Guest post by Alex Williams
If you’ve been diagnosed with PCOS you may be finding yourself feeling overwhelmed with what you should do next to manage your unique symptoms. You may have turned to Google to try and find a way to clear up acne, help with ovulation or stop unwanted hair growth and been hit with hundreds of different diets which promise to help you with your symptoms. Or you may have seen articles that each tell you to cut out a different food or food group. Let’s clear up the misinformation surrounding nutrition for PCOS.
1. Do I need to cut out carbohydrates?
Regardless of body weight, many people with PCOS have coexisting insulin resistance and you may have been told to cut out carbohydrates to manage this and therefore your PCOS symptoms. But removing carbohydrates from your diet or reducing them to a very low level may result in a fixation on foods and enhance symptoms like brain fog, feeling lightheaded and increased fatigue as glucose is our brains preferred source of carbohydrates.
Instead of cutting carbohydrates, try swapping to the wholegrain or brown versions of your favourite pasta, bread and rice to increase the fibre content and slow down the release of glucose into the bloodstream.
You may also find it beneficial to pair carbohydrates with fats and proteins to also slow down blood glucose release, so try balancing your meals and snacks to reduce carbohydrate cravings and help with managing your PCOS symptoms.
2. Do I need to cut out gluten?
Despite 18.2% of people with PCOS being on a gluten-free diet there is no evidence to suggest that people with PCOS need to remove gluten from their diet to manage symptoms.
Of course, if you have coeliac disease or gluten-intolerance then removing gluten would be beneficial but because of the risk of below optimal fibre, iron, folate, niacin and zinc intake in people on a gluten-free diet, careful planning is required.
3. Do I need to cut out dairy?
Again, despite 17.4% of people with PCOS being on a dairy-free diet in a recent study, there is no evidence to conclusively say that people with PCOS need to cut out dairy to manage their symptoms.
In a few small studies, there is some evidence that fat-free or low-fat dairy may contribute to acne development due to a differing hormone profile compared to full-fat alternatives.
So instead of cutting dairy completely (unless you’ve been diagnosed as lactose intolerant) why not try swapping to full-fat dairy if you have acne as one of your symptoms?
4. Do I need to cut out soy?
Despite over 11% of people with PCOS going soy-free to help their PCOS symptoms, the literature actually suggests the opposite! Soy intake can actually improve insulin resistance, triglyceride, LDL and cholesterol levels and reduced oxidative stress with no impact on thyroid function.
If you are still struggling with nutrition for PCOS then speak to your GP who may be able to refer you to a dietitian or seek support from a Registered Nutritionist or Registered Dietitian.
Biography: Alex Williams ANutr is a Registered Associate Nutritionist who helps people with PCOS manage their symptoms without dieting.
Download her free 5 step guide to managing PCOS without restriction.
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