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Top 7 Drinks For PCOS + Handy Substitutes & What To Avoid

Kym Campbell

By Kym Campbell, BSc. | Updated November 21st, 2023

Drinks play an important role in how we celebrate, relax, and soothe ourselves. Some drinks can even be helpful for PCOS.

One of the many things I’ve learned from the women taking part in my free 30-Day PCOS Diet Challenge is that beverages need more attention. There are ingredients to avoid and many handy substitutes. In this article, I explain what you need to know about the best drinks for PCOS.

What to Avoid in Drinks

There are four ingredients in drinks that you want to avoid with PCOS. But if you don’t understand why then it’s hard to get motivated to put good ideas into practice.

Sugar

Sugar is bad for PCOS because it disrupts insulin regulation and promotes inflammation [1, 2].

The fructose component of sugar is processed by the liver. This is why high sugar consumption has been linked to liver disease and insulin resistance [3, 4].

The glucose component of sugar causes blood sugar levels to rise quickly. Over time, this can drive the underlying mechanisms behind all PCOS-related symptoms [5-10].

Dairy

It’s harder to draw a direct link between milk consumption and PCOS. But for most people with PCOS, it makes sense to at least experiment with a dairy-elimination diet. I explain why in my PCOS and dairy article. The best evidence we have to date shows that dairy can be inflammatory [11, 12]. A 2020 study found that in women with PCOS, high dairy consumption may be a predictor of insulin resistance [13]. Dairy has also been associated with ovulatory infertility and PCOS acne [14-16].

Alcohol

From a nutritional perspective, alcohol is one of the most obvious ingredients to avoid. This is because even rare consumption has been associated with liver disease in women with PCOS [17, 18]. Alcohol is bad for sleep and may impact hormones and fertility [19-21]. And as everyone who’s had one too many knows, it reduces self-control and increases cravings [22].

That said, it’s still reasonable to want to drink alcohol. That’s why I’ve created a list of the best alcoholic drinks for PCOS in my PCOS and alcohol article.

Caffeine

The question is coffee bad for PCOS makes for an interesting debate. Many studies show a positive effect [23-28]. When it comes to added caffeine though, this is likely bad for PCOS. Studies show that caffeine by itself reduces insulin sensitivity and raises blood glucose levels [29].

Caffeine also activates the stress response. This may be particularly harmful to people that have an enhanced reactivity to stress [30]. Inaccurately referred to as “adrenal fatigue”, this symptom puts energy drinks for PCOS on the chopping block.

Good Drinks for PCOS

With all this bad news, you might be wondering what drinks are good for PCOS.

Water

Water is the most obvious, but boring choice.

Scientists have hypothesized that low water consumption increases metabolic health risks. This includes things like diabetes, obesity, chronic kidney disease, hypertension, and cardiovascular disease [31]. These chronic conditions all have a huge overlap with PCOS.

Adequate intake for women is >2.0 L/day (67 fl. oz/day) as defined by the European Food Safety Authority [32]. In the US, the U.S. National Academy of Medicine recommends 2.7 L/day.

According to the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies, “The vast majority of healthy people adequately meet their daily hydration needs by letting thirst be their guide.”

PCOS-Friendly Drink Substitutes

There are many drink substitutes that, on balance, are good for PCOS. Many of these benefits come from the fact that they’re nutritionally “better” than what you’d drink otherwise:

  • Substitute coconut water, kombucha, or seltzer water for soda.
  • Make tea, turmeric lattes, or chicory root your morning drink for PCOS. This is much better than coffee.
  • Enjoy coffee alternatives like Mud/Wtr, and Crio Bru.
  • Hone also makes a great PCOS drink using matcha and cordyceps mushrooms.
  • Substitute nut milk for cow’s milk like Nutpods non-dairy creamers.
  • Substitute a PCOS-friendly smoothie for fruit smoothies or juice.

PCOS Drinks with a Benefit

My view is that choosing PCOS-friendly substitutes gets you at least nine-tenths of the benefits from changes to your drink habits.

That said, some beverages may improve your health (slightly). The strength of the evidence and the size of the effect of these drinks is small. But if you enjoy these drinks anyway, they may be worth including in your diet.

Here are seven PCOS drinks with potential benefits:

  1. PCOS teas like spearmint tea, green tea, and marjoram
  2. Other herbal teas like cinnamon, chamomile, turmeric, and fenugreek tea
  3. Apple cider vinegar
  4. Aloe vera juice
  5. Unsweetened nut milks
  6. Unsweetened turmeric latte using nut milk and black pepper
  7. Shatavari

Of course, nutrient-dense PCOS smoothie recipes can also be a valuable part of a PCOS diet. This PCOS-friendly supercharged green smoothie is a great example.

The Bottom Line

There’s no one best drink for PCOS. Water might be the obvious candidate. But this oversimplifies the complex factors that influence our drink decisions.

Beverages containing sugar, dairy, or alcohol are best avoided. This is best done by making healthy substitutions. Many exciting drinks have modest health benefits. While the size of the effect may be small, they can help you celebrate, relax, and soothe yourself like a pro.

Ready to Take Action?

  • Join my free 30-Day PCOS Diet Challenge here. This is a unique program where you'll receive weekly meal plans, shopping lists, and helpful video lessons. You'll also be part of a motivated and inspiring community of like-minded women.

  • Download my free 3-Day PCOS Diet Meal Plan here. This is perfect for getting started if you aren't ready to commit to 30 days.

  • Join my PCOS Monthly Meal Planning Service here. This service includes hundreds of PCOS recipes within a pre-populated, yet customizable meal plan. It's designed to save you time and help you apply a PCOS diet.

  • Sign up for my Beat PCOS 10-Week Program. This is a comprehensive program that covers diet, PCOS-centric emotional eating, exercise, stress management, and much more. All within a support group environment. The 10-Week Program includes the same recipes and meal plan as my monthly meal planning service.

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References

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