Diet and Healthy Eating Tips for Living with PCOS
Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a complex hormonal condition that’s fairly common among women of childbearing age. However, its prevalence doesn’t exempt the condition from risks and dangers. In an interview with Healio News, Dr. Melanie Cree-Green from the University of Colorado explains that research shows that there are certain markers for cardiovascular risk among people with PCOS, although further research is needed to address knowledge gaps.
Cardiovascular risk is just one of the many health concerns associated with PCOS, as the condition is also associated with infertility, depression, and diabetes. Thankfully, there are various ways that you can manage the condition and improve your overall well-being. One of the easiest ways to start is with your diet! Below, we guide you through four healthy eating tips to better manage PCOS symptoms.
Consider a low-carb diet
People with PCOS often struggle with elevated blood sugar levels. Hence, reducing your intake of carbohydrates, or the primary source of glucose in the body, can help. Try starting small by reducing your intake of refined carbohydrates like sugary snacks and white bread and replacing these with fiber-rich alternatives.
Carbohydrate restriction can also aid in weight loss. Obesity is another common risk associated with PCOS and can open up another realm of health concerns, from hypertension to coronary heart disease. This makes focusing on complex carbohydrates such as whole grains and beans and minimizing simple sugars all the more essential.
Eat for weight management
Maintaining a healthy weight can significantly improve PCOS symptoms, which include irregular menstrual cycles to fertility issues. However, weight management can be easier said than done! There is plenty of confusing advice on the Internet, and the variety of options on diets can be intimidating to sort through.
Consider working with a registered dietitian to develop a personalized weight management plan. They can help you craft a PCOS diet for weight loss tailored to your lifestyle without implementing general rules such as completely eliminating carbs. These professionals can help you keep your carbohydrate intake consistent so that you can more easily stick with a small-to-moderate portion of complex carbohydrates at each meal. Personalized advice can also help you create a natural calorie deficit over a sustainable period.
Mindfully manage dairy consumption
Consuming dairy products is a common concern for women with PCOS. Unfortunately, PCOS disrupts your body’s hormonal balance and leads to elevated androgens alongside insulin resistance, so high dairy consumption may easily contribute to inflammation.
Yet, some studies note that women with PCOS can enjoy bone health benefits from dairy products due to their calcium content. Therefore, it’s more important to monitor your body’s response and adjust your intake accordingly rather than strictly cutting off dairy. You may want to consider low-fat dairy products, whether milk or yogurt, as suggested in a 2022 study published in Nutrients. These might be a better choice for individuals with PCOS due to their potential to improve carbohydrate metabolism and fertility.
Explore medication options
Using medication alongside dietary and lifestyle changes is an established strategy within the weight loss community. However, new research hints that semaglutide, known as a GLP-1 agonist under the name Ozempic or Wegovy, has promise in helping individuals with PCOS. Dr. Melanie Cree-Green, who is also the director of the multidisciplinary PCOS clinic at the University of Colorado, has already run clinical trials, tracking the weight loss, hormone levels, and menstrual cycle regularity of participants with PCOS and obesity. She is also planning a larger trial to examine whether semaglutide increases ovulation.
This means that, for some individuals with PCOS who struggle to achieve significant weight loss through diet and exercise alone, medications like semaglutide may provide a practical option to improve metabolic markers. Regardless, remember to always consult your doctor before deciding on whether such options are applicable to your specific situation.
Living with PCOS requires a multifaceted approach and a balanced diet. With these tips, you can better manage your symptoms of PCOS and guarantee a healthier future.