How these five nutrition tips can help you level up your PCOS diet.
September is finally coming to an end, and with it, we say goodbye to PCOS Awareness Month 2023 – and what a month it’s been! We’ve looked at all things PCOS diet, exploring everything from How To Build a PCOS-Friendly Plate, Breaking Down The Causes of Symptoms, and Why We Need Awareness. If you missed the past few weeks of posts, go check them out and catch up now.
If you have enjoyed this series so far, don’t worry, the PCOS blogs won’t end here! While Awareness Month might be over, education, support, and information are and should be accessible all year round. And, to end this month’s blog series, we’re rounding off with some long-awaited nutrition tips. The impact of nutrition on managing PCOS is well-documented, and along with a balanced plate, various nutrients have been found to improve PCOS symptoms and causes (i.e. Vitamin D, Omega-3). This blog will explore the effect of certain nutrients and food groups identified to reduce three key PCOS causes – excess androgen levels (hyperandrogenism), blood sugar dysregulation (insulin resistance), and inflammation.
Let’s dive into the top five nutrients that can level up your PCOS diet.
No.1 – Probiotics
Our gut microbiome is home to billions of bacteria that play a significant role in our body. From energy production to digestion, hormone metabolism, immune modulation, and more, keeping our gut happy and healthy is essential. For PCOS, the role is even more significant, as poorly metabolised androgens are a known cause of symptoms. Excess testosterone can trigger issues with insulin sensitivity, subsequently causing symptoms like hirsutism and skin changes.
That’s where probiotics come in. Probiotics are organisms that help to repopulate and restore the microbiome, improving the overall function of our gut. This helps to ensure our microbes are working as they should, metabolising and processing hormones at a sufficient rate.
Sources: fermented foods like kimchi and sauerkraut, supplements, kefir, and yoghurt
No.2 – Inositol
If you have ever picked up a supplement specifically designed to support PCOS or been given information about a PCOS diet, you have likely seen inositol on the list of ingredients, and for good reason. Inositol is a type of sugar found in both food and the body. Research has found it plays a crucial role in modulating insulin sensitivity and may help to improve PCOS symptoms.
Sources: vegetables, nuts, seeds, supplements
No.3 – Protein
We spoke last week about the importance of protein when making balanced meals. Ensuring we slow the release of sugar into the blood helps to regulate insulin levels, which may otherwise give rise to symptoms. Generally, including a protein source in most meals can help build the foundations of a balanced PCOS meal.
Sources: fish, meat, seeds, nuts
No.4 – Vitamin D
Vitamin D is needed for multiple pathways in the body: i.e. immune function, mood regulation, energy, and more. However, a lesser-known role of Vitamin D is its place in follicle development. What we consider the ‘cystic’ element of PCOS is actually immature follicles, which may be due to the lowered Vitamin D levels found in those with the condition. Improving Vitamin D intake may aid ovulation, egg development, and more reproductive functions.
Examples: sunlight, eggs, mushrooms, oily fish
No.5 – Omega-3
In PCOS, Omega-3 levels are found to be lower than those without the condition, just like Vitamin D. This is impactful for a few reasons. Firstly, because omega-3 is found in each of our cells, we need it for proper cellular movement and function. It also modulates hormone messaging – something we know is impaired in PCOS. Thirdly, as a potent anti-inflammatory, low levels may cause additional issues with inflammation, which is already heightened.
Examples: oily fish, walnuts, hemp seeds, olive oil
If you have made it to the end of the series – congratulations! Now that you are equipped with some of the nutritional foundations needed to start managing your PCOS, I hope your life can start to become your own again. Whether you live with the condition or not, I hope this month has helped you gain awareness of a condition that deserves to be spoken about. To sum up the series; there is hope, there are answers, and you deserve to live a life where you feel comfortable, happy, and at home in your body.
If you’re interested in learning more and receiving personalised support to help optimise your PCOS to your lifestyle and needs, my PCOS POWER journey is here to help you feel your best. To receive updates about this and be the first to know once it’s live, sign up for my newsletter now.
If you’re looking for further support, please feel free to get in touch via my contact page, or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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3 – Spritzer PM, Marchesan LB, Santos BR, Fighera TM. Hirsutism, normal androgens and diagnosis of PCOS. Diagnostics. 2022 Aug 9;12(8):1922. https://www.mdpi.com/2075-4418/12/8/1922
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5 – Carmina E, Dreno B, Lucky WA, Agak WG, Dokras A, Kim JJ, Lobo RA, Ramezani Tehrani F, Dumesic D. Female adult acne and androgen excess: A report from the multidisciplinary Androgen Excess and PCOS committee. Journal of the Endocrine Society. 2022 Mar 1;6(3):bvac003. https://academic.oup.com/jes/article-abstract/6/3/bvac003/6523224
6 – Carmina E, Azziz R, Bergfeld W, Escobar-Morreale HF, Futterweit W, Huddleston H, Lobo R, Olsen E. Female pattern hair loss and androgen excess: a report from the multidisciplinary androgen excess and PCOS committee. The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism. 2019 Jul;104(7):2875-91. https://academic.oup.com/jcem/article-abstract/104/7/2875/5342938