Freedom from PCOS

Why is the glycemic index important for PCOS women?

Why is the glycemic index important for PCOS women?

What is the glycemic index?

The glycemic index, or GI, is a system of assigning a number to carbohydrate-containing foods according to how much each food increases blood sugar. The glycemic index itself is not a diet plan but one of various tools—such as calorie counting or carbohydrate counting—for guiding food choices.

Low-glycemic index foods (less than 55) produce a gradual rise in blood sugar levels that’s easy on the body. Foods between 55 and 70 are intermediate-glycemic index foods. Foods with high-glycemic index numbers (more than 70) make blood sugar levels as well as insulin levels spike fast.

Why is eating a low GI diet helpful for PCOS women?

Most experts agree that insulin resistance seems to be a common feature among women with PCOS. Insulin is a hormone released by the pancreas in response to the consumption of carbohydrates or sugar. The role of insulin is to maintain normal blood sugar levels, getting rid of the sugar consumed by moving it into the cells, where it is either used for energy or stored as glycogen or fat.

However, women with PCOS appear to have higher levels of circulating insulin in their body, which is called hyperinsulinemia. In this condition, the pancreas tries to produce more and more insulin because the cells do not respond normally to its action.

That means that women who eat a high-glycemic meal may feel lethargic, sad, or bloated due to excess insulin being released in the body. Overtime, excess insulin may contribute to uncontrollable weight gain.

Diets rich in foods with a lower GI can be especially helpful for women with PCOS. By causing a slower rise in blood sugar levels, these foods tend to lead to lower levels of insulin.

What foods are low GI?

  • Low GI: Green vegetables, most fruits, raw carrots, kidney beans, chickpeas, lentils and bran breakfast cereals
  • Medium GI: Sweet corn, bananas, raw pineapple, raisins, oat breakfast cereals, and multigrain, oat bran or rye bread
  • High GI: White rice, white bread and potatoes

If you decide to adopt a low GI diet to better manage your PCOS, first eliminate high GI carbohydrates, such as regular potatoes—mashed, baked, boiled or fried—processed breakfast cereals, white or whole grain bread, white rice, jelly beans, and dates.

Instead of a white potato, opt for small amounts of sweet potatoes. Have old-fashioned oat flakes or steel-cut oats for breakfast, and use sourdough or stone-ground whole-grain bread for sandwiches. (Read about gluten and PCOS here.) Accompany your meal with barley, quinoa, or basmati rice instead of traditional white rice.

Replacing high GI carbohydrates will help you lower the GI of your diet and improve your PCOS-associated symptoms.

To search the glycemic index for foods that can help manage your PCOS symptoms click here.


Low GI Diet for PCOS

Glycemic Index Diet: What’s Behind the Claims

Your Guide to the Glycemic Index


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