9 PCOS Nutrition Interventions to Help Your Symptoms and Improve Your Health


The typical medical remedy for PCOS consists of anti-diabetic medicines, comparable to metformin, aldosterone antagonists like spironolactone, and oral contraceptives. Nutrition may also tackle PCOS, making a major distinction within the course and severity of the situation. However, since no two PCOS instances are the identical, it follows that no single food regimen will tackle all PCOS instances. Read on to study concerning the dietary methods that may support PCOS therapeutic and which one could also be best for you based mostly in your distinctive physiology. 

Do you’ve gotten PCOS? Fine-tuning your food regimen might assist your signs. Check out this text from nutritionist Lindsay Christensen for 9 dietary methods helpful for PCOS. #vitamin #optimalhealth #wellness

What Is PCOS?

PCOS is a typical however advanced endocrine dysfunction that impacts girls of reproductive age. (2) It ties into a number of physique programs, together with the ovaries, adrenal glands, intestine, and mind. Doctors depend on three predominant standards to diagnose PCOS:

  1. Infrequent ovulation or anovulation, often known as “ovulatory dysfunction”
  2. Elevated androgen ranges as indicated by a blood check, often known as “hyperandrogenism”
  3. Cysts on ovaries as indicated by transvaginal ultrasound, often known as “polycystic ovarian morphology”

A lady should fulfill not less than two of the three standards to obtain a analysis of PCOS.

The most typical signs of PCOS embody:

  • Irregular or lacking durations
  • Abnormal hair progress
  • Male-pattern hair loss
  • Acne
  • Infertility
  • Blood sugar points
  • Weight acquire or weight reduction resistance

Women might current with the entire “conventional” PCOS symptom image or with just some of those signs. Importantly, as our understanding of PCOS evolves, we’re coming to know that PCOS happens on a spectrum and that the three predominant standards used to diagnose PCOS might not apply to all girls with a PCOS-like medical image.

Underlying Mechanisms in PCOS

To perceive how vitamin can enhance PCOS, it helps to first perceive a number of the underlying mechanisms driving this situation. PCOS tends to be characterised by seven key options:

  1. Insulin resistance
  2. Gut dysfunction
  3. Chronic irritation
  4. Hormonal imbalances
  5. Chronic stress
  6. Exposure to environmental toxins
  7. Overtraining

Each of those mechanisms will be addressed, not less than partly, by vitamin. Let’s focus on every of those mechanisms in flip after which dive right into a dialogue of how vitamin can assist.

Insulin Resistance

Insulin resistance is a situation through which cells within the muscle, fats, and liver don’t reply appropriately to the hormone insulin. Insulin shuttles glucose from the blood into cells, permitting it to be utilized for power manufacturing; when cells are unresponsive to insulin, glucose lingers within the blood, inflicting hyperglycemia. Hyperglycemia, in flip, triggers power irritation and a bunch of opposed downstream well being results. Approximately 50 p.c of ladies with PCOS current with various levels of insulin resistance. (3) Interestingly, insulin resistance can happen in chubby, regular weight, and lean girls with PCOS; it doesn’t seem to discriminate based mostly on extra adiposity. (4, 5)

Correcting insulin resistance is an important first step within the administration of PCOS as a result of excessive insulin ranges immediately contribute to hyperandrogenism by rising the exercise of enzymes within the ovaries that produce androgens comparable to testosterone. (6) In different phrases, you have to right the underlying hyperinsulinemia to right extreme androgen ranges. 

Metformin is an insulin-sensitizing drug generally used for the remedy of sort 2 diabetes that has additionally been included into the standard remedy mannequin for PCOS. While metformin is a comparatively protected and efficient drug, it could possibly deplete vitamin B12 ranges over time and is thus not with out uncomfortable side effects. Fortunately, vitamin is usually a highly effective software (and, arguably, must be the primary software used!) for correcting insulin resistance in PCOS as a result of it immediately impacts blood glucose regulation. I’ll focus on dietary interventions that particularly tackle blood sugar dysregulation in additional element shortly.

