Best Drinks for PCOS
You know staying hydrated is crucial for optimal health, but drinking plain old water gets boring. So, you’re wondering what else you can drink to stay hydrated. The good news is that there are a lot of options for drinks for PCOS that not only taste good and keep you hydrated, but also provide you with many other health benefits. Read this guest blog post by nutrition student, Stephanie Fisher, to find out what are the best drinks and teas for PCOS, as well as some tips on how to include them in your everyday routine!
Why Hydration and Drinking Water is Important for PCOS
Our bodies are made up of about 60% water. The brain and heart are composed of 73% water, and the lungs are about 83% water. The skin contains 64% water, muscles and kidneys are 79%, and even the bones are watery: 31%. So it is important to consume fluids on a daily basis in order to keep that fluid balance. Throughout the day, we lose about 2-3 liters of water through breathing, sweating, and urinating. We lose even more fluid if we are physically active. When we don’t consume enough water, we become dehydrated. Symptoms of dehydration such as fatigue, headache, dizziness, and low blood pressure can be exacerbated in women with PCOS. Individuals taking metformin can also be affected by dehydration, as taking metformin with dehydration can lead to possible lactic acidosis (reference). Lastly, dehydration can also make you feel hungry, when in reality you can satiate the hunger by consuming fluids.
Best Drinks and Teas for PCOS
There are many ways that you can incorporate healthy, hydrating drinks into your diet. Not only will these drinks keep you hydrated, but can also provide your body with nutrients beneficial to staying healthy. Below are some of the best drinks to consume for PCOS:
- Water is the gold standard for hydrating drinks. There are so many benefits to drinking water, as our bodies are made up of mostly water. Water is found to be beneficial in many ways such as regulating metabolism, promoting energy levels and brain function, and help flush waste and toxins from our bodies.
- If you find water to be boring and need some flavor, add fruit or herbs. Some options include berries, citrus, melons, cucumbers, and mint.
- Green tea is one of the healthiest drinks to consume for women with PCOS. Green tea is loaded with antioxidants, including polyphenols, which provide anti-inflammatory effects, anti-carcinogenic effects, and prevent cell damage. One review also found that green tea is beneficial with reducing insulin resistance.
- Because of these polyphenols, green tea can provide health benefits that reduce the risk of cancer, heart disease, stroke, memory-loss, Alzheimer’s disease, and provide support with weight loss.
- Spearmint is shown to have anti-androgen effects among women with PCOS, which can act as a natural way to reduce hirsutism. Not only does spearmint tea help reduce hirsutism, but spearmint can also be beneficial for fertility, by increasing levels of lutenizing hormone (LH) and follicle stimulating hormone (FSH). (reference)
- If you find it difficult to consume all your servings of fruits and vegetables, green juice is the perfect way to consume all of the daily servings needed. Green juice is packed with necessary nutrients, which can provide you with energy needed to last throughout the day. Consuming green juice is shown to reduce inflammation, lowers blood pressure, and overall improves cardiovascular health. (reference)
- Be aware of what is in your green juice, because not all green juices are equal. Many green juices contain excess fruit, which can be packed with sugar and provide you with even more calories than a soda. Make sure to look at the nutrition label on bottled juices, or make your own control what is put into your green juice. For optimal nutrition, choose more green vegetables for your juice, such as spinach, kale, cucumbers, and celery.
- Just because you are drinking fruits and vegetables from green juice, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try to consume more fruits and vegetables. Whole fruits and vegetables contain fiber, which is extracted when juiced.
Cinnamon is a versatile spice that you can find almost anywhere, and it provides many health benefits. Studies show that cinnamon extract has a positive effect on reducing insulin resistance, and can also regulate menstruation in women with PCOS. (reference)
- Cinnamon tea is one great way to consume more cinnamon. Cinnamon is one of the more “pleasant tasting” spices, so it is one of the more popular tea choices. The spice can also be added to many other foods and beverages, such as yogurt, oatmeal, coffee, and even infused water!
Turmeric contains curcumin, an active ingredient that gives numeric its yellow appearance. Curcumin provides anti-inflammatory properties and can boost the immune system, which can help reduce risk of cardiovascular disease, risk of cancer, prevent and manage type-2 diabetes, and reduce risk of Alzheimer’s. (reference)
Consuming turmeric in tea form is the best way to consume and absorb curcumin. Because turmeric is so strong in taste, many people also add citrus, ginger, or dairy to their tea.
- Maybe you find water boring or you miss that fizzy drink, well sparkling water is a great alternative to incorporate in your diet. Not only does sparkling water provide the health benefits of still water, studies show that sparkling water has been found to be beneficial by reducing constipation and increase feelings of fullness.
- Nut milk is a great alternative to cow’s milk, especially if you are looking for options that are dairy-free, lactose-free, and lower in calories. Nut milk, such as almond and cashew milk, are rich in vitamin E, which acts as an antioxidant to reduce inflammation and stress to the body. (reference)
- When choosing a nut milk, look for options fortified with calcium and vitamin, as these nutrients help with increasing bone density. Also choose unsweetened options, since sweetened nut milk is loaded with added sugar.
