When a woman finds out that she has PCOS, many questions arise. One of them being what to eat and what not to? One of the biggest debates about this has been whether dairy is good for PCOS or not. Many women with PCOS thus often follow a dairy free and gluten free diet. But how true is it? Is dairy really bad?
PCOS is a disease which causes hormonal imbalance to a great extent. When women with PCOS consume dairy, it boosts all of its symptoms. Dairy and PCOS always had a complex relationship. With the recent changes in the dairy industry, it has only worsened. PCOS triggers many aspects of the women’s body including insulin resistance, acne, obesity and hormones. It is quite confusing when these symptoms arise. Self diagnosis can be the first step to realize it. The consumption of dairy in such a situation can be even more fatal. Let’s take a deep dive into how dairy affects all these symptoms.
PCOS, Dairy Products and Messed up Hormones
Estrogen and IGF (a growth hormone) are the primary hormones present in dairy. The hormones in milk can target the breasts, uterus and ovary of a woman very badly. Women with PCOS have excess androgens and synthetic hormones in dairy can spike up these levels.
Estrogen and progesterone present in dairy are fat soluble hormones. Thus the amount of hormones is higher in whole milk when compared to skim milk as whole milk contains larger amount of fat. These excess hormones can even lead to breast and ovarian cancer. However women with PCOS should completely avoid the dairy as external hormones are the last thing they want in their already hormonally imbalanced body.
There is no hiding the fact that women with PCOS have their insulin levels spiked up. About 60 percent of the women with PCOS suffer from insulin resistance. This has even caused a variety of other diseases such as diabetes and obesity. So special care must be taken by women to check their insulin levels constantly.
Dairy contains IGF or Insulin like growth factor. As the name suggests it acts as insulin in our body. The excess of IGF along with insulin rises the insulin resistance to much higher extent.
In 2015 a study was conducted by Journal of Diabetes Research on 272 middle-aged women to find the relationship between dairy intake and insulin resistance. It was found that higher dairy intake was linked with higher insulin resistance in these women. This clearly states that dairy is a big NO for women, especially women with PCOS.
How PCOS and Dairy Products affect your Acne?
Hormonal acne is yet another symptom that follows PCOS and dairy triggers this as well. Many studies have shown that dairy triggers the acne and can often lead to skin breakouts in women.
The androgens present in the milk affect the hormonal levels. Excess androgens, especially in women with PCOS, shows its effect in various forms. One of them being acne breakouts.
Cows are also injected with many other hormones, which also increases IGF (Insulin like growth factor ) in the milk. When IGF and Insulin exceeds in our body, it stimulates the production of sebum in our skin. Sebum is the oily secretion from our sebaceous glands which is the known cause for acne breakouts.
Inflammation, PCOS and Dairy Products
Whenever our body finds any injury or infection, our body responds to it with inflammation. However, when our body is constantly under attack, then it continues to be in inflamed state. Dairy and gluten are inflammatory foods, i.e when a person eats them, our body goes to inflammatory condition. Regular consumption of these foods can lead to a constant state of inflammation in your body.
Women with PCOS have 96 percent higher C-reactive protein. This protein is released by the liver in response to inflammation. This means that PCOS doubles the risk of inflammation in a woman’s body.
Dairy being an inflammatory food, creates even worse problems for women with PCOS. When our body remains in an inflammation overdrive state, it starts to heal the body even when it is not required. Swelling of the intestinal tract, leaky gut, cancer and diabetes are some of the diseases that follow inflammation.
If not Milk, What else?
Replacing Dairy completely is not that simple. Dairy is the main source of calcium for our body. So, the first question that arises when dairy is removed from our diet is about our bone health. What about your bones? Where do we get calcium from?
Firstly, calcium is not the only important factor that must be considered while talking about bone health. To absorb the calcium into our bones, our body needs Vitamin D. Research says that about 80% of women with PCOS are deficit in Vitamin D. So, women should not only look for calcium alternatives but also Vitamin D supplements.
Here are some alternatives which you can look for to fulfill the calcium requirements:
- Oranges and dried fruit contain small amounts of calcium but all fruit and vegetables are a source of nutrients that improve bone health.
- ‘Bony fish’ such as sardines, pilchards, tinned salmon and whitebait. Seeds such as sesame seeds (sesame seed paste). Some nuts, including almonds, hazelnuts and brazil nuts.
- Dairy alternatives that have been enriched with calcium. For example- rice milk, oat milk, soya milk and soya yoghurts.
If replacing dairy doesn’t seem an alternative for you, then choose skim milk instead of whole milk and use low-fat dairy products. Whole milks have a higher amount of hormones and have much more insulin like growth factor (IGF). Choose organic dairy products directly from the farm rather than packaged products. But, if possible try skipping dairy intake.
The White Truth About Milk
The hormones and antibiotics in dairy have been due to the commercialization of this field.
Costs have been increased and supply has been reduced. Cows are fed diets that allow them to produce more milk. They are fed very unnatural things such as synthetic hormones, which encourages them to produce a lot more milk.
These cattle are also injected with antibiotics. Naturally these antibiotics are passed down into the milk. These excess antibiotics are extremely unhealthy for a human body as these make it antibiotic resistant. Thus, when a person gets actually sick a normal dosage of antibiotic doesn’t work. Thus increasing its dosage causing much drastic problems.
This also kills the good bacteria in our gut, which makes it hard for our food to digest. Bloating and inflammation are some other problems that come along with it.
Dairy items have a significant amount of effect on the Indian cuisine. Be it the paneer craze or the mithai fever. There is no proper meal without a dairy item. On the other hand, every one in ten women in India has PCOS. So, with all this happening there should be constant check on the intake of dairy by every woman.
If possible, the best option is to cut out dairy completely. If not, check the source from where you are getting your products. Find alternatives.
So, is it possible for you to quit dairy? If so, what alternatives are you opting for? Tell us in the comment section.