Please word that insulin resistance isn’t an issue in all girls with PCOS. While excessive insulin typically drives the extreme manufacturing of testosterone in PCOS, it isn’t the unique reason behind excessive testosterone. The hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenal (HPA) axis, which is the physique’s stress-response system, may also stimulate the manufacturing of androgens, together with dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate (DHEA-S) and androstenedione, independently of insulin. Androstenedione can, subsequently, be transformed into testosterone and contribute to hyperandrogenism. This phenomenon is known as “adrenal PCOS” within the Functional Medicine group.

In the adrenal PCOS state of affairs, girls can current with signs of PCOS even when they’re completely insulin-sensitive. Women with the adrenal PCOS phenotype might must deal with consuming extra carbohydrates, not much less (extra on this shortly), and may additionally must spend extra time addressing stress administration to attain reduction from PCOS.

Gut Dysfunction

A rising physique of analysis means that the intestine microbiota might play an necessary function in PCOS by influencing key options of the syndrome, together with insulin resistance, hyperandrogenism, and power irritation. 

Disrupted intestinal short-chain fatty acid (SCFA) manufacturing may additionally mediate the connection between the intestine and PCOS. SCFAs are metabolites generated by intestine micro organism after they break down dietary fibers from meals consumed within the food regimen. While sure SCFAs, comparable to butyrate, supply anti-inflammatory well being advantages, different SCFAs have much less fascinating results. Abnormal SCFA metabolism in PCOS might result in a preponderance of SCFAs that stimulate urge for food and “energy harvest” from the food regimen, rising the quantity of power (notably within the type of carbohydrate) that the intestine absorbs from meals. This phenomenon might, in flip, contribute to greater blood sugar ranges, insulin resistance, and physique fats accumulation. (7) Correcting disrupted intestine microbiota might enhance irregular SCFA metabolism and the downstream metabolic penalties in PCOS.

Gut microbiota disruption additionally will increase intestinal permeability (aka “leaky gut”) and ranges of lipopolysaccharide, a pro-inflammatory metabolite made by Gram-negative intestine micro organism. (8) These components precipitate power irritation, which is an important underlying issue within the pathophysiology of PCOS.

Finally, a disrupted intestine microbiome might promote the event of PCOS by altering the perform of the intestine–mind axis, which performs an important function in regulating hormone stability. (9)

Chronic Inflammation

Chronic irritation is a typical thread that hyperlinks collectively the assorted traits and signs of PCOS. Chronic irritation:

  • Impairs insulin sensitivity and blood sugar management
  • Disrupts the intestine microbiome
  • Impairs the HPA axis
  • Disrupts hormonal stability

The sources of power irritation in PCOS haven’t been absolutely elucidated however might originate within the intestine, adipose tissue, and ovaries. (10, 11) Various dietary components can contribute to power irritation, so eradicating widespread dietary inflammatory triggers can considerably enhance a number of features of PCOS.

Hormonal Imbalances

PCOS is characterised by an array of hormonal imbalances. Androgen extra, which may manifest as extra testosterone and DHEA, is a key function of PCOS. Androgens will be produced from estrogen when insulin is excessive (as is the case in insulin resistance). However, extra androgens may also originate from the adrenal glands in a particular subset of ladies with PCOS; this presentation is adrenal PCOS. (12) Adrenal PCOS is pushed by an irregular stress response.

Women with PCOS typically have extra estrogen in addition to elevated androgens. (13) This could cause an androgen extra and an “estrogen dominance” image. Here, too, vitamin can supply highly effective advantages for lowering androgen extra and normalizing estrogen ranges.

Chronic Stress

Chronic stress can each set off the onset of and exacerbate current PCOS. Research signifies that ladies with PCOS show dysfunctional stress responses (aka HPA axis dysfunction) that could be each a trigger and an impact of PCOS. (14) Women who are inclined to expertise PCOS-like signs solely when underneath stress might have the “adrenal PCOS” phenotype, as mentioned earlier. For extra info on the way to use vitamin to help a wholesome HPA axis and stress response, try my article on this particular subject.

While fine-tuning your life-style and growing a stress-management routine is crucial for decreasing stress, food regimen can play an influential function in serving to the physique handle stress and might thus affect PCOS via this route, as nicely.

Exposure to Environmental Toxins

Emerging analysis signifies that environmental toxins might play a major function within the pathogenesis of PCOS. (15) Bisphenol A (BPA) and phthalates are plasticizers present in numerous client merchandise and, contained in the physique, exert hormone-disrupting results. Pesticides generally utilized in agriculture additionally disrupt hormonal stability, and girls with PCOS have been discovered to harbor greater ranges of pesticide residues of their our bodies than girls with out PCOS. (16) Research signifies that these environmental toxins might play a job in PCOS improvement by mimicking hormones and disrupting metabolic homeostasis.

