Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) is one of the most common hormonal disorders affecting pre-menopausal women and the leading cause of female infertility. Symptoms include irregular or absent periods, infertility or reduced fertility, hirsutism (excess hair growth on the face, chest and abdomen), alopecia (scalp hair loss), acne, obesity and difficulty losing weight and increased risk of miscarriage. Many women also complain of excessive tiredness and fatigue, hypoglycaemia (low blood sugar), and poor memory and concentration.
We don’t know why PCOS develops, but we do know that there are a number of different causes and that most women with PCOS are insulin resistant and thus at risk of a heart disease and diabetes.
Reducing insulin resistance is not only vital for improving PCOS symptoms (regulating menstrual cycles, reducing acne and excessive hair growth and achieving and maintaining a healthier weight), but reducing complications that often follow including heart disease and diabetes.
A recent report published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition investigated the most effective diet for women with PCOS, and found that while both a conventional healthy diet and a low GI diet led to weight loss, the low GI diet also led to improved insulin sensitivity. In addition, more women had improvements in their menstrual cycle regularity on the low GI diet. Lead author Dr Kate Marsh says: ‘While low GI diets are commonly recommended for women with PCOS based on research findings, this is the first study to show that a low GI diet does have definite benefits for women with PCOS.’