You might not think that what you eat impacts your symptoms of Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS), but it does in unexpected ways. Because PCOS makes the body insulin-resistant, it can make it harder to lose weight, increase your risk of other conditions, and stop the absorption of nutrients in the body. However, a few simple changes to your diet can improve your PCOS, regulate your periods, and reduce your risk of other complications as well.
When we talk about changes to your diet, most people’s first thought is about what they can’t have. Contrary to this belief, it’s equally important — if not more so — to consider what you are eating as well. For individuals with PCOS, your diet should be rich in fibre, which slows digestion and thereby remedies insulin resistance and increases the absorption of nutrients from food. Fibre can be found in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, as well as in small amounts in protein-rich foods like nuts. To reduce inflammation, foods like tomatoes or recipes that include turmeric will enhance your diet as well as the flavour of your dishes. When it comes to protein, lean meats like chicken breast or fish are your best friend. If you are vegetarian, this can be substituted for tofu. Other vegetables you should consider include broccoli, kale, spinach, and brussels sprouts, which are high in fibre and have anti-inflammatory properties.
Unfortunately, there are foods which people with PCOS should avoid when making changes to their diet to improve their condition. These foods include complex carbohydrates, refined sugars, and processed or inflammatory foods. While you are not expected to completely cut these things out of your diet — everybody has a cheat day! — reducing the frequency with which you consume them can lead to improvements in your health. Specifically, foods like white bread, potato dishes, pasta, and sugary desserts or pastries should be avoided when possible. Other foods that can cause inflammation are red meat like steak or hamburgers, and excessively salty or buttery foods like chips. Additionally, be careful when choosing a pre- or post-workout beverage. While you might think it necessary to rehydrate and recharge your electrolyte count after exercise, sports and energy drinks are often loaded with extra sugar that your body doesn’t need.
By making a few smart and simple swaps in your daily diet, you can improve your health and manage your PCOS effectively. While it may seem daunting at first, eventually these small changes will become habit, and you will see a marked improvement in your overall health and wellness.