The Best Diet If You Have PCOS, According to Experts

An estimated 1 in 10 women of childbearing age have polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), according to the Office on Women’s Health (OWH). However, there is still a lot that we do not know about the hormonal disorder.

Given its frequency, this condition has been poorly researched, especially considering how disruptive it can be to daily life, Heather G. Huddleston, MD, specialist in reproductive endocrinology and infertility and director of the PCOS clinic at UCSF Health, says Essen Sie this, not that !.

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What is PCOS?

PCOS is a common condition characterized by higher than average levels of male hormones called androgens, Huddleston says. People with PCOS also experience irregular or absent menstrual cycles and have ovaries that appear polycystic or have multiple cysts.

What are some common PCOS symptoms?

Elevated androgens not only lead to an increase in testosterone levels, but also to acne or hirsutism, a condition in women that describes the overgrowth of dark or coarse-grained hair mainly on the face, chest, and back.

According to Huddleston, PCOS is often accompanied by other symptoms such as depression, insulin resistance, and obesity. Other symptoms can include anxiety, hair loss, non-alcoholic fatty liver and sleep apnea.

When diagnosing it, it should be noted that the term PCOS can often be a misnomer. For example, you may have irregular periods, as well as minor hirsutism and hormonal acne, but also fall within a normal BMI range and not be insulin resistant.


“Polycystic ovaries is an old term coined by doctors who noticed that women with irregular cycles and hirsutism had ovaries that appeared ‘polycystic’,” says Huddleston. “We now know that women with PCOS have ovaries that simply have increased numbers of dormant follicles and often increased volume.”

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Resting follicles describe the way follicles sit on the ovaries. Women who don’t have PCOS also have follicles – they just don’t have as many that are visible on the ovaries that can be seen through a transvaginal ultrasound scan. Follicles contain egg cells, and in someone without PCOS, they will mature and eventually release the egg during ovulation. However, in someone with PCOS, these follicles do not mature and instead accumulate on the ovaries.

“The reason for the increased number of dormant follicles in PCOS is not fully understood, but what we do know is that these follicles often fail to develop to maturity, resulting in a lack of ovulation,” says Huddleston.

While getting pregnant with PCOS can be difficult, it’s not impossible. The OWH states that PCOS is one of the most common but treatable causes of infertility in women. If one of your PCOS symptoms is insulin resistance, there are certain dietary choices you can make to control your blood sugar (sugar) levels.

What is the Best PCOS Diet?

While there is currently no set diet for PCOS, Felice Ramallo, MSCN, RD, LD and senior nutritionist at Allara – a virtual women’s health platform that helps women manage PCOS symptoms – recommends choosing a diet that is both sustainable and. is pleasant over the long term to relieve symptoms.

“To treat and prevent insulin resistance, the focus should be on the quality of the carbohydrates – not the quantity,” she says. “Remember, insulin resistance is caused by an increase in blood sugar levels.”

Choosing foods with a lower glycemic index are less likely to cause your blood sugar levels to rise. Some examples are:

  • Beans
  • Brown, black and wild rice
  • Starchy vegetables
  • Whole grain bread
  • Whole wheat pasta

Whole wheat pasta cereal breadShutterstock

Ramallo adds that higher glycemic options like white rice can still be enjoyed, though she suggests pairing them with stringy side dishes like a salad or cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, Brussels sprouts, and cauliflower.

“The best way to keep blood sugar levels constant is to eat well-balanced meals and snacks. In addition, it has been shown that eating frequently throughout the day with three meals and lots of snacks balances blood sugar, ”says Ramallo. “That’s partly because it prevents extreme hunger, which can lead to unhealthy foods.”

If you are looking for a specific diet, Ramallo recommends either the Mediterranean Diet or the DASH Diet. Both diets require nutritious, anti-inflammatory fruits and vegetables like berries and leafy greens. Oily fish (salmon), nuts, and seeds are some other foods that make good additions to a PCOS diet.

“The only foods that people with PCOS should avoid are low-fat dairy products or foods they are sensitive, intolerant or allergic to,” she adds. “Full-fat or full-fat dairy products are recommended and may even improve symptoms.”

For more, check out the 10 Worst Eating Habits For Women, experts say. Don’t forget to sign up for our daily newsletter too!

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