Ask any fertility specialist, and they will tell you that the food you eat has an impact on your hormones. For women struggling with PCOS, diet and lifestyle habits play a huge role in how severe your PCOS symptoms can be – they can either keep your hormones balanced or throw them off. Healthy eating habits and regular physical activity can help relieve PCOS-related symptoms. And losing weight – as difficult as it may be – can help to lower your blood glucose levels, improve the way your body uses insulin, and help your hormones balance out. Here, the fertility experts of UNC Fertility share information on PCOS, fertility and your diet.

What is PCOS?

So, what exactly is PCOS? PCOS, or Polycystic Ovarian syndrome, is an endocrine disorder affecting 1-in-10 women of reproductive age. Some symptoms include:

  • Weight gain or difficulty losing weight
  • Irregular Menstrual Cycles
  • Infertility
  • Acne
  • Hirsutism
  • Male Pattern Baldness

But luckily for women with PCOS, research shows that diet and lifestyle changes are the most effective way of managing PCOS and related symptoms.

Foods to Help with PCOS

A specific diet can help women with PCOS manage their symptoms and maintain hormonal imbalance. Some things to focus on when deciding which foods to consume when struggling with PCOS include:

Anti-inflammatory foods: Women with PCOS tend to have some degree of chronic inflammation. This makes you more resistant to insulin, chronically fatigued and prone to gaining weight – even when trying desperately to shed pounds. Eating a diet rich in anti-inflammatory foods – such as dark leafy greens including kale and spinach, blueberries, blackberries, cherries, dark red grapes, nutrition-dense vegetables such as broccoli and cauliflower – can help combat some of these symptoms. Some other anti-inflammatory foods to include are beans, lentils, green tea, red wine (in moderation), avocado, coconut, olives, nuts, turmeric, cinnamon, dark chocolate. Using a variety of spices and herbs to flavor your food can help as well.

Whole, unprocessed foods: Whole foods are foods that aren’t processed – they are unaltered from their original state. They are fiber rich and take longer for the body to metabolize which means they are absorbed more slowly into the blood stream and you need less insulin to process them. Some good whole foods to incorporate in your diet include fish, meat, fruit, nuts, seeds and healthy oils.

So what should I avoid?

Certain foods are more likely to be processed or contribute to inflammation in the body. These foods should be avoided as often as possible in order to decrease your likelihood of exhibiting PCOS symptoms. Some of these foods include:

  • Dairy – milk, cheese, ice cream, etc.
  • Gluten – foods and drinks made using wheat or barley
  • Soy – this often includes meat substitutes, edamame, and soy sauce

Finding the right diet and lifestyle to decrease the severity of your PCOS symptoms can feel overwhelming, so how can you get started? My PCOS Kitchen gives a delicious and nutritious 7 day meal plan to get you started. Check it out HERE.

Remember, no one is to blame for PCOS. But help is within reach when you work with the fertility experts of UNC Fertility in Raleigh, North Carolina to find PCOS diet solutions and to learn how to live healthily with this common hormonal problem. To learn more, contact our North Carolina fertility clinic at 919-908-0000.