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Diet tips for PCOS: What to eat and avoid

by andMe Bioactive Beverage 05 Nov 2021

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Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a common health condition experienced by women of reproductive age. This condition is characterized by irregular or infrequent periods, extended periods (lasting more than seven days), weight gain or difficulty in weight gain, oily skin or acne, excessive hair growth, excess androgen level and production of cysts in the ovaries.

Not all women with PCOS have all the symptoms and these symptoms may vary from mild to severe. PCOS can be regarded as one of the most common cause of female infertility. Having PCOS can increase the chances of developing other health problems in later life like type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, sleep apnea. 

The exact cause of polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is not known, but it is thought to be related to abnormal hormone levels. It sometimes runs in families suggesting a genetic link to PCOS. But specific genes associated with the condition have not been identified. 

pcos symptoms

Controlling PCOS and diet 

There is no definite cure for PCOS, but the symptoms associated with the condition can be managed. The treatment options may vary as there are a range of symptoms that can be experienced by a woman with PCOS. 

A number of medications are available to treat different symptoms of PCOS. But more than anything, you can control the symptoms with an appropriate diet and a healthy lifestyle with a positive attitude! Exercise and healthy sleep cycle is important for a healthy lifestyle with a healthy diet. 

Why Diet? Well, our health is all about what we eat and how we live. By modifying our lifestyle and diet, we can control the symptoms and improve the overall risk of developing long-term health problems from PCOS. Diet affects PCOS in two primary ways:  

Weight Management: Following a healthy and balanced diet, one can control weight gain and other symptoms of PCOS related to it. Loss of five to ten percent of body weight can help regulate menstrual cycle and improve PCOS symptoms. Regardless of specific diet followed by a woman, weight loss helps women with PCOS in general. Weight loss can also improve cholesterol levels, lower insulin level; reduce diabetes and heart disease risks. 

Insulin production and resistance: Insulin plays an important role in PCOS. So, one of the best steps one can take to control PCOS is by managing insulin level with a proper diet. Insulin resistance is common in women with PCOS. Insulin helps in the maintenance of normal blood sugar level in the body. Due to the insulin resistance, the body becomes unable to absorb sugar that increases women’s chances of developing type 2 diabetes. Following a proper diet that promotes good insulin levels can help people with PCOS feel better. 

What to eat?

The diet has a significant effect on PCOS. Although, optimal dietary strategy for PCOS remains controversial, there are foods that are helpful for the management of PCOS and also foods to avoid.

diet for pcos

 1. A low glycemic index (GI) Diet: 

Foods with low glycemic index do not cause a rapid rise in insulin level compared to other foods. So, they are regarded as a helpful diet for women with PCOS. They improve insulin metabolism and lower cholesterol levels.

Low GI foods include nuts, fruits, grains, seeds, starchy vegetables and other foods which are unprocessed and low in carbohydrate. 

2. Anti-inflammatory foods: 

PCOS can be described as low-level chronic inflammation. Adding anti-inflammatory foods to diet can help to reduce symptoms of PCOS to an extent. These include olive oil, tomatoes, leafy greens, fatty fish etc.  

3. DASH diet:

Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet is often recommended by doctors to reduce the risk or impact of heart disease. It may also help manage symptoms of PCOS. A DASH diet is rich in poultry, fruits, vegetables and low fat dairy products. 

4. Fermented foods: 

By raising and maintaining the number of healthy bacteria in the gut, fermented foods like yogurt, kefir, kimchi help to lose weight and enhance metabolism.  
woman eating yogurt

5. Vitamin rich foods: 

When it comes to PCOS, certain vitamins play an important role. Vitamin D is important for metabolism, regulation of weight, and insulin regulation. Food sources of vitamin D are salmon, eggs, mushrooms etc. Vitamin B are also important for metabolism, prevention of old hormones accumulation and is regarded as an important vitamin in case of PCOS. Vitamin B food sources include eggs, beans, tuna, avocado etc. 

6. High-fiber Diet: 

High fiber foods help to maintain blood sugar level, lower cholesterol. They also make us feel full for a longer time avoiding high consumption of food that helps with weight control. Some high fiber foods are berries, pears, oranges, kiwi, peas, spinach, broccoli, whole wheat, soybeans, kidney beans, whole grain oats, almonds, sunflower seeds etc. 
high fibre diet

7. Selenium rich food: 

Selenium potentially possesses therapeutic effects on PCOS due to anti-oxidant and insulin-like properties. Brazil nuts, seafoods and organ meats are the richest selenium food sources. Other selenium food sources include salmon, eggs, pork, spinach etc. 

8. Magnesium-rich foods: 

Foods that are rich in magnesium are PCOS friendly. Some examples of magnesium rich foods are avocado, bananas, almonds, cashews etc.   

9. Iron-rich foods: 

Heavy bleeding during period is one of the problems faced by some women with PCOS which can result in iron deficiency. So, adding iron-rich food to the diet is recommended. Too much iron intake can increase the risk of complication, so consulting a doctor is always a best option. Iron rich foods include Spinach, eggs, broccoli etc.  

Foods to limit 

People on PCOS diet should avoid foods that are generally referred as unhealthy that cause weight gain and other health issues. The foods should be limited that are high in sugar, refined flour and fat such as: 

1. Refined carbohydrates like mass-produced pastries, white bread, pasta.

2. Sugary beverages like sodas, energy drinks 

3. Processed meats like sausages, hotdogs

4. Excess red meats such as pork, hamburger, steaks 

5. Caffeine 
    sugary beverages

    Leading a busy lifestyle, it is not easy for us to pay attention to our diet every single day. Eating healthy has been proven to be helpful for all the beautiful and strong women out there with PCOS. 

    To fulfill the need of right nutrients in the right quantity, andMe has brought to you andMe PCOS PCOD Tea.  

    With no added preservatives and sugar, andMe PCOS PCOD Tea offers you an effective alternative to contraceptives. It helps to balance the hormones and manages irregular periods by providing 15% daily nutrition. As caffeine is not considered as a good option for women with PCOS, this green tea is a decaf alternative for that with the goodness of ayurvedic herbs extracts (Brahmi, ashwagandha, Shatavari), taste blend, minerals and vitamins.   

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