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What is PCOS and how does it affect the body?

PCOS (Polycystic Ovary Syndrome) is a reproductive health issue affecting the endocrine system in women. It can be tough to get a handle on just what’s allowed and what isn’t when it comes to PCOS, so we’ve compiled this list of foods to avoid if you have PCOS. Remember: it’s always best to consult your doctor before making any dietary changes, but these are some common guidelines for eating with PCOS.

How does what you eat affect PCOS?

Alcohol effect on PCOS

If you have PCOS, you’re probably well aware of the many ways that alcohol can wreak havoc on your body. Alcohol can cause weight gain and contribute to insulin resistance. It can worsen acne, low libido, and depression. And if that weren’t enough, it’s also been linked to liver damage and high cholesterol levels—not what anyone with an already increased risk for heart disease wants.

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Refined Carbs and Grains

Refined carbs are bad for PCOS.

The most common refined carb is white bread, and it’s a big no-no for anyone who wants to watch their weight or blood sugar levels. Other foods that fall into this category include bagels and pastries made from white flour and pasta made from refined wheat flour.

White bread and pasta are made from refined carbohydrates, which means they have had the bran and germ removed. So when you eat these foods, you’re missing out on the mineral-rich parts that make whole wheat or whole grain flour so much better for you. The refined flour used in white bread and pasta is high in calories (100 grams of pasta contains 473 calories) with little nutritional benefit compared to most other foods.

You can replace these items with healthier carbohydrates, like whole-grain bread and pasta, barley, and quinoa products instead of rice (though some varieties of rice such as brown rice have higher amounts of fiber than other grains).

These types of carbs are digested quickly by your body and can cause blood sugar spikes that lead to insulin resistance, weight gain, diabetes, heart disease—and more complications with PCOS!


Gluten is a protein found in wheat, barley, rye, and many other grains. Gluten can also be found in foods that have been processed with the same equipment as gluten-containing products.

Gluten is a common food allergen and many people with PCOS have a gluten intolerance which can cause inflammation and affect your digestion. If you are experiencing symptoms such as bloating, stomach pain, or diarrhea after eating bread or cereals it’s important to test for a gluten intolerance before eliminating them completely from your diet.

Processed Meat

Processed meats, such as hot dogs and sausage, are typically high in saturated fat and sodium. Excessive amounts of both are associated with an increased risk for heart disease and high blood pressure.

Nitrites used in processed meats have been linked to cancer development. According to Mayo Clinic, nitrites can also cause gastrointestinal problems such as nausea or vomiting if you eat too much of it at one time.

Processed meats often contain preservatives like sodium nitrite; these ingredients may have adverse effects on your body’s hormones because they disrupt normal hormone production from the adrenal glands or ovaries.

Fast Food

Fast food is a no-go for many reasons. First, it’s just not as healthy as home-cooked meals. Plus, fast food is high in calories and sodium, with few nutrients to speak of. The sugar content alone is enough to put a damper on your PCOS symptoms: even if you don’t have diabetes or insulin resistance.

And when we’re talking about trans fats…well…let’s just say these are some of the worst things for you if they’re found in your body at all! They can lead to heart disease and cancer—and since PCOS increases risk factors for both conditions anyway (including high cholesterol), we recommend steering clear from anything containing partially hydrogenated oils in its ingredients list.

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Caffeine is a stimulant that can have a negative effect on your PCOS symptoms. This is because it:

  • Causes irregular periods (in addition to infertility)
  • Causes weight gain and insulin resistance, which can lead to other health issues like diabetes and cardiovascular disease
  • Can increase testosterone levels, which may cause acne or excess hair growth in women with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)

If you love caffeine, try cutting back gradually over time. If you’re feeling really bad from withdrawal headaches or other symptoms after cutting out caffeine altogether, consult your doctor before trying again!

Foods Containing Trans Fats

Trans fats are made by hydrogenating vegetable oil to make it solid at room temperature. It’s found in margarine, cookies, crackers, and other processed foods. Trans fats are also found in fast food and fried food. Trans fat raises your bad cholesterol levels and lowers your good cholesterol levels. This can lead to heart disease or stroke. Even a small amount of trans fat is considered unhealthy for you!

Trans fats affect PCOS symptoms because they’re known to cause inflammation within the body (which can lead to other issues). So it’s best not to consume any trans fats if possible!

Processed Foods

Processed foods are high in sugar, salt, and fat. This can lead to weight gain and hormonal imbalances that exacerbate PCOS symptoms.

