-,  Health and Wellness

SHOULD WOMEN WITH PCOS AVOID DAIRY?

This one if definitely controversial, but here we go!

Dairy does contain hormones, so the fact that it’s role in hormone-related health issues such as PCOS (Polycystic Ovary Syndrome) is being questioned, does make sense. When I looked into the research about dairy and it’s influence on PCOS, the results are mixed. Milk once had a great rep! It’s considered a “complete food”, a high-quality protein that contains amino acids which can be beneficial for the growth and repair of the body’s cells.1 It’s also a great source of calcium, magnesium and phosphorus. So why is everyone switching over to plant-based milk?

Some women with PCOS struggle with:

1) Weight gain- milk is a rich source of saturated fat, may be a reason why some prefer to avoid/limit it.1

2) Lactose intolerance- dairy may cause symptoms such nausea, bloating, diarrhea and abdominal pain after consuming dairy. 1

3) Acne- dairy has also been linked to acne due to increased levels of insulin growth factor (IGF-1) leading to high insulin and androgen levels in the body.1

4) DHT- dairy is also known to stimulate the production of DHT (Dihydrotestosterone) which further causes oily skin, acne and sebum production.1

Wright (2017) reviews in her book, ‘The PCOS Diet Plan‘, a 2013 review of twenty-seven studies on acne (not specific to PCOS) from the Journal of Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics suggests dairy may be an aggravating factor, possibly because of its hormone or carbohydrate content. In addition, Sara Gottfried M.D., explains in her book ‘The Hormone Cure‘, milk, cheese and eggs have been shown to increase matrix metalloproteinase (MMK) which can lead to inflammation and as a result can lead to high androgens and acne. 2

However, Wright (2017) also explains that there is research suggesting that estrogen in whole milk may provide some beneficial influence on fertility and hormones.3 This is most likely why you will see some health professionals encourage women living with PCOS to consume full-fat products like Greek yogurt. In short, if you choose to consume dairy for the nutritional benefits, avoid the fat-free and low-fat options as this may aggravate your acne, increase Insulin Growth Factor (IGF), insulin levels and androgen levels.1

What’s up with the A2 Milk on the market now?

Good question.

Metropulos (2023) explains in her article, ‘The Benefits and Risks of A2 milk‘, milk serves as a valuable protein source, boasting 8 grams (g) per 8-ounce (oz) glass, predominantly comprised of casein and whey proteins. Casein constitutes approximately 80 percent of its protein content, with variations like beta-casein, notably the A1 and A2 types. Beta-casein makes up about 30 percent of the protein in cow’s milk.4

When A1 protein is digested in the small intestine, it produces a peptide called beta-casomorphin-7 (BCM-7).4 The intestines absorb BCM-7, and it then passes into the blood. This peptide has been linked to acne, asthma, eczema, diabetes, insulin resistance, PCOS, stomach discomfort and symptoms similar to those experienced by people with lactose intolerance.1

The structure of A2 protein is more comparable to human breast milk, as well as milk from goats, sheep, and buffalo. A2 milk is not suitable for people who are lactose intolerant as it still contains lactose and milk protein. It’s also important to note in the article it states, “A2 Milk Company and the dairy industry have funded most of the studies on A2 milk.4

While some health professionals will argue dairy is not necessary for optimal health, others will recommend it. So what should you do? Do you boo! You can try the elimination approach by removing dairy from your diet for six weeks and see how you feel. If you’re someone who consumes full-fat dairy and don’t notice your acne symptoms worsen, great! I personally don’t completely avoid dairy but I have reduced my intake significantly due to my personal struggle with acne and that’s what works for me.

If you would like support on your PCOS Journey and feel you would benefit from having someone create customized meal plans that work FOR YOU! Contact me and let’s chat!

  1. Maitri. (2021, October 22). Is Milk Bad for PCOS? | Dr Anjali Kumar | [Video]. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_GoZ5uhBpzU  ↩︎
  2. Gottfried, S. (2013). The Hormone Cure: Reclaim Balance, Sleep, Sex Drive, and Vitality Naturally with the Gottfried Protocol. Scribner. ↩︎
  3. Harper, H., & Wright, C. (2017). The PCOS Diet Plan: A Natural Approach to Health for Women with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome. Rockridge Press.  ↩︎
  4. Metropulos, M. (2023, July 11). The Benefits and Risks of A2 milk. Medical News Today. Retrieved from [https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/318577].