Many will associate the Keto diet with weight loss, however just as importantly, the Keto diet can also be extremely helpful in treating Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), also known as Stein-Levethal syndrome. PCOS is a common hormonal health condition which affects up to 1 in 5 women of reproductive age. PCOS is believed to be responsible for 70% of infertility issues which is absolutely extraordinary. PCOS has many clinical characteristics including excess testosterone, irregular or absent menstrual period, excessive body hair, weight gain, and male-pattern baldness. The cause of PCOS is unknown, however, there are associations with excess insulin, low-grade inflammation and genetics.
Insulin resistance is a prevalent feature which affects the majority of women with PCOS and has been shown to be linked to oxidative stress 3 . In a 2012 a study published in Steroids peer-reviewed journal, it was suggested that women with PCOS experienced low-grade inflammation which stimulates polycystic ovaries to produce androgens such as testosterone. The increased level of androgens causes disturbance in follicular development and infertility 2 .
Because low carbohydrate diets have been shown to reduce insulin resistance, one pilot study investigated the six-month metabolic and endocrine effects of a low-carbohydrate (less than 50g), ketogenic diet (LCKD) on 11 overweight and obese women with PCOS. This interesting study over a 24 week period, indicated that the ketogenic diet (LCKD) led to significant improvement in weight, lowered testosterone levels, LH/FS ratio, and fasting insulin in obese and overweight women with PCOS. In addition to this study’s impressive results, two women became pregnant despite previous infertility problems 4 .
As we now know, the keto diet has been shown to be beneficial in many different groups of people. From healthy people to type 2 diabetic patients, improving insulin levels and reducing insulin resistance —the two important factors we now know can also help women with PCOS. Going keto also results in rapid weight loss which is essential for improving fertility particularly in obese women with PCOS 1 . Overall therefore, keto’s principle of low carb intake is obviously beneficial in lowering fasting insulin levels, improving hormonal imbalance and resuming ovulation to improve pregnancy rates.
As I’ve mentioned previously, to get the best results we would suggest chatting to our Clinical Nutritionist, Sofia Keady who specialises in the Keto Diet. Sofia is available to chat on our shop floor. As well you can book into see Sofia for a more comprehensive consultation in our clinic.
If you want to know more about the relationship of keto diet and PCOS, call in to see Bev and the team at Go Vita, Your Health Shop in North Street, Batemans Bay or phone us on 44729737. Don’t forget to tune to Bev and Marianne on 2EC every Wednesday at 12.30pm for Go Get Healthy.
1. Dunaif, A. (1997). Insulin resistance and the polycystic ovary syndrome: mechanism and implications for pathogenesis. Endocrine Reviews. Retrieved from https://academic.oup.com
2. Gonzales, F. (2012). Inflammation in polycystic ovary syndrome: underpinning of insulin resistance and
ovarian dysfunction. Steroids journal. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/
3. Hurrle, S. & Hsu, W. (2017). The etiology of oxidative stress in insulin resistance. Biomedical Journal. Retrieved from https://www.sciencedirect.com
4. Mavropoulos, J., Yancy, W., Hepburn, J. & Westman, E. (2005). The effects of a low-carbohydrate, ketogenic diet on the polycystic ovary syndrome: A pilot study. Nutrition & Metabolism Journal. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/