My answer to What will happen if I give up treatment for PCOS?

Answer by Connie b. Dellobuono:

I would follow a low glycemic PCOS diet and a holistic way to balance hormones such as sleeping before 10pm, exercise, sunshine/Vit D3, avoidance of EDC like plastics and hormones in foods and de-stress. The Pituitary gland should be nourished with a balance of sleep, low stress, reduce food cravings by eating whole foods and a balanced sex hormones (avoid meat, plastics, hormones in foods, EDCs – endocrine disrupting chemicals).

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Eat a balanced diet with lots of fruits, nuts and green vegetables, which help balance hormone levels. Consume red meat in moderation, as red meat can raise androgen levels. Avoid oily, fatty and fried foods, which only make the undesirable effects of androgens worse. Find an experienced acupuncturist.

Polycystic ovaries develop when the ovaries are stimulated to produce excessive amounts of androgenic hormones, in particular testosterone, by either one or a combination of the following (almost certainly combined with genetic susceptibility

  • the release of excessive luteinizing hormone (LH) by the anterior pituitary gland[citation needed]
  • through high levels of insulin in the blood (hyperinsulinaemia) in women whose ovaries are sensitive to this stimulus

A PCOS diet

It is thought that a nutritious diet will also help to reduce the risk of developing symptoms of polycystic ovary syndrome, including weight management and helping to regulate insulin levels.

Finding the right diet to tackle the symptoms of PCOS is a complex process and highly individual. Contacting a suitably qualified nutrition professional will help you understand and manage the dietary and lifestyle changes.

Following a low GI (glycaemic index) diet

The glycaemic index is a way to monitor how quickly the blood glucose rises after eating carbohydrates. Foods with a low GI can cause your blood levels to rise slowly. It is thought that these are helpful in reducing the symptoms of polycystic ovary syndrome.

Low GI foods can improve and help balance insulin levels; women with PCOS are often resistant to the effects of insulin, therefore have more insulin in their blood. This rise in insulin levels means the levels of testosterone are also increased. The increase in both insulin and testosterone upsets the natural hormone balance in the body, often causing symptoms to flare up.

Women with the condition may find replacing high GI foods effective, even if they do not need to lose weight. It has also been found that when combined with weight-loss, a low GI diet can help regulate the menstrual cycle.

As well as the potential to help ease some of the symptoms worsened by being overweight, a nutritious diet will also help to reduce a woman’s risk of developing diabetes, heart disease and improve overall health and well-being.

Below are some of the foods to include in a PCOS diet:

Fruit – Fruit is rich in fibre and is a good source of essential vitamins and minerals. Whilst many women are reluctant to add fruits into their PCOS diet due to the sugar content, when eaten in the correct portions and as a whole fruit as opposed to dried or juiced, it can be an extremely healthy alternative to unhealthy snacks. Fruit is vital in providing the body with the nutrients needed to combat the symptoms of PCOS.

Fruits with a low GI include cherries, plums, apricots, prunes and grapes.

If concerned about the rise in blood sugar and insulin levels caused by fruit, enjoy a handful of seeds or nuts as a side snack – the protein in the seeds can help regulate the rising glucose levels. Aim for two to three portions of fruit per day and increase your vegetable intake for fibre, minerals and antioxidants.

Chromium is an important mineral involved in regulating blood sugar and insulin levels. This can sometimes be low in a highly refined diet; opting for more complex carbohydrates, such as whole grains, broccoli and nuts can help to provide this.

Healthy fats – Unsaturated fats are essential in managing the symptoms of polycystic ovary syndrome. Essential fatty acids (EFAs) are vital in a PCOS diet as they help maintain the cell wall, which absorbs the nutrients we need. EFAs also help to rebalance hormones, manage weight and can help fertility. ‘Healthy’ fats can include oily fish (salmon or mackerel), avocado and olive oil.

However, care should be taken – simply switch the fats you are already having to unsaturated fats, rather than adding extra into your diet in order to avoid weight gain.

Magnesium rich foods are also important to include. This is because a deficiency in magnesium has recently been linked with an increased risk of insulin resistance. Dark, leafy greens, nuts and seeds can help provide you with the mineral.

Organic meat – It is important to eat good quality, lean meat if you suffer with PCOS. Grass-fed meat often contains fewer hormones and the livestock are less likely to have been fed genetically modified foods. The GM foods fed to standard livestock will often contain pesticides, if consumed, it can be more difficult to manage hormone levels and treat symptoms of PCOS.

In addition to organic meat, organic dairy products, best in the form of live, natural yoghurt, (rather than cheese or milk) are advised as it contains bacteria beneficial in a diet for PCOS.

Pregnancy – If you are trying to get pregnant, it is particularly important to consider whether you are getting the right amount of nutrients in your PCOS diet. For support and advice on following a healthy PCOS diet, consult a suitably qualified nutrition professional.

It has been found that the sex hormone binding globulin (SHBG) is usually low in women with PCOS. Lignans, found in flax and sesame seeds, chickpeas and carrots are reported to increase this.

What will happen if I give up treatment for PCOS?