingredients: Eat packaged foods with 5 or less all-natural ingredients. Any product with a long ingredient list is usually highly processed.
6. Limit Alcohol: Make alcohol an occasional indulgence – not an everyday occurrence. A glass of red wine is fine once in a while, but after one glass, the benefits are reversed.
7. Eat More Smaller Meals: Eat small meals every 3-4 hours to avoid spikes in your blood sugar.
8. Balance Carbs and Proteins: Always combine a lean protein and complex carb at every meal/snack. For example, a slice of turkey and a handful of nuts with a half of banana. Or low sugar Greek yogurt with a small piece of cheese.
9. Take the Right Foods With You: Pack your own lunches for work or play. Make sure you bring along snacks so you have healthy choices wherever you go and don’t eat whatever is available because you are starving.
PCOS is a lifelong disease
It’s important to understand that there is no cure for PCOS and no magical formula or pill that will make the symptoms better. But, by making these diet and lifestyle changes, many of our PCOS patients are able to manage their symptoms, improve their fertility, and lead fulfilled lives where they are happy with their bodies and the way they look.