What foods to eat and what foods to avoid when you have PCOS

Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is the most common endocrine disorder in women of reproductive age. It is a complicated hormonal condition that impacts metabolism, gut health, and fertility. Common symptoms include irregular menstrual cycles, acne, hair loss, weight gain, and fatigue.

What we eat can play a major role in managing PCOS by improving blood sugar, reducing inflammation, and supporting healthy hormone balance. Here are the top five foods to eat and the top five foods to avoid when you have PCOS

Top 5 foods to eat with PCOS

1. Cruciferous vegetables

Cruciferous vegetables include broccoli, cauliflower, kale, mustard greens, and brussels sprouts. Diindolylmethane (DIM) is a compound created in the body when these foods are consumed. DIM supports the breakdown of estrogen, which can be particularly helpful for women who have been prescribed the birth control pill, a common treatment for PCOS-related symptoms.

2. Berries

Berries are high in antioxidants, which help reduce inflammation in the body. They also do not spike the blood sugar as much as other fruits, making them a good option for those with insulin-resistant PCOS. Choose fresh or frozen organic berries and add them to smoothies, yogurt, salads, or eat by the handful.


3. Healthy fats

Foods high in omega-3 fatty acids help to reduce inflammation and support healthy hormone production. Healthy fats include avocado, nuts, seeds, olives, and fatty fish like salmon and trout. Aim to include a healthy fat with each meal, including 3oz of fatty fish two to three times per week.

4. High-fiber foods

High-fiber foods help to stabilize blood sugar, keep us feeling fuller longer, and promote healthy bowel movements. Eat more whole grains (brown rice, quinoa, oats), beans, lentils, vegetables, pears, and apples. If you add too much fiber to your diet too quickly, you may become constipated, so add foods slowly over time and be sure to stay hydrated.

5. Lean protein

Protein helps stabilize blood sugar and regulate appetite, reducing the risk of developing type 2 diabetes or weight gain. Include high-quality, lean proteins like fatty fish, chicken, turkey, eggs, beans, and lentils. Opt for organic, free-range meat and eggs whenever possible to limit your exposure to unwanted hormones and antibiotics.

Top 5 foods to avoid with PCOS

1. Sugar

High sugar foods cause an unhealthy spike in blood sugar and insulin levels, contributing to irregular cycles, inflammation, acne, and weight gain. Limit high sugar foods including candy, cake, ice cream, breakfast cereals, sweetened yogurt, soda, and fruit juice. When choosing a sweetener, look for stevia or monk fruit which do not cause a rapid spike in blood sugar.

2. Inflammatory oils

Oils high in omega-6 fatty acids increase inflammation in the body and should be limited. These oils include corn, soybean, canola, vegetable, cottonseed, palm, and peanut. Instead, use olive oil for cooking temperatures below 375 degrees Fahrenheit, and avocado oil for higher temperatures. Other healthy oils include flax, walnut, and sesame.

3. Refined carbohydrates

Refined carbohydrates have been highly processed and stripped of their nutrients, including fiber, vitamins, and minerals. Foods like white bread, white rice, breakfast cereals, and pastries can cause sudden changes in blood sugar levels and worsen insulin resistance. They can also worsen sugar cravings and leave you feeling hungry shortly after eating. Instead stick to whole grains including brown rice, quinoa, and oats.

4. Gluten

Gluten is a protein found in wheat, barley, and rye. It is known to worsen leaky gut, leading to increased inflammation in the body. Gluten has also been correlated with higher levels of ghrelin, the hormone that signals our brain we are hungry, which may lead to overeating and weight gain. If you are suspicious that gluten may be contributing to your symptoms, try an elimination challenge for 6 to 8 weeks and assess how you feel.

5. Alcohol

Because alcohol puts a burden on the liver, we are not able to break down hormones and cholesterol as efficiently when we drink in excess. Alcohol can also disrupt gut health and increase inflammation, further contributing to PCOS symptoms. Not to mention, cocktails are often high in sugar, which can lead to weight gain, sugar cravings, and overeating. If you do choose to drink, opt for soda water and lime as your mixer and refrain from binge drinking.

About Dr. Danielle Desroche

Dr. Danielle Desroche is a licensed naturopathic doctor specializing in PCOS, fertility, and thyroid health. Using natural therapies, she aims to address the root cause of symptoms while restoring balance in the body so it can function optimally. She owns a virtual telemedicine practice, which allows her to connect with and support women from across the country. She is passionate about educating and empowering her patients to understand their bodies and take control of their health. To learn more, visit www.drdanielledesroche.com or follow on Instagram @drdanielle.nd.