Why diet matters in managing your PCOS
Exactly why PCOS develops remains unknown but it is likely to result from an interaction between genes and the environment. What we do know is that insulin resistance and being overweight, particularly carrying excess weight around the middle, play an important role. We also know that lowering insulin levels and losing weight (if you are overweight) are important in managing PCOS.
While a poor diet on its own is unlikely to cause PCOS, if you are at risk of developing this condition, then eating an unhealthy diet, not exercising and gaining weight will increase the risk. And diet and other lifestyle changes are an important part of managing PCOS once you are diagnosed.
Why? Well, eating the right foods can help to improve the insulin resistance underlying PCOS and can reduce the risk of long-term health problems linked with PCOS including impaired glucose tolerance, type 2 diabetes and heart disease. Even losing relatively small amounts of weight (around 5-10% of body weight) has been shown to reduce insulin levels, improve menstrual function, reduce testosterone (male hormone) levels, improve symptoms of hirsutism (excess hair) and acne, restore ovulation and increase fertility. And most of us know that we just feel better when we are eating well. So if you have PCOS there are many good reasons to focus on improving your eating habits!
At the PCOS Health & Nutrition Centre we know there is plenty of confusion out there about what you should and shouldn’t eat for managing PCOS and we will cover this in upcoming blog posts, but we do recommend that you consider seeing a dietitian specialising in the dietary management of PCOS, to help you develop an eating plan to suit your individual needs. If you would like to find an Accredited Practicing Dietitian (APD) who works with women with PCOS in your area, visit the Find-a-Dietitian section on the Dietitians Association of Australia (DAA) website www.daa.asn.au