PCOS is one of the most common female endocrine disorders and one that I see regularly in the clinic. Its aetiology is unknown, but there have been studies to suggest there is a genetic link. The main symptoms include, amenorrhea or irregular( usually very long cycles), acne, hirsutism (facial hair) and polcystic ovaries some of which are caused by excessive amounts of androgen (male hormone). The symptoms vary greatly between women, therefore it can be seen as a spectrum disorder. The two major tests include pelvic ultrasound to check for polcystic ovaries and hormone tests to check for levels of Androgen. As PCOS is an endocrine disorder is has a huge effect on the hormone and glucose levels in the body, thus diet is crucial for women suffering with PCOS.
I have outlined below some tips and advise on diet, this should be used as a guideline only.
- Eat low Glycemic Index (GI) carbohydrates such as vegetables and whole grains. It is very important for women with PCOS to completely avoid refined carbohydrates including sugar, white flour, whole wheat flour and products made from them eg pasta, breads, desserts, sugary drinks, and sweets)
- Keep your blood sugar stable with a daily schedule of meals and snacks every three to five hours that includes some protein and good fats (for example some nuts/nut butter, seeds/seed butter, hardboiled egg, hummus dip). Protein foods take up to 5 hours to digest while carbohydrate foods digest within 30 minutes.
- Eat at least five servings a day of vegetables including two of leafy greens
- Have a daily serving of legumes like black beans or lentils.
- Enjoy grass or pasture fed meat up to three times a week
- Eat at least three daily servings of fruits like berries –which have a lower glycemic impact as part of a meal or with a protein.
- Limit or eliminate milk and dairy as these can aggravate internal dampness.
- If you do eat dairy, use full fat as apposed to low fat.
- Pay careful attention to portion sizes in order to moderate glucose load and minimize insulin resistance
- Add one or two Tbsp of cinnamon on cereal each morning to help decrease insulin resistance.
- Include prebiotic and probiotic foods which promote the growth of beneficial bacteria in the intestinal tract. Prebiotics are found in whole grains, onions, bananas, garlic, honey, leeks, artichokes and some fortified foods. Probiotic foods are found in fermented foods (sauerkraut, live culture yogurt, kim chi, miso).
For more information and an individualised consultation about your PCOS please call the clinic on 01 214 0575 and book an appointment with Marianne