How does diet affect PCOS?
Two of the primary ways that diet affects PCOS are weight management and insulin production and resistance.
However, insulin plays a significant role in PCOS, so managing insulin levels with a PCOS diet is one of the best steps people can take to manage the condition.
Many people with PCOS have insulin resistance. In fact, more than 50 percent of those with PCOS develop diabetes or pre-diabetes before the age of 40. Diabetes is directly related to how the body processes insulin.
Following a diet that meets a person’s nutritional needs, maintains a healthy weight, and promotes good insulin levels can help people with PCOS feel better.
Foods to eat
Three diets that may help people with PCOS manage their symptoms are:
A low glycemic index (GI) diet: The body digests foods with a low GI more slowly, meaning they do not cause insulin levels to rise as much or as quickly as other foods, such as some carbohydrates. Foods in a low GI diet include whole grains, legumes, nuts, seeds, fruits, starchy vegetables, and other unprocessed, low-carbohydrate foods.
An anti-inflammatory diet: Anti-inflammatory foods, such as berries, fatty fish, leafy greens, and extra virgin olive oil, may reduce inflammation-related symptoms, such as fatigue.
The DASH diet: Doctors often recommend the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet to reduce the risk or impact of heart disease. It may also help manage PCOS symptoms. A DASH diet is rich in fish, poultry, fruits, vegetables whole grain, and low-fat dairy produce. The diet discourages foods that are high in saturated fat and sugar.
Foods to avoid
In general, people on a PCOS diet should avoid foods already widely seen as unhealthful. These include:
• Refined carbohydrates, such as mass-produced pastries and white bread.
• Fried foods, such as fast food.
• Sugary beverages, such as sodas and energy drinks.
• Processed meats, such as hot dogs, sausages, and luncheon meats.
• Solid fats, including margarine, shortening, and lard.
• Excess red meat, such as steaks, hamburgers, and pork.