PCOS, formally known as Polycystic ovary syndrome, is a health condition that affects the hormone levels of women. Women who suffer from PCOS will produce higher than average amounts of male hormones. When this hormone imbalance is in effect, it can cause a skip in menstrual cycles as well as creating difficulty when trying to get pregnant.

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PCOS can create long term health problems such as obesity, infertility, sleep apnea, depression, and endometrial cancer. Women who are between the ages of 15 and 44 have a higher chance of developing PCOS. Lifestyle changes and proper dieting can help to manage PCOS. Common symptoms of PCOS include:

  • Irregular periods. 
  • Acne
  • Headaches
  • Weight gain 
  • Male-pattern baldness
  • Dark patches of skin can form in body creases 

In this article, we will go through the PCOS diet plan of the foods you should and shouldn’t have.

Foods You Should Eat

1. Protein

Sufficient consumption of protein is essential for people with PCOS as it helps to regulate blood sugar levels as well as making you feel full after your meals. Eating protein can also aid weight loss by reducing late food cravings, excess eating, and managing hunger hormones.

Protein will help you build muscle mass, in turn, improve your metabolism and burn fat faster. One study showed that women with PCOS who had a higher level of protein in their diet were able to lose more weight than women on a standard diet. Protein foods you should have include:

  • Chicken
  • Dairy
  • Nuts
  • Eggs
  • Seafood
  • Tofu 

2. Fibre

Fibre is an essential part of all diets, particularly for women with PCOS. A high fibre diet will help with weight loss as well as improving the digestive system.

One study showed that high fibre intake in women with PCOS helped them lower insulin levels and decrease overall body fat as opposed to the women who didn’t. Fibre foods should have include:

  • Oatmeal 
  • Dried beans
  • Lentils
  • Legumes
  • Leafy greens
  • Blueberries, raspberries, strawberries

3. Healthy Fats

Do not mistake healthy fats for unhealthy fats as both have two different effects on your health. Healthy fats are a crucial part of all diets and can help to lessen specific symptoms of PCOS. Healthy fats help you feel full after meals, help you lose weight, and improve blood pressure.

Studies have shown that women with PCOS who had a higher level of healthy fat in their diet as opposed to those who didn’t were able to lose more body fat. Great sources of healthy fat you should try include:

  • Avocado
  • Fatty fish including, salmon, tuna, mackerel
  • Nuts
  • Nut butter
  • Coconut oil
  • Olive oil

Foods You Should Avoid

1. Limit Processed Foods and Added Sugars

When it comes to PCOS, regulating a healthy weight is crucial. One of the best ways to do that is to limit the number of processed foods you have.

Added sugars and artificial ingredients not only make you gain weight but can raise your blood sugar levels, increase the risk of insulin resistance and can cause obesity or diabetes. Try to home cook your meals and add little to no additives or refined ingredients. 

2. Reduce Carbohydrates

Lowering your carbohydrate intake will help manage insulin levels. As approximately 70% of all women with PCOS have insulin resistance, this causes cells to stop recognizing the effects of the hormone insulin. Lowering insulin levels can be done by reducing carbohydrate intake.

Studies showed that women with PCOS who had lower levels of carbs in their diet as opposed to women who didn’t were able to lose up to 30% more weight and drop insulin levels. 

Foods to generally avoid for women with PCOS include:

  • Refined carbohydrates including bread and pastries
  • Fried foods
  • Fast foods
  • Unsaturated fat
  • Sugary drinks such as juice boxes and fizzy drinks
  • Excess red meat including steak and burgers

When to See a Doctor?

Most women who suffer from PCOS don’t even know that it exists in their health. This is because its symptoms are often mistaken for common health concerns. Most women who are diagnosed with PCOS only find out when major health concerns arise. This is why women need to know the warning signs and symptoms of PCOS. These include:

  • Excess acne breakouts
  • Extra hair growth around the body
  • Unexplained weight gain, specifically on the belly
  • Oily skin
  • Irregular period cycles
  • Trouble becoming pregnant
  • Discomfort in the pelvic area

If you notice multiple symptoms of PCOS occurring in your health, see a doctor for a general check-up. If you notice severe and concerning health concerns, seek medical attention right away. Early intervention and treatment are crucial in managing and treating PCOS. 

Head over to the Okadoc app to immediately book an appointment with your health practitioner.