Natural hormone balance, PCOS

Foods that decrease insulin resistance in women with PCOS

Insulin resistance a common symptom found in women with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS). Today I will be talking about what it is, what causes it and natural things you can do to reverse it. Did you know that there are foods that decrease insulin resistance?

What is insulin resistance?

Insulin resistance is a metabolic condition that is sometimes referred to as pre-diabetes. A person with insulin resistance has cells that do not respond to normal secretions of insulin from the pancreas. Their pancreas is then forced to overproduce insulin to move glucose out of the bloodstream and into cells and tissues.
Excess insulin is not excreted by the body, It is stored as body fat. A person with insulin resistance will gain weight more easily than someone whose pancreas functions normally.

A woman that has high levels of insulin all the time also has ovaries that over produce androgens. Both men and women have testosterone in their bodies. Men normally have a much higher amount than women. Over production of testosterone in a woman can cause 3 problems

  • It can cause hair on your head to be thinner or fall out.
  • it can cause acne.
  • It can produce thick, dark hair on the face and other areas of the body.

A hormone called Sex Hormone Binding Globulin (SHBG) normally prevents this from happening. SHBG acts a sponge that binds to excess testosterone preventing these symptoms from happening. Insulin resistance reduces the amount of SHGB resulting in excess androgens.

Causes of insulin resistance

  • Oral Contraceptives

Women with pcos are almost always given birth control pill by their doctor to balance their hormones and help to regulate their periods. Recent studies have shown that oral contraceptives can cause inflammation and the beginnings of insulin resistance with long term use. By treating pcos with birth control pills you may be substituting one problem for another.

  • Not sleeping enough


Lack of sleep can cause insulin resistance. 7-8 hours is optimal. Not sleeping enough also causes an increase in cortisol that can cause excess belly fat.

  • Imbalanced gut bacteria

Bacteria in your gut is normal. It contributes up to75 % of your immune system. It is also responsible for extracting and processing calories and carbs from the foods we eat. There are good and bad bacteria. Bad bacteria will cause too much insulin to be produced.

  • Inflammation

Inflammation is a normal part of your immune system and necessary for survival. However, too much chronic activation of the immune system will cause cell damage. Women with pcos typically have higher levels if inflammatory blood markers than other women.

What tests are needed to diagnose insulin resistance?


The only way to know for certain that you have insulin resistance is to have your glucose and insulin levels checked. This can be determined by the following tests:

  • fasting blood Glucose

This test measures how much glucose is in your blood after an 8-12 hour fast.

  • Fasting insulin

This test is also performed after an 8-12 hour fast but measures insulin instead.

  • HbA1c

This test measures the amount of sugar stuck to your red blood cells. This test will not be accurate if you have anemia. It needs to be combined with tests for fasting blood glucose and fasting insulin.

  • Oral glucose tolerance test.

This test measures how your insulin and blood glucose react to pure glucose. You will need to fast for an 8-12 hours. You are then given a glucose drink. Your glucose and insulin levels are measured before drinking, and at 1,2 and 3 hour intervals afterwards. This allows a curve to be established and compared to normal levels under the same conditions.

Dietary changes that will help decrease insulin resistance

You don’t need always need drugs to control blood sugar. Insulin resistance can be managed by your dietary choices, Here are some foods and drinks are effective agaist insulin resistance.

Green Tea


Polyphenols in green tea have been shown to reduce a hormone that causes excessive body and facial hair growth. It prevents the action of over produced androgen and testosterone.

Spearmint tea

Spearmint has been shown to inhibit excess hair growth by reducing the levels of free active testosterone in your blood. Drink 2-3 cups per day. Several women in a Facebook pcos group have said this worked well for them.



Cinnamon can help increase sensitivity to insulin, reduce sugar levels and control blood sugar levels.


Crimini Mushrooms



These mushrooms have an abundance of B2, B3 and B5. Thyroid and metabolic function are normalized by B2. Blood sugar is controlled by B3 and B5 helps to support weight loss.


Licorice Root

Licorice root tea can help reduce testosterone levels in the blood , It contains a compound that stops the body from producing the enzymes necessary to produce testosterone.



Lettuce contains a mineral called chromium that regulates blood sugar levels and reduces insulin.



