PCOS Diet: Foods to Eat and Avoid With PCOS
What is PCOS? Polycystic ovary is a condition in which a female has hormonal imbalance due to which woman experiences irregular periods or no menstruation at all. Ovaries produce an excess of the male hormone “testosterone” and less female hormone “estrogen.” In this condition, eggs are not released from ovaries, and they form a cluster around ovaries, forming cysts. Cysts are often produced due to the overproduction of androgen, again a male hormone.
Women with this disorder usually suffer from obesity and insulin resistance. The common symptoms are hirsutism, male pattern baldness, and acne. But PCOS patients are at high risk of diabetes type 2, endometrial cancer, depression, heart diseases, and infertility.
PCOS patients know that “diet is a medicine” for them. The right PCOS diet and lifestyle changes can heal your symptoms and control your hormone levels. Clean eating will help you to reduce the risk of other medical concerns and the level of testosterone, cortisol, androgens, and estrogen. Ultimately, you can manage your weight and menstrual cycle.
How does diet affect PCOS?
Nutrition and diet have a crucial role in weight management and insulin resistance. Therefore, you should pay attention to what you eat and what possible effects on your PCOS symptoms. Insulin has a crucial role in PCOS, and if you manage your insulin levels with a PCOS diet, it will be a big success against your condition.
In PCOS females, insulin resistance occurs. Insulin resistance is when your body muscles, fats, or liver don’t respond well. Thus, they can’t use glucose for energy. And your blood sugar level goes up. Due to this reason, the body produces more insulin, which in return causes the secretion of testosterone. Obesity and PCOS are the primary reason for insulin resistance.
So, it’s not about weight only. The diet you consume directly affects your hormone production and consequently, on your PCOS symptoms. Hence, a balanced diet keeps you healthy in all ways. Researchers believe that diet and lifestyle changes are the 1st line treatments. When you lose your weight, you feel a significant improvement in your ovulation too.
EAT THIS NOT THAT
As mentioned above, PCOS symptoms can be treated by the PCOS diet. There are a lot of foods by which you can lose your weight quickly. Similarly, there are few foods you should avoid to add in your meal. Many dieticians give an accurate PCOS diet chart to the patients. Remember one thing! Along with diet, lifestyle changes and exercise are essential. You should be concerned about the PCOS weight loss diet and exercise, both at the same time.
Do you want to know about the PCOS diet plan to lose weight? Well, the following list is for you. Note every do and don’t, carefully.
Foods you should eat in PCOS.
There are no strict standards for the PCOS diet. However, according to research and experts, there is an agreement about healthy food to eat and should be included in the PCOS meal plan. These foods can lower inflammation, help in weight loss, and keep blood glucose normal. Let’s move towards the list.
High-fibers food has benefits for PCOS patients as it helps to combat insulin resistance and reduce the effect of sugar on blood. Many high-fiber foods contain prebiotics, and this prebiotics nourishes the gut flora.
High-fiber foods include:
- Legumes such as beans, chickpeas, and lentils
- Vegetables like broccoli, red leaf lettuce, and cauliflower
- Seeds including flax, chia, and sunflower seeds
- Whole grains such as brown rice, quinoa, and whole oats
- Berries including blueberries, blackberries, and raspberries
- Lean Protein
Lean protein can help you to lose weight. These also keep you fuller for longer and a healthy dietary option for PCOS females. You should include 2-3 servings of fish or chicken per week. But, if you are a vegetarian, then you can get proteins from plant-based sources as well.
Lean protein foods include:
- Fish such as salmon, shrimp, and cod
- Poultry like skinless chicken and turkey
- Plant-based lean protein sources are consist of beans, spinach, berries, and tomatoes.
- Nuts include almonds and walnuts.
- Antioxidant Foods
PCOS patients have low-grade inflammation. When inflammation signals a rise in the body, then it increases the level of insulin. Which ultimately is responsible for the worsening of PCOS symptoms. Hence, antioxidants play a crucial role in reducing inflammation. But whenever you choose antioxidant-high food, always consider the glycemic index because many fruits can elevate sugar levels.
The antioxidant-rich food includes:
- Fruits like berries
- Vegetables such as spinach and kale
- Unsaturated fats, e.g., olive oil, avocado, nuts like pecans.
- Whole grains such as whole wheat, brown rice, and whole oats.
- DASH Diet
Most nutritionists recommend the DASH diet to PCOS women. It was designed for high blood pressure or to stop hypertension. But it also helps to manage PCOS. The DASH itself “means dietary approaches to stop hypertension.” It mainly focuses on healthy carbs, therefore, minimizes blood sugar level and insulin. The diet discourages food with high sugar and saturated fats.