There seems to be a essential window early in life through which publicity to those environmental toxins results in epigenetic adjustments that contribute to PCOS later in life. Whether these identical toxins can contribute to PCOS with publicity throughout maturity stays to be seen; nevertheless, I believe that avoiding these toxins, on the entire, might be helpful for girls with PCOS since these toxins may also disrupt the intestine microbiome and promote irritation, driving different mechanisms concerned in PCOS. (17)


Interestingly, PCOS seems to be widespread in elite feminine athletes; actually, the elevated androgen ranges in these girls might contribute to their athletic drive and efficiency! Whether PCOS is a trigger or an impact of ongoing, extreme bodily exercise isn’t but clear. (18) However, in my medical expertise, I’ve labored with girls with a PCOS analysis who should not athletes however keep a excessive stage of bodily exercise and have observed an necessary relationship between overtraining and exacerbation of PCOS-like signs.

From a scientific perspective, it’s attainable that overtraining, or exercising to a level that exceeds your physique’s capability to recuperate, might contribute to a PCOS-like medical image by driving up cortisol and lowering feminine intercourse hormones. Failing to eat adequate energy together with overexercising might provoke much more issues with hormonal stability. In girls, this phenomenon is known as the “female athlete triad.” While the feminine athlete triad is classically related to underweight and amenorrhea, our understanding of the situation is evolving; increasingly more, it seems attainable that PCOS might emerge from this constellation of extreme train and restrictive dietary behaviors.

Nine PCOS Nutrition Interventions To Ease Symptoms and Improve Your Health

To ease signs of PCOS and enhance well being, it’s essential to deal with the basis causes of PCOS. Nutrition can tackle a number of underlying causes of PCOS, together with blood sugar dysregulation, intestine dysfunction, power irritation, and hormonal imbalances. Fine-tuning your food regimen may also show you how to keep away from pervasive environmental toxins linked to hormone disruption and enhance your capability to handle stress.

1. Eat an Anti-Inflammatory, Paleo Template Diet

An anti-inflammatory, Paleo template food regimen is a wonderful place for most ladies with PCOS to begin in the case of modifying their food regimen.

A Paleo template food regimen removes refined carbohydrates and industrial seed oils, that are widespread dietary inflammatory triggers which can be recognized to impress power irritation, and should thus exacerbate PCOS signs.

Refined carbohydrates provoke swings in blood sugar and disruptions within the intestine microbiota that contribute to power irritation. (19) Instead, girls with PCOS ought to deal with consuming complete food-based, nutrient-dense carbohydrates comparable to candy potatoes, winter squash, complete fruit, and correctly ready grains and legumes, if tolerated. The soluble fiber present in mobile carbohydrates additionally favorably impacts blood sugar management and can assist right the dysglycemia related to PCOS.

The consumption of commercial seed oils, comparable to canola, corn, cottonseed, and soybean oils, exacerbates irritation by disrupting the physique’s omega-6/omega-3 fatty acid ratio and by exposing the physique to oxidized lipid byproducts created throughout oil processing. You can study extra concerning the inflammatory results of commercial seed oils in Chris’s article “How Industrial Seed Oils Are Making Us Sick.” Many girls with PCOS will discover a major enchancment of their signs just by eradicating these pro-inflammatory, processed oils.

Instead of consuming industrial seed oils, select wholesome fat comparable to:

  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Avocado oil
  • Coconut oil
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Fatty cold-water fish

These fat supply anti-inflammatory properties and support hormonal stability. (20) Keep in thoughts that whereas avocado oil is a superb choice, it is very important vet out a high-quality product since latest analysis signifies that many avocado oil manufacturers are adulterated with industrial seed oils. (21) Whole avocados might supply added well being advantages for girls with PCOS by offering a compound known as avocation B that has been discovered to enhance insulin sensitivity. (22)

Last however not least, don’t neglect to incorporate loads of non-starchy greens in your food regimen. These meals include fiber, regulating intestine well being and hormone elimination, and phytonutrients with anti-inflammatory and insulin-sensitizing properties.

