PCOS (Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome) is a medical condition in women during their reproductive age because of hormonal imbalances. Weight gain, diabetes, depression, excessive hair growth, weight gain, irregular/no or prolonged periods, multiple cysts in the ovaries are characteristics of this hormonal disorder. PCOS diet plan helps women improve mental and physical well being.
There are more than 100 million people who have PCOS worldwide. The leading cause of this condition can be lack of exercise and improper diet, though genes play a vital role. Let us go through this article to know more about the PCOS diet plan and how it helps you deal with the condition.
Best Foods for PCOS:
According to research, the food we eat has a significant effect on PCOS. Although there is no standard diet for PCOS, some foods can be beneficial, and some foods you need to avoid to tackle this condition. They are:
1. Low GI Foods for PCOS:
Low GI foods are good for PCOS because they don’t cause insulin levels to rise compared to other foods such as carbohydrates. After all, the body digests foods with low GI more slowly. Therefore, the symptoms associated with PCOS are reduced by eating foods with low GI that cause your blood sugar levels to rise slowly. Also, a low GI diet has been shown to improve regular periods when combined with losing weight (1). Foods that are low in GI are:
- Nuts and seeds.
- Whole grains.
- Starchy vegetables.
- Low-carb and unprocessed foods.
2. Anti Inflammatory Foods for PCOS:
Inflammation can be both bad as well as good for our bodies. It helps your body defend itself from injury and infection. Still, chronic inflammation can lead to diseases, on the other hand. Moreover, the risk is increased further with inflammation-causing factors such as stress, low activity levels and some foods. But according to some studies, some foods might help ease the symptoms associated with PCOS, which is described as a low-level chronic inflammation (2). Some foods that might help you fight inflammation are:
- Olive oil.
- Fatty fish such as tuna, mackerel.
- Tree nuts.
- Leafy greens.
3. Fiber-Rich Foods for PCOS:
Foods rich in fibre reduce the effect of sugar on the blood and help combat insulin resistance by slowing down digestion which can be beneficial for people with PCOS. In addition, the fibre feeds the friendly gut bacteria in your colon, offering several health benefits (3). For a daily consumption of every 1,000 calories, it is recommended to consume 14 grams of fibre which translates to 38 grams for men and 24 grams for women. All you have to do is integrate the following foods to increase the fibre intake:
- Vegetables like sweet potatoes, artichokes, beetroot, carrot.
- Fruits like bananas, apples, avocado, pears, strawberries.
- Chickpeas, split beans, kidney beans, lentils.
- Popcorn, quinoa, oats.
- Dark chocolate, chia seeds, almonds.
4. Low Carb Foods for PCOS:
A diet that limits the consumption of carbohydrates is referred to as a low-carb diet. However, to cope with PCOS, one needs to eat foods replete with high-quality carbs. Therefore, it is better to focus on consuming vegetables, healthy fats, and proteins instead of carbs. You can also lower the inflammation and insulin levels in the body by eating high in fibre carbohydrates (complex carbohydrates) which help you deal with PCOS efficiently (4). Here is the list of low-carb foods:
- Leafy green vegetables.
- Lean meats such as pork, chicken breast, sirloin.
- Nut butter along with nuts and seeds.
- Broccoli and cauliflower.
- Rapeseed oil, olive oil, coconut oil.
- Strawberries, blueberries, and apples.
- Unsweetened plain whole milk, plain greek yoghurt.
5. Balanced Diet:
Following a balanced diet for a PCOD patient will help in insulin resistance, production and weight management. The consumption of a well-rounded meal meets all the person’s nutritional needs, which helps in proper weight management. This further promotes good insulin levels that help tackle the symptoms associated with PCOS (5).
See More: What Is Hcg Diet
Worst Foods for PCOS:
In general, the foods to avoid with PCOS include the ones that are unhealthy for your health overall. Here is the list of worst foods for PCOS:
- Consume fruits with high GI in limited amounts, such as mangoes, pineapple, jackfruit, grapes.
- Fatty cuts of soy chunks, bacon, beef, and pork.
- Dairy products include cream cheese, flavoured yoghurt, low-fat milk and low-fat yoghurt.
- Consume whole grains such as white rice in a limited amount and balance out the GI, including at least five types of veggies.
- Oils and fats such as dalda, lard, hemp seed oil, butter, mayonnaise, margarine, vegetable oil.
- Cashew nuts.
- Processed sausage, fries, salami, bottled jams, jellies, ranch dip.
- Beverages include packed vegetable and fruit juices, diet soda, energy drinks, soda.
Best Diet Plans for PCOS:
Here are some of the prominent diet plans that help you deal with PCOS efficiently:
1. Intermittent Fasting for PCOS:
Intermittent fasting for PCOS helps you self-regulate and balance the insulin levels in your body. But intermittent fasting is not recommended to get PCOS symptoms relief for the long term. Instead, it is essential to consume small and multiple meals throughout the day, especially if you have PCOS.
The large meals you eat while following intermittent fasting result in excess insulin in the blood (Hyperinsulinemia), which increases the clinical effects of PCOS by increasing the production of androgen.
2. Mediterranean Diet for PCOS:
The Mediterranean diet is the traditional food people eat in countries bordering the Mediterranean sea. This diet typically restricts processed foods, refined grains and added sugar. In contrast, it encourages the consumption of heart-healthy fats, seeds, nuts, legumes, whole grains, fruits and vegetables (6). You will deal with several chronic conditions by following a Mediterranean diet.
