How Gluten Can Trigger PCOS Symptoms

by Tallene Posted November 15, 2021

Studies show that if you’re sensitive to gluten, it can contribute to inflammation. Inflammation leads to insulin resistance, incorrectly regulated cortisol (Dysregulation) and hypothyroidism, all of which are underlying issues that drive symptoms of PCOS, so going gluten free for 30 days is at least worth a try!

Let’s dive into each of those things, because it’s not the gluten itself that’s the problem… it’s the reaction that gluten triggers in the body. If your body doesn’t process gluten well this could be the key to reversing your PCOS symptoms and beginning the healing process from within. Not sure what type of PCOS you have? Discover your type by taking THIS quiz.


That hormonal belly? Bad skin? Irritable stomach?

That’s all activated by inflammation. Not to get too much into the science, but if you have PCOS, you may have higher levels of oxidative stress, inflammatory cytokines and white blood cells (called lymphocytes and monocytes). These guys aren all triggered when there’s an inflammatory food in the body… one of them might be gluten.

Insulin resistance

Insulin resistance is when our body doesn’t respond well to insulin. The pancreas recognises that insulin is needed when we eat food, but certain foods can cause us to over produces it. This affects our energy, weight loss and our mood. But how do we control it?

If insulin resistance is part of your PCOS picture (you can take this quick quiz to find out!), then cutting out gluten could help reduce inflammation, which activates insulin resistance. Foods such as pasta can be substituted for gluten-free alternatives like chickpea pasta. To optimally address your insulin, discover your carb tolerance (something we show you how to calculate in The Cysterhood!)

Cortisol Induced Dysregulation

Cortisol, ‘the stress hormone’, was designed to keep us safe from predators and trigger our fight or flight response. But too much cortisol? And you’re in for a host of stress symptoms that are not healthy.

Symptoms such as: acne, facial hair, irregular periods, digestive problems, fatigue and anxiety… sound familiar?

Symptoms occur because high levels of cortisol can also increase testosterone and insulin resistance… and guess what can increase cortisol? Inflammatory foods! Perhaps, for you, gluten? (if you’re showing as sensitive to it).

Not everyone with PCOS will be sensitive to gluten.

But if you are, gluten does affect weight loss as well as your PCOS symptoms, so it’s worth trying gluten free (even for just 30 days!) to see if it makes a difference in how you feel. 

Going gluten free, creating a low-PCOS-impact lifestyle and being consistent with it has really helped manage my inflammation and that of many other cysters:

  • ➡️ I no longer have horrible cystic acne!
  • ➡️ I don’t have horrible cravings (due to insulin resistance) anymore!
  • ➡️ After 6 months, my ultrasounds showed no ovarian cysts

It’s amazing what such a small change can do!

I mean, sure, sometimes I do dip my sushi in soy sauce (which has gluten) and occasionally I’ll nibble the corner of a croissant – but I know what to look out for and how much my body can tolerate.

If you need more support with going gluten free… here’s some places to start:

  • Twitter

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