Polycystic Ovary Syndrome and a Low-Glycemic Diet - dummies

Polycystic Ovary Syndrome and a Low-Glycemic Diet

By Meri Reffetto

The exact reason polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) occurs isn’t yet known, but scientists believe there may be a link between insulin resistance and PCOS, which is why a low-glycemic diet is helpful.

The hormones of women who have PCOS are out of balance, which leads to various problems, including ovarian cysts, irregular menstrual cycles, fertility issues, weight gain, acne, skin tags, excess body and facial hair, and thinning hair on the scalp. If left untreated, PCOS can lead to diabetes and heart disease.

Insulin resistance reduces insulin sensitivity, which causes less blood sugar from the foods you eat to enter your cells to be used as energy. The cells become resistant to insulin, and the pancreas responds by releasing more and more insulin to help the blood sugar enter the cells.

In return, these high insulin levels stimulate the ovaries to produce large amounts of the male hormone testosterone, which in turn leads to symptoms such as infertility and ovarian cysts. This buildup of blood sugar remains in the bloodstream and is sent to the liver and muscles. After it reaches the liver, it’s converted to fat and stored throughout the body, leading to weight gain and obesity.

You can see what a challenging health condition PCOS is.

Getting blood sugar and insulin levels under control is a key factor in treating individuals with PCOS, and following a low-glycemic diet can help lessen blood sugar spikes and keep insulin levels down. It can also help reduce the weight gain that results with PCOS.

Granted, further research is still required to gauge the exact impact of a low-glycemic diet on PCOS, but until that data is available, know that this diet provides you with a good strategy for getting your blood sugar and insulin well under control.

If you have PCOS and want to try a low-glycemic diet, follow these guidelines:

  • Choose low-glycemic carbohydrates in the appropriate portion sizes for meals and snacks.

  • Eat a diet that gives you 40 to 50 percent of your calories from carbohydrates (compared to the normal 60 percent). Although research is needed in this area, many professionals agree that women with PCOS do better with a lower-carbohydrate diet.

  • Space your carbohydrates throughout the day to avoid blood sugar spikes at one meal.

  • Avoid consuming carbohydrates by themselves even at snack time. Couple them with a protein or fat source instead.

  • Choose high-nutrient, low-glycemic carbohydrates and limit your intake of low-nutrient foods.

You may need to obtain regular guidance from a registered dietitian who specializes in PCOS to find just the right low-glycemic fit for you.