What's all the fuss about dairy and gluten for PCOS?
Craving for a pizza but worried that it may trigger acne? Let’s dig deep into the real facts related to dairy-free and gluten-free diets for PCOS before we get cheesed-off…
GLUTEN & PCOS
Gluten is not totally off-the plate🙌
What’s gluten? It’s a protein found in cereal grains like wheat, rye, and barley.
When women remove gluten from their diet, they’re lowering their carbohydrate intake. And a low-carbohydrate diet has been effective in weight loss and the treatment of infertility in obese PCOS patients. But there’s no scientific evidence supporting the fact that gluten-free diets help all women with PCOS. Women may lose weight by going gluten-free mostly because of eating fewer calories overall.
So when does it become a problem? When you’re sensitive to gluten or suffer from celiac disease,an autoimmune disorder in which the body can’t process gluten. In such instances, your body responds unusually to gluten and can cause digestive issues like diarrhoea, bloating and nausea. And removing gluten from your diet can help you feel better.
How to ‘iron-out’ the deficiencies?
For women with gluten sensitivity, going on a gluten-free diet is not easy. If not followed correctly, it could also result in a diet that is low in iron, folate, niacin, zinc and fiber.
- Before going on a gluten-free diet get tested for gluten sensitivity by consulting a nutritionist or dietician.
- Check food labels and ensure you’re getting whole grain benefits. If sugar or a sugar word is one of the first three ingredients, opt for another food.
- Avoid packaged, canned or frozen gluten-free foods as they may contain a significant amount of sodium.
- Try whole foods without gluten that are packed with nutrients and fiber, such as fruits, vegetables, rice, amaranth, buckwheat, sorghum millet, and quinoa.
Swap refined carbohydrates such as white bread/rice/pasta, etc. with complex carbohydrates (steel cut oats and quinoa); starchy vegetables (sweet potatoes, squash and beets) and low sugar fruit (blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, strawberries, rhubarb and grapefruit).
DAIRY & PCOS
Don’t cry over spilt milk
According to a few recent studies, milk and dairy products can lead to acne, secretion of male hormones, increased insulin levels and weight gain. These studies also revealed that a low-dairy diet helps in weight loss, improves body composition, and reduces testosterone levels. It's for these reasons that a few women with PCOS are advised to follow a dairy free diet.
But on the flip side, full-fat dairy products have been shown to have a positive impact on fertility. Yogurt and cottage cheese are good sources of protein. And milk is a rich source of calcium, vitamin D, and protein
So, if you digest dairy well, small portions of dairy per week are alright. But if you cut it out completely, ensure you’re getting your nutrients from other sources. And in case you’re struggling to become pregnant due to PCOS, speak to your doctor about PCOS, fertility and how best to incorporate dairy into your diet
Cashew-away the myths with these alternatives
Can’t start your day without a glass of milk? Try cashew, almond, oat or flax milk. Avoid soy milk or rice drinks as a substitute because these are industrially processed, often rich in sugar and their glycemic index is very high. Always read nutrition facts before consuming such drinks and choose the one with less sugar (and less fat) per 100 g.
Going gluten and dairy free may be recommended to manage two significant underlying causes of PCOS i.e. insulin resistance and inflammation. But with multiple studies, and conflicting opinions it’s best to consult a specialist. You need to try out an elimination diet first to see how your body feels with and without these common food triggers. A one-size fits all approach may not work for PCOS. Every woman's dietary requirements are different. So, a personalised plan that takes into account your symptoms, lifestyle, and metabolic issues is important.