According to recent studies, the women who followed the DASH diet for eight weeks saw a significant reduction in belly fat and insulin level compared to those who didn’t use the DASH diet.
The examples of DASH Diet-foods for a PCOS patient include:
- Nuts and seeds e.g., flaxseeds, walnuts, and pecans
- Fruits and vegetables
- Legumes such as peas and chickpeas
- Whole grains e.g., whole wheat and brown rice
- Chicken, salmon, fish, and turkey.
PCOS Diet: Foods to Eat and Avoid With PCOS
FOODS YOU SHOULD AVOID IN PCOS
Some foods may increase your blood sugar, cause weight gain, and increase inflammation. Therefore, you should avoid these kinds of foods. Here is a list of foods that are harmful to PCOS patients.
- Refined Carbs
PCOS patients do not process carbohydrates correctly due to the high levels of insulin. Hence, you should limit your carbs intake. If you do so, you can lose your weight, androgen level in your body decreases. Androgen level is responsible for acne, anovulation, abnormal hair growth, and irregular menstruation. Carbs are of two types, good carbs, and bad carbs. Good carbs are healthy and beneficial. In comparison, bad carbs are harmful and aggravate the symptoms.
Examples of carbohydrates to avoid includes:
- White rice
- White bread
- Pizza dough
- Processed food
Processed food has a high glycemic index, and it affects insulin production and diabetes. Because women with PCOS are always at risk of diabetes, they should take care of food, increasing blood sugars.
The processed food examples are
- Ice creams
- White bread
- Ready meals
- Sugary beverages and alcohol
Smoothies and juices contain almost 30 grams of sugar. So it is best to stay away from sugary beverages, including fruit juices. But you can take natural sugars like fruits. These are also high in fibers and high-quality carbohydrates. Besides sugary beverages, alcohol is also harmful to PCOS females. Hence, it should be avoided, as well.
The sugary beverages are:
- Fruit juice
- Cold-pressed juices
- Saturated and trans fats
Saturated fats are usually found in overly processed meats and also not suitable for a healthy diet. Saturated and Trans fats can cause inflammation in PCOS females, especially in the gut. Bad fats can enhance estrogen in your body, and this increased estrogen may worsen the symptoms of PCOS. Foods that have saturated fats in include
- Dairy products such as cheese and cream
- Red meat
- Processed food
- Fried foods
- Frozen pizza
You often have heard to avoid gluten food in PCOS. This is because of gluten cause inflammation and insulin resistance. Patients who have high levels of inflammation also have increased production of androgens and irregular menstruation. However, gluten is tough to avoid because it is present in every other food. But having a gluten-free diet is beneficial for PCOS.
For some people, it can damage the gut and also cause the leaky gut. Due to leaky gut, excessive foreign proteins flow across the intestinal barrier, and it can then enter the bloodstream.
Gluten diet includes pasta, baked goods, cereals, sauces, and beer.
- Dairy, in some cases
For PCOS females, dairy is a kind of controversial factor. PCOS women need calcium and vitamin D, which can be extracted from milk and dairy products. But some women have lactose intolerance, so they should cut off the dairy from their food. Moreover, patients have also been seen to reduce their weight after eliminating the dairy from their PCOS diet meal.
Examples of dairy products are
What not to eat when you have PCOS?
Bad carbs, saturated and Trans fats, alcohol, sweet beverages, and red meat should be avoided in PCOS. Otherwise, these foods can lead to weight gain and worsen PCOS symptoms.
How can I lose weight fast with PCOS?
Along with PCOS friendly foods, you should also consider lifestyle changes, including balanced sleep, less depression, and a healthy life routine. Moreover, exercise is very crucial to lose weight. The PCOS females should take regular exercise to reduce belly fat, and it also helps to regular their menstrual cycle.
Is dairy bad for PCOS?
Dairy is a kind of controversial food. Many dieticians believe that it’s good to cut off dairy foods if you want to alleviate your PCOS symptoms. Others believe that a patient needs calcium and vitamin D in PCOS; therefore, dairy should not be excluded. In my opinion, why take a risk? You should avoid dairy products, and you can also check your body changes by cutting off dairy.
Are eggs bad for PCOS?
Egg contains proteins, and the protein-rich diet is very healthy for PCOS. Protein-rich food causes more filling and also reduces insulin levels in the body. Poultry such as eggs, lean meat, and even fish are perfect for PCOS.