Health Benefits Of An Anti-Inflammatory Diet For PCOS
Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a complex and frustrating condition. Part of the underlying mechanism driving the hormone imbalance seen in women with PCOS is due to inflammation. Regardless of weight, women with PCOS have been shown to have higher levels of inflammatory markers such as increases in C-reactive protein (CRP), pro-inflammatory cytokines and chemokines, white blood cell count, oxidative stress, and various markers of endothelial inflammation. Higher levels of inflammation encourage excess androgen production as well as insulin resistance, contributing to weight gain and an imbalance of sex hormones that regulate the menstrual cycle.
Numerous studies have examined the effects various diet compositions in women with PCOS. Diets have included low glycemic index, low carb, high protein, and low calorie. A small systematic review published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics showed that there wasn’t much differences between these diets and that it was weight loss that improved PCOS. But none of the studies looked at the benefits of an anti-inflammatory diet in women with PCOS. Until now.
In a study published in the North American Journal of Medical Sciences, women with PCOS followed a Mediterranean style anti-inflammatory diet for 3 months. This diet was designed to be low calorie, low-fat, low-saturated fat, low glycemic index and moderate-to-high fiber.
The diet composition was 50% carbohydrates 25% proteins, and 25% fat. Anti-inflammatory foods that were emphasized include fatty fish (2x/week), legumes, nuts, olive oil, herbs, spices, and green tea. Processed meat and poultry, as well as added sugars were limited.
The results of this anti-inflammatory diet were very encouraging! Women with PCOS lost 7% of their body weight, 6.6% loss in waist circumference, and 9.2% loss of body fat and a 21.7% reduction in visceral fat.
Significant improvements in their cholesterol and inflammatory markers were found. Total Cholesterol decreased by 9%, TG decreased 18%, and LDL 10.6%. CRP levels decreased by 35%.
A big surprise: Sixty-three percent of women regained menstrual regularity and 12% conceived following this type of anti-inflammatory diet.
Ready to try it for yourself? Our cookbook, The PCOS Nutrition Center Cookbook: 100 Easy and Delicious Whole Food Recipes incorporates the properties of the anti-inflammatory diet used in the study. Best of all, we put all the recipes together to create a 4-week meal plan and shopping list to take the guesswork out of eating healthy.
Amany Alsayed Salama, Ezzat Khamis Amine, Hesham Abd Elfattah Salem, and Nesrin Kamal Abd El Fattah. Anti-Inflammatory Dietary Combo in Overweight and Obese Women with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome. N Am J Med Sci. 2015 Jul; 7(7): 310–316.
GonzÃ¡lez F. Inflammation in Polycystic Ovary Syndrome: underpinning of insulin resistance and ovarian dysfunction. Steroids. 2012 Mar 10; 77(4):300-5.