Worst Drinks for PCOS
Even though it is important to consume liquids, there are some drinks that are better than others. While some beverages can provide health benefits for PCOS, others can be detrimental to your health. Below are some beverages that you should limit:
Sugar Sweetened Beverages
- Sugar sweetened beverages are exactly what it sounds like…beverages sweetened with added sugar. Excess sugar consumption increases insulin resistance, and this is associated with various negative health outcomes, such as weight gain, cardiovascular disease, and type 2 diabetes. Not only do sugar sweetened beverages add sugar to your diet, but consuming these beverages are also associated with a higher overall food intake because beverages don’t satiate your stomach as well as solid food. (reference)
- Alcohol is high in calories, and can also be high in carbohydrates if consuming an alcoholic beverage such as beer or a mixed drink. Overall, alcohol can negatively affect mood, sleep, energy, and appetite. Martha wrote a great post on alcohol and PCOS that you can check out here: The Lowdown on Alcohol and PCOS
- Some studies found that high levels of caffeine intake may have short term effects on lowering insulin sensitivity, which can increase your risk of type 2 diabetes. Too much caffeine consumption may also increase stress, which both together can increase cortisol levels. Normal cortisol levels may decrease inflammation, maintain energy balance, and control blood sugar levels. Caffeine and stress can cause overexposure to cortisol, which over time can disrupt our normal body processes and actually increase inflammation (reference).
- Caffeine is perfectly fine to have in moderation, such as the morning cup of coffee, or the mid-day cup of green tea. Caffeinated drinks that you should avoid are those loaded with sugar, such as sweetened coffees, soda, and energy drinks.
“Sugar Free” Sweetened Drink (aka Artificial Sweetened Drinks)
- The use of artificial sweeteners has been a controversial topic for years. While artificial sweeteners such as Splenda (Sucralose), Equal (Aspartame), and Sweet n’ Low (Saccharin) have been deemed safe by the FDA, some research has shown that artificial sweeteners may play a role on altering our gut microbiome, may lead to weight gain, and can raise insulin resistance. Artificial sweeteners are a lot more potent than normal sugar, therefore consuming artificial sweeteners often may lead to increased cravings for sweeter foods and lower consumption of healthy nutrient-dense foods (reference).
- Martha wrote another great post on artificial sweeteners, which is linked here: Are Artificial Sweeteners Bad For You?
Healthy Drinks on The Go
Healthy drinks are everywhere, as long as you know what to look for! Below I have listed some of my favorite healthy drinks on the go:
Ito En Oi Ocha Unsweetened Green Tea
- Growing up in a Japanese household, my family always had these bottled green tea drinks on hand. This green tea beverage only has 3 ingredients, no calories, no added sugar, and contains 220% of your daily value of vitamin C. If you are a green tea fan, this refreshing drink is perfect to take on the go!
- Alternative brands to try: Honest Tea Unsweetened Green Tea
Blue Print Organic Kale It Up Green Juice Blend
- This juice blend is perfect if you are short on fruit and vegetable intake. The Blue Print Organic juices are made of all-natural ingredients, contain zero added sugars, and are loaded with energizing vitamins and minerals, such as vitamin A, calcium, vitamin C, and iron. The Kale it Up juice blend is mostly vegetables, but also has sweetness from apples and lemon.
- Alternative brands to try: Evolution Fresh Green Devotion, V8 Healthy Greens Juice Blend, Pure Green Pure Greens with Apple.
- What’s great about Hint Water is that they are free of sugar and artificial sweeteners, but still provides lots of flavor. They also make both still and sparkling version of flavored water, so it is easy to switch up flavors and textures.
- Alternative brands to try: La Croix, Pellegrino, Perrier.
Spindrift Sparkling Water
- Spindrift Sparkling Water contains all natural ingredients, getting its flavor from “real squeezed fruit”. This refreshing beverages comes in 10 different flavors and since real fruit is used as a sweetener, there is no added sugar.
- La Croix is a delicious sparkling beverage containing natural flavors. It’s sodium free and contains no added sugar or artificial sweeteners.
Try Fruit Infused Water
Adding fruit to water will naturally sweetened you plain old water and make it more exciting to drink. Any combinations of fruit, vegetables, and herbs would work, just toss in your pitcher or water bottle and let it seep!
If you need a place to start, check out some of the flavoring combinations
- Cinna-Sparkle: Apple, Cinnamon Stick, Red Pear
- Strawberry Smooch: Strawberry Cucumber Mint
- Citrus Burst: Orange, Lime
- Pink Hawaiian: Strawberry, Pineapple
Recipes from Taste of Home
Tips to Incorporate Healthy Drinks in Your Diet
- Add natural flavors. Follow some of the Fruit Infused Water recipes on this post and see which combinations you enjoy the best.
- Invest in a cool water bottle. Having a water bottle that you can transport easily from place to place will be a visual reminder to drink more liquids throughout the day.
- Recommendations for water vary from person to person, but a good recommendation to follow is 64oz a day (8 cups). Tracking you water consumption can be a great reminder to drink more fluids throughout the day. I personally use a 16-ounce water bottle, which reminds me to hit my goal of 4 bottles a day.
- Drink tea instead of coffee if you need that mid-day caffeinated pick me up.
- Be on the lookout for sugar content. Many sweetened teas and juices contain a high amount of sugar, so take a peek at the Nutrition Facts label before purchasing.
- If you love sparking water, you may want to invest in a Sodastream. The Sodastream will not only save you money in the long run, but you would also have control of what goes into your bubbly beverage!
We would love to hear from you! What are some of your favorite beverages?
I’d like to thank Stephanie Fisher for writing this post. Stephanie is currently a dietetic intern at CUNY School of Public Health and a graduate of NYU with a Master’s in Public Health Nutrition. She is excited to gain experience in the dietetics field through her internship and looks forward to growing her knowledge in nutrition. In her spare time, she enjoys exploring the East Coast (originally a California native), running, playing guitar, and trying out new recipes.
I especially love problem-solving, whether it’s helping women defeat issues plaguing them for years, helping a busy executive find practical ways to get heart healthy, or providing tips to help you reverse diabetes. That’s why I’m on a constant quest to expand my knowledge by staying on top of the latest research.