Top 4 Foods That Worsen PCOS Symptoms

Food is a way of life…our culture and heritage. I would have never imagined the foods I grew up eating in my childhood home were quickly sending my body into overdrive. If you household was anything like mine, the ultimate chef was Mom. I mean, that woman can really cook or bake ANYTHING. We ate comfort foods like fried chicken, greens with hammocks, baked macaroni and cheese and my all time favorite, her pineapple cake. Those foods brought joy to our family, but it also came with targets pains. Today, we are constantly bombarded with advertisements for processed foods, toxic sugars, excessive fats, MSG, sodium overload, cancerous pesticides and more. Our food industry is swiftly sending PCOS symptoms into haywire; elevating risks to other deadly illnesses.


More than half of women with PCOS are diagnosed with diabetes by the age of 40. Additionally, women with PCOS are at greater risk of developing cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, cancer and stroke. All of which are direct causes of diet & lifestyle, rather than genetic makeup alone. Therefore, it’s extremely important to take a close look at what we put in our shopping basket.


SO, what are processed foods anyway?

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) defines a processed food as one that has undergone any changes to its natural state—that is, any raw agricultural commodity subjected to washing, cleaning, milling, cutting, chopping, heating, pasteurizing, blanching, cooking, canning, freezing, drying, dehydrating, mixing, packaging, or other procedures that alter the food from its natural state. The food may include the addition of other ingredients such as preservatives, flavors, nutrients and other food additives or substances approved for use in food products, such as salt, sugars, and fats.


The food industry allows more than 3,000 food additives to be used in the processing of our food. These additives are used to help improve the taste, texture, consistency and visual appeal of food as well as extend the shelf life.

1. Processed Foods

Processed foods can cause micronutrient deficiencies. These deficiencies cause inflammation, which causes acne, insulin resistance, overproduction of cortisol and more. Additionally, processed foods lack the nutrients our bodies require  to function properly. This leads to various chronic illnesses such as heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes

2. Added sugar

It’s critical to avoid high sugar foods with PCOS. Eating less sugar results in lower blood glucose levels. This decreases insulin levels, and reduces androgen levels. Most women with PCOS crave sugary foods, even after eating meals. This is due to increases in insulin levels. To best manage insulin levels and cut down the amount of sugar in your diet.

3. Meat/Animal Products

Numerous studies show a consumption of animal products such as meat, eggs, and dairy directly contribute to the rising amount of obesity, cardiovascular disease, certain types of cancer, type 2 diabetes, and alzheimer’s disease and stroke. All of which are the nations top killers.

AGEs (advanced glycation endproducts) are highly reactive molecules in certain foods (especially when cooked at high temperatures) can induce inflammation, insulin resistance, and cellular damage. Women with PCOS tend to have higher levels of AGEs and AGE receptors. Diets low in AGEs reduce inflammation and insulin resistance in women with PCOS. High-AGE foods include beef, pork, poultry, cheese, butter, cream cheese, and processed snack foods. Low-AGE foods include whole grains, legumes, vegetables, and fruits.


A study in the Journal of Atherosclerosis found that just three eggs or more a week was associated with a significant increase in artery-clogging plaque buildup in people’s carotid arteries, going to their brain— causing stroke, heart attack, and death.

Protein from animal sources (and processed foods) tends to promote insulin resistance and inflammation, key issues in PCOS.

4. Diary/Animal Products

 Dairy ingestion can lead to increased insulin levels leading to increased cellular growth and acne. Additionally, dairy products are carbohydrates which stimulate insulin growth factor 1 (IGF-1), resulting in high insulin levels. High insulin levels lead to increased androgens creating more sebum production. You see, milk contains growth-stimulating hormones, including IGF-1 and dihydrotestosterone (DHT), which increases androgens resulting in higher sebum production and acne. This fact came to mind when I began to notice my acne subside when I FINALLY cut cheese. A study published in the U.S. The National Library of Medicine, examined why certain foods are more addictive than others. Pizza, unsurprisingly, came out on top of the most addictive food on the list and it has to do with the cheese. Cheese is highly addictive because of a compound called casein, a protein found in all milk products. During digestion, casein releases opiates called casomorphins. Thes casomorphins really play with the dopamine receptors and trigger that addictive element of wanting MORE CHEESE.

While there are numerous foods that worsen PCOS symptoms, there are also tons of others that manage and tackle the syndrome from the root (insulin resistance, inflammation, hormonal imbalance, and stress overload). A Plant based diet is the only clinically proven method to prevent, reduce or reverse most of the nations top 15 killers. This includes heart disease, certain types of cancers (colon, prostate and breast cancer), diabetes, stroke, obesity and PCOS.

  • Legumes: 3 servings per day (this can be beans, lentils, chickpeas, unprocessed dips like bean dip/hummus or lightly processed legume products like tofu & tempeh)
  • Whole Grains: 3+ servings per day (brown rice, oats, whole-wheat pasta, quinoa, wild rice, buckwheat are my standards)
  • Dark Leafy Greens: 2-3 servings per day
  • Cruciferous Vegetables (broccoli, broccolini, cauliflower, etc): 1 serving per day
  • Other Vegetables: 3+ servings per day (sweet potato and carrots are two of my favourites)
  • Berries: 2-3 servings per day. (Berries are low calorie and high in anti-cancer and cardiovascular protective phytonutrients/antioxidants)
  • Other Fruits: 2-3 serves per day (e.g banana, kiwi fruit & pears) – If you’re insulin resistant or type 2 diabetic, 1-2 servings per day.
  • Omega 3 Seeds: 1-2 servings per day (hemp seeds, flax meal, chia seeds)
  • Nuts: 1-3 servings per day (walnuts, brazil nuts, almonds are my top 3)
  • Fermented Foods: sauerkraut, kimchi, miso Soup, kefir.
  • Spices: 1 servings per day (turmeric and ground ginger a day are my favourites). Add to smoothies, tea, plant milk latte, curry, or other savoury meal.
  • Fresh Herbs: 1 servings per day
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