POLYCYSTIC OVARIES (PCOS) & DIET
Polycystic Ovaries Syndrome (PCOS) is a common condition, affecting how a woman’s ovaries work. Symptoms can be uncomfortable. Read our new blog post on how diet can help alleviate some of these symptoms.
PCOS is a hormonal condition that affects up to 1 in 10 Irish women. It is characterised by the presence of small harmless cysts in ovaries. The exact cause of PCOS is unknown, however many of the symptoms are related to the overproduction of testosterone .
Symptoms may include;
- Irregular or absent periods
- Excessive hair, particularly on the face, chest or stomach
- Fertility issues
- Weight gain
- Thinning of hair/male pattern baldness
PCOS and Weight: A Vicious Circle
Weight gain is associated with PCOS. Excess weight, especially around the middle, is associated with insulin resistance. Insulin is a hormone found in the body that controls glucose (sugar) levels in the blood. Insulin resistance is when the body's tissues doesn’t respond to the normal level of insulin. The body therefore has to produce extra insulin to compensate. This excess insulin can increase the production and activity of testosterone, which can make the symptoms of PCOS worse . However, this relationship works in both directions as high levels of testosterone can lead to weight gain . A chicken-egg style debate is ongoing among researchers. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2753428/
For those who are overweight, even modest weight loss of 5-10% can improve the symptoms of PCOS . At Natur House we specialise in slow and steady weight loss of between 1-2lbs (0.5-1kg) per week.
Diet and PCOS
PCOS can occur in women within a healthy weight range. Aside from weight loss, diet can also play a significant role in keeping PCOS symptoms in check.
Adopt a Mediterranean-style diet
There appears to be benefits for adopting a Mediterranean-style diet, rich in fruits, vegetables, legumes, wholegrains, low-fat dairy, olive oil and fish and poultry, for women with PCOS. This style of eating has been shown to lead to a reduction in insulin resistance in women with PCOS
Choose low GI options
Different carbohydrate sources are digested at different rates, which effects blood sugar. The Glycaemic Index is a ranking of how quickly different carbohydrate sources make your blood sugar rise after eating them. Following a low GI diet may improve insulin resistance and help regulate periods[7,8]. Low GI foods are digested slowly, therefore don’t cause sharp peaks in your glucose. Low GI foods are more commonly referred to as ‘slow release’ carbs so think wholegrain and higher fibre sources.
Low GI sources
Multigrain, granary, rye, seeded, wholegrain, oat
New potatoes in their skin, sweet potatoes
All pasta and noodles
Basmati, long grain, brown rice
Bulgar wheat, barley, couscous, quinoa
Porridge, muesli, most oat and bran-based cereals
Adapted from British Dietetic Association (BDA) factsheet on Glycaemic Index .
Eating little and often
Carbohydrate cravings are more commonly reported in women with PCOS, which may be related to sharp rises and drops in blood sugar. There is some evidence that spacing meals and snacks evenly across the day can help stabilise blood sugar levels. At Natur House we recommend eating every 3-4 hours to avoid this very problem. Also, ensure that meals are well balanced including adequate protein, fibre and unsaturated fat to help you feel full and satisfied.
There is evidence that chromium supplementation may help with carbohydrate cravings [10,11]. Our Apinat CLA product contains chromium to reduce sugar cravings.
Women with PCOS often have low magnesium levels and are at a greater risk of deficiency. Magnesium is involved in many bodily functions, including regulating insulin.
Sources of magnesium include;
- Nuts - Brasil nuts, cashews, peanuts and almonds
- Whole grains - wheat, barley, oats
- Soya products - tofu
- Seeds - sunflower and pumpkin seeds
- Green leafy vegetables – spinach, kale
While nuts are a rich source of magnesium, they are also very nutrient dense. Be careful of portion sizes. A small handful of nuts (30g) typically contains 160-200kcal.
Why not try our MAGNEVA?
MAGNEVA is one of the only soluble magnesium supplements on the Irish market. With its delicious fizzy lemon taste, you’ll want to make MAGNEVA part of your daily routine.
