Does Paleo for PCOS Work?

by Nicole Holovach, RD – Dietitian at Pulling Down the Moon

What is the Paleo Diet?

Nicole Holovach, RD

More and more of my clients are asking me about the Paleo diet. In case you haven’t heard, Paleo is a diet trend attempting to replicate what our “caveman” hunter gatherer ancestors ate during the Paleolithic era—a period which ended around 10,000 years ago with the development of agriculture and grain-based diets.

The contemporary Paleo diet consists mainly of fish, grass-fed pasture-raised meats, eggs, vegetables, fruit, seafood, nuts and seeds, and excludes grains, legumes, starchy vegetables, refined sugar, refined vegetable oils, and dairy products. Some take it as far as their exercise routine as well, focusing on sprints and lifting heavy things outside.

Proponents claim that genetically our bodies are virtually the same as they were at the end of the Paleolithic era and we haven’t evolved to be able to digest grains and beans properly. There are an abundant number of blogs and books devoted to the lifestyle. Proponents can be quite dogmatic, and claim that the Paleo diet can cure everything from obesity to autoimmune disorders to hormonal disorders like polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS).

`The primary treatment of PCOS is to manage insulin resistance, either through medication or diet and lifestyle changes or both. Some health practitioners recommend a low carb diet for PCOS, and the Paleo diet can be low carb. While low carb diets may help initially with the symptoms of PCOS, they can lead to long-term problems. I much prefer clients with PCOS eat a more balanced diet, where healthy carbohydrates are balanced with protein and fat. It’s more sustainable and more beneficial for long-term health.

I’m not totally convinced of the logic or the evidence for Paleo for PCOS treatment. There are plenty of cultures around the world that thrive with grain, dairy, and/or legumes in their diet.

That being said, I do like the Paleo diet for its emphasis on real, whole foods and as a way to cut back on all the processed, packaged food that surrounds us. If you’re going to try Paleo for PCOS, general weight loss or lifestyle changes, make sure to include plenty of healthy carbohydrates like starchy root vegetables and fruit. Also, don’t overdo the nuts and meat. I find many on the diet eat way too much nut butter, almond flour, trail mix, bacon, and muscle meat. Also, note that the Paleo diet was ranked last in US News and World Report when they reviewed 29 popular diet methods.

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This article was submitted as a guest writer. The opinions expressed in the article do not necessarily represent the opinions of Shady Grove Fertility Center.