I’ve talked a lot about diets for PCOS on the blog. And to be honest, I think this is the most discussed topic for the condition. But have you ever stopped to wonder why diet matters? Is it all about weight loss? What does diet have to do with your ovaries?! Here are the 3 main reasons why diet matters in PCOS.
1. Blood sugar dysregulation is the root cause of many hormonal imbalances
Blood sugar dysregulation is very common in PCOS. I can tell you from personal experience, it’s common even in those who are not insulin resistant. What is it about? In short, it means your blood sugar can get high fast (but not to a dangerous point, this has nothing to do with diabetes) and then it gets very low, very fast. Most people will get a “warning” from their bodies when they get hungry. They’ll start feeling their stomach is empty, then it starts growling, and then, much later, all of this will be followed by shakiness, lightheadedness, irritability, and fatigue (in short, low blood sugar symptoms).
In people with PCOS and blood sugar dysregulation, the warning is often skipped. This means you’re fine one moment, and two minutes later you get low blood sugar symptoms. If you’re lucky enough, you might feel a little hunger coming along before those symptoms hit. But oftentimes, the time between being hungry and having low blood sugar symptoms is very short. And if you have insulin resistance, chances are your symptoms will be worse.
The good news is these symptoms can be prevented with proper diet. Supplements such as inositol, or even the commonly prescribed drug metformin might help. But it is not a guarantee. You can’t out medicate and out-supplement a bad diet. If your diet is constantly giving you blood sugar highs, you’re more likely to hit the lows and hit them hard.
2. Inflammation can be caused and sustained by eating the wrong foods
Not to mention that inflammation and PCOS go pretty much hand in hand. For some, inflammation can be the main driver of their PCOS, the main type. But regardless of your type, you should know some studies show PCOS is associated with low-grade systemic inflammation. So if you need another reason to understand why diet matters in PCOS, hear this: foods can cause and sustain inflammation.
The main inflammatory foods are sugar, gluten, dairy (A1 casein to be specific), and alcohol. Should you stay away from all of them if you have PCOS? Yes and no. What you should stay away from depends on a wide range of factors – your PCOS type, your lifestyle, and the degree of inflammation in your body. However, diet plays a huge role in treating this issue. So before you go heavy on medication, try a more simple approach first by going on an anti-inflammatory diet. Many women with PCOS find this is all they need to get back their period after months of amenorrhea!
3. Fertility and nutrition are connected
If right now you’re thinking “I’m not trying to get pregnant, so this doesn’t concern me”, think again! Even if you never want a child, fertility is a sign of health. Your reproductive organs are a part of your body, just like your kidneys, your liver, and all the other organs. While you can function without them, it doesn’t mean you should. I mean, you can function without a kidney, but does it mean you won’t try your best to keep both?
So how do they connect? Well, for instance, a recent Harvard study found that trans fats and diets reach in processed foods and sweets have a negative impact on fertility. In the same way, a healthy diet, rich with nutrients such as B12 and omega-3 acids supports fertility.
Furthermore, having a healthy weight before conception reduces the risks of complications during pregnancy and childbirth.
As you can see, the reasons why diet matters in PCOS go far beyond weight. All the systems of your body work together. Which is why how you fuel it matters. If we could stop trying to spot treat constantly and focus on our overall health, we’d get much better results and quicker! If you don’t know where to start, I’m here for you!
Also, if you wanna debunk some of the common PCOS myths and get on track right away, check out my FREE mini-course, “7 things to avoid when dieting with PCOS”. It’s just a 15-minute video packed of great information that will get you closer to your diet goals in no time.