The Blog Archives

Eating for PCOS

So what is PCOS?
Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome is a hormonal disorder that affects 12-18% of women. It can be a hard condition to identify because there are several symptoms and you don't need to have them all, to have PCOS. While the name suggests that there are cysts on your ovaries, they aren't actually cysts. They have partially formed follicles that each contain an egg. Basically, your body has tried to ovulate and release an egg, but it didn't happen 100% and got stuck.
PCOS is a complex topic and there are also many different forms of PCOS. For the sake of simplicity, I am just going to be talking about the best foods to be having and avoiding to put your PCOS into remission, get a regular cycle and fall pregnant (which is relevant for all types of PCOS).
By eating a PCOS diet, you will increase the rate of ovulation, improve the environment of your uterus, preparing it for conception, increase the likelihood of a healthy conception, decrease potential miscarriage and help to prevent your insulin resistance from turning into diabetes.
Any sweeteners. The battle to give up the sweet stuff continues. It is so important to get off the blood sugar rollercoaster asap.
Cinnamon: Studies (1) have shown that cinnamon plays a role in the prevention of insulin. This slows the breakdown of carbs which is important for women with PCOS. NExt time - add cinnamon on to your fruit, in your smoothie and even with coconut oil on sweet potato! Additionally, another study (2) shows cinnamon to greatly reduce insulin resistance in women with PCOS. So go wild with the cinnamon!
Omega 3 fats: Fill your plate up with plenty of fat to help reduce carbohydrate cravings. Healthy fats also help to reduce inflammation and women with PCOF usually have low-grade inflammation constantly present in the body. Additionally, fats are important for hormonal balance and creating the optimal environment for conception.
Reduce your carbohydrate intake: It has been found that a low carbohydrate diet helps with insulin resistance and a high-carb diet made insulin resistance worse (3). Swap your bread, pasta, crackers, cereal etc for lots of veggies, zoodles, cauliflower pizza, flax crackers and eggs instead of cereal for breakfast. However don't skip carbs altogether. A low-carb diet can increase cortisol and slow down your thyroid, and a low thyroid can cause PCOS. Additionally, women need carbs to ovulate.
Include lots of fiber in your diet: Fiber helps to slow down the digestion of sugars in the body to stop a spike in insulin. It also helps to flush out estrogen which helps in the reduction of elevated levels of androgens (which is what gives you the facial hair in PCOS women). Up your veggies! Cook them in lots of oil and fat and season with salt so that they actually taste like something. Always, always, ALWAYS cook your kale, cauliflower, broccoli, brussel sprouts, collard green and everything else in the brassica family. When eaten raw, they suppress thyroid function which contributes to PCOS.
Ditch Vegetable oil: in a nutshell, they are very high in omega-6 fats and it is a recipe for inflammation. Read more here.
Increase magnesium-rich foods: magnesium improved insulin sensitivity reduced androgens and restores regular ovulation (4) (5). Increase your intake of pumpkin seeds, Swiss chard, raw cacao, almonds, avocados
Eat zinc-rich foods: Zinc nourishes the ovarian follicles to promote healthy ovulation and progesterone. It's also got anti-androgen effects and in a recent trial, zinc was found to improve hirsutism (6). Foods rich in zinc (in order of highest source) include lamb, pumpkin seeds,grass-fed beef, raw cacao powder, cashews, mushrooms, spinach, chicken.
Licorice (glycyrrhiza glabra) lowers testosterone in women (7) and blocks androgen receptors (8).
Cut back on dairy: The problem with dairy is a protein called A1 casin. A1 casin can be inflammatory to most people because, like gluten, it stimulates your immune system to create inflammatory cytokines (9) (10). Luckily A1 casin doesn't create inflammation for everyone so if you have no signs of sensitivity then you probably don't have the digestive enzyme that converts A1 casin into its inflammatory metabolite (BCM-7). SOme symptoms include acne, period pain, PMS, heavy periods and histamine intolerance.
If you're still wanting to ask more questions please feel free to get in touch and we can book in a Strategy Session for you. It's just an $80 investment and this is for lifelong health, education, and empowerment. Sessions are 60 minutes and done via video call so you can be anywhere in the world!
(1) (2) (3) (4) (5) (6) (7) (8) (9) Woodford, Keith, 2009. Devil in the Milk: Illness, Health and the Politics of A1 and A2 milk, Chelsea Green Publishing. ISBN:978-1603581028 (10) Picture via