PCOS and Nutrition

Of course we know that a healthy diet is critical for women with PCOS. But what exactly is considered healthy? Are there specific foods to focus on or to avoid specifically for women for PCOS? What do the studies show?

Though I previously said we should not be eliminating any macronutrients, women with PCOS have been shown to benefit by slightly decreasing their carbohydrate consumption. 

In the Nurse's Health Study II (NHS-II), women with PCOS were noted to consume more high-glycemic index foods and this pattern was negatively associated with ovulation and fertility (Chavarro et al., 2007). It turns out that women with PCOS actually benefit greatly from reducing their carbohydrate intake since it improves insulin sensitivity, and decreases testosterone levels potentially improving ovulation also (Douglas et al., 2006 and Gower et al., 2006). However, this doesn't mean if you have PCOS you need to eliminate carbs from your diet, but rather focus on consuming higher quality carbs in slightly lower volumes. Each individual will have different requirements which can be estimated using the calorie calculator under the main "Nutrition" tab. 

 

According to the NHS-II study and the PRESTO study, a diet high in trans fats also negatively impacts ovulation however healthier polyunsaturated fats (PUFA) showed better outcomes.

 

Sources of PUFA:

  • Walnuts

  • Sunflower or flax seeds

  • Fish, if you are not plant based

  • Soybean oil

  • Chia seeds

  • Microalgae supplements (Ginneken et al., 2011)

Generally speaking, there is no "special" PCOS diet but there should be a focus on plant proteins, polyunsaturated fats and low glycemic-index carbohydrates.