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Five nutritional tips for women battling Polycystic Ovary Syndrome or PCOS

Vera Kratochvil

Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS), a common condition that affects 4% to 18% of women, results from an imbalance sex hormones. The hormonal imbalance associated with PCOS makes it harder for a woman's ovaries to release mature eggs, and when mature eggs aren’t released they can form very small cysts in the ovary. Along with cysts, women with PCOS often battle weight gain, experience problems with their menstrual cycle and can have a difficult time getting pregnant.

If you have Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS), you also have a higher risk of developing chronic diseases such as endometrial cancer, breast cancer, diabetes and heart disease. Paying attention to your diet and following some simple nutritional guidelines can help reduce your risk of developing one or more of these diseases.

The University of Illinois and the PCOS Nutrition Center recommend that those with PCOS avoid highly processed foods and aim to eat a wide variety of whole foods. A well-balanced diet for those with PCOS is one that includes whole grains, fruits, vegetables, meat and unsaturated fats.

Additional steps to help reduce your risk of chronic diseases include:

  1. Eat 25-30 grams of fiber per day
  2. Limit your salt intake to less than 2400 milligrams per day
  3. Eat lean meat and lowfat dairy products
  4. Bake, grill, boil and steam your foods rather than frying them
  5. Eat protein and/or a healthy fat with every meal and snack

In a PCOS review published by the Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, it's noted that the most effective approach is when diet and exercise is tailored to each individual. If you have PCOS, work with your doctor and a registered dietician to determine the right nutritional balance for you.

Other Resources:

National Institutes of Health: National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine

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