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Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is the most common hormonal health problem in women during reproductive years and the cause of up to 30% of infertility in couples seeking treatment.  It is commonly underdiagnosed and may affect up to as many as 15% of females during this time.  It is a complex condition, difficult to diagnose and often missed completely.  There is no single known cause and it is likely that PCOS is caused by a combination of genetic and environmental factors.  Supporting metabolic parameters such as body weight, insulin sensitivity, triglycerides and inflammation are key therapeutic targets in PCOS and the good news is that there is a lot you can do from a diet and lifestyle perspective which can really help.

In this article we take a closer look at a 2020 study which shows how something as simple as adding ground flaxseeds into the diet may significantly help metabolic status in women struggling with PCOS.

Study details

A randomised open-labelled controlled clinical trial was conducted on 41 patients with PCOS. Results were published in Nutrition Journal in January 2020.  The participants were randomised to take either flaxseed powder (30g/day) and lifestyle modification or lifestyle modification only for 12 weeks.

Study results

The flaxseed group showed a significant reduction in a wide range of metabolic parameters including body weight, insulin concentration, Homeostatic Model Assessment of Insulin Resistance (HOMA-IR), Triglycerides (TG), high-sensitivity C-Reactive Protein (hs-CRP), and leptin and an increase in Quantitative Insulin-Sensitivity Check Index (QUICKI), High Density Lipoprotein (HDL), and adiponectin compared to the baseline.  Flaxseed supplementation also led to a significant reduction in insulin concentration, HOMA-IR, TG, hs-CRP, Interleukin 6 (IL- 6), and leptin and an increase in QUICKI, HDL, and adiponectin compared to the control group.  No significant changes were observed in other parameters.

In short, the results of the study demonstrated significant improvement in a wide range of metabolic parameters in the group taking ground flaxseeds.

The researchers concluded that “flaxseed supplementation plus lifestyle modification was more effective compared to lifestyle modification alone in biochemical and anthropometric variables in patients with PCOS”.

Find out more about the simple diet and lifestyle steps you can take to naturally support PCOS.

Haidari F, Banaei-Jahromi et al. The effects of flaxseed supplementation on metabolic status in women with polycystic ovary syndrome: a randomised open-labelled controlled clinical trial. Nutrition Journal 2020; 19:8

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