PCOS or Polycystic ovary syndrome is a condition that is very close to my heart.  There are many women who are afflicted by this condition, my own daughter included.  Because PCOS is influenced by insulin receptors it is able to be influenced by nutrition. Insulin resistance has been demonstrated in the majority of patients who are obese who have PCOS and in nearly 45% of their lean counterparts who also have PCOS.  There are many clients who suffer from PCOS who wish to manage their condition naturally and wish to avoid taking medication.  This article provides insight into what supplements are helpful to PCOS and how changing their diet can affect their condition and subsequent symptoms.


The appearance of polycystic ovary syndrome is dependent on a combination of genetic and environmental factors. Environmental/nutritional factors may come into play even before birth, as birthweight depends both on genetic factors and maternal nutrition and uteroplacental function (Armitage et al. 2004). A positive correlation has been found between birthweight and subsequent presentation of polycystic ovaries. Conversely, large population-based studies in the United Kingdom clearly correlated low birth- weight to subsequent markers of metabolic syndrome. Rapid early postnatal weight gain strongly predicts later childhood obesity and insulin resistance.   What we eat when we are pregnant has an immense impact on the health of the child in its adult years.

PCOS and insulin resistance

Insulin resistance is a major metabolic feature of PCOS and is probably central to many of its manifestations. In brief, insulin resistance occurs when a receptor has a diminished insulin response.  As a result a higher insulin-glucose set-point occurs which leads to hyperinsulinemia.  The high levels of insulin have secondary effects particularly on two crucial cell types: Vascular endothelia and ovarian theca cells.

There are a number of ways of modifying insulin resistance.  Eating a diet that contains foods that low in glycaemic index.  Eating whole foods and unprocessed foods.  Ghrelin, a hormone implicated in appetite regulation, was found to be lower in PCOS women.  Maintaining a healthy weight and having minimal visceral body fat improve insulin resisitance.  Visceral fat is closely linked to insulin resistance and PCOS, even in lean PCOS women.   PCOS sufferers also have defects in their ability to lipolyse visceral fat.  Visceral fat cells also incorporate free fatty acids (FFA) less readily than peripheral fat, leading to high FFA levels after food consumption in insulin resistant women (Dunaif et al. 1992, Gennarelli et al. 2000).
Addition of fiber to the diet, especially guar gum and and separation of carbohydrate intake from protein intake also help to modulate insulin levels.  This means not mixing carbs and protein in the one meal.   The type of carbohydrate consumed is equally important as the amount consumed, and many studies have demonstrated the advantage of substituting simple carbohydrates with a high glycemic index with complex carbohydrates.