Barley is a whole grain with a very low ranking GI ranking, . This means it won’t spike your blood sugar or cause huge fluctuations in your blood sugar levels.



Spinach is very high in magnesium. Studies show a correlation between magnesium deficiencies and insulin resistance.



Tuna is low fat, high protein and has zero carbohydrates. It also has a lot of B vitamins.


Avoid refined foods such as white breads, pastas and sugar.



 Eliminate trans fat found in commercially baked goods, processed foods and margarine.


Use healthy oils such a coconut oil, olive oil and real butter.


Avoid alcohol and tobacco



Drink at least 8 glasses of water per day.



The foods you eat can help control your blood sugar and insulin levels.

If you have insulin resistance or pcos, try making some of these changes. Comment below if they worked for you.


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  1. Very informative article. Not that I will need this information since I don’t think men can have this condition. But I found some of your information of interest to men in particular like licorice root and spearmint.
    I’m glad though to see this kind of helpful information get out to those that need it.
    Thank You, Jay

    1. Hi Jay,
      Thanks for reading and commenting.

  2. AHeg says:

    I really appreciate all of the information you have provided. It is great to see alternatives to taking prescription drugs. I really believe that changing our diets to whole foods and eliminating refined and processed foods can change our lives. I was aware that taking birth control pills can have severe adverse effects for women, but I did not realize that they are linked to insulin resistance.

    1. admin says:

      I’m glad that you found this article to be helpful. Hopefully more people will realize that eliminating processed foods will greatly change their health and well being.

  3. Tiffany Domena says:

    This was a very informative article. I know quite a few women with PCOS and you’re right, they are given contraceptives to treat it. The commercial healthcare system (generally speaking) does a minimal amount about the excess hair, insulin resistance, and the other symptoms you mentioned. All the women I know are very bothered by the thick hair overgrowth that comes along with PCOS. I’ll be sure to tell them the few recommendations you made that I can remember. Do you have any suggested retailers that you can link us to in your article? I’d love to share this and for my friends to be able to evaluate your exact recommendations. Thanks so much!

    1. admin says:

      Hi Tiffany,

      Thank you for reading and sharing my article. I appreciate it. This is really a broad range of foods to be able to recommend just one manufacturer. Shopping at a natural foods grocery store will help avoid a lot of these things if there is one located close to where you live.  Fresh Market and Whole Foods are the 2 biggest ones in my location.

  4. Jo says:

    Great article. My OBGYN put me on birth control pills in the past and that didn’t resolve any of my problems. Now I know why. They also never did any diagnostics or blood tests which I think is weird.

    Since you mentioned that magnesium deficiency is linked to insulin resistance, beets would be a good food too since they are high in magnesium.

    1. admin says:

      Hi Jo,

      It is strange that your Dr. did not do any diagnostic work.  Endocrinologists seem to be the best doctors to see as far as understanding and treating PCOS.

      Beets are good source of magnesium. I just personally like the taste of them.

  5. Delois says:

    Being a health care professional, I am always interested in reading articles about nutrition and its role on health conditions. Many physical ailments start with nutritional deficiencies. What is good about this post is that you offer solutions to help reduce insulin resistance naturally by giving your body what it needs to help heal without putting more chemicals in to put the body into further imbalance. Thanks for this informative article.

    1. admin says:

      Hi Deloris,

      Your welcome.

      Thanks for stopping by,

  6. Bini says:

    Great article. I was searching for this kind of information from a long time. I am suffering from PCOS from past 2 years and always want to maintain a healthy diet. Though I don’t have insulin resistance but still I feel it’s good to incorporate good healthy items in your diet. Your article is really helpful for a lot of women struggling with insulin resistance and pcos.
    Thanks for sharing this informative article.

  7. Melinda Curle says:

    This is interesting. I think changing your diet to eliminate the inflammatory foods is much more powerful in healing PCOS than some of the foods that you recommend. Tuna is a great option because it is zero carbohydrate and therefore will not impact your blood sugar. This is an important thing to consider when you are dealing with insulin resistance. Select foods that won’t raise your blood sugar levels. A low carb or ketogenic diet is ideal.

    1. admin says:

      Hi Melinda,

      All of the foods listed do have studies backing up there effectiveness in helping to decrease insulin resistance .Eliminating inflammatory foods from your diet is helpful as well.

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