PCOS Diet | Polycystic ovary syndrome, also known as PCOS, is a hormonal disorder that is common amongst women of reproductive age. The most common symptom of PCOS is irregular periods, heavy bleeding, weight gain, unwanted hair growth, or thinning of hair on the scalp, or possibly no menstruation at all. However, other symptoms include increased levels of the male hormone androgen. In some cases the ovaries may develop follicles on the ovaries (polycystic ovaries), and fail to regularly release eggs. Many women who suffer from PCOS, also experience infertility issues, type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome, premature birth, and endometrial cancer. While the exact cause of this disorder is reported to be unknown, we can tell you there are numerous factors that may contribute to its development.

Causes of PCOS

There are several factors that might play a role in the development of PCOS. According to the Mayo Clinic (https://www.mayoclinic.org/), this includes:

  • Excess insulin: Insulin is a hormone that is produced by the pancreas. One of its main roles is to help the cells in your body turn sugar into energy. If the body becomes insulin resistant, sugar levels can rise. The body’s natural response is to produce more insulin. Excess insulin in the body may also increase the production of androgens, which may cause ovulation difficulties, and increase in enzyme activity that converts hormones into androgens like androstenedione or testosterone.  
  • Low-grade inflammation: The white blood cells in women who have PCOS, are in a constant state of low grade inflammation. This triggers polycystic ovaries to produce androgen hormones, which causes ovulation difficulty. 
  • Genetics: There are a number of different genetic mutations that can occur which will increase risk or potential to develop PCOS. 
  • Excess androgen hormones: Overproduction of androgenic hormones by the ovaries can result in acne and excessive body hair in the chin, chest, or face.  Hair loss on the scalp and more. 

There are numerous ways for people to prevent polycystic ovary syndrome.  Harvard Health (https://www.health.harvard.edu/) recommends diet, exercise, and weight control to reduce the undesirable effects of PCOS. Research continues to grow on the importance of improving insulin resistance and the prevention of PCOS. For this reason, diet has become a valuable way to combat insulin resistance.  There are also a multitude of nutritional therapies to support the improvement of physiological pathways and work arounds for those with genetic and hormone imbalances.  

How does diet affect PCOS?

Individuals who have PCOS are found to have higher than normal levels of insulin. Insulin resistance can also be caused by excess weight, which is why weight loss may be helpful for preventing PCOS. Being mindful of the types of foods you are eating can help prevent PCOS. Refined carbohydrates such as sugary and starchy foods, can make it difficult to control weight and insulin. Adding specific foods to help fight against low grade inflammation, and excess levels of insulin may also be beneficial. 

What foods should I add to my diet?

If you have PCOS, the best types of food to add into your diet are high fiber foods, lean protein, and anti-inflammatory foods.

  • High fiber foods: These foods help to control high insulin levels by slowing down digestion and reducing the impact of sugar in the blood. Foods that are high in fiber include: cruciferous vegetables, sweet potatoes, lentils, and green leafy vegetables.
  • Lean protein: These foods are filling and provide lots of nutrients for the body, which is beneficial for weight control. Lean protein options include: tofu, beans, chicken, and fish. 
  • Foods that fight inflammation: Most women who have PCOS are in a constant state of low grade inflammation, which can be harmful to the body. Foods that fight inflammation include kale, spinach, tomatoes, berries, almonds, walnuts, olive oil, and fatty fish. 

If you are suffering from PCOS, or would like to discuss treatment options, consider consulting with a doctor of natural medicine Overland Park KS, who can assist you. A treatment plan will be created to help establish hormonal balance and improve your overall health.


Dr Corey Priest, DC - Functional medicine practitioner

About the author

Dr. Corey Priest has been practicing functional medicine since 2001. in2GREAT was founded in 2014 by Dr Priest after 13 years of experience with his other practices. Over his career, Dr. Priest has worked with and helped well over 10,000 patients under a functional medicine model.