PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome) is a common hormonal disorder. PCOS symptoms include ovarian cysts, androgen excess, acne, irregular or absent periods, hair loss, weight gain and infertility.
PCOS usually affects women of childbearing age, and studies show that it affects between 12-20% of women in Australia.
Women with PCOS have a higher risk of diabetes, endometrial cancer, cardiovascular disease and insulin resistance. The good news is that diet and lifestyle play a big role in the management of symptoms. If you have been diagnosed with PCOS, instead of focusing on the negatives (which it can be easy to do! as someone with PCOS I understand your frustration and feelings of hopelessness that can creep up every now and then), it’s important to try to stay positive, have hope, and make self care and healthy eating a priority - now more than ever.
Start by making small maintainable changes to your diet and lifestyle.
This could mean scheduling in a 30 minute walk each day or preparing healthy meals for yourself throughout the week.
3 foods to avoid if you have PCOS:
It is really important to watch your sugar intake, and avoid processed/refined sugars. Instead, swap sugar for stevia (in moderation) as it won’t spike your blood sugar levels, or choose fruits with a low glycaemic index. As women with PCOS are at a higher risk of diabetes, insulin resistance and obesity, keeping a close eye on your sugar intake is key. Whether it be coming from high fructose fruits or refined sugars, it should be swapped for a healthier, low-sugar alternative.
2. Refined carbohydrates and gluten
Avoid refined carbohydrates and flour. This includes white bread, rice crackers, biscuits and pizza. Avoiding gluten-containing products is also recommended (gluten is a protein found in wheat, rye and barley) as PCOS is a state of inflammation. Instead, choose gluten free wholegrain alternatives, such as quinoa, buckwheat, brown rice or almond meal.
If you are experiencing acne, it may be a good idea to cut back on your dairy intake to see if your symptoms improve. Consuming certified organic dairy products in moderation may not trigger some women with PCOS. However, if you do suspect that you may be intolerant to dairy it is best to avoid it, due to A1 casein (a protein found in dairy products) which can have an inflammatory effect on the body.