Nutrition Tips For PCOS
Shortly into the 18 month process in which I reversed my diagnosis of PCOS through holistic healing, I realised that a major influence on my progress was how I was nourishing myself. Understanding that our approach to nutrition holds power over our mood, energy and optimal functioning, I implemented some small, but impactful nutrition shifts, which enable me to engage food as a mode to fast-track healing for the digestive, endocrine and nervous systems.
To read about how I reversed PCOS head over here.
Eat To Nourish
When approaching healing PCOS from a holistic health perspective, it was imperative to understand (and constantly remind yourself) that everything that you are fuelling the body with, can either positively or negatively impact your condition and severity of symptoms. As such, the mindset around nutrition becomes focused on nourishing the body as opposed to limiting its value to the quantity of macros, serving sizes or convenience.
Prior to my PCOS diagnosis, I ate a healthy, well balanced diet that was attuned to my existing health conditions (Adrenal Fatigue, Gluten Intolerance + FODMAP friendly), and as such, making the following small shifts was easier to maintain, as I didn't need to radically overhaul from a place of poor nutrition to begin with. I didn't (and still don't) deprive myself, occasionally indulge in favoured treats and really enjoy the rituals of sharing meals and dining. However in the healing process of reversing PCOS, the way I fuelled myself centred on the nutritional value of what I was consuming, what healing properties or powers the food offered me, and understanding if what I was consuming would help ease or aggravate my PCOS symptoms.
These are the small shifts in nutrition I made to reverse PCOS
Limit Alcohol + Coffee
During the initial acute stage, I removed anything that was taxing my digestive, adrenal and natural detox (AKA the liver) systems. Your liver is a primary organ for metabolizing and managing hormones, so for those with PCOS, you need optimal liver function to help keep your hormones in balance.
I have never been a huge drinker, choosing generally only to have a few alcoholic beverages across the weekends, so cutting out alcohol completely for a period of 3 months was a simple shift. Coffee however, was much harder and I shifted between being totally coffee free and maxing at one, daily.
Currently, I remain cautious about how much alcohol I drink - only occasionally on the weekends, or when out for a great meal – but I ensure I focus on liver boosting foods and supplements to aid the processing of this. I keep my coffee limit to 1-2 daily at a maximum, substituting with adaptogen tonics and matcha instead and regularly take breaks from coffee if I notice any caffeine sensitivity creeping in.
Increase Insulin Sensitivity
My PCOS symptoms were related to an increased insulin resistance which meant it was imperative that I controlled my blood glucose levels and focus on a lowered carbohydrate intake. As carbohydrates are exceptionally important and necessary for a balanced dietary intake, I never cut them out completely, instead focus on incorporating low GI, slow release carbohydrates such as sweet potatoes and oats for sustained energy sustenance, that don't spike insulin levels and throw off my blood sugar.
I also sprinkle cinnamon over everything as it has been proven to increase the uptake of insulin into the receptor cells.
Gut health focus
In order to best absorb all the nutrients I fuel my body with, healing my gut was a major focus. Without optimal digestion, it doesn't matter how well you are fuelling and supplementing yourself, you simply won't be absorbing all of the goodness! With this intention in mind, I began including food sources that assist gut healing, such as grated apple (for the pectin), bone broths and collagen, and becoming more aligned in eliminating my known trigger foods of dairy, gluten and particular FODMAPs.
To assist with my gut healing, I also incorporated specific supplements which help aid the process.
As the endocrine system of a PCOS sufferer is already disrupted, it is important to lower the toxic load that can be present in many of our food sources. By selecting organic, responsibly sourced and locally farmed (where possible) produce, it is possible to lower the contagion of pesticides, GMOs and excess plastic packaging which can cause further havoc for the endocrine system through absorption.
High fat content
With a lowered, but sustainable, carbohydrate intake it was important to support my body with a higher fat content to even out my nutrient levels. The higher quantity of good quality fats, helped support hormonal development, balance and endocrine function whilst additionally benefiting satiety, mood regulation and energy.
Some favourite sources include avocados, nuts, coconut oil, salmon and nut butters.
all the Antioxidants
A diet rich in antioxidant sources helps fight inflammation (a key feature of my PCOS symptoms), supports the liver, lowers excess levels of free-radical and protects against cellular damage. When focusing on healing and strengthening my systems, packing out my plate with the vibrance of antioxidant powerhouses such as berries, beetroots, sweet potatoes and dark leafy greens became an efficient way to safeguard my body!
pescatarian + plant based diet
Whilst not at all a "must" for PCOS reversal, but rather for my own healing, I found a significant shift to a more plant based diet, supported with pescatarian protein sources, exceptionally nourishing for my body. Notably I find that my digestion and energy levels are elevated when I focus on reducing my meat intake. This shift also enabled me to pack out my meals with a wide variety of flavoursome, organic vegetables that provided necessary vitamins and nutrients to aid healing.
want to know more about pcos? find out all about the syndrome here.
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