Aisling - Nutritionist Consultant at Natur House
Natur House work with qualified Nutritionists to offer you expert health and dietary advice. We provide free consulttions and meals plans which are supported by our range of natural plant-based supplements for as little as €5 a week.
Natur House is available in our flagship store in Rathhmines as well as the list of Pharmacies below.
To book an appointment online: www.naturhouse.ie/store-locator.php
Or Call: 01 406 2798
|Natur House Locations|
|County||Nutritionist Visit Day|
|Natur House||Dublin 6||Mon - Sat|
|Sam McCauleys Chemist, Redmond Square||Wexford Town||Monday & Thursday|
|Sam McCauleys Chemist, Kilkenny||Kilkenny||Tuesday|
|Sam McCauleys Chemist, Enniscorthy||Wexford||Wednesday|
|Sam McCauleys Chemist, Fairgreen SC||Carlow||Friday|
|McCauleys Chemist, Charlemont Street||Dublin 2||Wednesday|
|Sam McCauleys Chemist, Glasthule||Dublin South||Thursday|
|McCabes Pharmacy, Malahide||Dublin 13||Tuesday & Wednesday|
|Lioyds Pharmacy Ringsend||Dublin 2||Mon - Sat|
|Hayes Allcare Pharmacy||Dublin 2||Mon - Fri|
Natur House is an appointment based business and therefore from time to time we alter opening hours to accommodate Client needs.
- Irish Nutrition and Dietetic Institute (INDI). Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) [internet]. 2015 [accessed 2019 April 24]. Available from: https://www.indi.ie/fact-sheets/fact-sheets-on-women-s-health/542-polycystic-ovarian-syndrome-pcos.html
- Health Service Executive (HSE). PCOS [internet]. Accessed 2019 April 25. Available from: https://www.hse.ie/eng/health/az/p/pcos/
- Lim SS, Davies MJ, Norman RJ, Moran LJ. Overweight, obesity and central obesity in women with polycystic ovary syndrome: a systematic review and meta-analysis [internet]. 2012 [accessed 2019 April 24]. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22767467
- Moran LJ, et al. Lifestyle changes in women with polycystic ovary syndrome [internet]. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2011 [accessed 2019 April 25];2:CD007506. Available from: https://www.cochranelibrary.com/cdsr/doi/10.1002/14651858.CD007506.pub3/abstract
- Asemi Z, Samimi M, Tabassi Z, Shakeri H, Sabihi SS, Esmailzadeh A. Effects of DASH diet on lipid profiles and biomarkers of oxidative stress in overweight and obese women with polycystic ovary syndrome: A randomized clinical trial. 2014 [accessed 2019 April 25]. Available from: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0899900714001427
- British Dietetic Association. Food Fact Sheet: Glycaemic Index [internet]. 2017 [accessed 2019 April 25]. Available from: https://www.bda.uk.com/foodfacts/GIDiet.pdf
- Marsh KA, Steinbeck KS, Atkinson FS, Petocz P, Brand-Miller JC. Effect of a low glycemic index compared with a conventional healthy diet on polycystic ovary syndrome [internet]. 2010 [accessed 2019 April 25]. Available from:
- Mehrabani HH, Salehpour S, Amiri Z, Farahani SJ, Meyer BJ, Tahbaz F. Beneficial Effects of a High-Protein, Low-Glycemic-Load Hypocaloric Diet in Overweight and Obese Women with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome: A Randomized Controlled Intervention Study. 2012 [accessed 2019 April 25]. Available from: https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/07315724.2012.10720017
- Farshchi H, Rane A, Love A, Kennedy RL. “Diet and nutrition in polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS): Pointers for nutritional management” 2007 [accessed 2019 April 25]. Available from : https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/01443610701667338
- Doherty JP, Sack DA, Roffman M, Finch M, Komorowski JR. A double-blind, placebo-controlled, exploratory trial of chromium picolinate in atypical depression: effect on carbohydrate craving. 2005 [accessed 2019 April 25]. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16184071
- Anton SD, Morrison CD, Cefalu WT, Martin CK, Coulon S, Geiselman P. Effects of Chromium Picolinate on Food Intake and Satiety. 2008 [accessed 2019 April 25]. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2753428/