Many women who are either newly diagnosed or have had a diagnosis of PCOS will often ask what can I eat, what's the best diet for PCOS?
Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) is called the “thief of womanhood” for a reason. It’s an endocrine disorder that can cause infrequent menstrual periods, infertility, excessive hair growth, acne, obesity, male-pattern baldness, and depression. If left unmanaged, it can lead to diabetes, heart disease, and even certain cancers.
Eating the right types of food during each phase of your monthly cycle rebalances your reproductive hormones, stabilize insulin and blood sugar, and support your individualized biochemistry. Women have four (4) phases to their 28day menstrual cycle: Menstrual, Follicular, Ovulation and Luteal. Whether you have PCOS or not, you may be aware that drugs like Metformin or the Pill do not address the root cause but rather treat the symptoms. Most of the approved medication has been tested in men and/on male rats. Therefore, they are not designed for women's bodies and do not take into account women's biology, menstrual cycle or changing hormone patterns.
What foods are best to avoid and what foods are best to incorporate if you have PCOS?
Avoid Red meat -Eating too much meat can interfere with ovulation. PCOS is characterized problem with ovulation, so anything that interferes with regular ovulation is not advisable. Further, high-protein diet causes decrease in the production of the sex hormone binding globulin which is vital to reducing testosterone levels and that is critical in PCOS recovery. Sometimes a high-protein diet leads to low carb and this is a real issue for PCOS sufferers because thyroid gland needs complex carbs to function optimally.
Avoid Simple carbs - Eating simple carbs like white bread, pasta potatoes can spike insulin. Best foods are complex carbs such as whole grains like brown rice, quinoa, or buckwheat with some healthy fats and plant-based protein. During Luteal or perimenstrual phase incorporate vegetables like sweet potatoes, beets and squash.
Avoid Processed foods like dairy, gluten, non-organic and or GMO ingredients and processed soy contribute to inflammation.
Avoid Artificial Sweeteners - women struggling with hormone issues are often struggling with blood sugar issues which can turn into a vicious cycle. When craving sweets try adding honey or maple syrup to your herbal tea. Stay away from Agave syrup, which has a very high glycemic index.
Avoid Vegetables oils - Canola and refined vegetables oils are GMOs and undergo toxic processing. The vast majority of the plants from which canola oil is harvested are genetically modified—and the oil is extracted by heating and crushing the plant seeds and then mixing them with hexane. In addition to being classified as a neurotoxin by the CDC, hexane and other organic solvents like it drive up inflammation and interfere with endocrine health. As a general rule, it's best to avoid these oils and instead substitute with extra virgin organic olive oil.
In addition to supporting your body with proper foods for PCOS, it's important to address cortisol dysregulation. In women cortisol is highest in the morning. Try eating breakfast within 90minutes of waking up. It will help regulate blood sugar throughout the day. Other lifestyle strategies that support the adrenal glands (which produce the stress hormone cortisol) include sleep, engaging in restorative movement, doing restful activities, and taking supportive adaptogenic herb.
Make lunch your biggest meal of the day and include complex carbs (like black beans) and good fats (like avocado). If you do have a sugar craving in the afternoon, reach for the kind of sweeteners that don’t cause as much blood sugar disruption, like honey and coconut nectar. Or have an apple or berries as a snack and extra fiber.
Lastly, help your body process and eliminate estrogen by focusing on improving the health of your gut microbiome and supporting your liver in its detox efforts. Both the gut and the liver help break down and eliminate excess hormones from the body. To support your microbiome, incorporate fermented and high-fiber foods which are prebiotic foods, along with a high quality probiotic supplement. To help the liver flush estrogen from the body, incorporate cruciferous vegetables — like broccoli, broccoli sprouts, cauliflower and Brussels sprouts. All of these vegetables are easy to prepare, toast them in some olive oil and seasoning of your choice, roast for 15-20min at 400F and enjoy over brown rice for dinner.
If you have PCOS or if you're simply interested in learning more about woman's cycle and what foods best support the overall health, please reach out. You can schedule a 15min free health history consultation and I can share 1-3 recommendations that you can start implementing today. Living a healthy balanced life is key to feeling alive and showing 100% in your life every day.
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