How To Know If Your PCOS Information Is Trustworthy

Trustworthy nutrition information
Woong Bae Jeon / EyeEm/getty

Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS), affects at least 10% of women in the United States. Nutrition and lifestyle changes are the primary treatment approach for women with PCOS. Weight loss is typically recommended to overweight women with PCOS to improve both metabolic and reproductive aspects. Yet, little information is presented to women from healthcare providers leaving women to search for answers themselves.

If you’re a woman with PCOS, chances are you’ve searched the internet for information about the syndrome. There’s also a pretty good chance you are totally confused by conflicting nutrition recommendations and not sure who to trust.

This article will show you what to know about determining trustworthy nutrition information for PCOS.

Check The Writer’s Credentials

First of all, see who is writing the article and what their credentials are as well as the experts interviewed.  Are they qualified to give medical or nutrition advice?

While anyone can call themselves a nutritionist and give nutrition advice, only registered dietitians (RD) or registered dietitian nutritionists (RDNs) have the most extensive training (much more than health coaches, nurses or physicians) on diet and nutrition. RDs are trained to give reliable and objective nutrition information. RDs or RDNs are food and nutrition experts who have earned at least a Bachelor’s Degree in Dietetics, completed a full year of a dietetic internship as well as successfully passed a credentialing exam.

It is common to find articles online that are written by writers who get their nutrition information from other websites, whose information may or may not be accurate. Or, they may simply be women with PCOS themselves giving out nutrition information based on what worked (or didn’t work) for them.

Check to see the writer’s professional affiliations.

Are they members of the American Dietetic Association, Androgen Excess and PCOS society or the American Society of Reproductive Medicinefor example? Do they attend conferences regularly to stay up to date?

Is The Information Biased?

See if both sides of the information is presented (the pros and cons, benefits and risks) or is the information just presenting one side of the story.

It's also important to see the location of the information and what web page it's being presented from. Is the site trying to sell you a product? If so, could they be biased with their information? Check to see if they have a statement of disclosure that shows their financial ties.

What's The Evidence?

Make sure the source has sufficient information and lists the resources to back up their claims. Sometimes you may find yourself doing your own research to check the facts. Pubmed is a great place to start to look up reliable medical studies.

How Reliable is the Research?

Another factor to consider is the quality of the research itself. One research report with its findings, just because its research doesn't mean much. It's important to look at the sample size, duration, and study design (blind and random is best) of the research and see if there has been similar findings.

Also, it's important to apply research to women who have PCOS. If a study shows the benefit of something helping men, it may not do anything for women with PCOS. Likewise, research findings in women with different medical conditions such as celiac disease won't apply to women with PCOS either.

Always remember: Just because it's on the internet doesn't mean it's accurate.

If you’re confused on the nutrition information for women with PCOS and not sure what changes to make, seek the advice of a registered dietitian who specializes in PCOS, before making any changes to your health.