Polycystic Ovary Syndrome is an endocrine disorder that affects around 10% of women of reproductive age. The symptoms can be complex and often difficult to detect if one has not read about it: irregular periods, acne and weight being some of them. However, much of these issues can be brought under control with a PCOS diet plan that helps balance hormones.
What Is PCOS?
PCOS is a complex hormonal condition in which the ovaries produce an abnormal amount of androgens (male hormones), mainly testosterone. These hormones are present in women in small amounts, but PCOS tends to make their presence flare up.
The word ‘polycystic’ literally translates into ‘many cysts’. It refers to the many partially formed follicles around the ovaries, which obstruct the eggs (produced by ovaries) from maturing. As a result, the menstrual cycle goes for a toss.
Women who suffer from PCOS are at a greater risk of developing other lifestyle disorders such as diabetes, anxiety, depression, heart disease and even cancer of the uterine lining – if not treated at the right time.
But like we mentioned, PCOS can be dealt with naturally by consuming the right foods under a PCOS diet plan.
1. Ditch The Dairy
Dairy is best avoided if you have PCOS, especially if your testosterone and endogen levels are high. Skimmed milk can increase insulin and androgen levels, leading to further imbalances.
If you do want to consume it, you’re better off using indigenous A2 cow milk as it improves gut health. Stay away from milk and milk products if you have PCOS-related acne.
2. Remove The Refined Flour
Refined flour is nutritionally one of the most depleted foods: there’s hardly any fiber, and most of the minerals and other nutrients have also been stripped away. As a result, refined flours like maida spike insulin levels as soon as they’re consumed.
Choose whole grains which are fiber and antioxidant-rich, fight inflammation and help maintain hormone balance. So, instead of a croissant, have an amaranth roti in the morning!
3. Say So-Long To Sugar
White sugar is just plain bad – you don’t need a nutritionist or a scientist to tell you this! Sugar spikes insulin levels in the body and increases inflammation.
If you have a sweet tooth, you can ask your doctor to advise what kind of natural sweetener to use, like honey, coconut sugar etc.
4. Oh Yes Omega-3s!
Omega-3 Fatty Acids are a PCOS superfood! They improve fertility, regulate hormones, improve insulin sensitivity and help reduce the growth of facial hair.
They also help lower inflammation. Walnuts, flax seeds, chia seeds and avocados and good sources of natural Omega-3s.
You can also opt for fatty fish like mackerel, sardines and salmon, or take supplements.
5. Be Well & Swell With B-Vitamins
B Vitamins can help your liver get rid of excess estrogen, which is usually high in women with PCOS. The liver helps process hormones and toxins and metabolise them, and Vitamin B aids in this function. B Vitamins are also needed to metabolise carbohydrates, fats, and proteins.
You can get your dose of Vitamin B from dark leafy greens, eggs and whole grains.
6. Take That Turmeric
Turmeric is one of the best anti-inflammatory foods there is and also has anti-depressive effects. Studies have shown that curcumin, the active ingredient in turmeric, helps combat inflammation.
But, it needs to be combined with black pepper and a form of fat (like milk), which is why it’s best to have turmeric in the form of turmeric milk. Use coconut milk to make it if you are off dairy.
7. Make Mulethi A Must
Mulethi is a kind of bark that has medicinal properties. It has hormone-balancing benefits, with anti-androgen and anti-inflammatory properties. Boil a 3-inch piece of the bark in water and have it in the morning on an empty stomach.
8. More Moringa
Moringa oleifera or drumstick leaves help lower insulin levels, thereby decreasing androgen levels. You can have it by mixing moringa powder with water and drinking it in the morning as soon as you wake up.
9. Sip On Some Saffron Tea
Saffron is seen as a calming spice that helps combat anxiety and depression, a common effect of PCOS. It also helps reduce testosterone levels.
The best way to have it is in the form of saffron tea, which can be consumed in the evening.
10. Ashwagandha For Anxiety
Known as Indian ginseng, ashwagandha helps reduce the cortisol levels in the body. Excess cortisol gets stored in the belly as fat, leading to weight gain and possibly obesity and type 2 diabetes.
Ashwagandha is also an anti-anxiety herb, helping lower stress levels and anxiety naturally in the body. You can take 1/2 tsp of ashwagandha powder with soaked nuts before a workout or bedtime.
Sample PCOS Diet Plan:
Here’s an easy, tasty and fibre-rich PCOS diet plan you can try out.
- 9 am: 1 litre water + 1 tsp moringa powder + 8 soaked almonds + 4 soaked walnuts
- Breakfast: Moong dal chila + mint chutney
- Mid morning: 1 bowl pomegranate + sabja seeds (holy basil seeds)
- Lunch: 2 bowls seasonal sabzi + 1 amaranth roti
- 4 pm: 1 tbsp pumpkin seeds + 1 apple
- 6 pm: Beetroot, tomato and cucumber salad
- Dinner: Vegetable khichdi
- Bedtime: 1/2 tsp ashwagandha + 1/2 tsp coconut oil + warm water
If you are looking to get rid of your PCOS related issues for good, you can browse our plans related to re-setting and re-aligning your body with PCOS nutrition.
Our PCOS and PCOD management program helps you reverse the disorder with lifestyle and diet management, by understanding what your triggering foods are and finding suitable substitutes.
As part of the program, you get customised weekly meal plans, regular follow-ups with our team of nutritionists and personal consultations with Lovneet Batra, founder of Nutrition By Lovneet.
Schedule an appointment or learn more by writing to us at firstname.lastname@example.org
What should I not eat with PCOS?
Refined sugar, refined flours and dairy are best avoided if you have PCOS.
Is milk bad for PCOS?
If you have high levels of testosterone and endogens or suffer from PCOS-related acne, you should avoid milk, especially skimmed or non-fat milk. If you do suffer from PCOS and still want to consume milk, you can opt for A2 full fat milk after consulting your specialist.
Is rice bad for PCOS?
All kinds of refined and polished grains and cereals are not the best for PCOS. Choose brown or wild rice instead of white rice.
Is chicken bad for PCOS?
Chicken is a lean protein, and, while it doesn’t provide fibre, it can be consumed, when prepared the right way. Processed chicken should be avoided. So, have grilled, baked or poached chicken instead of deep-fried chicken nuggets.
Are potatoes good for PCOS?
There’s no rule that says potatoes are strictly off-limits for PCOS patients – but you need to be careful of the portion size. The key is to have high-fibre low-sugar carbs, and potatoes don’t score exceptionally well on that front. So consume them, but in small amounts.