PCOS – Lowering Insulin Levels with Diet
You may be expecting me to discuss lowering your carb intake – and thinking, so tell me something I don’t know.
Please keep reading on, this is not the same old advice.
While excess refined carbs are clearly a problem, most women with PCOS will reduce “white” foods and sugar as their first dietary change; and many see results, especially with modest weight loss.
But is there more you can do? Yes, and you may find it an easy change to make. It is simply cooking your food at lower temperatures with plenty of moisture.
I advise most of my patients not to grill, and if they do so, to limit how dark they cook their food, and ideally marinating with acid-marinade for at least a few hours before grilling. Ditto for eating fried foods – I recommend they be eaten minimally if at all, especially considering the highly-damaged fats they are fried in. This is to limit the consumption of chemical by-products when protein and/or carbohydrates are heated to temperatures in excess of 400 degrees.
Now we are learning that any type of dry, heat cooking – even sauté – is associated with increased fasting insulin levels in healthy adults. In fact, after a year of modifying their diets to a low “AGE”, or advanced glycation product containing diet, the individuals who used low-temp cooking techniques had more than a one-third reduction in fasting insulin levels compared to those who used high-temp cooking methods.
You may know that increased insulin levels are linked to an increased output of testosterone from the ovaries in women with PCOS. So while the participants in this study did not have PCOS, it is a fair assumption that a low AGE, or low-temp cooked diet, could be helpful to you if you have been diagnosed with PCOS. Another benefit is the reduction of markers of inflammation, such as hsCRP, which are often elevated in PCOS.
While boiled or poached food may not be as tasty, the use of spices and low-sugar sauces can help you adjust to the change. Some suggestions would be to eat soft or hard-boiled eggs instead of fried, beef stew instead of grilled steak, poached fish instead of grilled, baked meatballs instead of fried (keep oven around 300 degrees and don’t overbrown), raw versus roasted nuts, and raw milk cheese instead of cheese made with pasteurized milk. Vegetables can be lightly steamed and will maintain a good crunch such as with a stir-fry. Sorry, you will have to forgo toasting your bread, even your whole grain bread; similarly, most dry cereals are moderately high in AGEs, stick to oatmeal. And baked potatoes in the skin are clearly better than oven-roasted potatoes even when using healthy oils like ghee or olive oil.
The key is to keep food from getting darker in color as you cook it.
If you are looking for more advice on how to manage your PCOS, please give me a call and take advantage of my free 10-minute consult to see if I am a good fit for your needs. There are many nutritional options including some very helpful supplements your doctor may not be aware of. I have seen good results in women of all ages - less unwanted hair, less acne, weight loss, and restoration of regular cycles - by following some relatively simple changes.
Diabetologia. 2016 Oct;59(10):2181-92.