PCOS and Inflammation

I recently came across a piece of research that both scared me and made me determined. Researchers have suggested that nearly 50% of women with PCOS will develop Type 2 Diabetes before they are 40 (1). WHAT?! That is a huge statistic! It’s a statistic that scares the heck out me but it is also one that I am determined not to be a part of.

PCOS and Inflammation

PCOS-and-Inflammation-painThe same researchers suggest that there is a link between inflammation and Type 2 diabetes. Now, women with PCOS struggle with chronic inflammation anyway. What this means is that our immune systems have been alerted to a possible threat and it triggered an immune response to fight it (2). The only thing is that there is no apparent threat but our immune systems are still on alert and the inflammation is causing havoc with our bodies.

This chronic low grade inflammation has also been linked to insulin resistance. Remember that if your insulin levels are higher than they should be, your ovaries and adrenals are producing too much testosterone, which is making your PCOS even worse.

So, what can you do about it. Here are the top ways to fight inflammation in your body.


There is some evidence that suggests that exercise and a good level of fitness helps to combat low grade chronic inflammation (3). It is also helpful in combating insulin resistance which will go a long way in improving our PCOS symptoms.


Go Gluten Free

I have always recommended avoiding gluten as part of your PCOS diet. One of the reasons is that gluten tends to stimulate the inflammatory process in our bodies (4).   Many women that I have worked with in both my Monthly Membership and From The Inside Out Course have reported that they feel less bloated, lose some weight and feel less sluggish when giving up gluten.

Avoid refined sugars

PCOS-and-Inflammation-sugarRefined sugars tend to have a high glycemic load as well as an inflammatory effect (5).   The higher the glycemic load of a food, the more insulin you will need to move the sugar from your blood into the muscles and cells of your body. The more insulin you need, the more testosterone your body is likely to produce, making your symptoms worse.

Include anti-inflammatory foods in your diet

As we’ve already discussed, foods can either stimulate the inflammatory pathway, or they can calm it. Here are 7 foods that you should include in your diet to help calm inflammation and manage your PCOS (6) :


  • Leafy greens – Dark leafy greens like kale, chard, spinach and collard greens have loads of anti-oxidants to help fight inflammation
  • Blueberries – Blueberries are also rich in antioxidants and have a relatively low sugar content so are a good choice for your PCOS. Remember that they are part of the dirty dozen so try to get organic ones when you can
  • Fermented vegetables and cultured foods – I’ve written before about the importance of looking after your gut bacteria (you can see that article here) and incorporating fermented foods will also help you to tackle inflammation.
  • Omega 3’s – Oily fish like Salmon are a great source of Omega 3’s. Wild salmon has a much higher Omega 3 content than farmed salmon so I always try and buy Wild Alaskan salmon.

Supplement with Omega 3

PCOS-and-Inflammation-salmonOmega 3 is crucial to managing your PCOS. I aim to have salmon at least once every week, if not more. But, I also take an Omega 3 fish oil supplement. Not only do Omega 3’s help to fight inflammtion in your body, they also help to lower testosterone levels in women with PCOS (7).

So, to summarise, women with PCOS have are at risk of developing Type 2 Diabetes and researchers suggest that inflammation is the underlying cause. There are some things that you can do to fight this inflammatory process:


  • Exercise
  • Go gluten free
  • Avoid refined sugars
  • Include anti-inflammatory foods in your diet
  • Take an Omega 3 supplement

I also just want to encourage you. You don’t have to be that statistic! I know of women who have been diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes and have reversed it by following a healthy PCOS diet and changing their lifestyles.

I would love to hear from you! What has been your experience of inflammation or Type 2 Diabetes with PCOS? Leave me a comment below…

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Tarryn Poulton

Tarryn Poulton

Tarryn Poulton is a PN1 Certified Nutrition Coach and PCOS expert who has been a leader in the online PCOS space for over 8 years. Tarryn has the support of leading clinicians from around the world who support her scientific approach to understanding and talking about PCOS this includes all medical journals and ongoing research. You can read more about Tarryn and the team here.

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