Nutrition and PCOS

As with all things, Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) can be, at least partially, managed by maintaining a balanced, nutritious diet. Eating well can help to reduce the strength of symptoms and it can give you a much stronger foundation from which to build a positive mindset and a more even mood too. When combined with regular exercise (the advice being thirty minutes most days), a nutritious diet can help you to live a fuller life. But what should you be eating to ensure your best health? Read on to find out which types of food can help to improve your life with PCOS.

Women with PCOS tend to have higher than average levels of insulin in their body. For those who aren’t sure, insulin is a hormone which is created in the pancreas and is used by the body to turn sugar into energy. For people who create too much insulin, this can cause a number of problems including the ovaries creating an increased production of androgens, the hormones which (including testosterone) promote growth of hair on the face and body. With this in mind, it is crucial for women with PCOS to avoid certain insulin-promoting foods. These include foods that are high in refined carbohydrates such as white bread, rice and pasta; food and drink high in sugar content; and foods which promote any level of inflammation in the body such as red meat and processed food, for example ready meals or frozen food.

However, carbohydrates that are high in fibre are a good thing to include in your diet when living with PCOS. Wholemeal foods (bread, rice, pasta etc.), fruits, and vegetables - which are high in fibre - can help to reduce the production of insulin in the body. These types of foods also reduce inflammation and help to keep you fuller for longer which can help women with PCOS to manage their weight more effectively, given that obesity is a common side effect of PCOS.

Reducing the amount of sugar in your diet is also crucial. It is important to be savvy when doing your weekly food shop too as many products will describe themselves as being ‘fat free’ but this tends to mean that they are packed with sugars as this increases flavour which is missing from the fat content. In many cases, you are better off buying the full fat version but having a smaller portion of it. As with all things, striking this sort of a balance when making food choices is crucial to successfully eating a nutritious diet which supports and eases the management of PCOS.

Some great foods to include in your nutritious diet are:

  • Fresh fruit or canned fruit (be aware of it coming in syrup though)
  • High fibre cereals
  • Wholemeal and whole grain foods
  • Fresh or frozen non-starchy vegetables (the greener the better!)

Careful management of a nutritious diet can have a massive and positive impact on your life with PCOS, ensuring a happier and less stressful existence for you. Why not give it a try and keep a food diary alongside monitoring your symptoms to see if and what has an impact. Good luck!