Nutrition basics: PCOS
Diet and physical activity are important elements in managing the symptoms of PCOS. It is estimated that in the UK, one in 10 women are affected by the condition and while the cause is unknown, weight is thought to increase a women’s risk of developing the condition.
Women with PCOS are often resistant to the effects of insulin and so many have more insulin in their blood, which can cause symptoms to flare up. Below, we look at the foods that are generally included in a PCOS diet.
Foods with a low glycaemic index are thought to help reduce symptoms and balance insulin levels.
Fruit is a great source of essential vitamins and is rich in fibre. While many women are reluctant to add fruit to their diet due to the sugar content, it is a great alternative to unhealthy foods.
Low GI fruits include cherries, apricots and grapes.
Unsaturated fats are an essential part in managing PCOS symptoms. Essential fatty acids (EFAs) help maintain the cell wall, absorbing the nutrients the body needs. They also help to rebalance hormones and manage weight.
‘Healthy’ fats include oily fish such as salmon or mackerel, avocado and olive oil.
Meat and protein
When suffering with PCOS, it is important to consume good quality, lean meats. In addition, eating a source of protein and fats with a side of carbohydrates can help keep insulin levels low.
Protein foods include houmous, nuts, eggs, fish, chicken and beans and pulses.
How can a nutritionist help?
While women may feel confident creating their own nutrition and exercise programme, others living with PCOS may want extra help.
A nutritionist will create a personal PCOS-friendly diet plan alongside a fitness programme tailored to the individual. They may ask for a food diary to be filled out before, during and after the session so that they can understand what foods are and are not affecting symptoms.
A nutrition professional cannot cure the condition, but they can offer support, personal advice and offer simple changes that can be made to diet and lifestyle in order to make life with PCOS easier.
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