SOS for PCOS: Diet

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vegetables-for-PCOSMany women experience problems with their periods. But for many women, the problems can be caused by an increasingly common condition called polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). Last week we looked at possible causes and symptoms of PCOS.

PCOS is characterized by poor insulin function, with elevated insulin secretion reinforcing the cycle of hormone imbalance and anovulation (prolonged menstrual periods). Women who are overweight or obese are at increased risk of insulin resistance and prediabetes, but even thin women with PCOS have been shown to suffer from reactive hypoglycemia, where initial insulin oversecretion leads to rebound low blood sugar levels.

Dietary strategies that reduce insulin secretion, such as a high-protein, low-glycemic diet, have been shown to improve insulin sensitivity, promote weight loss, and reduce testosterone levels in women with PCOS. A low-glycemic diet limits intake of foods that break down into sugars quickly, such as bread, white rice, potatoes, and other starchy foods, as well as foods high in refined sugar.

Finding the right diet to help with PCOS is a highly individual and complex process, as the underlying cause of PCOS and different hormone levels will vary from woman to woman.

Here are general guidelines to help balance insulin and reduce testosterone levels:

Foods to avoid: These foods can interfere with testosterone levels, ovulation and insulin levels.

• Dairy
• Soy
• Bad fats
• Processed foods
• Sugar

Foods to include and eat more of: Many of these are high in B Vitamins. B vitamins are responsible for numerous functions in the body including sugar and fat metabolism, thyroid function and hormone balance. They also play a vital role in the management of PCOS.

• Leafy greens
• Fruits and vegetables
• Good fats

Here some tips to manage insulin resistance:

  1. Eat whole-grain foods instead of processed, refined foods. Also, whole fruit instead of fruit juice will better maintain insulin and blood sugar levels.
  2. Eat foods that are high in fiber, as they will also cause a slower, more controlled rise in blood sugar and insulin levels.
  3. Incorporate legumes and vegetables in your diet as they’re high in fiber and nutrients and will help manage your sugar levels.
  4. Combine protein and carbohydrates, as protein helps to regulate the blood sugar spikes caused by the carbs.
  5. Eat small, healthy meals more frequently to manage cravings and hunger pangs and NEVER never miss breakfast!

And remember… always consult a healthcare practitioner to determine the most appropriate treatment for you.

Photo from here, with thanks.

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February 2023