The addition of healthy fats like olive oil, avocados, seeds, nuts and low in processed and refined fats in the Mediterranean diet is beneficial for people with PCOS by reducing the inflammation in the body.
3. Keto Diet for PCOS:
the Ketogenic Diet or Keto is a popular diet with high-fat and low in carbohydrates. Keto is considered a quick weight loss solution in contemporary pop culture. But Keto diet is not recommended for PCOS management because it is rigorous and nutritionally unbalanced. It is best to follow the advice of your dietician to manage PCOS to create nutritionally sound habits for a lifetime. So, it is better to avoid the Keto diet if you have PCOS.
4. Paleo Diet for PCOS:
The Paleo diet is a low-carb diet that is considered a perfect insulin resistance diet which is very necessary to manage PCOS symptoms. However, although following a Paleo diet might effectively deal with the symptoms associated with PCOS, it might create problems long-term.
Many nutritionists recommend following a balanced diet instead of a Paleo diet that can be strict and difficult to follow. However, no direct evidence shows the Paleo diet’s positive effect on PCOS.
5. Dash Diet for PCOS:
The diet that helps reduce the risk or impact of heart disease is called DASH. It might also help you manage the symptoms associated with PCOS. The DASH diet discourages high in sugar and saturated fat while including low-fat dairy products, whole grains, vegetables, fruits, poultry, and fish. Obese women who followed DASH diet for eight weeks specifically-designed might find a reduction in belly fat and insulin resistance (7).
6. Gluten and Dairy Free Diet for PCOS:
A gluten and dairy-free diet for PCOS can work if you are a person who suffers from inflammation caused by lactose, gluten or soy. In addition, following a dairy and gluten-free diet might help with PCOS symptoms by helping you lose 5 to 10% of your body weight and regular exercise.
According to an eight-week low-dairy diet, there might be a possibility of weight loss, reduced testosterone, and improved insulin sensitivity in women with PCOS (8).
7. PCOS and Vegan Diet:
A diet that includes fruits, vegetables, and grains is called a Vegan diet which is considered one of the best diets for PCOS alleviating its symptoms. But your daily food intake should include high-quality carbohydrates not exceeding 45%. In addition, a vegan diet can help ease PCOS symptoms since it contains vitamin and mineral-rich whole foods.
Following a Vegan diet might also reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes in the future, regulate menstruation, and improve ovulation. But before trying a Vegan diet, consult s dietician or a nutritionist to prepare a nutritionally sound vegan diet that will help you manage the symptoms of PCOS efficiently.
See More: Pritikin Diet Menu
Other Lifestyle Changes:
It would be best to make other lifestyle changes to lead a healthy and PCOS-free life.
- Portioning your food is essential, along with eating at the right time.
- Don’t follow fad diets or starve yourself to lose weight.
- Though you shouldn’t oversleep, make sure to sleep for seven hours per day.
- Even if it is light stretching, exercise regularly.
- Practice meditation regularly.
- Keep yourself busy doing whatever you like to keep stress at bay.
- Avoid binging on junk food and prefer eating home-cooked meals.
- Go out for a walk with your partner or take your dog for a walk.
- Consult a psychiatrist if you are depressed or have other mental health issues.
- Be positive and never give up on yourself.
- Stay in touch with your friends and family.
Simple PCOS Diet for Weight Loss:
We present you with a simple one day PCOS diet plan you can try to follow:
- Three idlis with ½ cup of sambar, one tbsp of green chutney or tomato chutney.
- One cup of green gram sprouts.
- Three chapathi, ½ cup salad. Fish curry, ½ cup cabbage curry.
- One portion fruit (avoid fruits like banana, jack fruit, Chiku, mango which have high-energy).
- Two Chapathi with ½ cup of tomato curry.
When to See a Doctor?
Early detection and treatment are they when you are dealing with PCOS. If you experience any of the following symptoms, make sure to consult a doctor immediately. Unfortunately, many people neglect this health condition until they have trouble getting pregnant. Some of the common symptoms of PCOS you need to keep in mind are:
- Extra hair growth.
- Weight gain around the belly.
- Irregularity in periods.
- Pelvic area discomfort.
- Difficulty with conception.
- Oily surface.
To conclude, PCOS affects three out of five women worldwide due to genetics or poor lifestyle choices. However, you will be able to turn your life around just by making changes to your diet and lifestyle. So take action, now, if you have PCOS or know a friend who has it. Better late than never. Don’t forget to let us know if you found this article helpful!
See More: Gouty Arthritis Diet
Disclaimer: The content presented in this article is for educational purposes and not a replacement for professional advice. Before you start any new diet, remember to consult your doctor.
1. What are the treatments doctors suggest for PCOS?
Ans: Some of the common treatments for PCOS suggested by doctors on prescription are:
- Hormonal treatment.
- Vaniqa cream.
2. What are the risks of PCOS?
Ans: Here is the list of some of the risks associated with PCOS:
- Facial hair.
- Weight gain.
- Heart disease.
3. Are there any long-term effects of untreated PCOS?
Ans: If left untreated, PCOS has the following long-term effects:
- There is an increased risk of cardiovascular diseases, high blood pressure, obesity, diabetes, and insulin resistance.
- It might affect fertility because of abnormalities in the menstrual cycle.
- Women with PCOS have a high chance of having endometrial cancer (9).