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PCOS Awareness Month: Is dairy bad for PCOS?

Dairy is a staple part of many people’s diets. But can these foods we love so much be making our PCOS worse? If you do an internet search for dairy, you will be sure to find conflicting viewpoints. Many women want to understand if avoiding dairy is required for hormonal balance and reversing PCOS. So, to answer all your questions, we turned to experts to know whether dairy is bad for a PCOS diet.

Answering the same, Dr Rekha Radhamony, an Ayurveda doctor took to Instagram to share whether dairy is bad for PCOS. “If you have PCOS, is it okay to have dairy? Ayurvedically speaking, one of the reasons for PCOS is due to “Kapha Avrita Koshta”, meaning there is increased kapha in the gastrointestinal tract,” she said.

She further explained, “Any foods that can increase the Kapha, can exacerbate the condition. Milk is heavy and increases Kapha, so stay away from it or reduce the consumption as much as possible.”

However, not all dairy is created equally, meaning some forms of milk are better for women with PCOS than others. As such, Dr Radhamony shared that while curd can increase kapha, buttermilk on the other hand with fat removed is amazing for improving kapha, so try to have it either for breakfast, lunch or dinner. “Cheese and paneer can be taken in moderation, but not every day. Ghee and freshly made butter can also be consumed, not because they reduce or increase kapha, but because they improve overall digestion,” she added.

On the other hand, Dr Ritu Sethi, Dr Ritu Sethi, Associate Director, Max Hospital, Gurgaon and The Aura Speciality Clinic said, “The relationship between dairy consumption and PCOS is a topic of debate among researchers and healthcare professionals. While there is no definitive answer, some studies suggest that dairy products may have potential negative effects on PCOS symptoms, while others show no significant association. It is important to note that individual responses to dairy can vary, and what works for one person may not work for another.”

Following are a few reasons why some experts believe dairy may have a negative impact on PCOS, according to the expert:

*Insulin resistance: PCOS is often associated with insulin resistance, a condition in which the body’s cells become less responsive to the effects of insulin. Some studies have suggested that certain components of dairy, such as lactose and whey protein, may stimulate insulin production, potentially worsening insulin resistance.

*Hormonal imbalances: Dairy products, particularly those from conventionally raised cows, may contain hormones and growth factors that could influence hormonal balance in the body. This can potentially exacerbate the hormonal imbalances already present in PCOS.

*Inflammation: PCOS is associated with chronic low-grade inflammation in the body. Some research suggests that dairy consumption, particularly high-fat dairy, may contribute to inflammation due to its saturated fat content and the presence of certain proteins.

There are a few ways in which women with PCOS can include dairy in their diet. Explaining the same, Dr Kinjal Shah, DNB (Obstetrics & Gynecology), Consultant, Bhatia Hospital, Mumbai said that one can opt for low-fat or non-fat dairy products to reduce the intake of saturated fats. “This includes skim milk, low-fat yoghurt, and reduced-fat cheeses. These options provide the beneficial nutrients found in dairy without the added fat,” she informed.

Additionally, one can pay attention to their portion sizes when consuming dairy products, as they can contribute to your overall calorie intake. Stick to recommended serving sizes to ensure you’re not over consuming calories or carbohydrates, says Dr Shah.

But for dairy-avoiding women, Dr. Prasannalatha, Senior Gynaecologist & Obstetrician, Kamineni Hospitals, Hyderabad recommends finding suitable alternatives. “Consider dark leafy greens, tofu, almonds, and fortified plant-based milk for calcium; poultry, fish, legumes, and tofu for protein; fatty fish, chia seeds, flaxseeds, and walnuts for omega-3 fatty acids. Pair dairy with nutrient-dense foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins for balanced meals,” she said.


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