Processed foods are often made with refined grains, which are low in fiber. Fiber is an important part of a balanced diet because it helps slow down your digestion and keeps you feeling full longer—two benefits for anyone trying to lose weight or manage PCOS symptoms like insulin resistance.

Processed foods often contain artificial ingredients (like preservatives), which may trigger allergic reactions or digestive issues like bloating that can worsen PCOS symptoms.


Soda is incredibly high in sugar, calories, and caffeine.

Soda is also a source of artificial sweeteners.

Artificial Sweeteners and Sugar Substitutes

Sugar substitutes or artificial sweeteners are chemicals that have the same flavor as sugar but don’t affect your blood sugar levels. They’re often used in place of plain table sugar to help you reduce your intake of calories and carbohydrates, but they can also cause other health problems.

You may have heard that artificial sweeteners are bad for you, but what exactly makes them so dangerous? And which ones should you avoid? Let’s look at some common questions surrounding artificial sweeteners and their effects on PCOS:

Are artificial sweeteners bad for me? Yes. Scientists believe this class of substances may be contributing to the obesity epidemic through their ability to trigger hunger centers in our brains and increase appetite (1). One study found that when people drank a beverage containing sucralose (the active ingredient in Splenda), they consumed an average of 95 more calories per day compared to those who drank regular water (2). Another study showed how sucralose affects insulin levels by increasing blood glucose concentrations after consumption (3). This means it could negatively impact those with insulin resistance like those with PCOS since these hormones control how much glucose gets absorbed into cells after eating carbohydrate foods like bread and rice dishes.”

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Eat clean, organic, non-processed foods most of the time.

It’s important to note that foods are not good or bad, they’re just foods. The only true “bad” food is one that causes you harm, such as a chocolate bar containing toxic chemicals or an undercooked hamburger patty that’s been sitting out for hours.

For example, if you have a gluten intolerance, eating a slice of wheat bread could cause immediate symptoms like bloating and gas. That said, there are certain foods you should probably avoid when pregnant because they can increase your risk of high blood pressure or gestational diabetes.

But back to PCOS: there are plenty of things in your diet that may be causing weight gain around the middle area (the dreaded belly bulge) and worsening insulin resistance (which exacerbates PCOS symptoms). These include refined carbs like white rice and pasta; sugar-laden processed foods like cookies; unnecessary fats found in fried fast food; trans fats found in margarine spreads; dairy products made from cows treated with hormones (this includes most UHT milk); alcohol; artificial sweeteners like aspartame; gluten (a protein found in wheat products); soybean oil (most vegetable oils) and factory-farmed meat containing antibiotics—among other things.

The good news is there aren’t any single magic bullets out there when it comes to managing PCOS either! But changing up your diet will make a difference by helping normalize insulin levels which can reduce some symptoms such as acne outbreaks and excess hair growth on the chin area known as hirsutism.”

Types of Food to eat with PCOS

Eat healthy fats. Fat calories are not the same as carb or protein calories. You can eat a lot of fat and still lose weight, and even if you don’t, it won’t make you gain weight like carbs will.

Eat lean protein. Protein is essential for building muscle and losing fat, but it should be consumed in moderation because eating too much can lead to high insulin levels and therefore PCOS symptoms. Remember that just because something is low-fat doesn’t mean it’s an appropriate choice for someone with PCOS!

Eat lots of veggies (and fruits) with a Low Glycemic index. Vegetables are loaded with vitamins, minerals, and enzymes that nourish your body—they’re full of fiber which helps keep blood sugars balanced so they won’t spike up dramatically after meals; they have anti-inflammatory properties that help to reduce inflammation associated with insulin resistance (which leads to symptoms like acne breakouts); plus they contain antioxidants which help combat free radicals that damage cells within our bodies causing them to become cancerous over time!

So next time someone asks what kind of food should I eat? Just tell them “VEGETABLES!” Not just any vegetable put cruciferous vegetables

Eat legumes, lentils nuts, and seeds: you can derive both plant-based protein and healthy fats


If you’re someone who suffers from PCOS, then it can be a struggle to maintain a healthy life! But as you’ve read in this blog post, there are plenty of foods with added sugar and artificial ingredients that cause PCOS to flare up. So next time you go to the grocery store, stock up on non-processed and organic food, and keep an eye out for those ingredients that make your symptoms worse. The list shared in this blog post is by no means comprehensive—but it’s a good place to start!

What one step are you going to take to improve your diet over the next 30 days? Let me know in the comment.

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