Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) remains one of the most common hormonal endocrine disorders affecting five to ten percent of women of childbearing age. In my work about one third of my patients are women with PCOS who struggle to conceive and later have high-risk pregnancies.1
This is why targeted and effective PCOS management during pregnancy is critical and mostly important for both the mother and her baby.
Common problems associated with PCOS during pregnancy include risk of early miscarriage, increased risk for gestational diabetes, preeclampsia , preterm birth, and delivery complications leading to C-section.
With the right diet and lifestyle we can minimize the risk for all these nasties tremendously and help the baby get the health headstart she deserves.
Here I want to share a few scientific gems for PCOS management during pregnancy that I mix and match along with personalized nutrition and lifestyle for my clients.
As with all the scientific innovations, you wont see many of these miraculous things in mainstream clinical practice for a few more years. It always takes time – in medicine up to a generation! – for new things to become integrated in medical practice.
Dietary Tips For PCOS Pregnancy Success
Remember that not everything is working for everybody. Our bodies are different in too many ways and naturally, they respond differently to the same foods and supplements.
Besides, most often than not, it is a combination of foods and lifestyle factors that bring on consistent and reliable change, not a single supplement or food alone.
Foods And Supplements
Cinnamon is an important add-on component in any PCOS regime. Not only its delicious, but scientists use it as an “insulin sensitizer” because it helps to reduce insulin resistance = reduce the amount of circulating insulin and subsequently blood sugar levels , both hugely important for the baby.
High insulin levels in the blood are believed to be at least one for the reasons why there is such a great risk for early pregnancy loss in women with PCOS, so it makes sense to keep insulin under control in every possible way.2
Personally, turmeric is not my favorite spice, flavor-wise, but its an epic medicinal powerhouse! PCOS women are at significant risk for developing gestational diabetes during pregnancy. We have in our hands very promising research showing that curcumin (the principle component in turmeric) pills taken daily over a nine-month course can essentially prevent the development of diabetes.3
Turmeric is one of the most studied spices ever, with hundreds of studies confirming its supreme antioxidant, antinflamatory and antidiabetic potential, in the absence of any significant side effects that come with standard pharmaceutical treatments.
Selenium is not just a miracle mineral for fertility in women with PCOS. Yes, it can help restore ovulation, we have quite a bit of evidence about that, but at the same time it also relieves inflammation associated with PCOS.4
This is important for mother and baby. You do not want your little one to be exposed to an inflamed environment and be bathed with inflammatory biomolecules for 9 months. You don’t!
For me, selenium is a must-have mineral during pregnancy and you should make sure an optimal form of it and sufficient amount is included in your prenatal supplement.
Walnuts And Almonds
Almonds and walnuts are rich in monounsaturated fats (MUFA) and n-3 polyunsaturated fats (PUFA) respectively, which regulate hormones and blood sugar levels.5
At the same time, these medicinal fats are very important for the developing brain of the baby. Fat is the main component of brain cells and therefore women must take consistently sufficient amounts of healthy fats to help the baby develop a super brain.
Research shows that MUFA-rich almonds and PUFA-rich walnuts help decrease values on plasma lipid panels and reduce level of male hormones in women with PCOS, which contributes towards much needed hormone balance in PCOS pregnant women.
PCOS Diet Plan
Diet and lifestyle modification should be the first line of treatment offered to women with PCOS. Period. This is the most effective, side effect-free way to reach hormone balance and reduce risk for pregnancy complications without exposing the baby to any pharmaceuticals.
Research suggests that a diet with low starch increases insulin sensitivity, which lowers the risk of developing diabetes and early pregnancy loss.6 Also, low starch diet reduced the levels of testosterone in the blood.
When we substitute rapidly-digestible starch with low GI vegetables, we achieve a smooth release of glucose in the blood, long after each meal ends. This helps the baby receive exactly what it needs- an uninterrupted flow of the right amount of glucose = energy throughout pregnancy. And this is how you get a healthy, perfect baby.
Proteins are the building blocks of the human body and developing babies need loads of it. Getting enough protein during pregnancy is the only way to support your baby’s growth and development.
But for women with PCOS, a protein-rich diet has more benefits, most importantly, much needed insulin sensitivity. At least 30% of your calories during pregnancy should come from good quality protein. No processed junk, just real, wholesome food to nourish your body and baby.7
|↑1||Boomsma, C. M., M. J. C. Eijkemans, E. G. Hughes, G. H. A. Visser, B. C. J. M. Fauser, and N. S. Macklon. “A meta-analysis of pregnancy outcomes in women with polycystic ovary syndrome.” Human Reproduction Update 12, no. 6 (2006): 673-683.|
|↑2||Wang, Jeff G., Richard A. Anderson, George M. Graham, Micheline C. Chu, Mark V. Sauer, Michael M. Guarnaccia, and Rogerio A. Lobo. “The effect of cinnamon extract on insulin resistance parameters in polycystic ovary syndrome: a pilot study.” Fertility and sterility 88, no. 1 (2007): 240-243.|
|↑3||Chuengsamarn, Somlak, Suthee Rattanamongkolgul, Rataya Luechapudiporn, Chada Phisalaphong, and Siwanon Jirawatnotai. “Curcumin extract for prevention of type 2 diabetes.” Diabetes care 35, no. 11 (2012): 2121-2127.|
|↑4||Razavi, M., M. Jamilian, Z. Fakhrieh Kashan, Z. Heidar, M. Mohseni, Y. Ghandi, T. Bagherian, and Z. Asemi. “Selenium Supplementation and the Effects on Reproductive Outcomes, Biomarkers of Inflammation, and Oxidative Stress in Women with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome.” Horm Metab Res 47 (2015): 1-7.|
|↑5||Kalgaonkar, S., R. U. Almario, D. Gurusinghe, E. M. Garamendi, W. Buchan, Kyoungmi Kim, and Siddika E. Karakas. “Differential effects of walnuts vs almonds on improving metabolic and endocrine parameters in PCOS.” European journal of clinical nutrition 65, no. 3 (2011): 386-393.|
|↑6||Pohlmeier, Ali M., Jennifer L. Phy, Phillip Watkins, Mallory Boylan, Julian Spallholz, Kitty S. Harris, and Jamie A. Cooper. “Effect of a low-starch/low-dairy diet on fat oxidation in overweight and obese women with polycystic ovary syndrome.” Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism 39, no. 11 (2014): 1237-1244.|
|↑7||Mehrabani, Homeira Hamayeli, Saghar Salehpour, Zohreh Amiri, Sara Jalali Farahani, Barbara J. Meyer, and Farideh Tahbaz. “Beneficial effects of a high-protein, low-glycemic-load hypocaloric diet in overweight and obese women with polycystic ovary syndrome: a randomized controlled intervention study.” Journal of the American College of Nutrition 31, no. 2 (2012): 117-125.|