Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a hormonal disorder that affects many women. It is characterized by high levels of androgens (male hormones) and often insulin resistance (in up to 80% of women with PCOS), which can lead to a variety of symptoms including irregular periods, infertility, acne, and weight gain. Nutrition plays a crucial role in managing PCOS, and we have outlined some of our top nutrition recommendations below -
Focus on Low-Glycemic Index Foods
Women with PCOS are often insulin resistant, meaning that their bodies have a harder time processing sugar. To help manage this, it is recommended to focus on low-glycemic index (GI) foods. These are foods that are broken down more slowly in the body, resulting in a slower and more steady release of sugar into the bloodstream. Examples of low-GI foods include whole grains, vegetables, fruits, nuts, and legumes.
Incorporate Lean Protein
Protein is an essential nutrient for building and repairing tissues in the body. It can also help to keep you feeling full for longer, which can be especially helpful for women with PCOS who may struggle with weight management. When selecting protein sources, aim for lean options such as chicken, fish, turkey, tofu, and beans.
Choose Healthy Fats
Fats are also an important nutrient for the body, but it is important to choose healthy options. Omega-3 fatty acids, found in fatty fish such as salmon and mackerel, can be especially beneficial for women with PCOS as they may help to reduce inflammation in the body, which can be a driver of PCOS. If you don't eat oily fish at least twice a week, we recommend an omega 3 fatty acid supplement. Other healthy fat sources include avocados, nuts, seeds, and olive oil.
Limit Processed Foods and Added Sugars
Processed foods and added sugars can cause spikes in blood sugar and insulin levels, which can worsen insulin resistance in women with PCOS. To help manage this, it is recommended to limit processed foods such as white bread, pasta, and snack foods, as well as added sugars such as fizzy drinks, sweets, and pastries.
While it is always best to get nutrients from whole foods, some women with PCOS may benefit from supplements. For example, myo-inositol can help to improve insulin sensitivity and reduce androgen levels, making it a promising treatment option for women with PCOS. Several clinical studies have shown that myo-inositol supplementation can improve menstrual regularity and ovulation, reduce insulin resistance, and decrease androgen levels in women with PCOS. Magnesium has also been shown to improve insulin sensitivity, reduce androgen levels and improve fertility outcomes. Nutri Advanced MegaMag Fem Balance is our favourite supplement for PCOS, as it combines both myo-inositol and magnesium in one blend.
Several studies have shown that women with PCOS have lower levels of zinc compared to women without PCOS. Low zinc levels may contribute to insulin resistance and increased androgen levels in women with PCOS. Zinc supplementation may help to improve insulin sensitivity and reduce androgen levels, making it a promising treatment option for women with PCOS.
All three; myo-inositol, magnesium and zinc; are provided in our PCOS Support Pack
In conclusion, the best approach for PCOS is a combination of an appropriate and personalised nutrition plan, targeted supplementation and lifestyle modifications.