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Polycystic Ovary Syndrome and Diet

By The Paleo Diet Team
January 6, 2010

Recent tests have revealed that I have Polycystic Ovary Syndrome, which is something I have long suspected. I am 34, and have suffered with acne since the age of 11, and I barely ovulate. We would love to have children, and I am thoroughly sick of waiting to 'grow out' of acne. I have recently seen a fantastic doctor about my fertility issues, who has recommended the Paleo Diet. I am really keen to keep to the diet, see the benefits, and have bought the book, but have a few questions about particular foods.

Can smoked salmon (or any other smoked fish/meat) be included in this diet?

Also, you mention that pickled/preserved foods are a bad idea, and I really enjoy sun dried tomatoes, roast peppers in oil, and olives. Could I include any of these in the diet, if they are they are well rinsed of all excess oil etc?

How about decaf coffee?

I struggle a bit to find foods to eat for breakfast and lunch (evening meal no problem), and am REALLY missing cereals such as porridge (I don't know if you have any suggestions for substitutes)?

Maelán Fontes' Response:

Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) and Acne are both conditions associated to insulin resistance. Anovulation and infertility, are also added problems to PCOS and insulin resistance as insulin affects overall hormonal balance and particularly sex hormones through Sex Hormone Binding Globulin (SHBG) down-regulation. Insulin decreases SHBG production in the liver and at the same time increases male sex hormones availability (androgens), leading to an increased ratio of androgens/estrogens.

As thoroughly described by Dr. Cordain in his book The Dietary Cure for Acne and several scientific papers available in the published research section of our web site, diet is linked to the above mentioned hormonal imbalance.

Regarding your questions:

  • Smoked salmon could be part of your diet but don't use it as a staple food as it contains certain toxic substances.
  • Pickled tomatoes and/or peppers should be cut down as they may increase intestinal permeability. Intestinal hyperpermeability allows increased passage of intestinal food or bacterial antigens into peripheral circulation. Specially, certain bacterial cell wall antigens namely Lipopolysaccharide (LPS), are potent immune stimulators leading to chronic low grade inflammation which is at the root of many diseases and particularly insulin resistance (IR). IR is something you may want to correct in order to regulate your hormones.
  • Olives are part of The Paleo Diet.
  • Coffee shouldn't be a problem for you.
  • In the nutritional tools section of our web site you can find tons of recipes for your meals.
  • Cereal grains are all sources of harmful substances called lectins. You should avoid lectin containing foods as they contribute to low-grade chronic inflammation. Almond flour could be an option to substitute cereal grains.

I hope this helps.
Maelán Fontes Villalba - MS Ph.D. candidate in Medical Sciences at Lund University, Sweden

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