PCOS diet: what to eat, drink and avoid

Gytree Team
Updated On
New Update
Foods to avoid in PCOS.

Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a condition marked by irregular or absent periods, and manifests many symptoms like, facial and body hair growth, stubborn acne, weight gain and can also deteriorate mental health. There is excessive production of androgens which can cause multiple cysts like structures in their ovaries. PCOS diet plays a major role in managing your PCOS.

Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is one of the common disorders related to hormonal imbalance, which is usually present as irregular periods or the stopping of menstruation (secondary amenorrhea) at childbearing age. The ovaries develop multiple cysts due to the overproduction of hormones called androgens, and there is often irregular ovulation. This may often lead to infertility. However, infertility caused by PCOS is reversible. With the right treatment, the patient can get pregnant. There is, however, an increased risk of gestational diabetes during pregnancy that needs extensive monitoring for the well-being of the mother and baby.

Women with PCOS may also be at a high risk of developing:

  • heart disease,
  • diabetes, and
  • high blood pressure.

Many women with PCOS discover that by maintaining a proper diet, exercising regularly, and reducing stress, they can manage their symptoms and lower their risk of developing further medical issues.

PCOS diet: what to eat, drink and avoid

How does PCOS diet affect your treatment?

There’s often a high amount of insulin present in women with PCOS. Insulin is a hormone produced in pancreas that helps to convert the glucose into energy. But because of having insulin resistance, they are not able to use the insulin effectively, which results in a high amount of insulin level in blood. This inturn causes the ovaries to produce more androgen.

Types of PCOS:-

  1. Insulin-Resistant PCOS

Insulin resistant PCOS is the most common type of PCOS. It is most often caused by a high intake of trans fat, high sugar intake, smoking, and pollution. High levels of insulin in the body trigger the ovaries to make testosterone and prevent ovulation. 

  1. Inflammatory PCOS

Inflammatory PCOS is caused by inflammation from toxins in the environment, stress, or a diet with gluten. This inflammation prevents ovulation and hormones become imbalanced while the body starts to produce androgens. Some things that may indicate this type of PCOS include increased levels of thyroid, abnormal blood count, and vitamin deficiency. 

  1. Hidden-Cause PCOS

This is the simplest cause of PCOS. Once the cause is found and addressed, women can recover within 4 months. 

Most often the causes of this type of PCOS are:

  • Use of Artificial Sweeteners
  • Iodine deficiency
  • Thyroid disease
  • Vegetarian diet

     5. Pill-Induced PCOS

Pill induced PCOS is the second most prevalent type of this condition. It is caused by the use of birth control pills which reduce ovulation. Most women find that the effects go away with time, and they can start ovulation as soon as the effects of the pills wear off. For some women, this resumption takes months and even years. 

PCOS diet: what to eat, drink and avoid

How does PCOS diet helps?

Insulin resistance can also be caused by having a high body weight. Dietary changes and lifestyle modifications can help in managing the symptoms of PCOS. Managing through PCOS diet can help in: 

  • Weight loss management 
  • Managing insulin resistance and increasing its metabolism 
  • Regularising periods
  • Reducing androgen level 
  • Reducing cholesterol levels

Foods to avoid in PCOS diet:

-Refined carbohydrates: You should avoid food which has high starch and sugar content. They can increase the amount of stored fats due to insulin resistance, and can make weight loss more difficult. These include highly processed foods like wheat pasta, white bread and sugary desserts. Do check out the labels for the carbohydrate and sugar content. 

-Try to limit your sugar intake. Avoid beverages which contain too much sugar, these include drinks like sodas and energy drinks. Fruit juices available in the market also have a very high sugar content.

-Inflammatory foods like fries, fast food and processed, packaged food like ready made pizzas, hot dogs should be avoided in your PCOS diet.

-Avoid excess red meat like steaks and pork

Try getting on a PCOS diet plan which include foods with high fibre content as they can help you manage the insulin resistance. Some food with high fibre content include broccoli, cauliflower, red leaf lettuce, beans, almonds, sweet potatoes etc

Instead of processed food with high fat content include lean protein sources like tofu, chicken, and fish in your PCOS diet that easily make you feel full and are nutritious at the same time.

What to include in your PCOS diet:

  1. 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. Your PCOS diet can include foods that have a low GI, which includes whole grains, legumes, nuts, seeds, fruits, starchy vegetables, and other unprocessed, low-carbohydrate foods.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.

What to drink on your PCOS diet?

When it comes to what to drink, one of the best things you can drink for PCOS is green tea. This drink is rich in antioxidants which have anti-carcinogenic and anti-inflammatory effects and can prevent cell damage. 

Women with PCOS are often advised to limit dairy products in their PCOS diet. While you can drink some milk, the amount you drink must be limited. Excess consumption of milk can cause an increase in blood sugar and can even stimulate some insulin growth factors.

Along with the dietary changes, lifestyle changes can also help to manage PCOS. Combining a PCOS diet with workouts or any kind of physical activities can lead to the effective management of PCOS. Practices like:-

  • goal-setting
  • social support networks
  • self-monitoring techniques
  • caring for psychological well-being

Can lead to benefits such as:-

Best Exercises for PCOS:-

  • Swimming 
  • Jogging 
  • Brisk walking 
  • Cycling 

It is best to consult a nutritionist to make a consistent and personalised PCOS diet plan before making any drastic changes to your diet when you see:-

  • acne
  • extra hair growth
  • unhealthy weight gain, especially around the belly
  • too oily skin
  • irregular periods
  • discomfort in the pelvic area
  • difficulty in getting pregnant

If you have PCOS then you may feel frustrated at times. Having a nutritious PCOS diet and making some lifestyle changes may help improve your mood and reduce some of the associated symptoms of PCOS.

Coping with PCOS and its associated symptoms can be hard. It’s easy to become frustrated, but with the right steps and experts guidance, you can reduce your symptoms, improve your mood, and improve your health. Talk to Gytree’s experts or book “Manage PCOS” Holistic 6 week Program”. The best place to start is with the right PCOS diet. 

Do not worry about the foods you love, because every food you want to enjoy but is problematic for your PCOS has a healthy alternative. Substitution is the key to enjoying food while not aggravating your PCOS. It is to be noted that on a PCOS diet, there are some foods you may want to limit or avoid. However, in many instances, these foods have nutritious, beneficial counterparts.