Hi, I'm Dr. Rashmi Kudesia with CCRM
Fertility in Houston, Texas and today I'd like to talk a little bit about finding the
right optimal diet and nutrition plan for you for women that have polycystic ovary syndrome.
The long story short is that it has been studied to see if there is one optimal diet plan that
will fit every woman that has PCOS and for better or worse, the answer is no. Many healthy diets
can do the trick and really it's just a matter of figuring out what works best for you and is
sustainable over the long run.
But let's dive into some of the key factors that underlie all
of these things, in general. PCOS, or polycystic ovary syndrome, is a condition characterized by
inflammation inside of the body and potentially insulin resistance insulin is the hormone
that deals with any sugars or carbohydrates that we get in our diet and so watching the
carbohydrate consumption is definitely a key point of any of the PCOS-friendly diets. That
being said, in general, studies have supported the notion of kind of a pro-fertility diet very
similar to what we think of in the united states as a Mediterranean-style diet and whether or
not you're actively trying to get pregnant, I think that this diet is really optimal for women
with PCOS as well.
There are a few key categories we think about with regards to this diet and we
can run through them together. The first is being very planned forward, so in general trying to get
lots of fresh vegetables and fruits in the diet that whole eat the rainbow idea really helps
us to get lots of antioxidants into the diet and a supplement of vitamins and minerals the way
we were meant to ingest them. As human beings, taking a vitamin supplement can be very helpful
but getting these vitamins and minerals straight from your diet is definitely the best. In general,
this concept also helps to further the concept of a whole food diet and having whole foods rather
than processed or packaged foods anything that comes in a box or a bag or you have to go through
a drive through to get it is probably less than ideal.
And those should really be minimized in the
diet. So again, plan forward vegetables and fruits is really helpful in the carbohydrates category.
This is another area we really have to focus on watching our sugars. Sugar is very insidious in
the American diet and it's really important to get a sense of the things that you eat regularly
to look at the sugar content of those foods. In general, I talk to my patients about a couple
key areas that sugar can get into the diet. Certainly sugar sweet beverages like sodas juices
should probably really just be eliminated from the diet and you can work slowly but steadily
towards that goal.
If you're putting lots of sugar in coffee or tea or you're drinking
sweetened beverages from a coffee shop, that's another area where you could keep getting a lot of
sugar and not quite realizing it and then finally those white refined white flour products,
like white rice white bread and white pasta are unfortunately something that we should
be thinking about with moderation as well. In general, it's preferred to use more whole
grains and to use portion control as a big component of controlling our carbohydrate
consumption. That's definitely an area to focus on for women that have PCOS. Reducing
those carbohydrates especially those refined white flour products can go a long way in terms
of improving your symptoms as relates to PCOS. Now that being said, low fat is not necessarily
required unless you have a cholesterol issue as well. So healthy fats ,whether they come through
avocados, nuts, nut butters, are actually really great and can help you feel full if you're having
a snack or a meal and i think are very important to incorporate into the diet from a protein
perspective. I think plant forward is always helpful but going full on vegetarian is not
It's important to watch and see how you respond to different foods how you
feel after you eat different things. In general, some women with PCOS might find that they don't
respond well to dairy or to meat products, but it's not required that every woman that
has PCOS go dairy-free or gluten-free for that matter. It's really a matter of watching your
body and how you feel. If you eat something and you feel very bloated afterwards or uncomfortable
or having pain, that's a sign that maybe you need to dial back on that particular food. So, to that
end as you're thinking about changing your diet, there are a lot of different ways to do it. And
ultimately, I always say that the key component is that it should be a sustainable change many of
my patients ask me about things like keto or other bad diets. Ultimately, if it's not sustainable
over the long run, it's not a good choice for you and that's something to keep in mind. Ultimately,
figuring out the right plan has to be a mix or a sort of a combination of what resources you have
from a time, money, and energy standpoint.
You could look to certain books or other resources
that I share with my patients that have laid out plans by experts for women that have PCOS that
make it easy. They give you a blueprint of what to do and what not to do. Or you could try to
figure it out yourself, but that will require a lot more time and finding the right resources
to help guide your specific journey. Perhaps keeping a food diary for a week or two to see
what foods you respond to will also really help. You can definitely do it every incremental change
that you make as it relates to your diet will have a positive impact in terms of how you feel
and your long-term health if you have PCOS.