PCOS And Nutrition


PCOS is Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome and believed that it is closely related to nutrition as your diet has severe consequences leading to PCOS. Studies have shown that a person who has healthy eating habits with regular physical activity have fewer chances of getting PCOS and sometimes easier to manage PCOS.1

What is PCOS?

PCOS is a condition where ovaries tend to produce an abnormal amount of androgens (a group of sex hormones that start puberty and play an essential role in the development of body and reproductive health) and other male sex hormones that are usually present in the female body in a small amount. The increase in the hormones causes a large number of cysts (sacs filled with fluid) to develop in the ovaries. Thus the name Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome comes from here. It is believed that some women may tend to have cysts, and some may not have cysts. In some cases, the woman’s body does not produce enough of the intended hormones to help in ovulation and so ovulation does not happen. It causes ovaries to form cysts which further produce androgens. 2


The symptoms of PCOS may be the following, 2 

  1. Excess of the body hair 
  2. Acne or oily skin
  3. Enlarged ovaries or cysts 
  4. Weight gain, especially around the belly 
  5. Infertility
  6. Missed, irregular, or very light periods

A balanced diet can help manage symptoms of PCOS

Diet plays an important role in the clinical picture and laboratory findings of PCOS. Studies have shown that changing diet in women has brought a positive clinical picture in PCOS.3 Therefore, if a woman is getting a balanced diet then there are fewer chances of her developing PCOS or she can manage it. Following are some of the measures to follow:4 

  1. A woman should take clean and less processed vegetables, fruits, dairy products, and lean protein foods.
  2. Stay hydrated as much as possible. It helps in regulating your crucial body functions.
  3. In order to manage PCOS, a balanced diet should have a minimum of 25 grams of fibre from fruits, vegetables, and grains. 
  4. Reduce your sodium intake. It is preferred to be at most 2300 milligrams of sodium per day. This can be done by limiting meals from restaurants and processed foods.

PCOS is androgen-dependent

PCOS is an androgen-dependent condition where an increased amount of Luteinizing Hormone (LH) causes proliferation in the theca cells, resulting in a surge in androgen level. High levels of androgen cause irregular menstrual cycles, increased body weight, and other symptoms of PCOS. 

PCOS as a chronic inflammatory disease

In PCOS, inflammation occurs from oxidative stress (imbalance in the detoxification of the reactive oxygen species in the cess and tissues) caused by a dietary trigger such as glucose. Hyperandrogenism is also the main progenitor for triggering low-grade chronic inflammation.5 In PCOS, obesity occurs due to a surge in androgens; obesity leads to an elevation in the circulating CRP (C-Reactive Protein an indication for inflammation in your body. High levels of CRP suggest inflammation in your body).6 In conclusion, in PCOS, there is an increase in androgen levels which causes the body weight to increase with insulin resistance. This becomes a determining factor in low-grade inflammation in the human body. 

Dietary recommendations for managing PCOS

We have found and dived into the causes of PCOS and how hormones have an impact on PCOS. Our nutrition also relates to PCOS. Food intake somehow interferes with hormonal levels and processes. In short, a woman with or without PCOS is advised to take care of and control her nutrition. For women with PCOS, diet has a vital role in managing the condition. Therefore, here are a few dietary recommendations to consider while with PCOS so one can manage it.


With PCOS, you are expected to see an increased insulin level or activity with insulin resistance. It is also the main reason for causing weight gain. In dietary recommendations, it is recommended to take 25 grams of fibre per day in combination with vegetables, fruits, and grains. Fibres are believed to stabilise insulin activity and thus decrease the increased insulin level and manage one of the symptoms of PCOS.7 Therefore, fibres are the number one of our dietary recommendations. 

Omega-3 fats

Due to a surge in insulin levels and increased body weight, low-grade chronic inflammation occurs in women with PCOS. Inflammation can be managed by increasing the intake of Omega-3 fats. Omega-3 fats have immunomodulatory activities, and thus they reveal significant benefits in inflammatory diseases.8 Therefore, it is recommended to use Omega-3 fats in PCOS as they will counteract the inflammatory activities and help us manage PCOS. 

Calcium and magnesium

Both Calcium and Magnesium work to control muscle contraction. These minerals interact with actin and myosin filaments, which are structural proteins of muscles. Actin and myosin shorten with each muscle contraction and then lengthen to relax your muscles. Both depend on calcium for shortening and contracting your muscles. They also depend on magnesium for relaxing their muscles after each contraction.9 Therefore, normal levels of these two minerals are important in our body, or irregular muscle contraction will occur.