2. Incorporate Healing Foods and Nutrients for PCOS

Various meals and vitamins can assist right underlying mechanisms concerned in PCOS and enhance PCOS signs. These meals and vitamins embody:


Inositol is a B vitamin-like compound that may enhance insulin signaling in PCOS. (23) Myo-inositol is the popular type of inositol for girls with PCOS. (24) Inositol is present in:

  • Cantaloupe
  • Oats
  • Citrus fruits
  • Nuts


Magnesium is a cofactor for over 300 enzymatic processes within the physique. It performs an important function in hormone metabolism and helps to take care of hormonal stability. Research means that sustaining optimum magnesium ranges might enhance insulin resistance in PCOS. (25) Magnesium additionally helps wholesome HPA axis perform. (26) Good meals sources of magnesium embody:

  • Dark leafy greens
  • Bananas
  • Almonds
  • Cashews
  • Pumpkin seeds


Research signifies that zinc insufficiency might play a job within the metabolic dysfunction attribute of PCOS. (27) Good meals sources of zinc embody:

  • Grass-fed beef and bison
  • Poultry
  • Oysters and different shellfish

Fatty, Cold-Water Fish

Fatty, cold-water fish are wealthy within the omega-3 fatty acids eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), which can enhance blood sugar management and dyslipidemia in girls with PCOS. (28) To bear in mind which varieties of fatty, cold-water fish are richest in omega-3 fatty acids and lowest in pollution comparable to mercury, check with the SMASH acronym, which stands for “salmon, mackerel, anchovies, sardines, and herring/halibut.”

Cruciferous Vegetables

Cruciferous greens comparable to broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, kale, radishes, and rutabaga are wealthy in phytochemicals that help wholesome hormone metabolism. One such phytochemical, diindolylmethane, beneficially modulates estrogen metabolism, selling the manufacturing of “good” estrogens and minimizing the manufacturing of “bad” estrogens. Increasing cruciferous vegetable consumption could also be notably helpful for girls with PCOS who’ve estrogen dominance.

Green Tea

Green tea might lower fasting insulin and testosterone in chubby girls with PCOS, enhancing two essential hormonal imbalances related to the situation. (29) Green tea additionally beneficially modulates the HPA axis, and should thus assist handle adrenal PCOS. (30)

Blood Sugar-Regulating Foods

If insulin resistance is part of your PCOS presentation, then incorporating insulin-sensitizing meals might assist. Dark blue and purple berries, comparable to blueberries and blackberries, are wealthy in phytonutrients known as anthocyanins that help insulin sensitivity. (31) Extra virgin olive oil additionally incorporates phytochemicals with insulin-sensitizing results, whereas the acetic acid in balsamic vinegar enhances muscle glucose uptake, decreasing circulating ranges of glucose. (32, 33)

Fermented Foods and Prebiotic Foods

Fermented meals include probiotic microorganisms that will enhance intestine well being, addressing the intestine microbiota element of PCOS. Prebiotic fibers, that are considerable in artichokes, sunchokes, inexperienced banana flour, onions, and garlic, amongst many different plant meals, feed helpful intestine micro organism and should help the restoration of wholesome intestine microbiota in PCOS. (34, 35)

3. Consider a Ketogenic Diet

Women with PCOS who’re chubby and insulin-resistant might do nicely with a ketogenic food regimen. In girls with PCOS, a ketogenic food regimen has been discovered to enhance quite a few markers of metabolic well being, together with lowering fasting blood glucose, insulin, and the homeostatic mannequin evaluation for insulin resistance (a measure of glucose tolerance), and enhance options of hormonal stability such because the luteinizing hormone/follicle-stimulating hormone ratio, testosterone, DHEA-S, estradiol, progesterone, and sex-hormone-binding-globulin. (36)

Please word {that a} ketogenic food regimen is not acceptable for all girls with PCOS, notably those that are a traditional weight or lean and are combating PCOS signs associated to power stress, under-eating, and overtraining.

4. Correct Insufficient Calorie Intake and Address Disordered Eating Behaviors

While overnutrition, outlined as an extreme consumption of energy and macronutrients, can contribute to PCOS in some instances, inadequate calorie consumption can set off or exacerbate PCOS in some situations. Inadequate calorie consumption can set off a physiological stress response, driving cortisol ranges up and dysregulating intercourse hormones comparable to estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone.

