Why You DON’T Need to go Gluten-free or Dairy-free for PCOS

Somehow a bunch of people decided that you have to go gluten and dairy free for PCOS. The problem is there is no evidence that this is the case. Yes, if you have a food allergy or sensitivity, you should not eat these foods. However, if you don’t, there’s no reason you can’t enjoy gluten and dairy in moderation like everybody else!

Why You Don’t Have to Go Gluten-Free for PCOS

I recently saw a post from someone who claims to work with PCOS clients saying gluten was highly inflammatory and full of sugar and therefore, bad for PCOS. Both of these things are not true, but folks continue to believe that they need to avoid gluten. Others will say it is endocrine disrupting – this is also not true. There are potent endocrine disrupting (or hormone disrupting) chemicals out there. Gluten is not one of them. Here are the facts:

Do You Have a Gluten Sensitivity or Celiac Disease?

here is no evidence that gluten aggravates PCOS. You should, however, avoid it if you have Celiac disease or even a gluten sensitivity as diagnosed by an allergist, a gastroenterologist or other qualified healthcare practitioner. There is a myth out there that everyone with PCOS has a gluten sensitivity. This is simply not true. Many people with PCOS can tolerate gluten just fine and can eat gluten products with no issues. A simple way of deciding whether you need to look into it further is if you have stomach and intestinal symptoms when you eat gluten. Do you get painful bloating, diarrhea, constipation, gas or other stomach discomfort when you eat it? If not, you’re clear to continue enjoying that sandwich!

What is Gluten?

Gluten is the protein part of wheat, barley, rye and other grains. It has no inherent amount of sugar. You can add sugar to it or to bread products and that can be an issue for PCOS, but nothing about the gluten protein itself is a problem for PCOS.

In fact, seitan, a common meat substitute, is made out of gluten. Asian cultures have used gluten as a source of protein for many, many years with no problems. It is not a complete protein, so it shouldn’t be your only source of protein, but if you’re plant-based or just enjoy that chewy texture, you’re good to get part of your protein from gluten.

How to Eat Gluten when You have PCOS

I think that the fear of gluten may have been mixed up with the fear of carbohydrates in general that seems to be part of diet culture these days. Gluten is a part of wheat – there are specific blood sugar balancing techniques you’ll want to use when eating breads and grains made from wheat with PCOS. These include pairing them with protein, fat and fiber and limiting portions to those that satisfy but don’t go beyond satiety.

Worried about GMOs – Go Organic

Lastly, maybe you’re worried about GMO wheat or the pesticides they use on wheat. There aren’t enough studies to really know if GMOs have any effect on PCOS, but go ahead and get organic wheat products if that is a concern. Organic wheat must be non-GMO, and you’ll limit exposure to pesticides, which is also helpful for PCOS.

Why You Don’t Have to go Dairy-Free for PCOS

Dairy is one of the other big PCOS nonos that you see on lists all the time, but guess what? There is nothing about dairy itself that is bad for your PCOS.

Are You Lactose Intolerant?

If you have lactose intolerance or a dairy allergy, of course, you should avoid it, as it will cause further inflammation. BUT, if you don’t, dairy is actually anti-inflammatory. Yes, studies show that for those without sensitivity or allergy, dairy is anti-inflammatory. If you are, however, getting gastrointestinal symptoms like nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, constipation or other painful stomach issues after eating dairy, get it checked out by a doctor.

Why Go Organic when You Eat Dairy

I do recommend you use organic dairy when possible, due to the possible exposure to pesticides and hormones used to make cows larger and produce more milk like rBST. These can be pro-inflammatory and exacerbate hormonal issues. This may be why dairy gets such a bad reputation.

Dairy can be a good source of protein, calcium and probiotics (hello yogurt!), all of which can be beneficial for PCOS.

Plant-Based with PCOS? No Problem.

Of course, if you choose a plant-based diet for ethical or environmental reasons and prefer dairy alternatives, that’s fine too! You can easily replace these nutrients with milk alternatives, plant sources of protein and calcium.

Want an individualized plan to treat your PCOS, incorporating all your favorite foods? Book a free nutrition chat to find out how.

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