Foods to avoid when you have PCOS
Most women with PCOS (Polycystic Ovary Syndrome) try every diet… often without the success they are looking for. Today we are going to go into why those diets aren’t working and talk about foods to avoid instead of fad diets to try.
How does my diet affect PCOS?
In order to figure out what our body needs or what we should avoid, it is important to understand how your diet affects PCOS. The top two being weight management and insulin production and resistance. Managing insulin levels with a PCOS diet can be one of the most successful ways to manage the conditions paired with balancing your body with the correct supplements. Which is often easier said than done. That’s why S’moo was created to help you balance your hormones and help you succeed with a PCOS diet. It works because its ingredients help promote normal hormone levels and regular menstrual cycles. It does this with ingredients like Inositol. It also helps how the body processes and uses insulin. If your body is over producing insulin, more glucose is able to enter your cells but your cells can get more glucose than they need. Glucose that your cells don’t use becomes fat.
A driving condition that leads to multiple PCOS symptoms is high insulin. This is because high insulin not only can cause weight gain but also cause the ovaries to make excess testosterone and impair ovulation. Which is why, besides having Inositol in S’moo to help with insulin, you’ll see even more ingredients to help regulate insulin. Insulin is a huge topic in this blog and for good reason.
Many people with PCOS have insulin resistance. 50% or more of the women with PCOS will develop diabetes or pre-diabetes before the age of 40 because diabetes is directly related to how your body processes insulin.
Insulin resistance can also be caused by having a body mass index that is higher than normal range. When your body isn’t processing insulin correctly it can make it harder to lose weight.
Foods to avoid!
Food can restore hormone imbalance but for most women with PCOS it isn’t as simple as just cutting carbs and sugary foods. Certain foods that might be healthy for others can make your PCOS worse. Here are the five foods that you need to avoid to beat PCOS.
1. Avoid inflammatory foods, such as processed and red meats
For women with PCOS, low-grade inflammation often occurs and is associated with insulin resistance in PCOS. When women with PCOS have chronic inflammation, their bodies are constantly inflamed inside. Not all inflammation is bad, Acute inflammation helps us heal and only lasts a few days, while Chronic Inflammation can last for months to years. Chronic inflammation is also called low–grade inflammation because it produces a steady, low-level of inflammation throughout the body. Chronic low-grade inflammation is a contributor to Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS). This is believed to be created from a higher amount of androgens, which creates increased insulin, and these higher insulin levels can cause weight gain which causes more inflammation.
Processed meats like bacon, hot dogs, meat jerkies, salami, sausage, and some red meats are high in saturated fat, which causes inflammation. Studies show higher intakes of these processed meats go hand in hand with diseases caused by inflammation.
The solution? Eat lean protein like cold water fish (like tuna and salmon), chicken and turkey to name a few. If you’re going to eat red meats make sure they don’t have added hormones. Try to focus on organic meat and eat it only in moderation as often people following high protein diets like Atkins, Paleo and Keto diets miss out on important nutrients such as fiber, vitamin B and vitamin C.
2. Avoid foods high in refined carbohydrates
Not all carbohydrates are bad but refined carbs are! Refined carbs are what you’ll mostly find at the store or in restaurants and they are common drivers of inflammation. Why are they such a problem? Because refined carbs have had most of their fiber removed. They also have a higher glycemic index which in one study, older adults with high intakes of glycemic index foods found “Women in the highest GI (glycemic index) tertile had a 2.9-fold increased risk of inflammatory death compared with women in the lowest GI (glycemic index) tertile.”
Refined carbohydrates cause inflammation and exacerbate insulin resistance. Women with PCOS should avoid or limit highly-processed foods such as white bread, ready-meals, pizza dough, muffins, breakfast pastries, sugary desserts, many breakfast cereals, anything made with white flour, pasta noodles that list their first ingredient as semolina, durum flour, or durum wheat flour this is because they are high in carbohydrates and low in fiber.
3. Avoid soy
Women with PCOS tend to have higher than normal estrogen levels (estrogen dominance). While there is still some debate on soy affecting estrogen levels, it is best cutting it out and seeing if it makes a difference. This is because Soy contains “phyto” or plant estrogen that acts like estrogen in the body and this can confuse your endocrine system. Your body will slow down the estrogen production, which is important for the luteinizing phase, ultimately ceasing ovulation. If you need that perfect latte to get you through the day, try switching to almond milk.
4. Avoid vegetable and seed oils
Plant-based oils do have health benefits and are important for maintaining HDL or good cholesterol. However increases in chronic inflammatory diseases may be because of the increased use of certain vegetable oils in the Western diet. Foods typically have more 6-omega fats than 3-omega fats. The high amount of 6-omega fats in these oils can cause inflammation which worsens PCOS symptoms. Seed oils include vegetable oil, soybean oil, canola oil, rapeseed oil, sunflower oil, safflower oil amongst others. Avoid them by avoiding processed foods, and by cooking with coconut oil, olive oil, or ghee (clarified butter) at home.
5. Avoid dairy
Women with PCOS should avoid dairy. This is because insulin growth factor-1 (IGF-1) is a naturally occurring hormone that has a similar molecular structure to insulin. IGF-1 is also in cow’s milk and research shows that IGF-1 levels increase by 10% in adolescent girls from just one pint of milk a day. Women with PCOS have higher than normal levels of IGF-1 already, so adding any IGF-1 in your diet is going to increase levels of insulin and make your PCOS symptoms worse. There is a lot of protein and calcium in milk, so if you are used to having milk, try finding another type of food or drink that will still give you protein and calcium. Almond milk has a lot less protein than soy milk or cow’s milk but actual almonds have a good amount: 1-ounce (28-gram) serving of almonds contains 3.5 grams of fiber & 6 grams of protein. Almond milk brands often also add calcium, vitamin A, and vitamin D so if you want to get your calcium from almond milk shake the bottle because if often settles at the bottom.
6. Avoid sugar and high-fructose corn syrup
One study alone could get me to stop wanting sugar, this study fed mice a high sucrose (table sugar) diet which developed into breast cancer that spread to their lungs and it was said this was caused from the inflammatory response to sugar.
Think you can just eat the good with the bad? Maybe that won’t work, according to another study done on mice, a high sugar diet actually blocked the effects of omega-3 (an anti-inflammatory agent).
Think about all the sugar around you, it’s not just in candy, some cereals, cakes, cookies, doughnuts, and sweet pastries. It’s also in your drinks like juice, alcohol and soda! A recent clinical trial was done comparing people who drank regular soda, diet soda, milk or water. The group who drank soda regularly had increased levels of uric acid. “Uric acid induce insulin resistance and low-grade inflammation.” Which are both PCOS symptoms, meaning soda should be cut out of your diet as soon as possible.
What should I do about my PCOS?
Know that you aren’t alone. It is a struggle that 5-10% of women face. If you need support from women going through similar situations you can connect to them on the S’moo app, it’s an awesome social media for women! Also keep in mind that improving your lifestyle without focusing on weight loss is not only positive but also a better mindset for moving forward. Weight fluctuations will happen but eating healthy and focusing on your lifestyle habits will create the largest overall change. Adding more exercise into your life will also keep your body feeling great.
Don’t give up, you’ve got this!