In my medical expertise, I’ve discovered that disordered consuming patterns (specifically, an inadequate calorie consumption) may also result in a PCOS-like symptom image. This remark is corroborated by a cross-sectional research indicating that ladies with PCOS who show a extra anxious phenotype have a considerably elevated danger of disordered consuming conduct, as indicated by the Eating Disorder Examination Questionnaire. (37) Whether disordered consuming conduct is a trigger or an impact of PCOS stays to be elucidated by the scientific literature; nevertheless, in my expertise, addressing disordered consuming behaviors can have profoundly helpful results on PCOS signs.

If you might be very bodily lively, you have to be sure you eat sufficient energy to gasoline your exercise stage. A nutritionist can assist you establish the way to greatest eat to help your bodily exercise stage and decrease PCOS signs.

5. Correct Insufficient Carb Intake

On the flip facet of keto, an inadequate carb consumption can exacerbate PCOS signs in some girls, notably these with “adrenal PCOS.” For girls with adrenal PCOS who want extra carbs, a spread of 20 to 40 p.c of whole energy as carbohydrate typically works nicely.

6. Optimize Protein Intake

Optimizing protein consumption helps to advertise wholesome blood sugar management. Dietary protein attenuates postprandial blood sugar fluctuations, serving to to manage insulin ranges, and aids satiety and urge for food management. (38) A spread of 20 to 25 p.c of whole energy from protein works nicely to help blood sugar management, urge for food management, and satiety in girls with PCOS. Focus on consuming extremely bioavailable protein comparable to:

  • Grass-fed beef
  • Bison
  • Wild recreation
  • Poultry
  • Fatty cold-water fish
  • Eggs

7. Try Going Dairy-Free

Dairy merchandise naturally include some hormones and hormone-like molecules, together with insulin-like progress issue 1 (IGF-1). IGF-1 signaling is implicated in ovarian hyperandrogenism, and consuming dairy merchandise can worsen PCOS signs in some girls. (39)

8. Try Seed Cycling

Seed biking is a dietary technique designed to help feminine hormonal stability all through the menstrual cycle. It entails consuming 4 several types of seeds—pumpkin, flax, sesame, and sunflower seeds—at totally different factors all through a lady’s cycle. During section 1 of the cycle, which lasts two weeks, girls are instructed to eat a tablespoon of flax and a tablespoon of pumpkin seeds every day. During section 2 of the cycle, girls are suggested to eat sunflower and sesame seeds day by day.

Seed biking might sound good in concept, however does it actually work? Based on my analysis and medical expertise, seed biking may, theoretically, improve estrogen or progesterone manufacturing within the physique. For instance, flax seeds have some estrogen-modulating properties and have been discovered to enhance metabolic well being markers in girls with PCOS. (40) In cell tradition research, pumpkin seeds have been proven to include phytochemicals known as lignans that modulate estrogen receptor exercise. (41)

While seed biking is price making an attempt, I don’t essentially suppose it’s sufficient by itself to advertise hormonal stability in PCOS.

9. Limit Exposure to Toxins in Food and Water

Last however not least, an necessary element of optimizing vitamin for PCOS therapeutic is avoiding food-borne environmental toxins. Plastic meals storage containers include endocrine-disrupting plasticizers comparable to BPA and phthalates; to attenuate your publicity to those toxins, I like to recommend that you simply use glass or stainless-steel meals storage containers at house as an alternative. (42)

To decrease publicity to endocrine-disrupting pesticides, attempt to purchase natural produce as a lot as your price range permits. You can check with the EWG’s Dirty Dozen and Clean 15 lists to study which vegetables and fruit it’s best to prioritize buying natural. I additionally advocate utilizing a filter to your ingesting and cooking water as a result of endocrine disruptors are widespread in faucet water. (43)

Nutrition is actually a root-cause software for addressing the underlying mechanisms and enhancing signs of PCOS. With an understanding that no two instances of PCOS are the identical, it could require some self-experimentation to find out the optimum dietary method that can alleviate your PCOS signs and enhance your well being. However, it’s nicely definitely worth the effort! If you are feeling that you possibly can use customized, one-on-one assist with managing your PCOS with a complete vitamin and Functional Medicine method, contemplate working with us at Adapt180 Health™.

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