Effects of nutrition on metabolic and endocrine outcomes in women with polycystic ovary syndrome: an umbrella review of meta-analyses of randomized controlled trials

Nutr Rev. 2022 Sep 13;nuac075. doi: 10.1093/nutrit/nuac075. Online ahead of print.


Context: Numerous meta-analyses have been conducted on the effects of nutritional interventions on various health outcomes in women with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). However, the strength of the evidence and its clinical significance are unclear.

Objective: This umbrella review aimed to summarize the effects of nutritional interventions on women with PCOS and assess the strength of the evidence.

Data sources: PubMed, Scopus, and Web of Science were searched from inception until March 17, 2021.

Data extraction: Meta-analyses of randomized clinical trials (RCTs) that examined the impact of dietary modifications or supplementations on women with PCOS were selected. Data extraction, quality assessments of the meta-analyses, and evaluation of the strength of the evidence were conducted independently by 2 investigators and confirmed by a third.

Data analysis: Twenty-eight RCT meta-analyses were included, reporting 40 different outcomes. Lower carbohydrate, Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension, or lower glycemic index/load diets in women with PCOS significantly improved some anthropometric and metabolic characteristics (with very low to low certainty). Probiotics/synbiotics reduced fasting plasma glucose, fasting insulin (FI), and homeostasis model assessment-estimated insulin resistance (HOMA-IR) (with moderate to high certainty). Curcumin supplementation decreased fasting plasma glucose, FI, and HOMA-IR (with moderate certainty). Fish oil supplementation decreased FI and HOMA-IR, and omega-3 reduced triglycerides (with moderate certainty). There were also improvements in FI after taking vitamin D or inositol supplements (with moderate certainty). Supplementation with fish oil increased adiponectin (with high certainty), and probiotics/synbiotics reduced total testosterone (with moderate certainty). In subfertile women with PCOS, inositol increased the ovulation rates (with moderate certainty).

Conclusion: There was no high-certainty evidence that diets alone in women with PCOS improved health or reproductive outcomes. Supplementation with vitamin D, probiotics/synbiotics, omega-3, inositol, and curcumin showed favorable effects on some metabolic outcomes. Probiotics/synbiotics possibly reduces total testosterone, and inositol stimulates ovulation in women with PCOS.

Registration: PROSPERO registration no. CRD42021251496.

Keywords: PCOS; diet therapy; dietary supplements; insulin resistance; meta-analysis; reproduction.