If you’re reading this, it’s probably because you have polycystic ovary syndrome or you’re doing some research on it. This condition, better known as PCOS, is one of the most annoying conditions you can have. The symptoms can be downright embarrassing – hair growing in places you don’t want while you lose it in the places you do want it. Acne, weight gain, and all the things that you try to avoid as a woman can all occur from this condition. Luckily, since it’s a metabolic condition, it can be treated so that you can live a normal life. The main way to treat PCOS is through lifestyle changes, including changing your diet. This article will explain why and give you some pointers on what you should and shouldn’t eat.
Why Your Diet Makes a Difference with PCOS
Since PCOS is a condition that is characterized by a hormonal imbalance, it can affect many systems in your body. One of those affected systems is the use of insulin. Insulin is a hormone and, in many women with PCOS, insulin resistance is a major problem.
When you’re resistant to insulin, it’s imperative that you limit the amount of carbohydrates you consume. While insulin plays a role in metabolizing fat and protein, it is the key hormone in metabolizing carbohydrates. When your body can’t metabolize carbohydrates, the carbs get converted to sugar which raises blood glucose levels. Eventually your body will store them as fat. This will lead to weight gain which can make PCOS symptoms worse.
You’ll also run the risk of becoming prediabetic. If you don’t take care of the situation, it can lead to type 2 diabetes which comes with a whole new set of problems that you would have to deal with. The best thing you can do is nip this potential problem in the bud by reducing your carbohydrate intake.
What You Should and Shouldn’t Eat
If you have PCOS, it doesn’t mean you can’t eat any carbs at all. It just means you must limit them and make sure you’re eating the right carbs and the right amount of carbs. To do that, you should make sure you eat a balanced meal including foods from all food groups.
It’s obvious that you should avoid foods that are high in refined sugars. Sweet treats and sugary drinks are the worst things you can eat when you have PCOS. You should also be aware of hidden sugar. Foods that you may think are healthy, such as yogurt and granola, can be full of sugar. Luckily, there is a straightforward way to figure out which foods are healthy, and which are not.
You may have heard of low-glycemic foods before. These foods have a glycemic number that is based on the glycemic index. This index ranks food according to its effect on blood sugar levels. Created in the 1980s by Dr. David Jenkins, a Canadian professor, the index uses pure sugar as the basis of the index. Sugar has an index value of one hundred.
Foods can fall into three categories on the index: the low-glycemic, mid-glycemic, or high-glycemic category. It should be obvious that lower-glycemic foods are closer to zero while higher ones are closer to the value of sugar. Low-glycemic foods have a value of 55 or less. Mid-glycemic foods have a value of 56 to 69 and high-glycemic foods are seventy or more.
Foods that don’t have carbs don’t appear on the glycemic index so you can eat those without worrying about spiking your blood sugar. Knowing the index ranges allows you to research foods to determine which ones are best for you to eat. It’s important to note that just because a food has sugar doesn’t necessarily put it in the higher-glycemic range. There are several types of sugars, and they affect blood glucose levels differently.
Types of Sugars and Their Glycemic Index Number
- Glucose – 100
- Fructose – 19
- Sucrose – 65
- Lactose 46
- Maltose – 105
- Galactose – 25
- Trehalose – 70
In general, stay away from starchy vegetables, refined foods, white rice, and anything made with white flour. Protein such as beef, chicken, and seafood are acceptable because they have little to no carbs. Some fruit is okay if you eat one serving a day. The best bet is to research the glycemic index number of foods before you eat them.
It should come as no surprise that proper nutrition is a part of how to heal PCOS. Nutrition affects every part of your body. Eating certain foods can make symptoms worse or even make it impossible to reverse the effects of PCOS. Make sure you’re eating low-glycemic foods – that will be half the battle against the condition. Not only will you give yourself your best fighting chance, but you’ll feel better knowing that you’re fueling your body with healthy foods.