Skin Issues? It May Be PCOS – Here’s How Changing Your Diet Can Help
If you’ve ever had an acne breakout but can’t seem to manage it, no matter how many skincare products you use or how many times you visit the dermatologist, you may have to look inward to find the source of the issue. Skin issues like acne are a common symptom of polycystic ovarian syndrome or PCOS. PCOS is a hormonal condition and is the most common endocrine disorder in young women and women of reproductive age, causing irregular periods, excess androgen levels, or cysts in the ovaries. Skin and hair problems are the symptoms that manifest on the outside. Other than acne, excessive facial or body hair growth, hair loss, and dark patches on the skin are often seen in women with PCOS.
Following a healthy and nutritious diet can improve symptoms like skin issues and other PCOS-related ailments. Not only does this help improve your skin, but it also has immense benefits for your overall health, making it easier to manage PCOS. Here’s how:
Why diet matters for skin issues and PCOS
What you eat plays a bigger role in improving your skin than any skincare product. Foods rich in antioxidants, vitamins, fatty acids, healthy oils, and more are crucial for healthy skin, whether you have PCOS or not. Eating these foods also keeps your blood sugar in check, which can help manage PCOS and its skin-related symptoms like acne.
Women who have PCOS are also encouraged to eat a nutritious diet to aid in weight loss. It’s estimated that around 88% of women with PCOS are overweight or obese. Following a PCOS diet to lose weight can help ease symptoms and prevent the development of chronic conditions like type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and cancer. There’s no one perfect diet, but eating nutrient-rich foods and meals that can stabilize your blood sugar and insulin without making you feel deprived is the most helpful for PCOS.
It can be intimidating to improve your diet and change your lifestyle for better skin and better PCOS management, so here are some simple, sustainable tips you can follow:
Nutrition tips for skin issues and PCOS
Reduce added sugar intake
Sugary foods and drinks can cause your blood sugar levels to spike faster than other foods. They increase your insulin production, which can make it harder to manage your condition. Your skin also suffers as blood sugar spikes increase inflammation and sebum. Both of these factors can contribute to acne.
Eating a low-glycemic diet with less sugar and ultra-processed food can help you lose weight and manage acne; 87% of people who followed this diet for weight loss noticed they had less acne. If you’re craving something sweet, opt for fruit instead of a donut or pastry. You can also avoid adding sugar to things like coffee or cereal. Swapping out white rice and white bread for brown rice and whole-grain bread can also help improve your diet.
Eat fiber-rich foods
Fiber-rich foods help you stay full for longer to help manage your appetite and stabilize blood sugar and insulin levels, making them great for a PCOS diet that can also help manage skin issues. Non-starchy vegetables like asparagus or broccoli are rich in fiber and aid in insulin sensitivity. Fruits such as berries and avocados also contain a lot of fiber, and they’re rich in antioxidants and vitamins, making them great for your skin.
Getting five portions or 80 grams of fruits and vegetables a day is important for better health and weight loss. They can be frozen, fresh, or canned and can be prepared in various ways. Having around two cups of non-starchy vegetables at lunch and dinner is a great way to increase your fiber intake.
Hydration is a crucial part of maintaining a healthy diet and lifestyle, and it can help you manage your PCOS and skin issues. Dehydration can worsen PCOS symptoms like bloating and fluid retention. Water is also good for the skin, allowing it to stay moisturized and firm. Adults should drink at least two liters of water a day, though that amount can increase depending on your daily activities or other health factors.
To ensure you’re staying hydrated, bring a water bottle with you at home and when leaving the house. Adding lemon or cucumber slices can give it more flavor. Aside from water, other sources like green tea or fruits with high water content are rich sources of antioxidants and nutrients, contributing to a healthy diet for better PCOS and skin management.