The Latest – Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome + Nutrition

The Latest - Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome + Nutrition

What is Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome?

Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) is a complex hormonal disorder which can present as a combination of symptoms. These symptoms include:

  • Lack of ovulation
  • Difficulty becoming pregnant
  • Weight gain
  • Irregular or infrequent menstruation
  • Skin changes, specifically acne & darkening of the skin
  • Hair changes, specifically excessive hair growth and/or hair loss
  • Increased anxiety and depression
  • May have cysts on the ovaries
  • Sleep apnoea

How common is it?

PCOS roughly affects 12-18% of women of reproductive age. Surprisingly, 70% of women with PCOS are estimated to remain undiagnosed. Treatment for PCOS includes a combination of a healthy lifestyle, often weight loss and targeted therapy such as hormones therapy and medication management.

PCOS + Pregnancy

Women with PCOS may have trouble falling pregnant due to hormone dysregulation, specifically high androgens as well as excessive hair growth and raised insulin levels.

An estimated 85% of women with PCOS experience insulin resistance. Insulin plays an important role in the body – a hormone responsible for transporting sugar (or glucose) from your blood into your cells. Insulin resistance basically means that the hormone is getting less and less effective at doing its job. As a result, this causes more insulin being produced by the pancreas and rising blood glucose levels.

Due to insulin resistance, women with PCOS have an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Lifestyle management in conjunction with medical management is necessary for managing insulin resistance.

PCOS + Nutrition

There is no one diet proven to help PCOS. However, there are a number of dietary patterns and foods which are recommended for women with PCOS.

  1. Low GI carbohydrate foods – are foods that slowly release glucose into your blood stream. Low GI foods help prevent peaks in your blood sugars and this in turn helps keep your insulin levels within a recommended range. Examples of low glycaemic index foods include wholegrain, sourdough & grain breads, most fresh fruit, dairy products, basmati rice & sweet potato.
  2. Reduce overall carbohydrate intake – the type of carbohydrate is just as important in helping to manage insulin resistance as the amount of carbohydrate you consume.  It is important to understand what a serve of carbohydrate food looks like and to speak to your dietitian regarding how many of these serves you need daily.  For example, 1 slice of bread (40g) is a serve and 1/2 cup of cooked rice is a serve.
  3. Antioxidants – are the naturally occurring compounds found in plants that they use to fight off disease.  Antioxidants also have a role in managing inflammation.  Studies have shown that particular features of PCOS, namely excess weight, increased oxidative stress, high insulin resistance and high levels of androgens, can be helped by following a diet high in antioxidants.
  4. Mediterranean diet – similar to point 3, the Mediterranean diet is a beneficial dietary pattern to follow as it promotes the importance of omega-3 fats & monounsaturated fats, as well as an overall anti-inflammatory style of eating with antioxidants from fruits, veggies and high quality extra virgin olive oil.

Still unsure?

If you have been diagnosed with PCOS or think you may be one of the 70% of women who remain undiagnosed, it is worth seeing your doctor and dietitian for medical and lifestyle management.

Click here to book in with Emma at Fitwise today to learn more about your condition and dietary strategies to adequately manage this.



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Our Values

Our values are the basis of everything we do at Fitwise.

Excellence, Respect, Innovation and Fun – For our clients, for our team and for ourselves.

This is evident with the service we provide, the environment in which we provide it, the way in which we operate as a team and how we care for and value our clients, referral partners and ourselves; we live the Fitwise values every day.

Our culture is one where everyone feels supported, respected and safe. Our clients and our team, experience a leading-edge health environment where we remember to have fun along the way.

Our Story

In 2004, Gen McGlashan and Libby Oldfield founded Fitwise Physiotherapy. They first met in 1994.  Libby was Gen’s physio when she had her first child. Gen then worked for Libby for 10 years in Libby’s previous business, located at the Epworth Freemasons Maternity Unit in East Melbourne. They have been a team working together for a very long time!!

Libby and Gen have always had a passion for empowering women, by helping provide accurate evidence based information and treatment to help women live their best lives. Excellence in all that they do, practising and operating in an innovative way has always been their core. Fitwise was the first multi-practitioner practice providing Women’s Health physiotherapy consultations, exercise classes and clinical pilates in Melbourne.

Gen and Libby

In February 2005 Gen and Libby moved their one room practice to Albert St East Melbourne. They had expanded to 2 treatment rooms, an exercise studio and a pilates studio with a small team of physiotherapists and one receptionist. This was exciting as they wanted to be able to help more people and to grow their team – enabling their other passion: teaching and mentoring clinicians who also wanted to work within the Women’s, Men’s and Pelvic Health arena.

5 years later, they expanded their East Melbourne clinic and in 2015 opened their second clinic in Armadale.

Remedial Massage, Myotherapy and Dietetics have been an exciting addition in recent years, with Podiatry and Exercise Physiology being added in 2022.

Fitwise Physiotherapy | Armadale

The Fitwise team has now grown to include 18 amazing practitioners and 12 wonderful administrative team members and is still growing!

Libby and Gen have always loved providing a holistic service, treating a variety of conditions in consultations and providing exercise appropriate for different life stages. The community of clients that are part of the Fitwise family, (some who have been part of the journey from the very beginning – over 17 years ago), are the biggest reason they do what they do. For Gen and Libby, it is a privilege to be part of these wonderful people’s lives.