Furthermore, magnesium is essential for the female body. Magnesium can reduce menstrual pain and cramps and is in low amounts in patients with PCOS. Therefore, an intake of magnesium is necessary to reduce menstrual pain and cramps.10


Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) is a condition where there is an abnormal increase in the amounts of androgens and male sex hormones. In PCOS, multiple cysts form in the ovaries so it is named as such. Irregular, missed, or light menstrual cycles, hair on the body, weight gain, and enlarged ovaries are all symptoms of PCOS. PCOS is related to nutrition, so it is recommended to take food rich in fibre, avoid taking restaurant meals and processed foods, and reduce sodium intake. PCOS is androgen-dependent and related to androgens, where an increased amount of LH causes proliferation in the theca cells, thus aggravating the PCOS symptoms. Insulin resistance and weight gain cause an increased level of CRP in the body indicating low–grade chronic inflammation. Therefore, nutrition is related to PCOS, and diet impacts the future of PCOS. Keeping its dietary effects on our body, taking a high-fibre diet is recommended to stabilise insulin activity. A diet with omega-3 fats reduces inflammation and magnesium to reduce the problems related to menstruation. A female with or without PCOS should show concerns about her diet as they will impact her hormonally and can lead to syndromes like PCOS.


  1. Jensen J. Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome. In: Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility. Elsevier; 2007. p. 65–75.
  2. Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) [Internet]. Hopkinsmedicine.org. 2022 [cited 2022 Dec 24]. Available from: https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/conditions-and-diseases/polycystic-ovary-syndrome-pcos
  3. Xenou M, Gourounti K. Dietary patterns and polycystic ovary syndrome: A systematic review. Maedica (Buchar) [Internet]. 2021;16(3):516–21. Available from: http://dx.doi.org/10.26574/maedica.2020.16.3.516
  4. No title [Internet]. Lancastergeneralhealth.org. [cited 2022 Dec 24]. Available from: https://www.lancastergeneralhealth.org/health-hub-home/2022/october/treating-pcos-with-nutrition-9-tips-for-a-healthy-diet
  5. González F. Inflammation in Polycystic Ovary Syndrome: underpinning of insulin resistance and ovarian dysfunction. Steroids [Internet]. 2012;77(4):300–5. Available from: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.steroids.2011.12.003
  6. Aboeldalyl S, James C, Seyam E, Ibrahim EM, Shawki HE-D, Amer S. The role of chronic inflammation in polycystic ovarian syndrome-A systematic review and meta-analysis. Int J Mol Sci [Internet]. 2021;22(5):2734. Available from: http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/ijms22052734
  7. de Leeuw JA, Jongbloed AW, Verstegen MWA. Dietary fiber stabilizes blood glucose and insulin levels and reduces physical activity in sows (Sus scrofa). J Nutr [Internet]. 2004;134(6):1481–6. Available from: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/jn/134.6.1481
  8. Simopoulos AP. Omega-3 fatty acids in inflammation and autoimmune diseases. J Am Coll Nutr [Internet]. 2002;21(6):495–505. Available from: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/07315724.2002.10719248
  9. Tremblay S. What Minerals Contract a muscle? [Internet]. Healthy Eating | SF Gate. SF Gate; 2012 [cited 2022 Dec 24]. Available from: https://healthyeating.sfgate.com/minerals-contract-muscle-6293.html
  10. Jaripur M, Ghasemi-Tehrani H, Askari G, Gholizadeh-Moghaddam M, Clark CCT, Rouhani MH. The effects of magnesium supplementation on abnormal uterine bleeding, alopecia, quality of life, and acne in women with polycystic ovary syndrome: a randomized clinical trial. Reprod Biol Endocrinol [Internet]. 2022 [cited 2022 Dec 24];20(1):110. Available from: https://rbej.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12958-022-00982-7

Syed Sharf ud Din

Doctor of Pharmacy, University of Central Punjab

Syed Sharf ud Din is a fourth-year pharmacy student. While still in pharmacy school, he has vast interests in biopharmaceutics and pharmacy practise. With an ardent skill of writing combined with background of health sciences, he is curating perfectly designed health-related articles for the general public. He aims to continue his skills and interests in the future to contribute to breakthroughs in pharmaceutical sciences.

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