Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS)
Lifestyle and Dietary Recommendations
For women with polycystic ovary syndrome, daily physical activity and participation in a regular exercise regimen are essential for treating or preventing insulin resistance, lowering blood sugar levels and for helping weight-control efforts.
Since a majority of PCOS women are obese, and insulin resistance plays a critical role in the development of PCOS, a diet that is high in fiber, vitamins, minerals and disease-fighting phytonutrients, and low in saturated fatty acids may reduce certain risk factors and improve overall well-being.
Additional research may determine which specific dietary approach is best for PCOS, but it is clear that losing weight by reducing total caloric intake benefits the overall health of women with polycystic ovary syndrome.
Researchers reported that short-term treatment with an ultra-low-calorie (350‒450 kcal per day) decreased androgen signaling and reduced serum insulin in obese women with PCOS.59
A study by Italian researchers concluded that comprehensive dietary change designed to lower insulin resulted in a significant decrease in testosterone, body weight, waist/hip ratio, total cholesterol, fasting blood glucose and insulin.60
Diets high in monounsaturated fats have been shown to increase insulin sensitivity and lower the overall glycemic index. High fiber foods are slowly absorbed, causing less insulin to be released. High fiber diets increase SHBG, which binds to and lowers free testosterone. Fibers also can lower PAI-1 (plasminogen activator inhibitor, a glycosylated protein that plays a significant role in metabolic syndrome) as well as cholesterol and blood lipids.59
A study reported that just a moderate reduction in dietary carbohydrates reduced fasting and post-challenge insulin concentrations among women with PCOS, improving reproductive/endocrine outcomes.61 Echoed a 2005 report, "On the balance of evidence to date, a diet low in saturated fat and high in fiber from predominantly low-glycemic-index-carbohydrate foods is recommended [in the dietary management of PCOS]."62