One of the greatest things about food, besides eating it, is that it's multipurpose. We've all heard the phrase “food is fuel,” but food is also therapy, and, above all, food is medicine. For example, food and wellness bloggers on YouTube and Instagram are beginning to open up about their polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) diagnoses, and how their diets can positively affect the condition. It turns out, there are specific PCOS foods to eat that can not only ease symptoms, but encourage a healthier lifestyle overall.
Before jumping into the diet of a PCOS patient, it's important to note that there is a difference between PCOS and having ovarian cysts. Women who are diagnosed with PCOS have a sex hormone (both estrogen and progesterone) imbalance, causing irregular menstrual cycles, fertility complications, and weight fluctuation, among other physical qualities.
Research dietitian and PCOS expert Lisa Moran, Ph.D., of the University of Adelaide and Monash University, told Huffington Post that when it comes to finding one specific diet every PCOS patient should follow, there really is none:
Different approaches have been studied in clinical trials, including higher protein, lower carbohydrate, higher unsaturated fat, or lower glycemic index. The majority of evidence indicates no differences between dietary approaches, although some small trials report benefits of a low glycemic index/glycemic load approach or increasing omega 3 fatty acid intake.
Of course, when it comes to any matter of the body, it's always a good idea to speak to your doctor and figure out a treatment regimen that will work best for you.
In the meantime, while there may not be one end-all-be-all diet or medicine to cure PCOS, there are a few golden rules to follow closely when it comes to what you put in your body, and these seven foods may just help keep symptoms at bay.
1. Leafy Greens
Loading up on kale and spinach is a great way to ease PCOS symptoms through your diet.
Because these greens are so rich in vitamin B and minerals like calcium and potassium, they play a key role in regulating sugar, hormones, thyroid function, and fat metabolism.
A quick and easy way to implement more veggies is by adding them as a side to every meal.
2. Lean Meats
This is true for all diets, but it's critical that you make 100 percent sure your meat is being sourced from pasture-fed animals, and to buy organic if you have the finances to do so.
According to the official PCOS Diet Support webpage,
Grass-fed meat tends to be leaner and contain less hormones than standard meat. Grass-fed is also important because livestock is often fed grain and feed that has been genetically modified or contains pesticides which are unhelpful for hormone balance and PCOS.
There's a lot of back-and-forth babble over whether or not eggs are actually good for us, but hear me out.
Not only do eggs just taste so damn good, they also have some good-for-you benefits. Because egg whites contain a decent serving of protein, while the yolk holds omega 3 fatty acids, iron, folate, thiamin, and essential vitamins, an egg or two a day can actually improve PCOS symptoms.
5. Healthy Fats
Healthy fats like nut butters and avocado, and even olive oil all play a key role in a PCOS diet.
According to the Nutritionist Resource archive, healthy fats are especially vital under these circumstances, as they “help maintain the cell wall, which absorbs the nutrients we need.”
Fatty acids also balance hormones, manage weight, and can encourage fertility.
Fish check off two of the essential requirements to a PCOS diet.
Oily fish like salmon and tuna are prime sources of protein and fatty acid, so it's important to make sure you're implementing these oceanic delicacies into your daily meals.
Egg yolk and salmon, for instance, is a combination that is honestly to die for.
It's understandable why women who have been diagnosed with PCOS would want to stay away from fruit in order to keep their blood sugar leveled, but fruit in moderation is an essential part of any well-balanced diet.
The trick is to a) stick to fruits that contain a low glycemic index such as cherries, apples, coconut, and kiwi and b) balance your fruit intake with a handful of seeds or nuts to regulate your blood sugar.
Another food item that boasts a variety of health benefits, the legume class umbrellas beans, peas, and lentils which are low-fat, high-fiber, and contain essential vitamins and minerals like potassium, iron, folate, and magnesium.
Spices are an excellent food additive for women who suffer from PCOS, so you definitely want to re-organize your rack to implement a few key seasonings.
According to a 2007 pilot study, cinnamon was proven to significantly reduce insulin resistance. Similarly, turmeric has also been found to be a fertility-enhancer, as the herbal anti-inflammatory seasoning enhances the body's ability to fight off inflammation.