PCOS or Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome is an endocrine disorder that can affect hormones, metabolism and the immune system. Since PCOS is known as a syndrome it can become very complex to determine what is truly going on. Each and every person who has PCOS will experience it differently. Having PCOS increases your risk of insulin resistance, type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, cancer and infertility.
One of the most important things you can do for yourself is re-evaluate your food choices. I always like to say, “You are what you eat.” Whatever you are putting into your body is going to be direct reflection of the overall health of your body. There are a few foods to think about with PCOS as they can affect the hormone system. Below are my Top 3 foods to Ponder with PCOS.
Dairy products are by far one of the most important foods to ponder if you have PCOS. Even though the media has told us dairy is essential for every individual, it is not the case for PCOS women. Don’t get me wrong, there are people out there that do not have issues with dairy. However, dairy contains specific amino acids called branch chain amino acids (ie. valine, isoleucine and leucine) that can spike insulin levels which can increase testosterone levels in the body resulting in hormone disruption. Dairy also contains sex hormones that can further disrupt the hormone imbalance in a PCOS woman. Let’s be frank, milk products are really meant for a baby cow who is trying to grow and develop and not necessarily for all adult women.
So how do you get your calcium intake in? Opt for calcium rich foods such as leafy green vegetables such as spinach and kale, broccoli and Brussel sprouts.
Sugar can be very disruptive to the body. I’m sure maybe some of you have experienced some level of sugar addiction. One piece of chocolate can end up becoming half the bar or eventually the entire bar! PCOS women are more sensitive to sugar – whether it is natural or artificial.
Sugar has the following reactions in PCOS women:
– Sugar increases insulin which is a growth hormone. More insulin equals more carbs cravings, weight gain, insulin resistance and increased testosterone.
– Sugar results in inflammatory responses almost immediately after consumption.
– Sugar can disrupt the microbiome (aka gut bacteria) in the body leading to insulin resistance, inflammation and obesity.
– Sugar can end up being stored as fat.
Ingredients that don’t say sugar but are in fact sugar include:
– glucose, dextrose, lactose, maltose, sucrose, galactose, saccharose, corn syrup, brown rice syrup, agave, coconut sugar, fructose
Natural sugars that can be considered occasionally include:
– date sugar, maple syrup, honey
We know that insulin is one of the most important hormones that affect PCOS women. Carbohydrates in our diet come from fruit, sugar, some dairy but mostly grain products such as bread, rice, pasta, cereal, oatmeal, baked goods, etc. Once you eat anything with carbohydrates it signals to the body to release insulin from the pancreas. Insulin takes the glucose from the carbohydrates to the cells to be used as energy. It is important to be choosing grains that do not spike insulin levels in the blood. Choosing complex carbohydrates are best as they take longer to digest and slowly release insulin. Some examples of complex carbohydrates include millet, quinoa, buckwheat, squash, sweet potatoes, and more!
4) And more…
Since we know that in PCOS there is an underlying level of inflammation in the body it is important to determine if there are any other foods that may be affecting you. It can be important to reduce consumption of the most inflammatory foods such as corn, soy, gluten and as I mentioned previously sugar and dairy. Getting a food sensitivity test can be a great idea to discover other foods that may be causing inflammation in your body.
By Dr. Samina Mitha ND, www.saminamitha.com
McCulloch, F. (n.d.). 8 steps to reverse your PCOS.