Earlier in the week I spoke about high fibre foods and their ability to help combat insulin resistance. But did you know that high fibre foods play a significant role in managing PCOS?
In 2015 a strong cohort study occurred at the University of Alexandria in Egypt, about the role of the anti-inflammatory diet and its role in PCOS.
The 12 week clinical study comprised of 100 women all with PCOS. The criteria for the study included:
Of the 100 women who started, 75 completed the study.
The women followed a specific diet, which was calorie reduced (based on their presenting BMI); low in saturated fats (healthy fats, like olive and flaxseeds were still included); low in red meat (limited to once every 2 weeks) and primarily focused on the inclusion of fibre and antioxidants foods.
The study included many of the foods that PCOS sufferers fear - carbs. Study participants were encouraged to eat regular amounts of high fibre foods, such as lunch time multigrain bread rolls; meals based on servings of legumes and lentils.
During the study the women consumed small frequent meals; rather than large less frequent meals, as they have found having small frequent meals has been associated with improved glycemic index (GI). The women had 5 meals a day 3 hours apart.
Ginger, chilli peppers, black pepper, cur-cumin, bay leaves, fennel, anise, caraway, cumin, coriander, clove, cinnamon, marjoram, rosemary, and thyme were recommended for use in daily food preparation and salad seasoning. They were directed to consume unsaturated sources of fat such as flaxseeds (40 g/day), and olive oil while limiting overall fat intake. To add to the food guidelines given, participants were instructed to have five cups of green tea intake daily (that’s a lot of green tea over 12 weeks).
This study has strength due to its large population size. Often studies looking into diet and PCOS can have a high dropout rate. Let’s look into the study results:
15 women in the study who had full blown metabolic syndrome had an improvement in symptoms by 80%
43 women who completed the study were oligomenorrheic (<8 menses/year) and of those 27 had regained ≥2 menses within the study period (62.8%). In other words, they achieved 63% regain of menstrual cyclicality.
There was 7 women with simple ovarian cysts (<5 cm), and they all showed the disappearance of these cysts within the study period
They also achieved a 12% spontaneous pregnancy rate within 12 weeks.
The average weight loss was 6.3kg over 12 weeks
And there were statistically significant changes in mean averages for cholesterol; triglycerides; CRP levels; serum glucose; androgen, hormonal levels and blood pressure.
This is a landmark study for PCOS sufferers, as it clearly shows how consistent changes with food, no matter how small, can achieve results. I know it can be confusing, frustrating and stressful to find the right diet for PCOS and seeing changes is an even harder measure, when we cannot see what is happening within our bodies. However, this study confirms the importance of doing the little things, like eating more high fibre and antioxidants foods to manage your PCOS.
Amany Alsayed Salama, Ezzat Khamis Amine, Hesham Abd Elfattah Salem, Nesrin Kamal Abd El Fattah
N Am J Med Sci. 2015 Jul; 7(7): 310–316. doi: 10.4103/1947-2714.161246