Curious about what you can and can’t drink if you have PCOS? There is so much information online with scary “must avoid” lists. In this article, we are discussing drinks for PCOS and separating fact from fiction. Curious about foods for PCOS? Read our article!
Keep reading and stay hydrated!
Water for PCOS
Water is essential for our survival. Although there is no specific link between water and PCOS, staying hydrated is linked to a variety of functions in the body. Ensuring we are drinking enough can help with overall health, regardless of PCOS status.
Role of water in the body
Water is a major component of every part of our body, including cells, tissues and organs. It is required for many functions in the body including:
- Temperature regulation
- Transportation of oxygen and nutrients via the blood
- Giving the cells their shape and stability
- Lubrication of joints
- Elimination of waste via urine and faeces
- A major component of bodily fluids like mucus and tears
It is estimated that we should be trying to consume 2 – 3 litres of water per day. Although, fluid intake depends on energy intake, medical conditions, exercise habits and environment (1). Generally, drinking enough water, tea and other fluids until you are no longer thirsty and your urine is no longer dark is a good place to start.
Coffee for PCOS
Coffee is one of the most popular beverages worldwide and it is heavily debated whether coffee is good for you or not.
Benefits of coffee for PCOS
Coffee contains polyphenols which are micronutrients that naturally occur in plants. There is some evidence to suggest that polyphenols may play a role in the prevention of metabolic syndrome (a cluster of symptoms that increase the risk of heart disease, stroke and type 2 diabetes). However, high-quality evidence that can conclusively say whether coffee consumption results in reduced risk is lacking (2).
Caffeine and PCOS
Although different ways of consuming coffee affect caffeine levels, all coffee contains caffeine. Caffeine is a stimulant found naturally in tea, coffee and cacao plants.
Caffeine and sleep
People with PCOS tend to have increased levels of sleep disturbances and disorders including obstructive sleep apnoea and excessive daytime sleepiness (3). As caffeine is a stimulant, consuming too much coffee and/or coffee near bedtime can impact sleep further. Being aware of your caffeine tolerance (which is different for everyone) and ensuring that you don’t consume coffee too close to bedtime may help with sleep issues.
Caffeine and stress
Caffeine appears to increase the production of cortisol during periods of stress (i.e. stressful situations like an exam or job interview, as well as exercise) (4). Considering people with PCOS often have elevated cortisol levels and stress can both contribute to and worsen symptoms of PCOS, managing cortisol levels is recommended. Increased stress can also affect sex drive and ovulation so stress reduction techniques and keeping an eye on caffeine intake during particularly stressful times are advised (5).
Caffeine and fertility
There is a lot of conflicting advice on caffeine and fertility status. The NHS states that there is no evidence to suggest that caffeinated drinks are associated with fertility problems (5). But, as chronic stress can impact sex drive and ovulation, and therefore potentially fertility, you may want to watch your coffee intake if you are trying to conceive.
>> Read More | PCOS and Fertility: the ultimate guide to conception
Tea for PCOS
There are thousands of different tea blends in the world, all with different ingredients and potential health benefits. Remember, black tea, oolong tea and green tea all contain caffeine so the same advice surrounding coffee (see above) applies. So, what are the benefits of tea for PCOS?
Spearmint is a herb from the mint family, similar to peppermint. This tea has been seen in some studies to reduce androgen levels, and increase LH and oestrogen levels and has been linked to reduced hirsutism, oily skin, acne and alopecia (6).
This wintery spice creates a flavourful and warming tea. But does cinnamon have any benefits for PCOS? Well, there is some evidence that cinnamon may have an insulin-sensitising effect and may improve menstrual cyclicity in people with PCOS (7). But, this research has mainly been carried out in mice and we need more research to conclusively determine in cinnamon improves PCOS symptoms. Also, there is little to no research on the effect of cinnamon tea on people with PCOS. But, if you enjoy cinnamon tea, then feel free to add it to your routine. It’s a low-cost, low-risk intervention.
Green tea is a type of tea that is made from tea leaves and buds that haven’t gone through the same withering and oxidation phase used to make black teas. There is a small study that suggests that green tea may improve fasting insulin levels and free testosterone levels (8). But, as mentioned, this study was very small. A systematic review of eight studies found that green tea extract could be beneficial for people with PCOS due to its positive impact on glycaemic levels (9). However, more research is needed to understand the mechanisms of green tea and green tea extract on people with PCOS.
Smoothies and Juices for PCOS
You may have heard that you can’t drink smoothies or juices if you have PCOS. But, smoothies and juices are an easy and tasty way to get a lot of nutrients in one convenient snack. Smoothies tend to be more satisfying than juices because they have more fibre in them. Fibre helps us stay fuller for longer, and can dampen blood glucose spikes which can be beneficial for insulin resistance (10).
Looking for smoothie recipes or ways to add gentle nutrition tips to your smoothie-making? Head to our article on smoothies for PCOS.
Alcohol for PCOS
You can drink alcohol if you have PCOS. There is a common concern about the sugar contained in alcohol and its impact on insulin levels. For more information read our article on PCOS and alcohol.
You can create wine by fermenting grapes. The sugar in grapes turns into alcohol during the fermenting process. Interstingly, red wine may have some health benefits for people with PCOS. A study found that consuming resveratrol (a component of red wine) may improve insulin levels and androgen levels in people with PCOS. But, unfortunately, you’d have to consume about 3 bottles of red wine per day to consume the levels of resveratrol tested in this study (11).
Although there appears to be no research on the effects of beer on PCOS, it is sensible to think that consuming beer in moderation by following national guidelines would be okay for PCOS. Depending on the type of beer or cider, sugar levels in these drinks may be higher. High-sugar beverages may increase blood glucose levels and in turn insulin levels. So, try drinking alcohol with a meal to prevent big blood glucose spikes.
Drinks for PCOS FAQ
Have more questions about drinks for PCOS? We have tried to answer commonly asked questions but feel free to ask more questions in the comments below.
What drinks are PCOS-friendly?
At The PCOS Collective, we take an “all foods fit” approach to PCOS symptom management. We believe that finding food freedom and breaking away from restriction is more beneficial to your PCOS symptoms by lowering stress and guilt around food, movement and your body than any diet could ever be. This stands true for drinks aswell.
Is drinking hot water good for PCOS?
There is no evidence to suggest that drinking hot water is beneficial for PCOS. But, if drinking hot water is something that you enjoy and helps you stay hydrated, then enjoy!
What drinks should be avoided in PCOS?
There are no drinks that should be avoided if you have PCOS. If you find that you feel better by reducing the amount of alcohol in your diet, or by drinking spearmint tea, for example, then that’s great – find gentle nutrition changes, swaps and additions that make you feel good without guilt. You may also want to pair higher-sugar beverages with meals to balance blood glucose levels. Experiment to find what feels good for you.
Can I drink alcohol if I am taking metformin?
If you are taking metformin for PCOS, a common insulin sensitiser, then the NHS advises limiting your alcohol consumption to two units per day to prevent low blood sugar levels. The UK guideline suggests drinking no more than fourteen units of alcohol a week (12).
Founder and Editor | Registered Associate Nutritionist
Founder of Be The Collective LTD [The PCOS Collective & The Endo Collective] Alex Okell ANutr is a London-based reproductive health nutritionist with experience in research, private practice and digital media. She holds a Master’s degree in Nutrition from King’s College London and has co-authored papers with the University of Cambridge, King’s College London, The Food Foundation and the Food Standards Agency. Alex offers 1:1 PCOS support in our virtual PCOS clinic.