If I had a euro for every time I was asked if they can eat gluten, dairy, and soy with PCOS I would be a millionaire.
I always promise you that you will only find evidence-based information on this website. When it comes to PCOS we don’t have 1 single shred of conclusive evidence that we should go gluten-free!
However, keep reading and see if these are things you’d like to *experiment* with taking out of your diet temporarily.
Can I eat gluten if I have PCOS?
Gluten is a protein found in grains, such as wheat and barley. You will find gluten in many common foods like bread, doughnuts, pasta, pizza, and cakes. I have spent hundreds of hours reading scientific research articles on PCOS and there is not a single one that proves that gluten can make your PCOS worse.
If you are celiac and have PCOS, like me, then of course you need to completely avoid gluten due to the celiacs. Now let’s talk about sensitivities. These are things you need to monitor using a symptom journal. There are many tests around in pharmacies and clinics that claim to tell you if you are sensitive to something but I can tell you most of them are a waste of money. The only accredited tests that are proven to be effective are allergy prick tests conducted by allergy specialists. So make sure you check what sort of test you are paying for.
But how will I know if I have a sensitivity to gluten?
We find tiny structures in our intestinal walls called villi these structures act as a “strainer” for what is allowed into our bloodstream. When we eat gluten, a reactive substance called zonulin may get released.
Zonulin can make these structures in our gut useless. For those who are sensitive to gluten, this can lead to a condition called “leaky gut.”
Leaky gut may cause the following symptoms:
- chronic diarrhea, constipation, or bloating
- nutritional deficiencies
- skin problems, such as eczema
- joint pain
- widespread inflammation
Because the strainer in our gut is not working well when we have a leaky gut, a huge influx of foreign toxins can enter our bloodstream and cause an inflammatory response.
Although we have no research on gluten we do know that a high amount of inflammation in our bodies when we have PCOS can prevent us from losing weight and contribute to other symptoms such as skin issues and fatigue.
An elimination diet for 3 months is the best way to figure out if this is happening to you. However, I do recommend doing this under the supervision of a specialist. That is something I can help guide you in. So feel free to set up a consultation.
Can I eat Dairy if I have PCOS?
Dairy is slightly different from gluten in that there is plenty of research showing that dairy can contribute to acne. In my personal experience with clients who suffer from acne, we have seen huge improvements in the skin when cutting out dairy.
When it comes to weight loss and inflammation there are no studies proving dairy-free will help. So once again if you think dairy is having an effect on your gut you might want to eliminate it under the supervision of a professional and then reintroduce it slowly. Cutting out dairy and not having it again actually can make your gut health worse.
In actual fact, I recommend certain forms of dairy to my clients. Full-fat dairy is actually proven to improve fertility outcomes and fermented dairy like yoghurt improves gut health which is one of the main root causes of PCOS.
Soy is a very controversial topic. I hear many people worry about adding soy into their diet because of phytoestrogens.
Soy contains isoflavones that are similar to human estrogen, but MUCH weaker.
It is important to point out that phytoestrogens are very different from xenoestrogens, which may contribute to women’s health issues.
Research shows that phytoestrogens found in soy are quite neutral and can even be beneficial!
They can help regulate estradiol (our strongest estrogen) and may also protect against estrogen dominance. In addition, soy is a great source of energizing B vitamins, iron, zinc, and antioxidants.
When it comes to soy, we definitely don’t want to avoid it.
How much soy Should I be eating if I have PCOS?
With soy: I recommend 2-3 servings a week.
Try and focus on whole-food sources of soy such as:
- Soy nuts
- Soy milk (choose unsweetened plain)
Instead of vegan soy hot dogs and burgers out!
In my PCOS blueprint program we discuss all of this and a lot more to help you manage your PCOS better.