PCOS Diet: What to Eat and What to Avoid
Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) is a medical condition that can lead to some harmful health effects in women. Women who have PCOS tend to suffer from hormonal imbalances. The overproduction of hormones in women living with PCOS can cause small cysts to develop in their ovaries.
The ovarian cysts associated with PCOS may not be harmful themselves, but PCOS can lead to other negative side effects. Problems, such as irregular periods, difficulty conceiving, and changes in your appearance can develop due to hormonal changes caused by PCOS. If left untreated, women with PCOS may also be at a greater risk for:
- Heart disease
- High blood pressure
- Endometrial cancer
Through PCOS clinical studies, the professional research teams at Avail Clinical Research are constantly striving to improve our medical knowledge of PCOS and how to treat it. Fortunately, for women who suffer from PCOS, you can help manage your symptoms by making certain dietary and lifestyle changes. Not only will this help control your PCOS symptoms, but it can also lower your risk for other health issues as well.
Why is My Diet Important to My PCOS?
Diet should always be an important factor to consider for anyone that is trying to live a healthier life. For women who suffer from PCOS diet is especially important because it can help prevent other health issues associated with PCOS, such as heart disease and diabetes.
PCOS has been known to cause woman to produce higher levels of insulin than they should be. When the body produces more insulin than the body can use effectively, this can lead to insulin resistance. If you become insulin resistant, it can cause your blood sugar levels to rise.
In order to try and maintain your blood sugar at a normal level, your body will begin to produce higher levels of insulin. If your body produces an excess amount of insulin it can lead to the overproduction of hormones, like testosterone, by the ovaries.
Not only can this worsen your PCOS symptoms, but it can greatly increase your risk for diabetes and heart disease. Woman who have a higher body mass index (BMI) are at greater risk of insulin resistance. However, diet can play a huge role in preventing insulin resistance and reducing your weight, BMI, and risk for diabetes and heart disease.
What Foods Should I Stay Away From
When getting ready to prepare your PCOS diet, it is important to know what foods you should be avoiding. Certain foods can lead to inflammation and increase insulin resistance. This is especially true for refined carbohydrates.
Refined carbohydrates are often found in highly processed foods. Foods with refined carbs that your should remove from your diet include:
- Sugary foods
- White potatoes
- White bread
- Food made with white flour
- Pastries, muffins, pancakes
- Fast food
Another important thing to avoid, or greatly reduce, on your PCOS diet is sugar. Try and stay away from sugary drinks, such as soda and juice, and avoid adding sugar to your tea or coffee. When shopping, make sure your read the food labels and keep an eye out for foods containing high fructose corn syrup, dextrose, or sucrose. These are simply other names for sugar.
If you are a pasta fan, you should be picky with the variety of pasta you choose. Pastas that are low in fiber and high in carbohydrates should be avoided. These include pastas derived from durum flour, or durum wheat flour, and semolina. Instead, try pastas derived from lentil flour or bean flour.
When creating your PCOS diet, try to take out foods that are known to cause inflammation as this can exacerbate your PCOS symptoms. These foods include:
- Red meats
- Processed meats
- French fries
What Foods Are Good for My PCOS?
Now that you know what foods to avoid when developing a PCOS diet, it is time to learn what foods you should be incorporating into your diet. A good place to start is with foods that help to reduce inflammation.
Not only do these foods help reduce inflammation, but typically offer other health benefits as well, such as improved cardiovascular health. Inflammation reducing foods to add to your diet include:
- Fatty fish high in omega-3 fatty acids
- Almonds and walnuts
- Fruits, especially berries
- Olive oil
Other foods you should consider adding to your diet are foods that help prevent insulin resistance. Foods that are high in fiber can help lower the impact sugar has on your blood and slow down digestion. High-fiber foods are a great option for your PCOS diet. Some high-fiber foods to consider are:
- Sweet potatoes
- Red and green peppers
- Brussels sprouts
When considering a good protein source for your PCOS diet, it is best to go for lean proteins. Proteins women with PCOS should include in their diet are:
- Fatty fish, such as salmon
- White turkey meat
Other Ways to Improve Your PCOS Symptoms
While changing your diet can be very beneficial to improving your PCOS symptoms, you should also consider making lifestyle changes to benefit your health, such as changing your eating habits. Many people tend to eat only three meals a day in large portions. However, it is much healthier to eat five to six meals spread throughout the day in smaller portions.
How much you eat in a single meal can have an effect on your insulin levels. If you eat fewer larger portions this can cause your insulin levels to rise. On the other hand, eating smaller meals and snacks more frequently throughout the day will help keep your insulin levels low.
Another proactive lifestyle change you can make that will not only benefit your PCOS symptoms, but also improve your overall health is to become more active. Incorporating daily physical movement and regular exercise to your routine can help reduce insulin resistance. This effect is even greater when coupled with a good diet. Aim to get at least 150 minutes of exercise per week.
Yoga and meditative practices can also prove to be beneficial for your PCOS. These help reduce stress and ease the mind and body. Making these dietary and lifestyle changes can lead to weight loss, improved ovulation, and better overall health and wellness. So why wait? Start making the necessary changes to improve your health today!